Reading is fundamental

Made Man

(Aspyr; PlayStation2, Windows)

A couple of weeks ago I was facing a stretch without the possibility of any money besides what I had in my pocket. I have experienced this before, and the way I have learned to deal with it is to stay in my apartment, sleep a lot, and eat very little, counting the days. At my age and with my diet of cigarettes and coffee, Internet porn will only go so far. So I have found that the best way to kill the hours when I am conscious has been to play video games. With my meager budget, I set aside what I needed to buy some games and hit the mall. I came home with two, neither of which was a new release, but they were cheap. One, Made Man, has a gun on the cover, so I bought it. The other shares its theme with one of my favorite movies of all time, Jaws. I settled into my apartment with a stock of food, water, and my new video games.

Made Man tells the story of a Vietnam vet who gets mixed up with the Mafia after his tour of duty. This could easily be an amazing game. The story could have been pretty good if its makers had put it together with some semblance of caring; without warning, you jump from the city to the jungle and back, and apparently you are trying to find some gold. Finding gold? This is stupid, right? But the game has slimy feds and two-faced friends stabbing you in the back — can’t miss there.

Early on, however, you realize that whoever made this game had either never played video games or heard there was a lot of money to be made and, like the guy in Field of Dreams, figured, "If we make it, they will buy." I can enjoy almost any game if I play it long enough. Throw in parts that take place in Vietnam, with an actual "The End" rip serving as the soundtrack, and you would be hard-pressed not to make me happy. I love Vietnam War games, shooting guns, and Mafia cutaway scenes. But holy lord, Made Man sucks. Every weapon you fire is so clunky and inaccurate, in terms of killing people, that it’s actually unfun. This was a first for me. Your enemies, however, shoot like gods. They never, never, never fucking miss. Their bullets also often defy physics. I hate this game. Even though I still had weeks to kill, I tossed it and took a nice 16-hour nap.

Jaws Unleashed (Majesco; PlayStation2, Xbox, Windows) would save me. How bad could it be? Even if it was awful, it’d be good for some laughs. You get to play as the shark. This had to be fun. And maybe there’s a Quint minigame. I love Quint.

Perhaps the copy I bought was pirated — hence cheap — because it didn’t work. No magic could make this game work. No matter how many times I blew on the disc, blew inside the PlayStation2 unit, inserted and reinserted the game, tap-tap-tapped — I still got that "No Disc" screen. I even tried winging the disc across the room, screaming, crying, and stomping on the console. No dice.

I was looking at an endless line of empty days spent staring at my walls. As a last resort I played God of War 2 (Sony; PlayStation2) on Titan mode, which is the hardest setting and possibly not actually meant to be played by humans. For anyone bothering to try this, when you get to the fight with Zeus at the end, you might as well just go ahead and kill yourself, because the shit can’t be done.

With 10 days of no money left, I gave up on PlayStation killing time for me. I gave up on porn, YouTube, everything. I even gave up on cigarettes. I read a book.