Monday, December 30, 2013

Pay no attention to the emptiness behind the curtain

So many short games, so little in the queue. What they hell am I going to do in January?

...

It's pretty.

My first reaction, in a nutshell, to Ryse. This game serves the same purpose on the Xbox One that Shadowfall does on the PS4: to give a glimpse of what can be done later. Ryse misses no opportunity to flaunt the power of the its new home. Environments are huge and call out for exploration. No, no, the game chides, this is a launch title. Much of what you see is under glass. Look at it: it's awesome! Just don't touch. On several occasions I stopped killing barbarians long enough to take it all in. I cannot wait, I said aloud, for a new Elder Scrolls game. Not the online one, mind you, a proper, immersive, lose your life to single player experience.

It's still pretty.

Character models are detailed and expressive. Their limbs also come off at the press of a button. Aside from the main character and a few bosses there are only about six or seven different people. I do not want to think about how many times I killed the same shield wielding fat dude. This is all new, the game laments, it will take time. Look, the combat is pretty good! The combat is good but only if you are satisfied with playing the early portions of the Arkham Asylum games over and over. One button for counter, one for attack, one for cape shield. Repeat until all attackers are dead.

It's really pretty!

It also took me less than five hours to play through. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood took longer. Ryse does a very good job of showing me what I want in the future. I want an opened style western RPG that looks this good but lets me open doors and explore. I want an action game that looks this good with combat that doesn't put me to sleep.

I want Ryse 2, the sequel to Ryse: The Tech Demo, because that it all I got this time around.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A welcome surprise

Oh my god, there are no retail releases in January, time to start stretching games out and playing random things. I could start Ryse and see if it as bad/good as I have read or I could play this random puzzle/platformer that I had never heard of. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood? Why not. This is also how I ended up with all sorts of terrible old arcade ports for my 360. There was just nothing else to play for months after the system was released.

I was not expecting much from Max. Physics based puzzle platformers are a dime a dozen, each with their own twist to keep the player interested. The best example of this, and still my favorite, is Limbo. The puzzles were not very difficult and the platforming itself was solid. What the game had is abundance was mood. It had character. And it was really fucking weird.

Max does not have the same strength of mood or character. Max himself is a generic bratty older brother who 'inadvertently' banishes his younger brother to another dimension. Blah blah, creepy bad guy, giant monsters, etc.  The banal setup is forgivable because it has chosen a different place to shine. Max has excellent platforming puzzles. Every one so far has landed in the just right sweet spot: I had to stop and think, walk back and forth, try a few things, and the answer came. No digging around online for cheats, no strolling through the game without thinking. It has, for at least the first two thirds, hit a balance that is rarely seen.

Max manipulates the environment with his 'magic' magic marker, controlled thankfully by an analog stick instead of finicky motion controls. Having obtained the first four of five abilities I can see where it is going: new abilities it introduced, there is an easy section and then a fast section that require it. And then the fun begins as it is thrown into the mix with the previous mark abilities. Right now I can raise pillars from the group, create branches that can be cut off and pushed around, pull vines out of nowhere and set up roller coaster like streams of water. I know that there will be a puzzle requiring all four of those plus whatever the last one is to be used in succession, probably while being chased by something large and ugly. The good news is that I am looking forward to it. The bad new is that is will mean the game is over and I have to face the doldrums of January again.

Update: I should stop reading reviews. Most of them have the exact opposite opinion that I do. Oh well.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Loot?

My loot post is going to pretty scarce as for Christmas proper I received almost nothing. Out of fairness I have had a pretty flush year for stuff. In the space of two weeks there was an Xbox One and PS4 and back in July was my Spyder which I will use any excuse to post pictures of.

In storage for about five more months...
I have no complaints. Well, not being able to play with my favorite toy because I live in the Upper Midwest sucks, but there is nothing I can do about that.

Big, big things

After finishing up Call of Duty: Ghosts there are a few specific things that I would like to say about it. Most of them are *gasp* good.

