Saturday, December 31, 2011

I've got something in my eye, that's all.

Skyrim did indeed end two nights ago. I killed the last guy, took took ever the world, was a prince among dragons. I was the head of the thieves guild, leader of the companions, listener for the dark brotherhood, and the arch-mage at the mages academy (in spite of using a grand total of three spells). I had escaped from jail, stolen just about everything, committed murder in full daylight and walked away clean because I was the thane of almost everything hold. Thousands of men and women of every race and size had met death by my bows, some of them deserved it, many of them didn't and I just needed the coin. I had faked my way through bards college, released hideous deadra upon the world and hoarded their weapons the the chest of an unfurnished house.

For just eighty hours I lived in the world. It was a comfort to return to it after sojourns into other games. When it was finished, at least when the last main quest was done, I returned to my lair in Whiterun, dropped off the last load of weapons I did not need but not one could afford to buy from me, and I wandered around the town. I went back to the tree in the center of Whiterun that I help resurrect. It was still there, proof that for the right amount of coin even I could do good. The companions' hideout was still there, probably wondering why their leader never moved into his bedroom. It was home, but it was time to move on.

The last thing I did was sit down on the bench in front of my house at simply watch the people walk by. I had done right by all of them, saving the world by traveling into the afterlife to kill the eater of worlds and all, but I had also broken into most of their homes to relieved them of their gold to fund this venture. It became clear that just didn't want to turn the thing off, because I knew it would the last time for quite a while. Only Red Dead Revolved had made me feel this way before.

But, as the title of the blog makes clear, there is always something new to be played. Good or bad, every game deserves to have some look it over, perk under its hood and poke fun at its short comings. Goodbye Skyrim, you will be missed, until Tamriel demands more of money anyway.


A bit of follow up of my tooth related bitching from a few days, Yesterday was my first round of sedation dentistry. There is so much to be done that it will be easier to know me the fuck out and take care of it all at once.

I took three pills at 11:00 AM. At 11:40 AM I walked into the garage and then I woke up in my bed at 4:00 AM this morning. In my head there was nothing between these events, but in actuality I had been driven to dentist, had a crown and several cavities taken care of, been wheeled on in a chair, pissed myself at least once, crawled up the stairs, and then back to sleep. I don't recommend it, but it was still better than getting drilled for crown.


Thanks for link, Chance! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's like a dragon water slide

Skyrim is now in the final downhill run towards the main quests conclusion, though if everything else I have done is any indication there could still be ten plus hours of game play left. I was worried that doing the actual story last would lead to a lot of backtracking, but so far it has not. Each location has been new and just far enough away from places that I could quick travel to that some walking was still involved. Traveling oftentimes brings about shenanigans, like last night when I quick traveled to a meeting location only to find my two companions getting their asses kicked by a platoon or foresworn and a dragon. It was funny enough for me to hide in a bush and watch it all go down, coming out just in time to land the final hit on the dragon and swallow his soul.

On the down side I have stumbled across a deadric quest that would have been much better to find earlier. Part of the quest is killing one of each kind of elf (and orc, just for good measure), but it refuses to give me credit for the hundreds of things I have killed up to this point. I could probably swab off the used arrows in my quiver and take care of most of it. Instead I would have to revisit areas, searching for a high elf that I can kill without bringing an entire hold down on my head. After almost eighty hours I am comfortable walking away from a quest or two. It will give me something to do in the inevitable expansions.


A final bit of gaming injustice regarding Rayman Origins. Playfire tracks how rare your achievements are. Apparently finding all the hidden lum cages and defeating the hidden boss are exceptionally rare. Gaming world, gamers as a whole, I am ashamed of you. A pox on the community for not buying the shit out of this game.

...that was a little harsh, as I didn't actually purchase it myself. So shame on me, as well.


One last thing. Even though the Skyrim journal faded quickly it was a good idea, mostly because it was a theme to get me posting more regularly. December was an anemic month, both in post quality and content, and if this experiment is to be continued I need to do better. What I need to do (but do not 'resolve' to do, because resolutions are dumb) is write more reviews, regardless of how new or old the game I am playing is. Looking through my old archive from Saving Progress I wrote a few gems and more than a few stinkers, but I think that was the right format for me: five or six paragraphs, less about the mechanics and minutia of the game and more about how it made me feel and if it was any fun or not. Doing this will actually require losing some gaming time (or sleep), but I think it will be worth it.

