Doctor Greg Bradley Journal entry #2: Things are not going well. I've collected evidence about the giant ants but the mayor's ignored it all. Dusty's angry at me, and the entire town's about to be destroyed. If only I'd made some smarter decisions perhaps we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now. The whole town's getting together for a last stand on Main Street. I don't like our chances, but we have to try...
June 1, 1951:
When we last met our intrepid geologist, he'd just been forced to undergo treatment in hospital after being defeated by ants at J.D.'s Farm. Backtracking a little by reloading, I succeed in defeating the ants at J.D.'s Farm and got a tissue sample off a dead ant for my trouble. (let's just pretend the incident with the hospital never happened, shall we.)
I took the evidence to Doctor H.G. Wells (groan), who told me the results would be ready tomorrow.
|This guy's name is Billy Bob Morse. I'm unsure at this point if he has twelve followers or just owns twelve folding chairs.|
The next day, I first visited Dusty, who told me about disturbances at Pumphouse 3.
|Clearly the ants are to blame for the disturbances. Ants that carry flashlights!|
The cop at the police station mentioned the pumphouse as well. Guess where I'm going today? But first, a quick visit to the University Lab. The doctor mentioned that the tissue sample I gave him came from an enormous ant!!! Thanks doc, perhaps I should have mentioned that I took the sample off the leg of an enormous ant to save you the trouble.
He helped me though, by telling me that with ants that big, the only place they'd be vulnerable would be their antennae. I already knew that, but that was only because I've played this game before.
I decided to warn the mayor. As usual in situation like these, the mayor immediately got on board and helped solve the problem.
|What part of "I took this tissue junk from an ant as big as a farmhouse" don't you understand?|
|I'm starting to believe this clue may just be a dead end|
June 3, 1951:
The next day my neighbour, Ben, popped around to give me a leg he'd found while camping near the quarry.
|This would have been useful if I already didn't have an ant tissue sample analyzed, but thanks for the effort anyway, Ben.|
My daily visit to Dusty told me that the M-1 mine was the place to be so I took off for the ore plant. The worker confirmed that something was going on there so I took the train to M-1.
|I try to mime something to the effect of "You know you're behind sound-proof glass, right?" but I'm not sure she understood me. Fortunately I'm very good at reading lips.|
|This guy really doesn't seem terribly concerned. ALL YOUR WORKERS ARE PROBABLY DEAD!|
|Let me guess. Giant ant???|
|Got him in the antennae. Doctor Wells' advice proved useful|
|And I'm not certain vhy I paid you fifty bucks for that insight.|
June 4, 1951:
|Can I just save you the trouble and tell you it will be the track of an unusually large ant.|
|This is great. I now have two more pieces of evidence being analyzed without having to do anything. I'm starting to wonder why I bother to leave my house every morning.|
On the way to the quarry, after Biff had mentioned that they'd called asking me to identify something, I met Ice and the Hellcats...
Action Sequence 5: Chicken
|They clearly want directions to the closest KFC|
|Perhaps I would have seen them 'come out of nowhere' if I had fixed my rear vision mirror at some point|
|Win or lose and I get the same result - the challenge of a final show down at the Drive-in|
Action sequence 6: Knife fight
This sequence is a simple fight game. There's 3 types of attack or defense. I'm not sure what they do but I ended up winning by largely ignoring defense and using my right-hand stab move.
|First chicken, now swiss cheese? What's with the food obsession, Ice?|
|All self-respecting scientists carry around a switchblade in case a knife fight spontaneously breaks out|
|You gonna cry now, Ice Ice Baby? (And you'll get that reference in 38 years!)|
June 5, 1951:
|And, just to get things straight, certain doom is a bad thing, right?|
|At this point I thought it best to just pack up and leave town. I'm only a visitor after all. I can just take the main highway and...|
|Oh, son of a... fine, I'll stay and try to save the day.|
Today, Geez came over and suggested I charter a plane from an extremely stereotypical french pilot to investigate the area around the M-1 mine.
