Lead pumping therapy.
Images of guns are a constant in our lives, perhaps thanks to the predominance of American film and television all over the world. Guns are cool – all the good guys use them: from Harry Callahan dishing out his own form of justice with his Colt .45 Magnum, to Neo demanding ‘Guns. Lots of guns.’ Almost all our modern heroes use guns as a means to an end, the tools of justice. More often than not we want to be in their position - dishing out our own bullets of righteousness and vanquishing the bad guys. It doesn’t work out like that though, we’re British remember, we have only ever seen guns as a tool of war and misery (Dunblaine, Huntington etc). Despite this I still have waking dreams of emulating Chow Yun-Fat in ‘The Killer’ by diving into a room filled with bad guys, a Glock 9 in each hand and acrobatically blowing them all to fuck in a slow motion ballet dance of death.
“Woman, have you fucking guffed? Again?”
“Trevor, you are an animal. You do know I’m leaving you, don’t you?”
“Pleeeese. My pride. At least leave me that?”
Despite my fervent desires I realise that my dreams are unlikely to come to fruition so I fill this gaping chasm in my life with thrill packed adventure and escapade. Umm, I mean I play paintball. Simulated war is fun, bit expensive though.
In search of a cheap alternative one time, I stumbled into an arcade – the array of choice of light-gun games shocked me. I wandered around in a high caliber light diode daze: Time Crisis 1-3, House of the Dead 1-3, Virtua Cop 1-3, Point Blank and more (with the exception of ‘The Last Gunfighter’ which is FMV Mad Dog Mcree pants). What a selection!
My heart beat faster and faster as I watched children pump coins into a supposedly flagging industry to have their five minutes of pleasure popping caps into the asses of various zombies, mutants, criminals and terrorists. It was a bizarre scene for anyone watching: a scruffy ‘young professional’ staring with manic glee at groups of adolescents wielding various weapons with dead shot accuracy.
Steven Poole in his Edge ‘column’ once espoused the perfection pleasures afforded to the well-honed Time Crisis player by using six bullets to bump off six enemies. He’s right. There is a glorious satisfaction involved in achieving Time Crisis nirvana but that’s not why I now play light-gun games. I don’t play them for the co-operative play (though I do enjoy that), I don’t play them to prove myself to attendant arcade crowds or indeed to my mates in a post-pub bout of hazy gunplay. I play for one reason and that is: therapy.
“Shit, I think she’s stopped breathing.”
I never fail to be amazed at how incredibly satisfied I feel during a game of House of the Dead 3 – wave after wave of the undead relentlessly shamble towards me whilst I unleash a tremendous volley of digital shotgun shells. My arms become progressively more and more tired as I advance (that fucking security guard being the chief reason for that). The staccato click-clacking of the massive pump action peripheral becomes part of my personal body rhythm. All the worries of the working week are erased as every co-worker’s head is transposed onto a zombie. Specially hated ‘colleagues’ are saved for the fat zombies, you really have to aim for their ugly fat heads and pump them full of lead.
Goddamn it feels good! I could pay outrageous sums of money for a psychiatrist to talk to but that would never come close to alleviating stress the way shooting digital zombies does.
There have been a lot of complaints about this particular instalment of Sega’s ‘House of the Dead’ because it requires less accuracy and there is little innovation aside from the new mechanical movements on the gun. I can understand those complaints but this game definitely falls into a different category for me, much like the Dynasty Warriors series it is more of a boys own ‘wish fulfilment’ adventure, featuring the added bonus of little or no required brain activity (except for the occasional rudimentary ‘this way or that way?’). Instant gaming gratification – interactive and easy without too much painful thinking but importantly these games are also bankers offering one simple game mechanic. Like the mechanic: you’ll like the game – dislike the mechanic: dislike the game. You might see me playing Time Crisis 2 or Virtua Cop 3 but I won’t be wearing the same look in my eye, the same look of steely satisfaction.
“Hit me baby one more time.”
That is, until I come up against that stupid giant sloth.
I really hate that fucker.
I’ll beat him one day.
He will die.