First, a confession. I actually played two whole rounds of team death match after finishing the campaign. It was not awful. It reminded me ever so briefly of the days of my youth filled with Unreal Tournament and Call of Duty 1. Then I got smoked from across the map by a weapon that must have taken weeks to earn. I can understand the allure, it leverages the same role playing game mechanics that normally suck me right in. The difference here is that I find getting killed by a person infinitely more demoralizing than getting killed by the AI, especially when my only hope of being competitive is to grind for hours on end to earn the better weapon. Yes, I can and did get kills with the starting guns, but the ration of the kills to my deaths was embarrassing.

The final level was Ghosts felt like two different games. On one side there was a running battle through and on top of a suspended train that was exceptional. It was tense it all the right ways and was one of the only things that looked 'next generation.' The whole level was moving in different directions and the frame rate gave no fucks. On the other side was an in space shoot out level that was just as if not more ridiculous than the bits of Moonraker that it ripped off. In a game that goes through significant effort to model dog hair accurately they through physics to the wind and through the player into a zero-g gunfight. It made no sense. Worse still it wasn't much fun.

Then it ended, the bad guy died (he didn't die) and the good guys survived (one was kidnapped and will the bad guy in Ghosts 2).

I didn't come to the Call of Duty party for the plot, I came for the spectacle and I was not disappointed.

...

Episodic games drive me crazy. It is a good idea but in my opinion for it to work the episodes need to come out relatively close together. No more than a few weeks should separate them. This is why I did not touch Walking Dead until they were all of out why I will not be playing any season two until Fall of 2014. I want to binge on them for five days in a row so I don't forget anything.

The Wolf Among Us went up for free on XBLA yesterday. I played it and am now hooked and really pissed off because I have no idea when the rest of the episodes will be available. Fuckers.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The end?

I have been watching Yahtzee once a week for over five years. His schtick has gotten a bit thin as of late but each episode of Zero Punctuation has at least one laugh in it. Hell, if I managed to get a laugh a week recorded here I would be doing well. In all that time my favorite bit is his description of modern Call of Battlefield shooters:



It is both incredibly offensive and absolutely accurate. These games are tailor made North American male matubatory fantasies. They are pornagraphy with guns and explosions instead of dicks and  more dicks, only you can talk about them around the water cooler the next day without visiting the HR department afterward. And I never miss them. They last about three days because I never touch the multiplayer and I feel a bit dirty when I am done but I will never apologize for diving headlong into the machismo violence and rolling around in it.

I have very little specific to say about Call of Duty: Ghosts. It is not a vast improvement over any of the previous games, though I would not expect it to be due to its proximity to the new systems launching. Given time the series will get bigger and better looking. All I am here for is the spectacle and it has not disappointed. Titles like this and Battlefield may very well be destroying the industry be encouraging consumer's demand for yearly multi-million dollar blockbusters but I'll be damned if I won't enjoy the ride.

At least third stringers

Warning, non-game related post!

Without going into boring specifics, about one quarter of my job is to support software that banks and credit unions use to image checks and submit deposits. It is just as exciting as it sounds. It is also relatively easy as the software isn't very complicated to install or use.

At least not for me.

On holidays and pseudo-holidays like today the regular employees always find a way not to work. This leaves the third and forth string people in charge and they always end up calling. They don't know how the software works, they don't know how to enter a URL into a browser to get me connected and it is my fault that no one bothered to train then.

I suppose that I should be happy, it is just this type of incompetence that pays the bills. If everyone knew what they were doing and computers always did what they should I wouldn't have a job.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wrong cameo

Dead Rising 3, being the third game in a series by a company notorious for milking certain franchises to death while ignoring others, has two previous games to pull cameos from. One would hope that Frank West would show up, fresh off of his adventures in the Marvel vs Capcom universe. Nope, we get the dude from the second game whose name I have forgotten because he was boring and lifeless. Here's the twist! He's a bad guy, sort of, who is the father of the love interest. No worries, he reforms himself just in time to help our hero through the final encounter.

