Saturday, October 29, 2011

There's a huge fucking difference...

Scott Olson the young former Marine who was shot in the head with a teargas grenade is doing better. He has a fractured skull and brain swelling. He may need surgery. He can communicate only with a notepad right now, but will likely live.

It's looking more and more like the was not an accident. The flash grenade that was thrown into the group that was trying to help him certainly wasn't. In looking at footage of the march it appears to me that the protesters were peaceable. This didn't have to happen. It was the police who ratcheted up the pressure, who escalated the situation.

In looking over various blogs I noticed that several right wing outlets are saying that Olsen created a website called They point to the OWS and liberals and shout "your 'War Hero' hated the Marines!" and by extension, he hated his country. The hate is thick over there. While the site no longer exists I could easily believe that Scott might have created this site. At first, it might appear that Scott is being turned into a political pawn by the left and OWS in the same way that Pat Tilman was used to sell the War on Terror.

But there are some huge fucking differences here. I haven't read anything from ANYONE in OWS calling him a hero, only that he served two tours in Iraq and was part a group called Veterans for Peace. People are outraged that a young man who attended a peaceful rally, exercising his constitutional rights was assaulted by the police of his own country. People are upset by the irony and injustice of this. Pat Tilman, on the other hand, was killed by friendly fire. The incident was officially covered up, and then the White House and Pentagon prostituted his memory with flag drenched ceremonies and called his death a noble sacrifice for God and country, which is amazing considering he was killed by his fellow soldiers and was an atheist.

 It's possible that Scott truly hated the Marine Corps and the War by the time he left the service. And you know what? That is his goddamn right. That doesn't make him a traitor or a bad person. His experiences with a war that didn't have to happen and the military machine used to fight it left him angry. This somehow makes his service and sacrifice unworthy in the eyes of his critics. To them, he is scum. John Kerry got the same treatment. It didn't matter that he actually went and fought in the war. He disagreed with America's foreign policy. He saw that Vietnam was a waste of young American lives and protested against it.That somehow made him a coward. To these people it is impossible to love your country but still hate the things it does.

Winter is coming, and with the cold and snow the protesters may go away, but the anger with the way things are run certainly won't. I wish that our leaders would pull their heads out of their collected asses and try to work together. But I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not bad, just not great.

I just finished the video Game Dead Island. It wasn't bad but it certainly didn't live up to all the hype. Some of the highlights were (of course) offing zombies in a variety of ways. From axes and machetes to driving over them with an armored car (he he). The environments looked very nice. Large and open. Lots of details. You could wander around for days I suppose.

 But the drawbacks kept me from really enjoying the game. The inventory system was pretty rough. And selecting weapons was an exercise if frustration. In almost every other game I can use the scroll wheel to select another weapon, or use the number keys. Not so here. Of course, there are a LOT of different weapons. And they can be modified with stuff you find around the island. Except that I found waaaaay too much of some stuff and not enough of what i needed to make many mods.  Also, weapons  decay pretty fast with use and you have to constantly repair them. Even something as simple as an axe becomes useless after taking out a dozen undead. Really?

Lots of the elements in the game were also in use in FarCry 2 which I played a while back. But where FarCry 2 was awesome and very immersive, Dead Island constantly took you out of the game. To select upgrades, to look at the map, to check quests. And for a brand new game the faces weren't very expressive. Maybe half of the characters looked any good. The voice acting wasn't bad though.

The game is unique because you can drop in and out of cooperative play. With more people, you have more firepower, and more zombies. But upon completing quests there's usually a bit of story line material. Sadly, anyone in the group can push a button and skip this. That's annoying. You don't need to hear this exposition, but again, it helps the feel of the game. As with many games, there were several escourt missions where you have to get another character from point A to point B alive. This is where some of the roughest edges showed up. At one point, facing a large group of zombies I threw a Molotov cocktail to make my life easier. My escourtee then runs right into the group and sets themselves on fire. Wow. Also, while early side quests could be taken or ignored, when you get near the finale you are on a pretty narrow rail with few choices.

I think with another few months of testing and polishing this game could have been better. It has a fun concept. It's solid. Just not quite soup yet.