Sword Art Online episode 1: The Gaming Experience of a Lifetime
“In 2022, humanity has finally created a complete virtual environment.”
This is how our story begins, celebrating the triumph that I’m sure would be the wet dream of many a MMORPG player: a completely realistic, all immersive world played via a virtual reality machine dubbed the NerveGear. At first glance, this is quite reminiscent of the .Hack stories of the early 2000s. The NerveGear even reminded me of the Animus used to explore minds and memories in the Assassins’ Creed series. See, this is going to be a completely harmless adventure…
Aincrad, the world in which we are formally introduced to main protagonist Kirito, is stunning. Just what you would expect from a virtual experience: rolling hills, lush green plains, waterfalls floating in midair, towns full of people. You name it, it’s there. What is missing, however, is magic. An RPG sans magic?? Seems like a bit of madness. Everyone loves a good healer! Moving on. Kirito is flagged down as he runs through one of these towns by Klein, an endearing noob. Noobs can sniff out the experienced players. Klein strikes gold with Kirito, as he was one of the 1000 accepted into beta testing. They pal around for most of the episode as Kirito shows Klein the basics on fighting and surviving long enough to power up. After a bit, Klein gets hungry and which point they say their goodbyes as Klein logs out…
Huh? Where’s the logout button? And no, it’s not because he’s some clueless noob. It’s just not there. The pair blames opening day bugs and decide to try and contact an admin. Just as they’re about to, they get teleported to a central location in the game. Suddenly, the sky reddens with warning signs and…eew! Is that blood oozing from the ceiling!?? Sort of. The blob turns into this big shadowy, cloaked figure who identifies himself as Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of the game. Awesome! He should be able to fix this fast.
Except that there is nothing to fix! Log out button? That’s for quitters. And quitters die. That’s right. If anyone has the NerveGear manually removed, it sends out microwaves that will destroy that player’s BRAIN. Kayaba casually tells the crowd that 213 players have already bit the dust in this fashion, and proves this by showing them the news coverage of this entire spectacle. But that’s not all kids! Remember that bit earlier about healers? Nope. So if you die, you’re done and your avatar is gone forever. Oh yeah, almost forgot: you also die FOR REAL. The only way to get out is to complete the game. As a final insult, Kayaba also gives everyone a magic mirror that reveals the actual player! No more avatar; now you’re just a creepy old man in a skimpy skirt. Kayaba admits he accomplished his goal: “to create this world and intervene in it”. Biggest God complex I’ve probably ever seen.
Geez, is this a MMORPG or a survival horror? Compared to this, Tsukasa had it pretty easy. Fighting a crazy virus is a lot easier than fighting a crazy game developer, I’m sure.
“In the game’s first month, 2000 died. Floor 1 has yet to be cleared. 12/02/2022”
Um…Good luck, everybody else!
Note from DKJ: this is one of the biggest loads of BS I’ve ever seen! I can’t count the number of ways this would fail to even get off the ground! Then again, what’s sci-fi without a little suspension of disbelief? I have a feeling it’s going to take a lot for me to acclimate myself to this world and the concepts this game is built around. But I will admit that it’s ripe with tons of possibilities and perils. Once you get past just how stupid the start up for this is, then you can see the potential for a lot of fun and drama. Right off the bat I’m thinking about gankers and player killers. Hell, being a huge fan of Dark Souls, this concept is both exhilarating and terrifying. If that difficulty and those kind of rules are applied here, then be prepared some intense, nerve-wracking dilemmas!
Also, NO ONE can tell me this isn’t similar to .hack//SIGN on steroids. Sorry, I’m not buying it.
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