And if they are terrible, tell me, I will go back to bitching about how expensive oral renovations are.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Now I'm all pissy and poor

Oh my, what was that feeling? The feeling of getting significantly poorer for a non-game related reason? As amusing as eating a salad made up of $4500 in ground up bills sounds, trust me, it blows. At the very least I will be unconscious for the two procedures, but then I think about how much beer I could buy for that price, and how much more fun using that to render myself unconscious would be, and letting every rotten bit of tooth fall out of my face seems like viable option. Who needs teeth when you can drink your meals?

It's such a racket, too. A crown costs $1000. I could buy a pretty good TV for that. What am going to get for that $1000 instead? A bit of molded porcelain that no one will ever see and relief from constant, agonizing pain. And the worst part of it is that after all this money is spent and all of this nonsense is fixed there is precisely zero chance that I wont be in the same god damn chair in six more months with at least a cavity or two to repair. This financial embarrassment is the culmination of years of neglect, but had I actually been a good boy and been drilled every six months the net total would be about the same. Dentists are right up the with chiropractors.

It's bull shit, I tell you. Dentures would be preferable to this. I would be able to better floss between by teeth if I could remove them from my head to get a better angle at them. As it is now (and if I actually did it) it requires Cirque Du Soleil caliber contortions to take care of these things. Why can't we be like sharks and just let the things fall out, only to grow brand new ones behind them?

$4500. God damn. And I was thinking about buying a Vita.

And some new speakers.

And then rolling around in the rest, wallowing in my own crapulence.

Instead I get a monthly 'fuck you' bill to go along with all the rest.

Now I'm much too upset to talk about how shallow of an experience Rage is. See what going to/not going to the dentist gets you? Teeth suck.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Please, don't end

It is with some trepidation that I started on the final missions of Skyrim. The main four guilds are done; thieves guild was by far the best and the mages college the least best. It was difficult to define when the thieves and dark brotherhood sections were over, as the game will keep generating missions for you after the scripted ones are done. According the achievements there is something left for me to accomplish with the thieves guild, but it requires do around thirty or so of the generic quests (which just means I will get to it later). The bards college quests are done, I sided with the storm cloaks and have kicked the empire out of large sections of the country. There are surely more deadric quests to be done, if I could find them. And still, after 70+ hours of play, I run across a cave I haven't explored every time I turn the damn thing on.

This is the greatest triumph of Skyrim over Oblivion. After a short time I stopped spelunking random caves in Oblivion because they were mostly the same. In Skyrim they are all different, and a good chunk of them have a quest to do inside. Even the ones that don't are still interesting enough to clear. Even though my character has pretty much stopped leveling, hasn't changed armor or weapons in months, and has no need for more gold, I still go through them, just because I want to see them. This is no longer stabbing mobs to acquire phat loot to stab more mobs, it is a quest for visual loot. I am doing things just because doing them is fun.

It doesn't hurt that I almost never die anymore. I just need to remember to not get so close to dragons; it doesn't matter how many hitpoints you have or how good your armor is when you fit neatly inside of the monster's mouth.


Rage is a strange thing. It certainly looks gorgeous, and the driving is surprisingly good, but it has no soul. It doesn't even try to tell a story or build sympathy for the main character. He does things with no motivation other than being told to do them. Literally, he wake up after a hundred or so years of cryo-storage, some weirdoes try to kill him, he is saved from a guy who desperately wants to start in the new Mad Max movie, and you then run errands for the guy. Incredibly violent errands, which is better, but still: you are his bitch for no good reason.

This is a game engine, nothing more. A tech demo to show more talented developers what can be done, and just enough to tide us over until Doom 4 comes out.

