Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Current state of "thrift".

This blog has a great deal to do with thrift store hunting and video games, along with random other thoughts that tend to rear their head from time to time. I have officially been video game hunting for 2 years, fairly close to the day give or take a few, and throughout that time there have been great scores and complete droughts. Along the way I've also lost a many of my sources, due to the stores closing, yet I've always managed to turn things around and find somewhere else to take it's place.

Lately, however, I've managed to lose the whole lot as I have little to no respect for anywhere anymore. With so many thrift stores closing the only steady place was Salvation Army and no matter how many times I complained about them I still went back, quite often too! Regardless of how unquestionably shitty Salvation Army can be at times, with their unexplainable price spikes and often times completely uncaring/rude staff, I was always in search of the many, and I do mean MANY, scores I had found previously throughout the 4 or 5 stores I frequented.

Salvation Army was always a crap shoot, yet they've completely taken themselves out of the game and put themselves square in my shit sights. Within the last month I've noticed they are moving things around the store and completely doing away with anything of particular value, could this be a sign of Salvation Army auctions? Only time will tell! Electronics are now limited to televisions, microwaves and other miscellaneous things that plug into an outlet, which vaguely categorizes them as electronics.

I do greatly adore the Goodwill Outlet store, which forced me to change my views on Goodwill overall. I just can't see paying the prices of a store when the outlet store only charges $.69 a pound. Sure not a lot of things flow through the outlet store, but I seemingly always walk out of their spending less than $5 for stuff that I'm excited to own. When I go into a Goodwill store and get all geeked out over a retro game I'm almost always quickly upset by the $5.99 price tag on it, knowing full well that Disc Replay wants less and if I wait long enough I may just find it at the outlet store.

Another option around here would be flea markets, and I've already explained how they are. Its hard to find a flea market where the booth owner is actually in the booth, they're all indoor, super flea markets where you take stuff up to an actual cashier, which makes dealing with someone an impossibility. While they're always a source of getting out and walking about, I almost always walk out empty handed.

Finally there is the online connection, where everyone lives in a little world where even the most common video game is apparently worth a small fortune. Sometimes craigslist is ok, if you get to the post on time, otherwise you're not going to get a reply and wonder if your message is trapped inside someone's spam filter as you hope they still have the item you wanted and will get back to you before you die of old age. And ebay can go fuck itself, that is all I have to say about it.

The sad truth is that flea markets and thrift stores alike have become one in the same, as the prices are set by some goober who has internet access and thinks the mass of games listed on ebay for any given price is the socially accepted price. As where the reality is if that were in fact the accepted price they wouldn't still be listed. My only way of collecting the games I want to own and play are to keep searching these places that slowly but surely shrivel and dry up.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico [Follow up]

Have you ever watched a tragedy unfold before your eyes and you get that helpless feeling nagging from within that you should do something, yet there is truly nothing you can do? That is how I feel when I play Total Overdose, although to a slightly less dramatic extent. I've made it clear, within this blog, that I enjoy video games for not only their gaming values but also for a sense of traveling through the environments they present. Many games offer many different places, but Total Overdose boldly tries to recreate the since of Mexico while telling it's story, but sadly does both poorly, in my opinion.

I know that you can't judge whether something is truly emulating any given object without being familiar with the original first, and to try and do so is not only unjust to the original but unfair to the item emulating it as well. I don't know Mexico, I've never been but maybe someday I will go, but when I play Total Overdose I get the overwhelming feeling that it was all created by outside observers looking in and making rash judgements to build the product. I can't say this with certainty, but I just don't get the feeling that I do with other games.

GTA San Andreas just feels like you're in the cities and towns that they've obviously emulated, as does Vice City, GTA 3 and 4. Another great one is Just Cause, as it sends you down to South America and leaves you within what almost everyone would consider to be a chain of islands somewhere within South America, with a few minor reality breakers. While I find myself more compelled to play Just Cause, due to it's much better game control and the fact that it still gives that feeling of being in Central America, I'm still compelled to play Total Overdose because it is unquestionably trying to be located in Mexico. Even so I just can't get myself to believe that I am truly walking around anywhere in Mexico.

It isn't a lack of architecture, it isn't a lack of culture and it isn't a lack of the living environment within the game. The failure here seems to stem greatly from the way the city is cut up, and I don't mean how GTA 3 and Vice City were either. The way Total Overdose is chopped up is crude and leaves you (at least it does for me) confused about how you got from point A to point B. As where in GTA you could see what was coming up next, they just simply threw a splash screen in your face for a few seconds before you reached it, in Total Overdose you pseudo-teleport to a different area where you went in and where you come out don't really seem to match.

I wrote a review on Gamespot's website and my review received some negative feedback, but maybe they missed the point. I enjoy the game, but I simply think it doesn't flow as well as the games it was cloning, nor do I think they brought a feel for the environment they were entitled to emulate. The vehicles are almost unusable and I much prefer to walk around the sections of the country unless I absolutely have to use a vehicle. The sections are smaller than I feel they should have been, as well as some of the best areas are only accessible while you're on a mission.

Given all it's downfalls Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico does hold a greater spot in my heart than most of the games that are better than it, but I just can't motivate myself to play it as much as those other games. I heard rumors of a sequel being cancelled, and that is probably for the better. Sure I would have loved to see a sequel, but they would have had to change it so drastically that it wouldn't have been the same game anymore. Nobody likes a sequel that looks and feels absolutely nothing like the original.