Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Video Game/Indie Pop Crossover

There aren’t many times when the world of my day job in video games and my night pursuits in music overlap in any real appreciable way.

But outside of the upcoming holiday rivalry between Activision’s Guitar Hero III and EA’s Rock Band, there’s been a recent surprise…

If you plan on beating Valve’s Portal -- which is found within The Orange Box collection for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 -- then, um, SPOILER! (Picture hands in air.)

The game places you as test subject in a series of experiments where you use a device that allows you to set portals to transport yourself around the environment. It goes like this: You set one portal on a wall near you, fire another where you want it to lead, then walk through. Action and comedy ensue.

The tests are run by a computer program that over time you come to realize is somewhat unhinged, as the tasks become more difficult and it becomes obvious its trying to kill you.

The dialogue is well-written and often frigging hilarious. For example, you start one early level hearing the computer comment, "Please note: We have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record -- followed by death. Good luck."

And all of it delivered in a deadpan, modulated female computer voice.

But the part of the game that’s actually relevant to this site is its indie pop ending. After you beat it, the credits roll and the computer voice returns, now singing an electronic pop song that would do The Postal Service proud.

Besides having a number of goddamn witty lines nested inside, it’s also catchy as hell. I put it into the mix between sets at our Let’s Independent! show at Boardner’s and no one batted an eye.

Since the game came out, nearly everyone I know who’s played it won't stop talking about how great the writing is and how much they love the ending song.

And they’re not alone... It appears to be turning into a little Interweb phenom, with the YouTube clip of the finale getting hundreds of thousands of plays.

Anyway, listen or watch for yourself -- or, better yet, just play the damn thing. It's the video game equivalent of an independent movie and well worth your time.

- Portal Still Alive MP3


Blogger Malcolm Sosa said...

I'm glad you don't review video games anymore because you are the worst effin SPOILER in the world. Don't give away anymore endings for awhile, ok?

2:32 PM  
Blogger Malcolm Sosa said...

I am still pissed about this.

12:07 PM  

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