Thursday, July 21, 2011


Alright, enough of this. I steel my will (get it?) to resist the urge to badger Ravenspeaker about the apparent flaws in this plan and dive headfirst into the portal, glaring logic gaps be damned.

I have no idea what sort of hellish dimension I'll find myself in or what mind-bending horrors I'll behold as soon as I open my eyes, if up will still be up or if the physics of this place will be completely beyond anything my mind can comprehend, but if I keep my wits about me I should be able to avoid going insane long enough to find this demon.

Or, hey, it's a frozen pond.

At first I'm convinced that the portal must not have worked right, but upon closer inspection, things are kinda weird here. Trees and glowing rocks are floating through the air in a slow circle overhead, for one thing, and I'm fairly certain that I can see a flying bear just kind of hanging out.

I also appear to be slowly dying, so I pop on the thermal vest and turn it on. Quite to my surprise, once activated it isn't so much a vest as a fiery corona that seems to envelop my whole body and keep me toasty. That's um... well, that's actually really neat, but if Ravenspeaker had said "here, it'll be cold, take this magical heat forcefield thing" it would have made a lot more sense.

But enough about that. Up ahead, on an island in the center of the frozen pond, I can see a guy with a suit talking to another thirty foot glowing projection. What's with these people and giant glowing pictures of themselves, anyway?

There don't appear to be any other people around besides this guy, the projection, and half a dozen zombies and ice shamans, though, so judging simply by the company he keeps, the guy in the suit must be either Kigatilik, Rakshasa, or Dr. Destroyer. I head over there to throw some punches in lieu of asking any questions, but some of the ice shamans move to intercept me, so I have to go through them, first. There are three of them, and this takes approximately two and a half hours.

The lowly Ice Shaman is one of the more irritating enemies in the entire game, at least in my humble opinion. While unable to inflict all that much damage... and considerably less to Iron Will even than to an average character... they primarily switch back and forth between two moves. The first encases your character in a cage of ice for a few seconds and then knocks them back, doing a little bit of damage but mostly just keeping them away from the Ice Shaman himself. Their other move, which they bust out two or three times a fight, is some sort of localized invisibility storm that does negligible amounts of damage to your character but makes the Ice Shaman himself invisible and completely unassailable, preventing you from attacking him until the effect wears off. A character with ranged attacks can simply retreat from the storm's radius and blow them away, but for melee characters, the majority of each fight will be spent waiting for that several second window after the enemy reappears but before you get frozen in a block of ice until he can disappear again. You will spend most of your time looking at this:

The two and a half hour estimate is a slight exaggeration, but man, are these guys obnoxious.

Finally, the last ice shaman blinks into existence for half a second and I manage to drive a fist into his jaw, breaking it halfway off his face and clearing the way to the guy in the suit. Jeeeeeze. At this rate that demon guy will already have been released by the time I get there.

... Oh, shoot. He HAS been released by the time I get there. The guy in the suit reveals himself to be Rakshasa rather than Kigatilik, who was presumably the giant glowing projection that has since disappeared to go wreak havoc across the land. Well, we'll deal with him when the time comes, I suppose. Right now, Rakshasa, you and I are due for a game of Iron Will Repeatedly Bludgeoning Rakshasa With His Fists... The Game.

There's more to this Rakshasa than meets the eye, though. As soon as I get close, he sort of manifests these two bright pink glowing mist-sword things out of his hands and starts beating on me with them.

I admit that I did not see this coming.

Unfortunately for him, the pink mist-blades feel only slightly less insubstantial than they look, and once I realize that the minor burning sensation he's inflicting on my arms and shoulders isn't actually life threatening, I just sort of step through his flurry and clock him on the side of the head.

Down he goes. I'm a little disappointed. I had a significantly tougher time with Tulzorgat, and even, I think, every individual ice shaman I had to wade through to get here. Oh well. Looking around the clearing and the alter doesn't reveal anything immediately obvious that I can do to get Kigatilik back here, though, so I guess I've done all I can here.

I throw Rakshasa's concussed bulk over one shoulder and head back out the portal to see what Justiciar and Ravenspeaker want to do next.

When I get back out, Canada looks quite a bit better than it did when I went in. The storm has ended, the sun is shining, and there's not a single ice demon harassing anyone as far as the eye can see. It's still freezing cold and bitterly inhospitable to human life, but near as I can figure that's normal for this part of Canada. I head down the hill from Ravenspeaker's cabin to the Steelhead base to find Justiciar and see if there's anything else I need to do before I can get out of here.

A soldier waves me over on the way, though. I figure he might need some urgent help, so I drop Rakshasa in a pile by some crates and go over to see what's up. Turns out he doesn't actually need my help, but is just wildly enthusiastic about how awesome I am (which is exactly the kind of conversation I need more of in my life) and lets me know that I'm his favorite and he thinks I should totally go into the Hero Games. ... But what are the Hero Games, man?

So apparently it's like some sort of UFC for superheroes. That's um... that's kinda cool, I guess. I might look into that. But dude, I'm sort of in the process of saving your base at the moment, so if you don't mind...

