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Back before I was writing about games I was one of the managers of a cyber cafe. Every day, people would come and give us money to use our computers to play games, because the PlayStation 3 was still five-hundred and ninety-nine US dollars and it was easier to spend $15 for a night of gaming than save up for an Alienware. The place was alright--we didn't have the absolute best computers and the headphones broke a lot because kids are stupid--but we had every game you could hope for.
Steam actually had a system in place specifically for LAN centers like us that made it so we could download every game we wanted on every computer we wanted. It was awesome. One night, after spending a day reformatting all of the computers to freshen them up, we went about downloading all of the games we thought anyone would ever want to play. We also downloaded a game called The Ship as a gag. A boat game? Ha. Whatever.
And then we played it, and realized that it was one of the best games ever for a LAN center like ours.
You play a random, generic vacationer on a cruise ship filled with other random, generic vacationers--some controlled by players, others AI. It has some elements of The Sims, where you need to use the restroom, sleep, eat, and remain entertained, giving you ample opportunities to wander around the boat. You can chance costumes, buy items, and do all sorts of regular boat stuff. Oh, and one more thing: there's someone on the boat trying to kill you--and you have someone you're supposed to kill as well.
Once this element was revealed everything clicked into place. Needing to go to the bathroom in The Sims (and in real life, if we’re being honest) is annoying. In The Ship, it’s thrilling and tense. I didn’t know if the woman in the flower dress walking into the wall near the bathroom was a glitching AI, or another player, aping the game’s computers and waiting for me to start to pee so I’m too distracted to notice the remote bomb sitting in the stall.
Why not just go on a murderous rampage? Because there are rules, god dammit. Kill the wrong target and you’re penalized money. Brandish a weapon in front of a security camera or a guard and you’re spending some time behind bars. If your target is in jail? Make a shank, get caught trying to kill someone, and stab him to death in the clink. We played it for hours, learning the intricacies of the game and discovering new places to find weapons, new ways to kill enemies, and new ways to pretend to be AI to trick our friends. If this sounds like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer, that’s because it’s similar--despite releasing several years earlier.
If you're looking for a massive game with a huge community to play with, you... shouldn't get The Ship. The servers are barren and no one plays it anymore. But if you have a few friends interested in a unique shooter (or something to spice up a LAN party) you can't go wrong with a cruise. Oh, and if like, even five of you get it and are interested, we'll totally do a community thing where we'll play it, because we totally want an excuse to play this game again.
Looking for stuff to play outside of the stuff we already tell you to play on a daily basis? You're in luck! Every Saturday we'll recommend an older game for you to check out, complete with a story on how we found the game and why we recommend you play it.