Actually, Serious Sam 3 should be what tides us over until Doom 4 comes out, I just keep hoping it shows up on the Steam sale.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thumb blistering classic (and more terribleness)

Rayman Origins got one more thing exactly right before it was done: the balls hard hidden final level. Collecting enough of the magic whats-its to actually get it was not that bad, but my god was it a punishing several areas to get through. There were no more things to collect, just a series of one hit death areas with forced scrolling. Oh, and everything kills you. Everything. Had this been a normal level I might have complained a bit, but I worked hard for this pain. I earned it, and I was going to get to the end regardless of how long it took.

That last level took me almost an hour and a half, but it was worth it. Not for the achievement (which I do enjoy, mind you), but because it was some of the purest platforming I have played in years, and it was not afraid o kick your ass at the same time it was begging you to keep going. None of the floaty, build your own level bullshit that Little Big Planet shat out, none of the over forgiving level design of New Super Mario Bros, just raw platforming goodness.

And the last boss? Genius.

This is an absolute gem, folks, please play it.


I am having a really hard time coming up with the worst game I played this year. Sanctum of Slime was bad because it wasted an excellent license and made several poor decisions. Bloodstone was bad, and it killed (more or less) a studio that I liked. But the worst?

Let's look at metacritic...

Fist of the North Start comes in at 59. Tron: Evolution is just slightly worse at a 58. Duke Nukem Forever pulled down a 49, though I really didn't think it was that bad, just a little embarrassing to play. Sanctum of Slime is a 45, so I was exactly right about that one. Let's see, Mindjack at a 43, now we are getting somewhere.

Oh my. Venetica is at the bottom with a 42, and if Playfire is to be believed, almost no one played it (side note, don't sign up for Playfire, it spams your entire friends list with invites). I don't remember it being that bad, but then again the human mind tends to block out traumatic memories, which puts playing Venetica in the same company as a botched root canal and breaking an arm. At least both of those left me with a good story to tell.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Worst of the year #2 (and odd, high pitched singing)

Bloodstone makes the top three not just because it was a terrible game. It certainly was, leveraging the worst of two disparate genres into a nearly perfect storm of boring shooting and frustrating driving, but that is certainly not the limit of its offenses. It was also the swan song of a developer who had made very few mistakes up to that point, only be done in by two questionable releases in a row. Bizarre Creations has some excellent titles under it name, Geometry Wars and Project Gotham Racing chief among them, so I don't understand exactly what they were thinking with Blur and Bloodstone. Blur was necessarily bad, but it had the same feel as a licensed kart racer, something that the world would survive just fine without. I didn't get it, it wasn't fun, but I supposed with the right people with the appropriate amount of alcohol it could ruin friendships just as well as Mario Kart and that damned blue shell.

Bloodstone, though, was just bad. Perhaps someone at Bizarre Creations owed someone else a big favor and was coerced into creating it. Maybe they saw the racing market getting further cornered by Forza and decided to make a break for the door. Regardless, it is the last game on it resume, and certainly not the kind of thing that helps get ex-employees a new job.

And yes, I know that Bloodstone came out in 2010, but I got around to playing it earlier this year. It didn't age well.


Part of me is not happy about Rayman Origins pulling a Mega Man and having be revisit previous worlds in the end-game. It would be worse if the levels were not all new, but they have the same themes as last time, so as good as they look it is getting a little old. I think I am almost done now; my thumbs will be thankful for the rest, as levels are getting much more  difficult as I go along. Simply surviving is not enough, you have to get from one end to the other and collect as many lums as you can and find the two hidden areas in order to have enough of the games currency to make sure everything in the next area is unlocked. I have not had to revisit any levels yet, as the old platforming skills came back pretty quickly, but I have a sinking feeling that I will find myself locked out of a few things because I have no interest in returning to old levels for speed runs. As good as the controls are, I barely survived them the first time around, now I am supposed to go back and do it again, only faster? No thanks.

Remember my comment about the music? Listen to this, all of it, and no cheating:

I am not sure if I love this or hate it. I find myself sinking into the relaxed groove of it, then can't help but wonder what the hell I am listening to.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cleaning up; worst of the year 3

Please note that the change of my Now Playing picture does not actually mean that I am done playing Skyrim. On the contrary, I am always playing Skyrim, every other day at least. At around sixty five hours I have just about wrapped up the dark brotherhood quest line (it was not nearly as good as its Oblivion counterpart) and am ready to move on the joining the Stormcloaks and taking a crack at the mages guild. By the time I get to the main quest I predict that I will be around level 50 and able to one shot giants. The fact that most enemies do not level with you does make returning to old areas and destroying things that once gave you trouble fun, but I hope that I this cake walk does not include the main quest.

