“Above all else, stay alive.”

Lans Staying Alive

In my limited free time, I’ve been replaying Tactics Ogre for the PSP. This is one of my favorite games of all time, if not the number one. I originally played it when I was a teenager for Playstation and then years later when I was in college and working as an intern in Washington D.C., playing it on the Bolt Bus between DC and New York.

I’ve been playing this game on and off for over fifteen years, and I’ve never finished it. The game is non-linear, which I love, and from what I understand, it has multiple endings – none of which I’ve seen. It’s an adult game, with ethical dilemmas that rival modern games like Mass Effect.

One of the things I’ve found intriguing is the character Lanselot’s mentorship to the main character, Denam. On two separate occasions he lectures Denam on the importance of staying alive above all other things. In one of his first meetings with the main character, he says:

“So you’re off to aid one of the Duke’s men. I regret we cannot join you. Above all else, stay alive. Win or lose, while there’s life, there’s hope.”

And then later on, in a quiet moment before one of the game’s pivotal scenes he again advises Denam to stay alive:

“Risking your life is one thing. Losing it is another. The best way to aid your people is to stay alive. See the battle through to the end. And there’s your sister to think of.”

It’s a curious piece of advice in a video game, from a famous warrior. You would expect advice of honor on the battlefield, bravery, or skill. There’s a part of me that thinks the advice might have served as kind of early tutorial in the game. The original Tactics Ogre for Playstation was much more unforgiving when it came to death – if a character was slain in battle he/she was perma-deathed. Lanselot’s advice might have been there to warn the player to protect life, as training a new character was a long and arduous process. The updated version for PSP/Vita still has perma-death, but there’s a timer on the character as in Final Fantasy Tactics.

Still, whether it served as a tutorial for the player or actual advice, it is refreshing to see it.

Is it not true?

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TLOU: 4th Infantry Division Soldier Found in Colorado Mall, Died Fighting Zombies

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From The Last of Us: Left Behind. The 4th Infantry Division is based at Fort Carson, Colorado. If there was an Army unit to respond to the zombie apocalypse anywhere in Colorado, it would be 4th ID.

It is refreshing when video games get military details like that right.

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How to Win in Afghanistan

If you are a real Paladin, then put your sword away and endure it! There is something even more important than justice and righteousness. Someday, the time will come when you understand this.
– ‘Mysterious Voice’ on Mt. Ordeals

If the video above is familiar to you, you might enjoy ‘Legends of Localization‘ which is where the above quote came from – a more literal translation of some of the text from the Paladin/Dark Knight fight.

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The Baramus Massacre and the Syrian CW Attack

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is one of my favorite games. It’s mature and allows the player to make tough choices that seriously affect how the game plays out and how the game actually ends – unlike another one of my favorite games.

In the above video, the main character (you) is part of a fledgling rebel group that is fighting a very uphill battle against stronger, more organized forces. You’ve just come to rescue a bunch of your fellow people who have been held captive with the intent of enlisting them in the rebel army. While they’re thankful for being rescued, they are not interested in fighting and would rather just be left alone.

At this point, the respected senior knight who has been accompanying you pulls you aside and informs you that if the people would not join, then his orders are to massacre them, dressed as the enemy. The intent would be to drum up support for the rebel cause elsewhere. A very nasty move.

Interestingly, in the game, choosing this path puts you on the “Lawful” and “Loyal” path – traits that are generally considered to be good. Disobey and you are put on the “Chaotic” path.

A very heavy decision to make – I was fourteen or fifteen when I first played this.

When I started seeing news reports suggesting that perhaps it was the Syrian rebels that used chemical weapons in the attack last month, it made me think of the Baramus Massacre.

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Tactics Ogre Baramus Massacre Law Route - YouTube

Battleship Yamato

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I don’t normally write about Navy stuff, but I was looking through some articles which referenced the Japanese anime ‘Space Battleship Yamato‘ which reminded me of the actual battleship the show is named after.

The Yamato and her sister ship Musahi were the biggest warships ever constructed. I first learned about the Yamato as a kid playing Koei’s P.T.O. (Pacific Theater of Operations) which is a strategy game that allows you to play as either the Allies or Axis powers during WWII in the Pacific. For an old game (it was made in 1989) it was incredibly detailed. The graphics and gameplay weren’t anything exciting, but the in-depth control and historical accuracy made the game addicting.

It was in some random sea encounter that I saw a Japanese battleship that had a slightly larger sprite. The bow was canted slightly upwards, which made it look like a katana (terrible orientalist trope, I should know better, but that’s actually what it reminded me of). It was a menacing looking ship, and it had the armor and guns to back it up.

The¬†Yamato¬†was never really tested during the war. She did some beach shelling at Leyte Gulf but never saw a ship-on-ship engagement. She was sunk by torpedo bombers in 1945 in the war’s final days. The other two¬†Yamato-class ships were also sunk by either planes or a submarine.

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