A confluence of events have beset me that cause me to believe it would be worthwhile to have a little rant. You may recall my column a few weeks back in which I detailed my discovery of the Atlantic Byte Vortex. If you do not recall it, go and read it now. No, seriously.
I’m not going to talk to you if you haven’t read it. I don’t write these columns for fun.
Anyway, for those of you that have, you will recall that the Vortex was not the most pleasant of things, but it did at least provide an explanation as to why there is a lack of a global release date. Also, I believe, you will remember that a great many powerful people were doing their darnedest to keep the thing concealed.
They read my article.
I had been walking in the park across from the house in which I am currently staying. The grass had been recently mowed, and I was accompanied on my stroll by the heady aroma of nature forced to kneel before the might of rapidly rotating steel shears. Women, children, animals and other creatures were giving me a wide berth, and I was content.
But then the trees started to bend.
The trunks warped and creaked, twisting in the air, making their leafy tops look like odd balloons tethered to the ground with thick, brown string. And though I was there, surrounded by the rippling things, the creaks they made sounded muffled and distant.
To say that I ran would suffice, but would also be a lazy way of describing my exit. It lacks the correct feel. I prefer scarpered.
I encounter unusual phenomena relatively often, it’s in the genes. It continues to remain in my genes, and not splattered all over a supermarket car park at three in the morning, by my ability to remove myself from the field of the bizarre at a steady pace. As skills go, it’s one that comes easily, and requires very little in the way of training. Having said that, however, it pays to practise your spatial awareness for just such an event.
Like a drunken athlete, I tumbled out of the park sideways. I had tried to prepare myself for the turn as you exit the gate, but in my haste I had done so too fast and too early. A more sedate man would have seen the postman, and certainly would not have taken him down in an unusually intimate rugby tackle.
We lay in silence for a moment, staring into each other’s faces with very different intentions. He wanted to run, I wanted to punch. Then run.
The tension dissolved when I saw, clasped in his fingers as a makeshift shield for his face, a package addressed to my current landlord. I ripped it from his fingers, stood up, smoothed out my ensemble, and continued my charge home. Behind me, I was dimly aware of two figures exiting the park, but I made no attempt to identify them.
Discretion is the better part of carefully applied cowardice.
The package was FEAR 3. Or F3AR, if you are an idiot. The landlord had ordered it on a whim after conversing with a man on the internet who was too entitled to bother paying for things, having used his network of electronic elves to seize a copy of the game early. He had given it a glowing review, and the landlord is an impressionable sort. More than a little thick too, the kind of man who would ask for a calculator if instructed to go forth and multiply.
But, despite this, I supported him in this purchase. Being, as I am, somewhat accustomed to the supernatural and all manner of phantasmagoria, games like FEAR resonate with me. There’s something about the misunderstood plight of Paxton Fettel that sings to me, and I’m always willing to explore that a little further.
I popped the game into the computer I had appropriated from the landlord’s room, under the guise of a bailiff. It was Thursday.
I clicked through the various DRM irritations. Tear off strip here, scratch this, insert serial key into box, type with fingers snapped from the hands of a virgin from the Isle of Sheppey. Standard fare. Or it was until it came to actually installing the thing. I had tied it to a Steam account, was in direct possession of the data itself, and then I was denied.
THIS GAME HAS NOT LAUNCHED.
‘Well,’ I calmly recited to the screen. ‘I think you’ll find it has.’
There was a loud knock at the door. At first I thought it would be the neighbours, come to complain about my gentlemanly non-outburst, but even in a bad mood they find it hard to knock with such insistence. Besides, they know better.
As the door slid open, I was presented by two Americans. They had that indescribable look of Americanness about them, the sort of colonial smugness that you only find on teenagers who gain a small measure of victory over their parents. I did not invite them in.
‘Mister Silver,’ one of them drawled. ‘We hear you’ve been talking about the Vortex. You were warned not to do that.’
I stepped back, out of jab range. ‘I wasn’t aware that was legally binding.’
‘Everything is legally binding where we come from,’ the other man said as they stepped towards the open door.
It was an impotent gesture. Though they claim to be a different breed, America was built on British and Irish values. They queue, for instance. They drink caffeinated beverages. They worship a sport about smashing balls with wooden bats. They don’t do them quite as well as we do, but they’re young, they’ll learn. Another thing they can’t do, like Englishmen and Vampires – although not Vampiric Englishmen, it must be noted – is enter a house uninvited. Such manners are bred so deeply into their genes that it’s more a subconscious compulsion than anything else.
‘The people had a right to know,’ I said. ‘And by that I mean that I am not patient enough to wait three days. And the people want what I tell them to want.’
The first man, burly and hirsute, stepped right up to the threshold. ‘Oh, we know exactly what you’re after, mister Silver. We took measures to deal with the likes of you. How are you enjoying your new game?’
‘That was your doing?’
‘Oh yes, sir. We knew you’d find a way around the Vortex eventually. Couldn’t have you thinking you’d gotten one over on us.’
‘I… someone paid for that game fairly. It was delivered legally and above board. I have the files in my house right now. And yet you have decided I can’t play it?’ The room dimmed, lights were flickering and popping as I spoke.
‘More or less. You can play it when we say you can, and not a moment before.’
I did not react precisely as a gentleman should, but I was certain that this was an act of war. The police were less agreeable, but you can buy an agreement from the local Peelers quite easily. I avoided a brief stay at her Majesty’s Pleasure – although… no, I shan’t make that insinuation just yet – although the Americans were stronger than they looked.
So as I write this, I am lying on my chaise-lounge, sipping wine from a glass as big as my head, poured from a vintage as exclusive as a JD Salinger soiree, waiting for the clock to tick over into Friday. It is, of course, Sunday when you get to read these, but don’t let that fool you. Just because you can play FEAR 3 now, does not mean you shouldn’t join me in the rage that spewed forth from it being locked then.
If filthy pirates can play a game they haven’t even paid for, the sad fools from whom I steal my software should certainly be able. Having spent some of their meagre pennies earned from a lifetime of office work and rectum snogging, I think they can be allowed a boon or two, yes?
I think it’s war. It’s war, America. Let’s see how smug you are when an army of clockwork powered death vipers is slithering onto the Floridian beaches, shall we?
Mercurio Silver is a grumpy misanthropic immortal with bold statements and a narcissistic need to force them on others. With his sharp tongue he shares his most recent realisations and thoughts right here on Midlife Gamer every Sunday.