Who am I kidding, I killed the final boss in Oblivion with two arrows, a record I am looking to beat this time around.


Rayman Origins is, to be blunt, brilliant. It looks like I am playing a high definition Saturday morning cartoon, controls better than any side scrolling platformer I have played in two console generations, hits all the major level tropes and does them better than Nintendo has done in years, throws in a few bits reminiscent of 'Spolosion Man for good measure (and to keep you honest because the are damn hard) and it is an absolute shame that it has yet to crack 500,000 in sales. I have no idea how much this cost Ubisoft to produce, but I have my doubts that a puny 500k will generate enough scratch to fund a second game.

The only complaint that I can come with is the sound which crosses the line between cure and ear puncturingly annoying just a little too often. But hey, it's French, so it makes sense that it mixes in a little annoyance to temper the awesomeness.


I will collect these into one post later, but game one of my worst of the year goes to Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime. There are quite a few things to complain about here, but I am going to focus on something that actually prevented me from finishing the game. Sanctum of Slime was designed as a four player cooperative game. This it and of itself is not a problem, as more and more games these days have the audacity to encourage the player to interact with actual people (not in person, thank goodness). Most games throw a bone to the lonely by rebalancing things for one person or making the AI that controls the human-less toons smart enough to get the job done. For example, Gear of War 3 did a reasonable job keep the computer controlled members of my squad out of my way during the action and close enough to raise me when I got careless and had my torso separated from the rest of my body. My experience was not lessened because I prefer to play games by myself.

Sanctum of Slime, through either ignorance or incompetence, does none of this. If you are unlucky enough to play by yourself no adjustments are made to either the number or difficulty of ghosts to bust. On top of that the companion AI is idiotic. They aren't just suicidal, they are completely oblivious to your needs as well. If and when they do notice that the actual player, the person who paid cash money for game, is in trouble they will walk in a straight line to help, usually getting killed in the process. Sanctum of Slime is worse than just a waste of a license. It is willfully awful it its own right, and has earned the number three spot in my worst of the year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

So lazy. So, so lazy.

It's my own fault, but I am beginning to lose interest in my own blog. Topics are more difficult to come up with. Good ideas fall by the wayside because I lack the skill/patience/dedication to make them work. I haven't written an actual review in forever. It comes down to two things. First of all, when I have free time I want to play games, not talk about playing games (and work as of late has not afforded me the necessary slacking time to blog). Secondly, no one is making do it and there is no feedback (direct or implied) so I have little incentive to continue.

I am also extraordinarily lazy, and that certainly doesn't help things.

What I don't want is for the blog to mirror my relationship with Street Fighter, in which I am the abused spouse returning to the abuser time and again because this go around will be better, I'm sure. This is supposed to be a creative outlet, but I have lacked the creativity to make it more the a silent sounding bored for petty complaints and quirky one offs of questionable quality. There may not a solution, this may be the best I am capable of producing, but there is one last thing that compels me to return to this place.

As a person who enjoys playing and talking about games I am profoundly lonely. When I ran a game store I had a built in audience who appreciated what I liked and could dish it out just as well as I could give it. People would come to my place just because I knew what the hell I was talking about. Now, in the filthy 'professional' world, the subjects of note are football and golf and how to not get fat, none of which I care very much about. This blog (and to a much lesser extent, the PA forums) are the best replacement I can find, so I am hesitant to walk away from them despite my limited participation and readership. But when I look back at things I wrote and say out loud 'what the hell is his problem' before remembering that I am that guy I really wonder if it is worth the time.


Sometime over Christmas I will pick the worst of the worst for this year. As bad as X-Men Destiny was, it's not even in the running for the bottom three.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Letting go of an old friend

Silicon Knights - the old friend who did one or two cool things and nothing since, but instead of trying to recapture that fleeting moment of greatness all he does is talk about the old times and be generally obnoxious and pathetic.

