Monday, March 25, 2013

Thoughts on Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty (SPOILERS, so do not read if you ever are going to play it, bc its worth it.)

            So when Josh played Star Craft 1 and it pulled me in. True, I didn't at first like Raynor that much, even though he was a sheriff he gave off a little of the 'bad boy' and 'not respecting authority' vibe, (which I found annoying). But I liked his actions. I liked how his MO was saving the civilians, so he went against his (corrupt, bureaucratic) authorities, and kind of accidentally joined the rebels, so he could save his people. Then he falls in love with a cute-bantering-intelligent special ops girl over a comm link, who knows how he feels because she's kinda telapathic (insert Hannah's snarky comments to Josh about how how this is tailored to shy/nerdy teenage boys here). They work together, and are friends. And then...she is given a stupid order. And he (stuck somewhere else) is trying to persuade her, over the commlink, not to obey it. And she tells him that she's fine, thank you, and makes some witty comment about how he shouldn't try his (sexist?) knight in shining armour routine here.  Then she gets betrayed and taken by the Zerg, given up for dead. And he's torn apart. And then he has a dream, that she's asking him to come back to the planet that she died, that she's still alive. So he goes, and finds she's been 'infested'/zombie-fied in a way/zergified. Its like finding your loved one possessed. (exactly in fact). And he swears (though to me it sounded like a prayer) 'Mother of God, Kerrigan, what have they done to you?') And she answers him with the possessed self, telling him she's powerful now etc... And (as he is surrounded) he says (with irony? They never dated, and Kerrigan is the kind of independent women who I don't think likes being called darlin') 'So what are you going to do darlin, kill me?'  But there is enough left in her that she lets him go. Ok, so it was sad. He is betrayed by the Terrans (leaders anyway, who are complete skunks playing with the lives of their people), he cares about the Terran civilians, he HATES the invading killing Zerg (but loves a Zerg Captain e.g. Kerrigan), so he ends up siding with splinter faction of the alien Protoss who fight the Zerg, try not to kill the humans (unlike the main faction of the Protoss) and try to defend their homeplanet. He's fighting against Kerrigan, against the Terrans, but because he loves civilians, because he cares. (Now that wouldn't be so bad, its sad. But the exile defending the people who hate him thing) He's an exile with the exiled Protoss faction, who like him, have gotten into trouble for trying to protect (or in the Protoss' case, not purge) the Terrans. So he's lost his people, the girl he likes, but at least he has a cause, and fellow (alien) exiles to share it with.                                                               Then Josh played Brood War, and it about busted my heart.  Due to being caught between 2 evils, Raynor has to pick the lesser of 2 evils to form a shifting alliance with, trying to save what is precious. (There was so many betrayals, spies, and levels of double-triple spy and intrigue it felt like a strategic version of a soap opera. I don't think this story line was as well written) But even worse Kerrigan's mind is freed from the overmind, but she acts like the devil. She wants revenge, wants power. She brutally gets on top, using (and killing) Protoss in a pretended repentance. Using (and killing his best friend) Raynor in more pretended good will. She knew (even though he was suspicious) that deep down, not even admitted to himself, that he's hoping she can change. After she uses them, and kills Raynor's (fellow exiled) Protoss buddy, Raynor gets very angry, and promises her he is going to kill her. (This feels a lot less soap opera-y that it sounds. Its not like a lovers fight, since they were never lovers, just friends. And its more of an admission that he thinks there isn't much 'Sarah' left, mostly a ruthless 'Queen of Blades' that uses the Sarah part to get power). So I hated Brood War. All my hope of Kerrigan repenting was destroyed. She faked repentance to get what she wanted, she used and killed people using their hope/pity, she ruthlessly got to the top, she delighted in other peoples suffering. I said the only next thing for her to do was build a little hell to torture people. So Kerrigan was turning into the devil, and Jim just lost his exile Protoss buddy, AND is watching the girl he likes get worse, AND the Terran gov't are still run by ever-increasingly-evil creeps, AND not only is the Protoss homeworld destroyed, the exile colony is ripped apart by Kerrigan's power plays, AND there is introduced an abomination of Zerg-Protoss genetic experiment. I was mad. And sad.                                                                                                            
            Then Josh got Star Craft 2, Wings of Liberty. Well, the tag line on the booklet got to me
"Jim Raynor has led a resistance movement known as Raynors Raiders against the spreading power of the dominion but over the years it has been a losing battle. Arcturus Mengsk[h-the old rebel leader who betrayed Kerrigan to the Zerg, and became the govt] has used his greatest weapons--the media and propaganda to maginalize Raynor's efforts. Now Raynor seems to be losing faith, drinking heavily and haunted by the ghosts of his past. Those who know Jim Raynor best have been saying that there is one part of him that won't rest until Sarah Kerrigan is dead... ...and another part of him that refuses to let her go." 
