*Note: I’m (Travis) doing the introduction this time and I haven’t held a PS2 controller since Christ last walked the earth. Just so you know.
Joel loves cars. He is adept at taking them apart and putting them back together in a frighteningly gifted way. He can put you into a brain coma in 12 seconds (12 seconds!) flat rattling off specs for a car that he swears goes so fast it can rip a hole in the space time continuum and send you into the future. The only knowledge I have that is that extensive belongs to a little thing I like to call Hello Kitty. I’m losing focus here. The point is this: He knows machines inside and out. I once tried to change my oil and set my damn car on fire. You see my point here? While we get along tremendously well, we have little in common when it comes to our employment. I prefer indoors, desks and computers. He enjoys cars, car parts and having sex with wild squirrels.
So, it comes as no great surprise that the game I was chosen by him to play was Ace Combat 18: Didn’t This Shit Just Come Out A Year Ago As Ace Combat 17, or AC18:DTSJCOAYAAAC17 for short. He wanted me to fly a multi-million dollar jet and shoot down…whoever we’re fighting. Terrorists, I assumed. I reminded him that I crashed my Power Wheels driving down the front walk to get the mail a few days ago (fucked up my ride pretty bad, too), and he wanted me to fly a jet? He looked me dead in the eye, slapped me once, and told me I had a duty. A duty to my motherfucking country. I saluted him and bravely picked up the PS2 controller. I’d be damned if the country was going to be overrun with terrorists on my watch. Little did the president, the world or Joel himself know how very, very badly I would fail.
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War for PlayStation 2
We throw the game in and boot it up.
Joel: “Do you wanna go over controls?”
Travis: “This controller feels weird. Why is the second knob down here?” (Note that I have an Xbox and GameCube, where the left analog stick is off-set higher)
J: “Press start. Go to options. Do novice. Trust me.”
T: “Shut up.” (picks novice)
Joel sets me up on campaign tutorial.
T: (shouting disgustedly) “I got it! Press up to go down and down to go up! They’re called inverted fucking controls. I got it. Just want to know how to missile people and shit.”
Joel sends me to final training. After ten minutes of the damn game talking to me like a retard who had just mastered all ten of his fingers, it further taunts me by screeching “You have chosen very easy!” in that loud, Japanese version of how all Americans talk.
T: “Thank you game! Yes, I did choose very easy! I suck at simulation games! (I yell to Christy in the kitchen) Honey, do you want to play? It’s on very easy!”
I should note here that my wife hates zombies. It’s her thing. I tricked her into seeing both crappy Resident Evil movies by swearing that in this one, there are no zombies.
Christy (from the kitchen, and very sarcastically): “Are there zombies in it? I’ll only play it if the pilots are all zombies.”
Joel ponders this for a moment. J: “Do they make an Animal Crossing (Christy’s favorite game) with zombies?” (laugher all around)
Christy: “Don’t you goddamn make fun of Animal Crossing!”
After six hours of CG crap:
Travis: “Do you get to fly a plane in this plane game? Did you put in the Top Gun DVD or Ace Combat?”
J: “I usually just skip over all this crap.”
Eventually, the actual game starts, and along with it my ignorant questions.
“How much is my jet worth?”
J: “Ten million. For a whole plane. I–fire! X is machinegun! You hear that guy saying ‘warning’? Does that alert you to anything? Someone is locking on to you! (In the background, my plane is blown into 50 bazillion pieces. Joel laughs)
T: (With a new jet) “How do I know if I’m going to crash into the ocean?”
J: “Altitude. There, on your right.”
T: “How low can I go?”
J: “Uh…well, zero makes you crash.”
T: “Am I supposed to go after the planes in front of me or the target?”
J: (sounding weary) “The planes are the target.”
T: “How come my missile didn’t work? I hit the missile button. How many do I have anyway?”
T: “85?! (Yells at the T.V.) You hear that? 85 missiles! You’re fucking toast!”
A few minutes later…
T: “Does this ever go into the fantastical realm? I mean, do I fight spaceships or anything?”
J: (sounding VERY weary of my questions now) “No. No you don’t fight spaceships. It’s a very realistic game.”
T: “Oh. You mean, except for the storyline. And how you control the planes with a PS2 controller. (Notices captain in cut scene) Is that my captain? He’s kinda hot for a CG guy.”
J: (Ignoring my questions completely) “Okay…this goes into your brief and it tells you every objective that you have, so you want to pay attention to this and not talk anymore about your weird crushes”
T: “Nah. I suck at this game. The terrorists win.”
Well, so far, so good. For next month’s The Grass is Always… we’re going to rent games neither of us have played and see how that goes. And I do mean horrible, horrible games. If it has Army Men or Mary Kate & Ashley in the title, we’re there. See you then.