You first met Mr. Silicon Knights when he put out the very first Blood Omen, home to of the greatest villains/heroes in a game series that has yet to get a worthy finale (from any game company). The he will never admit it, you think that Kain's voice came first and his character came second, but that doesn't matter. Yes, Blood Omen was just a Zelda clone, right down to the annoying over world map and backtracking with newly gained weapons, but it was grimdark before it was fashionable to be grimdark. The series left Silicon Knights long enough to produce some stellar titles and a few terrible ones, including that whiny bitch Raziel, and it never came back. This was not the highlight of his career, but it was certainly an unexpected early success, the very thing that haughty beatniks point to when they says that they knew about before they were cool (and before they weren't cool again).

It took six years for Silicon Knights to put something out again. Sure, he said that he was working on something, that it was supposed to be on one piece of hardware and then there was a generational leap and they had to start over, but you never believed them. Then out of nowhere he drops Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube, of all things, and no one quite believes that he did it. Eternal Darkness would be in rare company regardless of quality, being a third part exclusive title on a Nintendo platform, but it being excellent from top to  bottom brought up even more questions. 'You did this all by yourself?' you remember asking him over beers one night. He just smiled an nodded, noting that it was only going to get better from here. Almost immediately people began to scream for a sequel, something that he promised (and has been promising) for years and never got around to doing. Years later he admitted that he had caught lightning in a bottle and did not think he would be able to do it again.

Still on the Gamecube, he released a remake of Metal Gear Solid two years later. It was generally well received, but there was more than a little help from Konami; Kojima's spies were everywhere. It only took two years to do and it kept his name in the spotlight, so Silicon Knights did not complain. He took the money and poured it all into a game that he swore was going to be his masterpiece. This was a game, just like Eternal Darkness, that had it origins on older hardware. He swore that the next generation of hardware would finally have what it takes to bring his vision to life. So you waited, along with everyone else, for him to get this out of system to he could make the game that everyone actually wanted.

Four years latter Too Human came out. Silicon Knights put it out with all the hoopla it could muster, but the game itself just wasn't very good. It was clear that it was intended to be a loot heavy action RPG, but the combat itself wasn't very fun, and while parts of it looked very good other areas were so ugly that you wondered if bit from the previous versions were just literally dumped over to save time. The reception seemed to surprise Silicon Knights, and he spent far too much time refuting poor reviews and the poorer retail reception. 'You have no idea how good this is, just play it for a little longer' he would say. No one did. 'Don't you remember me, I did Eternal Darkness! If you buy this I will have the money to make another one of those!'

Still, no one did, and Silicon Knights never recovered.

You didn't see him for several years, and when you did here from him it was a short note reminding you of all the good times you had had it the past (with no mention of Too Human). It was kind of pathetic, really, but there was no way to help him. Silicon Knights had become almost delusional, to the point where he thought taking on an X-Men licensed project seemed like a good idea. 'It has a built in audience!' one of his last emails said, 'and I will put in all the cool shit that all the other cool RPG's have! There will be choices that affect the plot, choices about powers, you will be up to your ears to choices!'

The game came out and no one noticed, not that they should have. You played through it out of courtesy to an old friend, but even you could not sugar coat your reaction. It was terrible, and it was your job to tell him so. That may have been the last straw, and you doubt you will see Mr. Silicon Knights again. After your firm but harsh reaction he just walked away, head hung low. You could see that he knew it was terrible and was just hoping you didn't notice. It's for the best, you tell yourself, his time is past.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Still manly

The simmering homosexual tension between Dom and Marcus has been the butt of many jokes and I freely admit to making more than a few myself. They are just so manly and close that it's hard to not imagine how well they know the ins and outs of each others armor. When the world is ending you get it where you can. After poking fun, though, I always admitted that I liked Marcus and Dom; they might not be the deepest of characters, but they are likable, and I have seen them go through some pretty terrible things. Dom finally finding his wife alive (more or less), then shooting her out of mercy was an unexpected emotional moment in what could have been a mindless shooter.

