The good news is, I’m onto Day 5, which means I’m in the homestretch of my PE playthrough; the bad news is that I have no excuse to write ‘sperm bank’ over and over again in this installment. I think I got a lot more pleasure out of that than I should have.
It’s hard to think of things to say about this section of the game in general, since I haven’t done the Museum yet– that’s the final dungeon, the end of Day 5– and a lot of what I’ve just played involves wandering around in the Chinatown sewers like a damp, lost puppy. An Aya-puppy.
But First, MY AWESOME GUN
One nice thing about playing the same game a bajillion times is that you can try all of those things that seemed far too risky and impractical your first time through. The strategy I originally used in regard to Aya’s main weapon, and the most common one, was to keep transferring stat boosts to whatever the newest rifle was. Rifles have the best range, which is incredibly important in PE. However, they fire slowly, so you spend a fair amount of time watching Aya laboriously aim that heavy gun while monkeys start clawing at her ankles. Grenade launchers are designed to be cannibalized, handguns are blah, and the rocket launcher is mostly unavailable (frankly it’s unavailable even when it is available, if you know what I mean.)
Now, machine guns are made to suck in PE– they come with abilities like Random Shot (horrible for obvious reasons), or a high rate of fire, which is deceptive. A higher rate of fire is actually bad in PE; the more shots Aya has to fire at once, the more time she spends standing in one place, out of your control. Plus, the damage doesn’t go up at the same rate as the R.O.F.– the more shots, the less power there is behind each shot. There’s some arcane math involved, and I believe you will do more damage overall if you fire multiple shots, but altogether it’s just not worth it. However, machine guns have the fastest firing animation in the game. If you take the crappy abilities off of the machine gun (and I had a bonus Supertool thanks to my mixedman hijinks during Day Four), what you essentially have is a handgun that fires three times as fast as a handgun.
Switching to a machine gun seemed like a huge mistake at first, since the loss of the range of the rifle was extremely noticeable (my attack power briefly went down as well). However, after boosting the gun’s stats a bit I was very happy with my speedy custom gun. I don’t know if I could ever go back to a rifle now; I ride the MP5K express.
If I ever make good on my ongoing threat to set fire to the Fox News building, I might end up in hell. I think it looks a lot like this.
In the Chinatown Sewers, you fight in cramped, dark quarters; you don’t have much room to maneuver. However, if you don’t maneuver right, you will get poisoned by the snakes and blinded by the bats, often at the same time. The poison isn’t that bad, but the darkness is a killer: the attack that casts it takes up a huge amount of space, meaning it’s often virtually impossible to dodge it, and once you’re stuck with darkness, you can no longer shoot any of the things that are blinding and poisoning you. You spend most of your time in this area attempting to dodge attacks that are almost impossible to dodge while waiting for negative status effects to wear off, and the moment they do, you usually get nailed again immediately. I don’t understand why anyone on the PE team thought that anything about this level was okay.
That said, objectively I realize that it’s terrible level design, but I actually kind of enjoy it. You do feel like a real badass on the rare occasions when you dodge everything, and there are a lot of cool pick-ups in the sewers to reward your toil. Specifically, you get the shotgun with the Burst effect, which is cause for celebration.
A Burst of Salvation
When you add Burst to your weapon, suddenly the terrible level that is the Chinatown Sewers becomes a blast to play, because everything that’s been annoying you out of your mind for the last hour has been toned down significantly. See, what Burst does is makes every shot you fire an area of effect attack. In the claustrophobic surroundings, you can often nail every single enemy with one shot; it’s amazing how much less frustrating it is when you can nail all those middling little enemies in one or two shots without having to take them out individually…like they think they’re IMPORTANT or something.
It’s crossed my mind in the past that this level was designed with this feature in mind- that you would really be struggling until you got Burst, and then it would be like Christmas and your birthday all at once. If that was their plan, it definitely worked, but the level remains poorly designed in other respects. This is, by the way, the only part of PE where I whip out the strategy guide so I can check the map. Considering that I have all of the other maps in this game memorized, that’s saying something.
The Crab, the Warehouse, and the Useless Piece of Useless
The Warehouse is an optional area, but there are a lot of great items- with the exception of the rocket launcher. It also has the hardest boss in the game; a cross between a hyper-powered mangrove crab and Cyclops from X-Men. I’ll bet Eve was proud of herself when she thought this bastard up.
In the interest of full disclosure, I tried to do the Warehouse before Chinatown just to be sassy, but due to a combination of being under-leveled and careless, I actually saw the game over screen. That may be just as well, because I’d forgotten what it looks like…no, seriously, I’m not just trying to be cute, I literally forgot what a game over screen in PE looks like. It’s nothing special, by the way.
The only thing of note about the Warehouse is the Crab Battle(!), at the conclusion of which you get the rocket launcher. I find this strange, because there’s that video game tradition of awarding, after a boss fight, the exact weapon that would have been best used fighting that boss. In this case it’s the opposite- going up against the speedy crab with the slow-as-hell rocket launcher would be tantamount to video game suicide.
The crab would look at you, blow some bubbles, toss it’s giant claws at you, read an interesting article in Vanity Fair, sip his coffee with a slightly bored expression while thinking about existentialist concepts far beyond the comprehension of normal delicious seafood, and do about 12,000 points of damage to you while Aya stood there waiting for her ATB gauge to fill. It barely does more damage than your main gun, which is unforgivable. As a final insult, you have a stupid Rocket Crate taking up space in your inventory for the rest of the game. I wasn’t prepared to go this far, but you know what? I think it might be the most useless weapon in video games. I think this is yet another reason why PE is so special.
Next time, the second half of Day 5, with the Museum of Natural History– can you believe that I’m almost done? I mean, yeah, there is a Day 6, but it’s really short so I’ll probably just write a paragraph about aircraft carriers and mutant babies and call it a day.