|The accent's bad enough, but the beret and cigarette? Laying it on a bit thick aren't you, Louie?|
|Unfortunately my plane flying skills weren't up to the task and I didn't even make it past the runway.|
|Oh, Billy Bob. I liked you a lot better when you were wearing silly hats and spouting nonsense about being chosen|
|Important safety tip: Crazy cult leaders are tougher than your average street thug. My health bar is just about depleted as I finally get him|
|I'm sure Biff'll be happy to see my new houseguest.|
|But Dusty, not so much. She would have much preferred it if I left the abused daughter of a psycho stay with dear old profusely bleeding dad.|
I started the day visiting our old friend Doctor Wells
|Seriously, doc. Why are you still getting surprised about this stuff?|
|Search for ants when weather is mild - got it!|
|I really, REALLY, hate this guy!|
|For no real reason I checked out the drive-in which was showing a great new cross-promotion|
|I really like that the plane view is exactly the same as the map, except bigger. While being distracted by this detail, I accidentally crashed into a volcano.|
|You and I both know I'm going to try to escape so why don't I just leave now and save us both the trouble?|
I got caught escaping the hospital and lost a few days. When I woke, things had gotten worse.
June 9, 1951:
|Oh, so NOW you want to talk to me.|
|Good to see Dr. Wells wearing a different jacket and getting out of the office for a change|
Action sequence 7: Plane flight
While flying the plane near the M-1 mine and southwest volcano, I come across lots of ants. I can spray them with some kind of insect spray., which is fun.
June 12, 1951:
|About bloody time|
|Interesting trivia: 3 out of every 5 people arrested by the Lizard Breath Police are football referees.|
Now that I've been put in charge, it's time we really started to take the fight back to the ants!
Strategy sequence: Human Resource Deployment
I could decide how many army men, construction workers, police officers or civilians to place in each location
|Seriously? Are there any ants in the vicinity of me right now?|
June 13, 1951:
|This is the point where I realised it would be almost impossible to win. But Doctor Greg Bradley doesn't give up!|
I go home to rest but I can't even get any peace there...
|Biff, what have I told you about advertising our private parties on Facebook? Wait. Oh, you're talking about ants, aren't you|
|It seems no matter how many I kill, they won't stop coming|
|Yep. Things are pretty f...ed up, right now|
So, with things being about as hopeless as they can be, I think I'll spend another two days in a hospital bed.
June 15, 1951 - The Day We Lost:
|You do know ants don't have higher brain functions, don't you, sheriff?|
|Time to do the heroic thing and join the rest of the town for the last stand|
|Soon after this I realised I can enter the tank. Wish I'd known this back at Hilbers Field 4 days ago|
|Once again, I killed a few but there were too many...|
|The end. Or is it?|
I loved that this game lets you continue playing beyond your mistakes. No matter how much you screw up, you eventually get all evidence because others have found it for you. It really gives me a feeling that I'm not the only one trying to find answers, even though I'm clearly still the star of the game. The multiple ways to find each piece of evidence is also great. There is no dying – failing an action sequence just makes the game harder by losing time, and escaping hospital can even mostly mitigate the lost time from failing.
Playing the game to completion despite being in a dead-man walking situation is also much more satisfying than in pure adventure games. I get more clues and know where to go, doing better and learning to not making the same mistakes next time. It's also very hard to get into a full-on dead man walking situation until you're very near the end anyway. If you continue to make the right decisions and win the minigames you can still win despite overwhelming odds (though it's possible that letting the airfield get destroyed made the game unwinnable.)
Losing this game was, surprisingly, a really fun experience. I got to experience an interesting story with a downer ending but not one in which the hero had no chance - he just made a few mistakes along the way (but not as many mistakes as the mayor who really should have started paying attention much earlier.) The story got more intense as the days ticked by - while a few days in hospital at the start of the game doesn't make a major difference, towards the end of the game the situation really deteriorates after a day or two of inactivity. I genuinely got emotional about the last stand and the town being destroyed at the end and for a game made in the late 80s/early 90s to evoke such feelings is a rare thing.
Next week we'll get to the final part of the game as I finally discover the ant's nest and hopefully finish the game with a win this time.