This last chapter, while certainly entertaining, serves as a prime example of how the game's tone has changed. Hemlock, the evil general, goes even more mad with power and tosses a wheelchair bound woman off a roof. Let me say that again: he snatches a woman out of her wheelchair by the throat and pitches off of a roof to her death. This is right after saying that no man would have her. That's just cold, and perhaps unnecessary. We already knew he was a bad guy, his name was Hemlock for fucks sake.

I should not expect subtlety in a game about zombies.

Dead Rising 3 was still a good game, it was just very different from the first two. More and cooler vehicles in a larger area is good. Crafting becoming useless because of the magic lockers was not. Boss fights were missing almost all of the bull shit I had come to expect which was very good. Smartglass integration was an interesting distraction - calling down an air strike on a city block full of zombies was fun to watch - but it did not add much to the game. A good first attempt and I am excited to see what else can be done with it.

The game also brought to light something that I am not going to like about the new generation: gigantic mandatory patches. I was under the impression that the Xbox One would go out and fetch patches for games. It worked for Forza. Two nights ago when I sat down to play Dead Rising 3 I was faced with a 5+ gig patch to download. I have a feeling that it was preloading some DLC that I was not going to buy. It was not pleasant but it forced me to get a few more races in Forza done so the evening was not a total loss.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Not hungry anymore

I don't have time to be a completionist. Games have the audacity to keep coming out before I have caught up on all the ones I have missed. This means that in games with a lot of stuff, like Assassin's Creed IV and Dead Rising 3, I need to be very selective about what I get obsessed over. In Assassin's Creed IV I ignored all the animus pieces, grabbing them only if they were in my way, and it saved hours. I also made no effort at defeating the special boss ships which I regret. There was still plenty to do and more than enough flotsam to collect.

Dead Rising 3 has less to collect in a far smaller world, yet I am not making much of an effort to find any of it. The difference is that in ACIV simply getting to the spot on the map was enough to find something. In Dead Rising 3 the map is often misleading and items are in basements or on the roof and there are all surrounded by piles of zombies. It is just not worth the minimal rewards and my game limited time is better spent on side quests or crushing zombies with the roller hawg.

The game clock from the first two games is still there. I have read that it is not a as much of a factor but seeing it count down still makes me rush everything. It is a blessing and a curse: it creates a sense of urgency it everything that I do but that same sense if urgency forces me pass on basic exploration. What's under the bridge? No time, the government is going to bomb the shit out of the city in three days! Move move move!

Looking back I remember enjoying Dead Rising 2 more than I recorded. Stupid boss fights apparently broke the game for me. The new boss fights have been strangely easy and I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. So far so good, though calling a boss that acts very much like this



can hardly be described as good.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Still dead

Funny how I have less time to write on days that I take off of work. Yesterday was assorted banking nonsense, Christmas shopping, climbing and maybe an extra hour of Dead Rising 3 before the usual responsibilities kicked back in. The list of things I should have done and didn't is even longer. Being an adult sucks.

Dead Rising 3 is missing one key element that made the first two enjoyable: humor. It takes itself far, far too seriously. Yes, you can still dress up the protagonist in bizarre outfits, but everything happening around him to dreadfully serious and grey. The first two games focused on the lighter side of the zombie apocalypse. Rotten people got what they deserved and the truly evil went crazy. Then you fought clowns wielding hand held chainsaws and participated in The Running Man crossed with zombies. Now I spend time wandering through a destroyed cities looking for 'unfortunate end' collectibles which are little dioramas of how innocents lost their lives, sometimes via suicide, and it is just pleasant.

So, apart from being depressing, how is it? Crafting has been simplified which is fine with me. I never liked rummaging around for the correct combination of junk to make a rocket powered sledge hammer so walking up to a locker and have one magically appear is welcome. Customized vehicles is an interesting idea but the game showed its hand far too soon with the steam roller/motor cycle. I can find no reason to ever use anything else.



