The Future Is No Escape
Something I like about Mass Effect 2 (and this is a list which must be appended frequently) is that I have a personal assistant. In a continuing effort to physically twist off any game element that does not support their lean new thesis, there is a character in the game who will tell you if you have new mail. This is not something that you must wonder about, or check fruitlessly - a woman just tells you. With her mouth. And then you know.
In 2005, when gentle brontosaurs still roamed, we engaged in an ill-conceived “Hump Day Challenge” against Bungie that resulted in our utter dissolution. Does beating someone at a game which you, yourself invented represent authentic valor? It’s an open question.
Beat us they did, though, and even in the year of our lord 2010 we could still feel the sting of their lash, the red heat of their brand. Five years hence, when the shame of it hung like an anvil about the neck, when the disapproving looks from greengrocers could no longer be borne, the gauntlet was thrown. The game? Table Tennis, which we didn’t invent. Based purely on our match-day performance, though, you might think we had.
We augured through their roster, boring them out, collecting useful compounds and expelling the rest as a greasy exhaust. Let me offer an excerpt from my own game: I drew my racket across him in the Diving Swallow Style, and the gash in his belly yawned, dumping five pounds of steaming chitlins on the floor. “Get your intestines and get out of here, ” I said, gesturing at his intestines and then the door.
Five games in, we had won four of them - which meant we had won the challenge. The last two opponents were visibly shaken, and with reason - theirs was a wholly justified breed of horror. Even victory would bring them no solace. They were like two escape pods, their boosters firing at the absolute threshold of their performance to escape the shredding wake of a stellar shockwave.
Spoiler warning: they did not escape. Six games to one. Penny Arcade.
So let all who claim some skill upon the four-quarter table come forth! Let those who dream of victory be known to us; such dreams are our meat, the cries of the vanquished are as sweet wine. Squirm from your burrows you wretches, you villains, you less than human things! Gaze upon the bright spires and splendid arcs of holy Arcadia!