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Vol. 2, Issue 4
November 30, 1999
Birth of a Gamer:

Myth II
(My First Foray Back Into Gaming)

by Heather "elki" Haselkorn

First off, I just want to thank you guys for all of the great e-mails last week. I feel so loved! Anyway, let's turn to the real business at hand:

Myth II was the first game I'd played in about two and a half years. It was also the first game in which I've ever had to run a tutorial before playing. Although I consider myself an animal lover (and a former vegetarian), I experienced a sick pleasure at blowing up the chickens in the barnyard. I figured if the rest of the game were like this, I'd have no problems! That's where I made my first mistake. Someone had already told me that the original Myth was hard enough to be unplayable, and that Myth II was only slightly easier. Still, I thought, how hard could it be?

Before I get into that, I just want to give into some childlike awe. I had never seen a game in 3D before, so when I first started playing, I just couldn't figure out what to do. I was so used to games that scrolled either vertically or horizontally that I couldn't get used to the illusion of actually moving forward or backward. It was a little disconcerting. And the graphics stunned me. I could move the camera in, out, around, take an aerial view of my troops or come in close-up right over their heads. And in addition to the main action, there are also leaves falling from trees, and birds and butterflies flitting around. It was breathtaking!

Once I began to play, I immediately learned my first lesson about gaming: Much as I love my PowerBook, a track pad is not an ideal gaming tool. The time it took to run my finger across the pad and then click with my thumb really slowed things down. For example, whenever I was ambushed it would take so long to select my knights and bowmen that I'd inevitably lose quite a few of them. Sometimes it seemed as though I spent more time listening to my computer shout "Casualty! Casualty!" than I did actually playing the game. But anyway, as I expected, the first three maps were fairly easy and I finished them all by the second try. I don't remember much about the first map, other than finishing it very quickly (full disclosure: I played on the easiest setting). The soldiers jumping up and down at the end of a level, shouting "Yay! We did it!" is just the funniest thing in the world. And the monsters and other nasty things that come at you are actually very cute. Maybe they are supposed to strike terror into the hearts of my knights, but I just have to laugh at them.

The second level provides even more visual pleasure. It's dark and gloomy and the rain comes down steadily and my troop has to trudge through streams and muddy forest into an abandoned graveyard to save some prisoners. At this point I was still trying to work the camera and I kept getting lost whenever I tried to look too far beyond where my soldiers were standing. But I managed to finish it, and while my soldiers were shouting "Yay!" at the end, I couldn't help but join them (with my cat staring at me disapprovingly from the other side of the room).

The third map is where I begin to have issues with the game. I mean, come on! All you have to do is lead some ungrateful guy to his village. Big whoop. When he makes sudden turns and you don't follow him immediately, he berates you and tells you you're going the wrong way. Then when the bad guys start coming after him, he cowers and shows you what he's really made of. I kind of wish I could have just left him there and gone on, but alas, you just can't do that. The map is pretty and there are plenty of falling leaves and butterflies and stuff, so I can't complain too much. Here's where I realized something, though: I don't think I've seen a female villager yet. I understand that there aren't going to be any in my fighting ranks, but still, shouldn't there be some in the towns? Or are they all hiding inside somewhere? It's the world without women, and while some might say this is a good thing, I find it kind of odd. Is a tiny woman in a dress too hard to graphically reproduce? Or maybe there were a few and in my excitement I just missed them. I dunno, but whatever, the game must go on.

The fourth map killed me. Over and over and over. I think it's called "Into the Breach," and I actually started taking notes on it because I just wasn't getting anywhere. I got my soldiers to the fortress and there we were joined by another troop. Uh-oh, I thought, if this is going to be so hard that I'll need backup, and then I'm really in trouble. Sure enough, my screen spins around (rather dizzying, by the way), and the drawbridge closes. Scene shifts to an "invisible dwarf" by the seashore. Of course, the first thing I tried to do was to send a few knights and bowmen over the hills to try to help the little guy out. But of course you can't do that, and by the time I realized that, an enemy knight killed my dwarf and the game ended. So much for his invisibility. Okay, round two, time for a more active dwarf. I was really good about killing all the knights that came my way and I got all the way to the gate. Only to realize that there was no way in. A close-up revealed about five knights crowded behind the gate, but none of them moving to open it. Maybe if I set some charges and blow it up? Nope. I peeked behind the gate to see if maybe I could find a clue, and I decided to listen to the evil knights' conversation. What are they talking about? Ruling the world? Sex? A nice, home-cooked meal? Nope. They want to buy the biggest turnip in the world. Very funny. I restarted the level.

This time I meant business. Third time's the charm, right? I finally remembered that you can pull up hints from a menu, and so I did that. Ah...My dwarf has to follow one of the enemies into the breach. Hence the name of the map! Okay. This time I was so proud of myself. I stuck close behind one of the knights, followed him into the fortress, and started blowing up everything in sight. And I was immediately killed. As I normally do in life, I took the wrong tactic and went charging in when I probably should have just snuck around instead. I gave up. This was just too hard.

I decided to try playing online, so I logged onto bungie.net. The opening screen is a chat room with a scrolling list of games-in-progress. I tried to join someone else's game, but they were all in-progress and no one was starting anything new. Fine. I started my own game of "Body Count." And was joined by one person. Who decided he wanted to just hide until the timer ran out. Gee. That was fun.

I think I'm done with Myth II. For what it's worth, it's a great game and I give props to the guys at Bungie for releasing it on a hybrid disk for the Mac world to enjoy. But it's just too darned hard. I want to go blow someone up. I want mindless slaughter. Any suggestions?

-Heather "elki" Haselkorn actually enjoys this.


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