It does like to create thirty second videos for no apparent reason but I can just delete those. Side note: I am using the video sharing feature far less than I thought I would. Just like streaming on the PS4, everyone is posting the same stuff right now because there just isn't much to play. Assuming streaming is eventually possible on the Xbox One I will probably do it, especially when the terrible games come out that no one is going to play but me.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A return to form

Street Fighter is a game, remember that one?

Last night, instead of starting Dead Rising 3 or playing Resogun (because me free month of PS+ has expired) I fired of Street Fighter and ran a good long set with someone from PA. It has been months since Blanka and I have taken our bull shit out for a spin. In that span of time people have kept playing, improving, switching characters, even changing games. What they haven't been doing to dealing with shenanigans.

My game was unchanged, nay, improved from the last time I played. I went 5-0 against my opponents Yang, then 2-0 again his Rose, a character that I am historically weak against. Then we played our secondary characters and I lost over and over because I don't really have a secondary character. The connection was iffy which played heavily into my favor but I still get some of the credit. It was nice to get my ball up in someone's face again.

Blanka is getting nothing but buffs in Ultra. Crouching medium kick will link into Ultra 1 as a two frame link instead of a 1 frame link (I think). Upball can be fadc'd giving him a true get out of jail free card for the cost of three bars. Delayed wake up will help him avoid vortex nonsense. My worry is that two of my worst match ups, Rose and Boxer, are both receiving improvements. Boxer players are salivating at his return to Super Turbo status and he was ridiculous in Super Turbo.

This is all months away and will undoubtedly change. Just don't nerf Blanka. He has yet to win a major.

yet

Monday, December 16, 2013

Blocky on purpose

Lego Marvel Super Heroes is an excellent game regardless of which system it is played on. The production values on the more recent titles rival that of any 'grown up' game. For example:


Travelers Tales has got their shit together. They can turn out great titles in a short amount of time that appeal to multiple demographics and that can be played in different ways. I will run through the story mode of any Lego game because they are funny, look good, and play well. I avoid all of the hub area unlocking and replaying levels to find all the hidden Stan Lee's because it just doesn't interest me. Where I knocked out the game in three days someone who wanted to do all of that could easily spend a great deal more time on it without getting bored.

The kicker with Marvel is that it is worth playing on the new systems if that is an option. The frame rate never moves regardless of how many bits and pieces of Lego are bouncing around, and there are Knack levels of bits and pieces bouncing around. I cannot wait to see what they do when the game is more than an up-port but we will have to wait years for that to happen. Part of the reason that the games can come out quickly and cleaning is that they are, I would assume, all running on the same engine. Literally building games of of Legos, I suppose.

Not being that much of a comic book person I am sure that there are all sorts of in jokes that I am missing. Hell, I haven't even seen Avengers yet, but Stark walking around with a cup of coffee all the time is funny. Hulk shouting at the Magneto controlled Statue of Liberty 'HULK SMASH GIANT LADY' is funny. Nick Fury making shawarma jokes might be funny. I don't know what shawarma is. Most of it works without a solid knowledge of the source material which is more that can be said for most attempts at game comedy.

I should also mention that following my attempt at GTA V a game that does not take itself serious in any way whatsoever was a breath of fresh air. 


Friday, December 13, 2013

Personality conflict

I tried. I really, really tried. Sometimes I hate being that guy who doesn't like something that everyone else does. It is not intentional, I have admittedly odd, sometimes indefensible taste as evidenced by my ability to play through terrible games in their entirety but walk away from Grand Theft Auto 5, one of the last great games of its generation, after only a few days of playing. There was no malice. I was not angry at the game. I just couldn't play it anymore. The least I can do is try to tell you why.