I knew that there was going to be something similar in Gears of War 3, but it still got me right here when Dom sacrifices himself to save the rest of the unit. And if that wasn't enough, for the first time in three games Marcus' eyes opened to a bit wider than a squint. He was no longer an emotionless hard ass bent on the destruction of another species. For a few moments he wild eyed with panic, willing to throw himself into a literal inferno to pull out the remains of his friend. It was amazingly well handled and frankly a devastating moment. It was also not the end of Marcus' torment, as his father turns to ask in his hands after saving the world/killing all the locust and lambent everywhere. When the game is finally finished Marcus walks past the cheering crowds of the (few) surviving humans, sheds his armor, and sits by himself on the beach, wondering what to do next. Yes, the world is saved, but now what?

Gears of War 3 is not the first game to use the annihilation of an entire species as a plot point. Killzone 3 did, but it chickened out at the very end and kept the bad guys alive. The ending of Gears sees all the locust everywhere being killed. It also manages to make them the victim, as Marcus' father was in contact with them years before their initial attack and was tasked with taking care of the lambent problem. He failed, the locust attacked out of desperation, then kidnapped him to keep working on his weapon. There is never an explanation as to why the locust queen was human, which I would have liked, nor do any humans show any remorse for destruction of all the locust. I suppose this in understandable, as even though the locust had to leave their tunnels they did not need to do so with such enthusiasm.

My off hand statement from last week, putting Gears ahead of Halo in the realm of exclusive shooters, stands. They are better single player games, which all I really care about.


The King of Fighters XIII experiment is on. When the connection is good it is almost as good as Street Fighter. When it is bad it is really, really bad. Matchmaking is broken, as the filters make no difference. I set things up to only allow invites from people with four bar connections and then went into arcade mode. The first invite I received was from some Alaskan bastard's basement over a cell phone connection. It was unplayable, so I have decided to avoid that completely and play only with people I know. The game itself feels like an odd mix of Street Fighter and Marvel. Spacing and footsies are important, though much more jump heavy and Street Fighter, and success can be had with simple hit confirms and short jump in combos. On the other hand there are also massive execution heavy combos that require all your meters, all your time to learn, and all the you fingers to do. I know I shouldn't worry about those, but damn if they don't look pretty.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The hideous list

I cannot in good faith do a best of the year post, and not because it is only December 9th. There are far to many top tier games that I have yet to play this year. Batman comes to mind, as does Uncharted 3, and Rage, and Dead Island, and Assassins Creed. In short, there is a distinct possibility that I have not played the best that 2011 has to offer...

Lies, I am playing Skyrim right now, and will be for the foreseeable future, but the point stands. What I can do is look over the long and ugly list of what I did play this year and pick the three worst games. This will not be easy, as I play just about anything, but I think it will be a good exercise to look back over the wasted hours of this past year and pick out the worst of the worst. Perhaps I will be so embarrassed by my poor choices that my queue will be slimmer next year and I will take time to not be terrible at Street Fighter and pick up the new King of Fighters.

And I am going to stop drinking and work out regularly, too.

So here it is, in chronological order, the list of shame:

Castlevania: Legacy of Shadow
Fable III
Call of Duty Black Ops
Fallout: New Vegas
DJ Hero 2
Spider-Man: Dimensions
Fist of the North Star
Star Wars Force Unleashed II
007: Blood Stone
Hard Corps:  Uprising
Saw 2
Tron: Evolution
Dead Space 2
Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll
You Don't Know Jack
Marvel vs Capcom 3
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime
ArcaniA - Gothic 4
Lego Star Wars III
Two Worlds II
Dragon Age II
Killzone 3
Crysis 2
Mortal Kombat
Red Faction Armageddon
Child of Eden
Duke Nukem Forever
F.E.A.R. 3
Magic 2012
Hunted: Demon's Forge
Portal 2
Ms. Splosion Man
Kill Team
L.A. Noire
Dungeon Siege III
Lego Pirates
Knights Contract
Infamous 2
El Shaddai
Rock of Ages
Shadows of the Damned
Street Fighter III: Online Edition
Alice: Madness Returns
No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise
Crimson Alliance
Call of Jurez: The Cartel
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
The First Templar
Transformers 3
Trackmania 2
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
DiRT 3
Space Marine
The Cursed Crusade
Battlefield 3
Otomedius X
Resistance 3
Renegade Ops
Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Gears of War 3

Good lord, that quite a list. Before the end of the year the new Rayman will make it in, and King of Fighters XIII will be purchased sometime this weekend (because I hate myself). Look at all those hours. Almost all of them have been played to some level of completion, with the exception of Gears of War 3 which I will finish tonight and Skyrim which will probably never end.