         Its a truth always on the scaffold, wrong always on the throne. The rebels that really just cared about power, and that see people as things to be used, are in power. The guy that wants to defend civilians ends up a marginalized despised-by-the-people criminal/exile. And the media does its part. (hmmmmm this reminds me of something...) And he's losing faith, but still kinda, almost not admitted to himself, still hopes. As the game starts, they do a little explaining to Raynor's slight bad-boy tone and yet steel spine from Star Craft 1. They imply Raynor had a quasi-criminal past, and a criminal buddy took the fall for him. Then he because a sheriff for backwater town (tough image), but really really loved defending the people. (There's a child's card thanking Sheriff Raynor in scrawled crayons, and his old sheriff badge, along with a photo of Sarah Kerrigan from the old days, pinned up against the wall.) It seems he perhaps had a rough childhood, but at his first exposure to defending people and being on the side of justice and truth he really loved it.                                                                                                                          (Convict buddy 'How did you (with rough past) become sherriff?'  Raynor says something like '(Head of law enforcement) was counting on his rough image. then says 'When I was sheriff, I never had to kill anybody (in this sort of awe/happy way)' convict 'must not have been fun' Raynor is silent.) So his convict buddy Finley comes out, still all convict-y, (with a truly awful obscene pin up girl type of image painted on to his armor). Raynor is kind to him, because they were old friends and Finley took the fall for him. But Raynor is different than Finley. He carries Sarah's picture of her face, so full of life and personhood, while Finley reduces women to hormone highs in his picture. (I still do not know what that creepy holograph was doing in the bar on the Hyperion. I'm pretty sure Raynor wouldn't put there. I think it was there to be a 'bar', and to frame over Finley's shoulder when he berates Raynor for not having one night stands, when there's so many 'missed opportunities. Raynor shrugs him off).  And when Finley proposes they hunker down throughout a Zerg invasion, and look out for themselves, Raynor fights with him, and says no, they will do what they can to save people. Finley is the essence of the criminal mind, rules/society don't matter, its all about what you can get out of it (people, situations). Its all about him, and his desires. Raynor is the essence of heroism, its all about the other people, he sacrifices so much, to save the civilians. Its all spoken in his badge, the kids's card, and the picture of his dead loved one on the wall. (even if he came from a rough childhood, this is what matters to him). Then there's Horner, the clean cut, good kid, law and justice. He's the foil to Finley, Raynor's other friend. But he's very young, 20s-ish. He despises Finley, but respects Raynor (even though Raynor looks more like Finley, old tattoos and all, his soul isn't. He's self-sacrificial, not boiling down all other humans and society to whatever he can get out of it). I love how they are friends (H: be careful R: Careful is my middle name H: I thought it was Eugene R: Shutup, James)
           But Raynor is falling apart. His cause seems to be going no where (he needs funds, people, etc), Kerrigan looks gone evil forever, his Protoss buddies are long gone. He keeps drinking, but still tries to do what he can, collect research things for a group willing to pay him, so he can get money to fund his efforts. Its not like he's unsuccessful. He is able to save a bunch of civilians abandoned by the govt, and relocate them to safety.  And (while drinking by himself) he gets a vision of his Protoss buddy, who brings him a cryptic message that only Kerrigan can save the world. He keeps drinking. Horner finds him drunk (he's dreaming about Kerrigan being betrayed) and tells him that "What happened to Kerrigan, its not your fault" "Which part, her being left behind, or her killing 9 billion people?"                                   
  You know the things she has done, the people she has killed, really really bothers him. They aren't just statistics to him. But he still cares about her, even when though what she is doing tears him up. Then Horner throws him his badge, and says they are counting on him. Jim holds his badge, staring at it. Its what he does, trying to save civilians.
         Then comes the hope, the slimmest chance, yet untested, that they may be able to unzergify her. But he will have to ally himself with the son of his nemesis, who is probably using him (sitting safely up on high, watching the invasion via telecom), and will have to fight his way into hell, probably die, all just to try it out.