Grand Theft Auto 5 made a concerted effort to improve it vehicle controls. I will take their word for it but I found the driving to be functional at best and flying almost and that was before I made it to the helicopter. The helicopter was worse. After that mission I had had just about enough of Trevor so I switched over to Franklin's missions. A little gang banging never hurt anyone, right?

Trevor shows up because of course he does, they all go out on a drug buy that goes bad, there is a shoot out and a chase. Here is where this fell apart - most chases in GTA are completely unscripted events. 'Escape from the cops' is your only directive. Sometimes this works. The world they have created works well enough that cool things happen organically. But sometimes it doesn't work, and sometimes it is a train wreck. For example, I got into a slow car while controlling Trevor. Trevor's driving skill is pretty poor when compared to Franklin but there was no way to switch and no time to get a new car. What could have been a fast paced chase turned into the cops ramming me from behind until I drove down a giant water drainage pipe and jack knifed my terrible car.

No problem, I will get out and hide in the middle of the pipe. Nope, cops wandered in, single file, with no signs of stopping. My choices were to allow them to kill me and lose quite a bit of progress, make a run for the exit and fight them along side the rudimentary shooting controls, or turn it off. You can guess which one I chose.

My frustration with the randomness of the gameplay was only part of it. There is also an issue with the characters - not a single one had any redeeming features. Michael is a semi-reformed bank robber, his wife is unfaithful, his son is a layabout pot head and his daughter is intent on selling herself for fame. Franklin justifies everything he does by saying he is trying to better himself even if that includes killing innocent jurors because someone told him to and Trevor is a psychopath who uses everyone and everything around himself for personal amusement, up to and including sexually assaulting teddy bears.

I have seen far more of his ass than necessary and I only put in about ten or so hours.

Just being exposed to these guys was unpleasant and it made dealing with other frustrations impossible. I am not opposed to violent games. On the contrary, I enjoy shooting dudes in the face as much as the next guy. The guy doing the shooting should either be transparent to the player, see Gordon Freeman, or at the very least likable or someone that can be identified with. All three of these guy were pieces of shit, as was everyone around them. They were not people that I wanted to spend my leisure time with.

So I am going to play Lego Marvel Super Heroes instead. :P

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Grand theft time

I play a lot of different game. This year looks like it will finish out at either 72 or 73, depending on if I platoon that last few weeks between GTA V and Lego Marvel. Still, I have some very specific, sometimes nonsensical, aversions. Sports games are always given a pass; the last football game I remember enjoying was NFL 2kSomething on my Dreamcast. I like racing games but I never play anything in the Need for Speed series and there is no good reason for it. My initial experience with Demon's Souls was so atrocious that I have sworn off anything new in the series.

I also never play Grand Theft Auto games. GTA 3 saw a few hours of play, culminated by the theft of a fire engine and moderately amusing chase. Vice City and San Andreas were skipped completely. GTA IV bored me to death. Since then my tolerance for open world games has increased out of necessity. Everything is open world now, even when they shouldn't be. Sleeping Dogs was awesome and that was little more than a GTA clone in a more interesting setting, right?

Wrong. It is time to tread carefully as I am going to be poking one of the sacred cows of gaming.

There can be no argument about the quality of GTA V's world. Los Santos is a place. It is not a map or level, it is a living, breathing city the likes which I have never seen in digital form. If I had not spent the last month with my shiny new hardware it would look amazing and its frame rate would be acceptable. Taken in context it is the apex of what is possible on the past generation's hardware. But is it any fun?

My personal measure for action games is this - am I having fun right now? Is what I am doing at this very moment fun? If not, wait five minutes and ask it again. Two no's in a row and the game is in trouble. GTA V has massive stretches of dead time spent driving from one mission to another. Dead time filled to the brim with real life frustrations like traffic, stop lights and oblivious pedestrians. Supposedly the driving itself has been improved from previous games but I find it severely lacking. I don't need Forza physics but at least give me Burnout.