I am not sure to be proud or embarrassed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Skyrim Journal #6

Dragon encounters are becoming much more frequent, and I have become familiar enough with their tactics that only the most powerful give me any trouble, at least when they come at me one at a time. Just yesterday I spotted a green one in the distance sporadically diving at the group, probably roasting sheep and the shepherds for a meal. The green dragons are little more than bears with wings; a few unexpected shots from behind is all it takes to knock them out of the sky. I chased him for quite some time, waiting for him to get tired of torturing whatever it was chasing and settle in for a meal. When that didn't happen by arrogance finally overcame my patience and attacked it head on. The thing was so surprised by something not running away that it reared back from my first shot, made a hard right and crashed into a cliff that forgot was there.

The climb to finish the poor, stupid dragon off would have been bad enough, but he crashed directly into a blue dragons nest. Blue ones are must nastier than green, as their cold breath makes aiming a bow incredibly difficult. He actually put up a good fight in spite of the direct hit he took from his lesser cousin. I don't enjoy fighting dragons, but they seem to be attracted to me, and the treasure they leave behind, both monetary and soul based, makes them more than worth trouble.

This was not a dragon hunting trip, just a little side benefit to an errand I was running for the thieves guild in Riften. They recruited me almost as I arrived in town. It was not my reputation that they knew, I just looked the part and they were desperate for help. In was only after I joined their little band that I learned of their staunch no killing policy and that they had been slowly declining in power for many years. Still, they lacked the annoying machismo that the companions prided themselves on, so it was easier to deal with their little rules. To the contrary, emptying a house of all its valuables without murdering the inhabitants was quite a challenge. They certainly made it more difficult on themselves than they needed to.

Riften itself was corrupt to the very core, and it had nothing to do with the thieves guild that made its home in her sewers. The entire city was run by one family; even the jarl answered to them, so it was no surprise when I was sent on missions directly for the ruling house. One of my favorites was a the rather underhanded task of poisoning a competing ale producer's wares. Not enough to kill anyone, mind you, but more than enough to make everyone who consumed it terribly uncomfortable. I found the results much funnier than I should have and must remember the exact kind and dose of poison that I was told to use. It could definitely come in handy.

Shortly after receiving the blessing of the family that actually ran Riften and the guild I was made aware of the true plight of the thieves: their leader had been murdered by one of their own, and on top of that the deadric goddess Nocturne, who supplied every thief with their luck, had turned her back on them. No one bothered to explain why, they just tasked the newest thief in their midst with figuring out how to fix it. I should have seen the setup coming, it was as clear and painful as the poisoned arrow that nearly killed me a few days later. Of course there was a double cross coming, the new leader of the guild had killed the old, framed another, and over the passing years had emptied the uncrackable vault of all it held.

And he was,of course, the one who had angered Nocturne. 

I don't know why I fall into these things, as it is almost the exact same series of events that I was pulled into with the companions, only that time I ended up as a werewolf, and now my soul supposedly belongs to Nocturne after I die. The jokes on her, I will be called to the hunting grounds, if you believe in that sort of thing, before she can get her hands on me. Either way, I don't plan on dying any time soon, so they both have a long wait ahead of them.

After being indoctrinated into another secret organization we tracked down the old leader of the thieves. He was trying to land one last job and then disappear, a job that took him deep underground into a fulmer breeding ground. The first few didn't put up a fight, but the deeper we went the more powerful they became, eventually slinging spells equal to those I had seen above ground. When we finally killed the traitor and retrieved what he stole from Nocturne we were farther underground than I had ever been. With his dying gasp he set off a trap that began to flood the chamber, killing all the fulmer below and threatening to drown us as well. As the water rose it snuffed the torches first, hiding possible exists behind foam and darkness. I will admit to panicking when the cave filled to the top in spite of my mask allowing me to breath under water. I don't remember who or what I killed to get it, but it was certainly worth it.

