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A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Day 5

A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Day 5 (photo)

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Monday, December 13, 2010: “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Day 5

I made a final push this weekend to finish all the critical missions in the Parker, the first of the game’s big sectors. One of my final tasks was a mission to destroy an EDF command post. It was a standard Demolition objective but the site was heavily guarded by drones, the derogatory term for EDF occupying forces. Even though I picked up a few citizen rebels along the way, I died a lot.

What’s worse, they died a lot. While it’s an awesome feeling to have a random, ordinary person pick up a gun and stay blasting away by your side, it feels absolutely awful to have them die on your watch. “Red Faction” doesn’t have any squad-based strategic controls like other games with this mechanic, so it’s not like I can tell them to take cover while I do all the shooting. It’s a kind of a sideways method of generating collateral damage and has a stinging emotional effect. The effect multiplies exponentially when it’s a hostage you save who buys the farm. Here you are, liberating someone who was no doubt only minutes away from a bullet in the back of his or her head and their life gets cruelly snatched away from them on the way to freedom.

Still, I discovered one thing about “Red Faction: Guerilla” when playing this mission over and over, which is that the damage you do is persistent. That means that even when I died and when back to the site of the mission, all the wrecking I had done remained. I finally took down the offending architecture in dramatic fashion, having set some charges which I detonated right before I died. The shot of e dying just as the outpost sustained enough damage to crumble to dust felt like a nice accidental martyr symbol. I went back to that location to check on my handiwork, only to find, guards wandering around the ruin of their former stronghold. I know it was just the game programming at work but it still felt eerie, like they were haunting the place.

From there, I moved onto a rescue mission where I had to rescue Samanya, the female rebel that’s obviously being set up as a love interest for lead character Alex Mason. The whole deal winds up being surprisingly easy. Along the way, I notice that “RFG” plays home to the most cheerful revolution ever. The random chatter from bystanders treats the proceedings like a football game. You can overhear them saying stuff like “I don’t think hose drones are ever gonna forget the name ‘Red Faction,'” and “Red Faction is bringing change to Mars.” Well, if they aren’t bothered, then I guess I shouldn’t be?

The last big mission to liberate Parker comes as a surprise, as it’s the first explicit driving-only mission the game’s tossed at me so far. As the rebe movement pushes into the next sector of Mars, I need to distract the EDF by ramming into and taking out 12 communication towers. It basically amounts to a very fun destruction derby, despite the game’s iffy driving controls. At one point, my ride gets severely damaged and I have to hoof it to a cluster of towers. The stretch of terrain where this mission happens is chock full of little bumps and changes in elevation and cars get to flying and jumping all over me. The whole thing felt a little like “Mad Max.” I’m good with that.

[A Level A Day will be my attempt to give my thumbs more exercise every 24 hours. ALAD will be part diary, part analysis and a smidgen of random observation on games that either slipped through the cracks or might deserve reconsideration. I won’t promise to finish every game but I’ll try to track what I think of as honestly as I can, so you’ll at least know why I’m stopping a particular game.]

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.