Once I get to where I am going and the shooting kicks in things do not improve. Manual targeting is a fools errand thanks to a tiny aiming cursor and touchy controls. Snapping from one target to the next automatically works but feels very disconnected. There is no punch to the action. It feels rote, like is it there because it has to be. I am left with a gorgeous, detailed world that is not fun to explore. It is an outdoor sandbox in every sense of the world, right now to the cat shit mines you hit if you dig too deep beneath the surface.

I do not understand the allure of this series. My aversion to open style games is long gone but I still cannot get my hands around GTA V. Right now I am playing it just to hear Trevor talk. He is delightfully deranged and makes me uncomfortable but at least he is not a racial stereotype or  De Niro's character from Analyze This.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My one word Contrast review and thoughts on PA

Boring.

I will elaborate. Contrast reminds me very much of rain: all artsy with no fartsy to back it up. At the very least rain was visually interesting. Contrast had a cirque du soleil refugee who may or may not have been imaginary and a one trick mechanic of being able to merge into shadows. I could find no evidence that it took advantage of any of the new bells and whistles offered by the PS4. In fact the only reason I played it was because I felt guilty for not having turned the machine on and it was free.

There was a moment or two of 'oh, that was clever,' and then it was done. The game knew it was out of ideas and had the decency to end. The one thing, and there was only one, that I enjoyed was the soundtrack.



Shivers, man.


...

Penny Arcade's, specifical Jerry's, announcement last week came as a surprise. I cannot say that I identify with this, as I have never had a hobby blossom into an internet based, multimedia empire of a company, but I do think I understand where he is coming from. In the Kickstarter video from last year he said that the years that they relied completely on reader contributions to eat, much less pay salaries and rent office space, were his favorite, that they were honest. I have been following the boys since the very beginning and holy shit have they accomplished a lot. I attribute the majority of their business success with Khoo, a man who I both respect and am rather dubious of, but I do wonder is this is what Mike and Jerry really wanted.

If the announcement is to be believed, it isn't, or at least they have had their fill of it and want to go back to the way things were. The fact that they will be able to cast off pieces of the PA brand and still be financially solvent is amazing but I do wonder how long they will be able to maintain the reserve of goodwill that they worked so hard to build. Jerry has done his best to both erode and bolster it. I cannot just give him a pass on some of the dumb things he has said but I also know that if that same spotlight was shown on me I would sounds just as bad, if not worse. More recently and more personally the bull shit job posting for internal IT smacked of fandom abuse but I blame Khoo for that one. He knows that he can get away with it.

But for how long?

I like Penny Arcade, and Mike and Jerry specifically, because they are not perfect. I like that Mike puts his foot in his mouth in spectacular fashion and then genuinely apologizes for it. I like that Jerry has the same kind of personal insecurities that everyone else does and has the audacity to talk about them in honest terms. I like that their families are not a secret and have immense respect the amount of patience and understanding that their wives must possess. If trying to turn the clock back on Penny Arcade to a time when it was two dudes living in a dingy apartment subsisting entirely on ramen is what they want to do with their monster then I will follow them through it. Not because they owe me anything, not out of blind loyalty, but because in my head they occupy the same space as old friends.

If they are going through an identity crisis then I will, in my tiny, insignificant way, try to see them through it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Minus Scott Bakula

As much I enjoyed sailing the seven seas in Assassin's Creed IV, and the violence and the looting, the game is not even close to my favorite in the series. The reason is simple: I miss Desmond.

Maybe not Desmond specifically, but the overarching real world plot that tied it all together. Ok, and Nolan North's sexy voice, but who doesn't miss that. I enjoyed the dual narrative of the games, as confusing as it could become. Black Flag replaces Desmond with a faceless protagonist - literally the player's avatar. It tries to tell a story using characters from the previous games and bits of information from the old games but it never comes together. All of the unlockable information felt like cliff notes. Boring ones.