        And he's got other options. He meets a girl, very much like the pre-zerged Kerrigan, a ninja sort, extremely cute with that kind of cute bantering personality (though she's kinda deadly...). And then there's also the doctor, an intelligent girl with a good heart, who is compassionate,who respects him ("you're a good man, Jim Raynor") who he could marry and start over fresh, helping her save/govern her colony. (This scene, he does a marvelous job of diffusing romantic tension. Starts to smoke and says 'guys like me don't get a second chance. We just have to finish what we started).  So there's other chances for him to marry a cute, cute-personality, intelligent, NORMAL girl with an actual chance at happiness. Kerrigan is destroyed, she's lost her mind, her cute personality, her body (completely destroyed by zerg infestation), and one wonders, her soul? (she's become so evil). When he embarks on the crazy mission, its not like he's (as Horner accuses him) 'risking all our lives just to get your girlfriend back'  (He gives his crew a choice to join him or not) But its not like its about him getting her back. Her mind and body and all the 'perks' everything cute and nice about her is gone. And he will most probably die. Its about saving her soul. He's trying to save the only thing that may be left, her soul, because he loves her soul. With all the perks of romance gone, with all that makes us attracted to someone stripped away (and offered in other people) he chooses to fight his way into hell, in the sliver of a chance it will save the world, and, Kerrigan's soul. And he's willing to be the pawn of Mengsk (who will most probably turn on him once he does it) for that.
           And he goes. He fights his way into hell and loses so much, death left and right. And he does it. And he goes into the cave where she is, and sees her lying on the ground. (Back when Zarratul confronts zergified Kerrigan, she is powerful, evil, even kinda armor-like 'sexy' in that tough inhuman way (the spine high heels), she is 'bring on the end, we'll all die anyway' despair and power.) But now she is  almost dead, so weary, no armor, no power, weak, vulnerable, human, naked like a baby (her feet are human again, not shod with spines), like a second birth. And so weary, so helpless (not the powerful queen of blades). And he calls her name, "Sarah". And she's helpless, and almost gets shot, just lying there, too tired to move away from the bullet sightings (perhaps her human self not that defensive from death, after all she's been through) And has to kill Finley to stop him from killing her for his freedom. And he picks her up and carries her out into the light, she calls his name so tired and confused "Jim?" And he answers "Its ok, I've gotcha" and keeps walking into the light. And she looks so so so tired. And he looks at her face, she looks at his, and he looks up and out toward the light, carrying her toward the light. And then just finally able to rest, trustingly falls asleep. And he's carrying her out into the light, you see her bare feet flopping,  flesh (not with spine high heels armor), vulnerable, human.(to me she didn't look attractive, just so human and so so tired) And my heart was so full. It felt like, against all the odds, he fought through hell, and as the fleets burned above them, traitors all around him, intrigue and spies and power plays an d crashing worlds all around him, and yet, them two, she was saved. Against all the odds. It was like, there is a God. There is a God who fights for Raynor even in all the political gods and using people and mess, out on the burning hills, under a burning sky with fighting airships, there she is , exhausted so so tired, and he, so so so so tired (finley dead etc), but she is saved.
        And you know everything is not hunkydory, that everything is such a mess and crazy with evil govt waiting for him, but  it is more then you ever hoped. The biggest, most impossible thing has happened, and the layers of spies and crashing empires and burning ships and all, are just cleaning up, are just aftermath. The biggest impossible thing has happened. And you feel like, there is a God. A God who fights for Jim, who gives Jim this huge honor that he could sacrifice that he could say 'its ok, I've gotcha' after so much suffering. (I remember wondering if that is how Jesus felt when he saved us.) It was better then I ever hoped for. I was so happy. So happy. (I guess it is the eucatastrophe Tolkien talked about) When the fabric of story rends, and you can see the light from the other side) I felt like the ring is destroyed, and you get Smeagol back. Or something. Against all odds, what shouldn't be save-able is saved, because there is a God.                                                                                   /(

Afterthoughts, Josh commented, he feels so--pure. Here he is holding a naked (h-vulnerable) woman he is attracted to, and He looks at her face, and then out up toward the light. God knows we need pure heroes. Who its about personhood, and God. Not selves and own desires, reducing people to hormone highs, but God, carrying people into the light. Josh also seemed to be moved at the subtle part where kerrigan finally rests. It says so much. Finally, trust, rest, there is a God, rest. Josh said, its like he goes from being carrot-y to vimes-y to carrot-y again. He regains faith.)                                        

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