The weight of the water broke down a cave wall and we were sucked out into an underground river as quickly as it filled. I was told that I needed to return what was a stolen, a skeleton key that can open any lock, to Nocturne if the thieves guild was to get its luck back. It sounds like a children's story to me, though I have seen more than my share of things that I cannot explain since arriving in Skyrim. I will most likely return it, but that does not mean I will not use it for a few things before accomplishing the task. There is very little any of them or their gods can do to me at this point. At the risk of my arrogance once again surpassing my abilities, there is very little that they could do to me if the tried.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A break from the excitement (with more excitement)

One third of the way through December and I ma finally playing one of this years big(er) games that I have missed: Gears of War 3. There is not much to be said; it is more of the same, tough it lacks the overbearing machismo that the first 2 brought to the table. According to Cliffy B it is because they have had a different writer each time, but I like to think that Haze set to bar so high for amusing grunts and shouts that they didn't bother trying to top it. It also might have something to do with the entire goddamn world being destroyed and the remaining humans huddling together on a salvaged aircraft carrier. The impending doom or your species can be a bit of a downer, I suppose.

After the first few levels I was worried that the new lambents were all I was going to get to kill. They blow up real nice, but their frenzied style just isn't as much fun to fight as the locust. During the second act, when the refugee locust ambushed me from an outpost that once been occupied by humans, complete with their gutteral chuckling and bad aim, it made me very happy. When the boomers showed up with a new weapon, screaming 'DIG' instead of 'BOOM' it made me even happier. And when their snipers started one shotting me from across the map I remembered that Gears was not all fun and games, it was a brutal experience that will punish simple mistakes with quick and grotesque death. I had forgotten how much I missed it.

The locust are being portrayed in an almost sympathetic manner, as at the end of the second game Fenix flooded their entire world. They are in the same boat as the humans, now, cast offs wandering the world that they helped destroy, plagued by the lambent. I supposed that there will be more explanation to come, as Fenix's father is *gasp* alive and the bulk of the game will be spent getting to wherever he is, but I do not think it is necessary. They seem to be trying to create the same kind of dense sub-narrative that Halo has, but the difference is Halo needed it and Gears tells you everything you need to know through what you do, not what you are told.


I have done so much in Skyrim and there is still so much to do. The companions missions are done and I am working on the thieves guild, though going through the bards college side quests also took a fair amount of time. I need to come up with another journal entry, but Leven has been just going through the motions lately. He keeps stealing everything that isn't nailed down but he has nothing to spend it on. His abilities have stagnated, with bow and sneak in the high nineties, and since he doesn't do much else new levels will be few and far between. Even his armor stopped changing; I have been using the same bow for around twenty hours of game play. I suppose that is the danger of a game with this large of a scope: sometime things just stop happening.

It might help if I did something from the main quest once in a while, but fuck that.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I feel like I should apologize for not delivering on my Skyrim idea. I really want to point something 'in character' after everything time I play, but sometimes nothing happens. It is so easy to start walking in one direction and literally looses several hours to random caves. That's one excuse, and another is how tremendously shitty things have been at work recently. For example:

Customer: I have this problem!

Me: not sure how to fix it, let me get back to you.

Person who should know: not sure how to fix that, but I am not going to show any urgency in helping. In fact, I am going to blow it off.

Me: Fuck you. Now I don't get to sleep because I cannot turn off my brain when I am worried about something.

Skyirm (and War in the North, for that matter) have been escapes even more so than usual. They have been places to hide, if for only a few hours. It has been a long weekend of wasted time, company christmas party and all, and I do not think I have the energy to do much of anything tonight. I should play Skyrim, or start Gears of War 3, or *shudder* that awful X-Men RPG is ready to go as well. Instead I am going to sit here and watch NEC, hoping that everything is magically better when I go to work tomorrow.

It wont be.