The fantasy bits do not work without the real world characters to ground them. Black Flag really would have been a better game without all of the Assassin's Creed trappings but that does not mean that I am done with the series. Fine, Desmond is dead. Put an end to all of the animus nonsense and set the next game entirely in the near future. Instead of the end of the world scenario from third game having been prevented let it happen. Put Desmond's father and his cohorts into the apocalypse and see what happens.

or

Desmond is dead but his mind is trapped in the animus. He jumps from ancestor to ancestor across the millennia hoping his next jump will be the one to take him home.

Assassin's Creed: Quantum Leap!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A preview of the worst

Thanks to Chance's encouragement and the persistent nature of the internet, thank you Google, the New Glarus post is back. There is only one internet, boy and girls, and we are all on it together. Don't put anything out there that you don't want your boss, significant other or mortal enemy to find.

...

As the remainder of December will be filled with Grand Theft Auto 5 and Lego Marvel once Assassin's Creed IV is done it is time to start thinking about the worst games of the year. Even if something on the list were to magically appear and I somehow found time to play it nothing could compare to this years stinkers. That being said, it has been a very good year for games. Quite a few excellent games, even more middle of the road one that did not offend, and only a few that were painful to finish.

Dark is disqualified for this very reason. Of all the genres stealth is the least tolerant or poor execution. Dark was a bad stealth game. It fought me to a standstill, which does not happen often, and I gave up.

To get the obvious choice out of the way, yes, Ride to Hell: Retribution was one of the worst things I have ever played, but it was so bad that it was almost a joy to play. It was filled with 'did that just happen and was it intended' moments, and I am not just talking about the fully clothed sex scenes. I think that there at least one good open world game set in the world of bikers that could be made. This is just not it.

I did not feel guilty about playing Ride to Hell. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, though... My only exposure to The Walking Dead franchise came at the beginning of the year from the same adventure game that we all played and loved. This was more Walking Dead, right? No, it is a shooter that thought about adding in some survival aspects and chickened out half way through, leaving an anemic experience. I was rooting for the zombies, for Christ sake. At least I knew what their motivation was.

There is also the easy way out and I could add to the dogpile on Aliens: Colonial Marines but I remember that game not being nearly bad as I hoped it would be.

This requires thought. I may also break with tradition and pick a few of my favorites. Quick spoiler: Brothers will make that list.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Play more, drink less

Apologies for the previous, now deleted, entry. Four beers in quick succession on my slight frame is not a good idea. In other words, I am a cheap date. Feed me stouts and get ready for a good time.

A quote to kick off more discussion on Assassin's Creed IV:

'Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist that black flag, and begin slitting throats.' - H.L.Mencken.

Every game offers some sort of fantasy, some are just more fantastical than others. This explains the rampant popularity of the Call of Duty series: every guy thinks that he can be soldier. All there is to it is to pick up a gun and shoot guys, right? That's what you do in Call of Duty with the side benefit being that the guy you shoot is living the same fantasy and you just ruined his. Black Flag does this and does it better. You are a bad ass, heavy drinking, ship destroying, no fucks giving pirate. If it stopped there I would have nothing bad to say but this is, after all, as Assassin's Creed game.

This bad ass pirate has had no formal assassin training yet he can out perform all of the actual assassins he runs into. It actually cheapens the assassin's mystique. They are a cult devoted to their way of life and honing their skills and are being outdone by a drunken privateer who stole his set of hidden blades. I thought that Kenway would eventually link up with the assassins but he is still out on his own, being a pirate.

It's a blast and annoying at the same time because the disconnect between the two sides is so stark. One minute I am engaged in a multi-ship battle during a storm complete with water spouts and giant waves and the next I am tailing a soldier from the rooftops instead of killing him and his friends and everyone that looks at me funny while I am doing it. The Assassin's Creed parts of the game just don't feel very piratey and it dilutes the fantasy.

...