I put the Hero Games on my to-do list and head over to Justiciar for further instructions. He gives me a pretty standard debriefing, saying that I did a good job bringing Rakshasa in but that it's too bad Kigatilik got away and that we'll have to deal with him later, bla bla bla, but good job with this mission itself. Thanks. So hey, I know there are a bunch of other people standing around waving their arms to get my attention, but I really want to leave this place and never come back. Is there anything else I absolutely have to do before I go?


On the one hand, he's actually asked me to leave and go someplace that I'm not completely sick of, which is pretty amazing. On the other hand... erg... he wants me to go report to Defender. Y'know, that guy who keeps city-destroying superweapons in his lobby and sends civilians (albeit newly metallic ones, but still) to fight giant robots for him while he rests.

I'm not too keen on the idea, but eventually, my desire to see something other than snow wins out over my general distaste for the Champions, and I head back to the the airstrip (now complete with a mini jet!) to hitch a ride back to Millennium City. The staff at the airstrip seem to recognize me as the guy that quite recently restored their little airport to functionality, because they don't charge me or ask for tickets or anything, and I get to walk right up into the plane bound for Millennium City. I try pressing my luck and sitting in first class, and they just smile benignly at me like they're glad to have me aboard. Awesome!

I feel a little less special about the first class thing when the fully boarded plane contains only me and a guy with dreadlocks and a trenchcoat who appears to be glowing green, but hey, a superhero express plane is a pretty good perk too. Back to the city!

It is at this point that Iron Will has arrived at... the exact point where you now have the option of starting the game, since the F2P patch eliminated the need to go through the desert or Canada before arriving in MC. So if you skip the tutorial you wind up right here. That's right, after approximately seven months, this blog has reached a point you can reach within thirty seconds of firing up the game for the first time. I blame the patches, which I'll discuss in a bit more detail next time.

Millennium City sure has cleaned up nice. I think I've been gone for all of... two days? Well, I suppose it's actually more like five, two of which I've spent on airplanes and one of which was crawling through rubble, but even so. The city looks spotless. Say what you will about it's mayor, computer system, and resident superhero team, but the cleanup crews of this town are a well oiled machine.

I head to what appears to be the city center, which consists of a massive plaza filled with giant statues and surrounded by futuristic architecture and floating billboards. The whole thing is built around a massive gear that houses a portal to the Powerhouse, and the statues appear to mostly be of superheroes. Wow. This town spares no expense making life easy for it's least in-need citizens.

I head over to the spot marked on my GPS as Defender's kiosk, which appears to be some sort of tactical operations center... in the middle of the sidewalk. Huh?

Well, I guess if it works for mall security, it works for superheroic teams and day-laborers. I walk on over and try to look like I'm happy to see him. He greets me with compliments and tells me that my reputation is growing.

Wow, a fine addition to the Champions, you say? I assume he means that as a compliment, but I really don't think I'd fit in. So far, by my count, I've averted three catastrophes and the Champions have caused one. This week, at least. But I can tell he thinks that's high praise, so I avoid saying anything snarky.

"Heya Defender," I say, "I flew down from Canada to help you with whatever the situation is, here. Is the city being invaded again?"

... Oh, what's that? Shady people are hanging out in the park without hurting anyone?

Shady people are hanging out in the park without hurting anyone.

Sure, yeah, no, sure, I can get right on that. I flew down from Canada, you know, did I mention that? No big deal, it's another country, is all. But people are hanging out in the park NOT causing trouble? No, cool, I'll get right on that. You were right to call me. Don't go over there yourself, that could be dangerous. Next time you see some people hanging out not causing trouble, you call me right up, I'll catch the next plane from wherever I am and give them a stern talking to for you.

I am, not for the first time, grateful that my new metal face is pretty bad at conveying emotion. I need to get some air, I think. I walk down by the river... a nicely not-frozen river, I'll admit... and try to take stock of my new life as a superhero/park monitor. I don't know about these Champions, man, I really don't...

Wait, what the hell?

I look up and notice the Qularr mothership half-sunken in the river that runs through town, a barge nearby presumably helping to slowly disassemble it. I'd been wondering whether Ironclad survived that kamikaze mission into it's underbelly, but here it is, neatly disabled and crash-landed in the river.


So not ONLY did he survive being shot out of a cannon into a massive alien spaceship of unknown material composition... and not ONLY did he successfully penetrate it's hull and still stay in a condition to fight on the other side... and not ONLY did he defeat the entire crew of said mothership and completely disable the ship itself... but he managed to gently guide it down into the ONE spot within ten miles where it's landing wouldn't cause a single casualty or even any noteworthy property damage, and did so gently enough that the ship itself is intact and able to be studied by human scientists.

Ironclad... man... I can't believe I was worried you had died. This is so cool.

Alright, so maybe I don't have a problem with ALL the Champions. Just 80% of them. Well then, the sooner I can help Defender with his little problem, the sooner I can find the time to talk to Ironclad about maybe starting up a little side project with a team other than the Champions. And together we can do stuff like bring down alien motherships and stop armies of mutants and demons and stuff.

Okay. My faith in superherodom at least temporarily restored, I turn my steps back towards the city center.

'Cuz, y'know. Defender needs help talking to some guys in the park.

UP NEXT: A night on the town.

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