There is a nice little feature that I just discovered in the new Smart Glass application for my phone: it tracks hours played for every game. Killer Instinct has only 44 minutes of play time, something that I almost feel guilty about. Forza 5 is also on the low side at 7 hours, something that I really do feel guilty about. Assassin's Creed IV? 29 hours and I am not done yet. A pirate's life for me, indeed.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Good lord don't read this, I was drunk at the time.

Ah, on the road again. It's been awhile, and as usual it means being separated from my gaming machine of choice and having a beer or three too many before going to bed, so please forgive the rambling nature of the following update.

The Xbox One does not feel at all portable and not just because the thing is huge. It relies so completely upon its internet connection for its overall feel that playing it offline just feels wrong. The PS4 at least functions completely without one, save for streaming, which most people do not take advantage of. Streaming is boring now, as most people are streaming the same things, but when the library expands streaming a game that no one else is playing will at least be interesting to someone.

I just broke the lip of a bottle of New Glarus Imperial Weizen off on a counter-top as I do not have a bottle opener - will let you know if thirty seconds if it was worth it.

...

It was, and ouch, my lip.

Funny how whenever I have a questionable amount to drink I always listen to Fiona Apple's Tidal album. Memories of college, I suppose.

Gaming! Yes, that is what I am supposed to talk about. Ass Pirates continues to be fun, but only when it is not being an Assassin's Creed game. If I did not know better I would think that the game started out as something else and had the Ass Creed brand forced upon it. Being a pirate is fun. Attacking ships for their cargo and taking seafaring jobs is fun. Tailing two people through a no-fail scenario is not fun, and it keeps interrupting the bits of the game that I actually enjoy.

Spoilers!

Blackbeard just died along with the majority of my interest so I am ready for the game to be done.

This Imperial Weizen really is good. Thankfully I do not need to be up for a while. As a consequence of my advanced age I do not metabolize alcohol very well. Translation - I get hangovers very easily. Anyone who has said that they are never hung over? Yeah, I get theirs for them off of half as many drinks.

I am a cheap date.

Gaming! Yes, that is what I supposed to be talking about. It occurs to me that spending $900 on consoles in the space of a week and then lambasting Black Friday shoppers is just a little incongruous. Here is my rebuttal in three parts.

I waited in no lines to get them.
I can afford it.
Fuck you, this is my hobby.

Also it cost me no family time to obtain or use. This is how I fill the hours of my day that have nothing and no one else to occupy. Escapism at its finest, it helps me sleep at night.

This beer would be better if it didn't hurt every time I took a drink. And goddamn, if Fiona doesn't need to eat a cheeseburger, gain thirty pounds, and relax a bit. I miss college, things were simpler then.

Gaming! That is what I am supposed to... Is it really? Is that why I am here? Or am I pandering to an imaginary audience? I have no illusions of readership or actual writing ability. This is an outlet, a way for me to pretend to talk to people who have like interests. The one thing I miss about running a store - I used to be the authority, the go to source for what was good and what should skipped. Now my leisure time is a punch line, something hidden from public view, veiled by my chosen screen name.

New Glarus has some fine brews, though I prefer Black Top to what I am drinking now. It reminds me of the clove cigarettes I used to smoke in bars to piss people off, bars that no longer exist, places that I cannot go back to. Times I cannot revisit. People I no longer know.

...

The old music plays via a new medium, my memories remain the same.

A worn out orange recliner and 7 and 7's. A lonely hotel room and New Glarus Imperial Weizen. Nothing changes. Is drunken blogging a thing? I have done this before, spilled random thoughts and regrets to a phantom audience, to people that I imagine are reading, hanging on every word. No one cares - the Internet is a cold, indifferent place, and I am recording this for myself to return to at a later date. To wonder 'what the hell was thinking, putting this out there on the one and only Internet.'

A lonely place, one that I can hide in with a handle and nothing else. Hide in plain site, write for myself.

I am so goddamn predictable. Drink too much, listen to the same music, spout the same silliness.

Gaming, that it what I am supposed to....

Gaming, that is where I hide.