of piracy and patience

1. I’d hoped to get the 360/PS3 post up before Thanksgiving, but you know what?  It can wait.  There’s no rush.  I’m dealing with a thousand other distractions, to be sure, but the fact remains that this generation is still not over.  And in any event, I’d rather put the post up when people are back in front of their computer monitors, freed from tryptophan-induced eye-glazing (and family-induced eye-rolling).

2. I continue to be tremendously impressed with Assassin’s Creed 4, even if I’m starting to realize that the reasons why I’m enjoying it so much are because of all the things that are cribbed from other games.  The platforming is still very much classic AC, though the controls feel much tighter (most likely influenced by Uncharted and Tomb Raider), but the hunting and crafting is straight out of Far Cry 3, a lot of the treasure map stuff and related ambient events feels lifted wholesale out of Red Dead Redemption, and the customization of the Jackdaw reminds me very much of Mass Effect‘s Normandy.  All games steal from everybody else, and it just so happens that these are good things to steal from, and I’m very glad to have them in this particular context.

Moreover, I love that the game is letting me play at my own pace.  If there’s an undiscovered island between my ship and my next mission objective, you can be damned sure I’m going over there and clearing out as much of it as I can – opening chests, chasing down sea shanty pages, clambering towards Abstergo artifacts.   And along those lines, I’m happy that the incentives for finding all of that side stuff are, for the most part, worthwhile.  (The sea shanties alone are worth it.)  The Mayan statues are a far cry from the weird future glyph puzzles in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, but they’re a fun enough diversion.

And even though I’m not particularly interested in the naval combat (partially because I’m not particularly good at it), I don’t necessarily have to engage with it if I don’t want to.  I suppose I’ll have to get better at it at some point, as I’m sure the game will require me to engage in some heavy-duty naval battles in order to get through the narrative, but for the time being I’m happy to ignore it, and I’m pleased to not be punished for doing so.

I’m also really intrigued by AC4’s “modern” storyline, though I’m reluctant to say more on that until I get around to a full-on spoiler post.

I guess the thing that’s impressed me the most is how relatively un-glitchy it is, especially compared to AC3.  I’m probably 12-15 hours in at this point, and I’ve only ever gotten stuck in a tree once.   That being said, the glitch in the video below is maybe the best glitch I’ve ever seen:

3.  While I’m glad that I’m still resolute in my decision to hold off on buying one of the new consoles (even if it’s been less than a week since the Xbox One launched and I’m already getting super-fidgety), I’m finding that the decision itself is becoming harder and harder to make as more impressions come in.  I suppose this is a good thing.  Ever since E3, I had always been hell-bent on acquiring a PS4 as soon as possible, but the more and more I hear about the XBO, the more intrigued I get.  The short version of this argument is that the PS4 is, essentially, a super-deluxe version of the consoles we currently have, but that the XBO is a machine from the future.  Of course, the Kinect is still a bit buggy, and the idea of constantly talking to my television is strange (especially during the hours when the baby is sleeping in the next room), but that’s stuff that can be fixed with software patches, and I expect that when that stuff is working the way it’s supposed to, it’s going to be very cool indeed.  If any of you have either or both of the new consoles, I’m very curious to hear your thoughts and impressions.

the first few hours: Assassin’s Creed 4

My hopes for Assassin’s Creed 4 were virtually non-existent, to be frank.  It wasn’t just a matter of low expectations; it was simply that, after falling in love with Brotherhood and then being so incredibly disappointed by both Revelations and last year’s straight-up broken AC3, I didn’t want to have to care anymore.  I certainly didn’t expect very much out of yet another annual sequel, especially if it was rushed for a new console launch.

But the positive reviews of AC4 got me too curious to sit back; and when I’m curious, I get frisky; and when I’m frisky, I end up spending money before I have a chance to think about what I’m doing.

And so I bought the PC version.  The deluxe edition.

And after around 3 hours or so, I think I’m in love again.

Furthermore, now that I’ve had this joyous introduction with 4, I think I can better explain what went wrong in Rev and 3.  I mean, I’d finished the first three games pretty thoroughly and probably sunk at least 100 hours of playtime over the course of that trilogy, and so I considered myself a pretty hard-core AC fan; but man, Rev and AC3 immediately rubbed me the wrong way, and I never thought I’d go back after feeling so personally affronted.

Basically, the problems with Revolutions were two-fold.  First, there was far too much tutorializing in the early going.  Again, remember that I’d already played the first 3 games and knew them inside and out – I didn’t need to be interrupted every 30 seconds to tell me how to jump or climb or unsheathe a sword.  And it didn’t help that the controls – in Revolutions, at least – didn’t feel right.

But on top of that, there were all these brand-new systems on top of the old ones; I’d just barely finish learning one new thing and the game would already be teaching me 3 new systems, and it became almost impossible to keep track of anything – not just the moves themselves, but the story and the characters and why the hell I was even doing what I was doing.  There was no opportunity to establish any kind of flow.  (I’ll come back to this point in a second.)

Furthermore, the animation, while still beautiful and graceful, was so heavily prioritized over everything else that I’d miss jumps that I shouldn’t have, or I’d still be leaping instead of swinging a sword.  By the time the tower defense stuff started happening in earnest, I’d all but given up.  I didn’t care anymore; I was doing these things not out of story necessity, but because the developers thought that what made Brotherhood so good was the addition of all these new features, and so they felt obligated to throw the entire kitchen sink and the pantry and the dining room table into the mix for Revelations.

The problems with AC3 are a little less complex; basically, that game was just straight-up unfinished.  I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered so many game-breaking bugs in a major console release; I got stuck in geometry more times than I can count.  To its credit, it did at least get out of its own way and let you do a bit more exploring without constantly interrupting you, and so ironically it suffered the opposite problem from Revelations – it introduced a ton of new features but didn’t explain any of them.  None of the trading or hunting stuff made any sense to me, but it also seemed clear that I’d need to get good at those elements in order to stand a fighting chance towards the end of the game; I gave up on it before I allowed myself to get that frustrated.

So the clearest difference between those two games and this new one, then, is how AC4 just kinda starts and gives you an entire island to figure things out on your own, where you can explore at your own pace, and simply learn through doing and seeing how things work in context.  Sure, there’ll be a button prompt here or there, but for the most part the game stays out of your way.

That first island is brilliant, too, because it’s really well designed; there’s tons of hidden things to find and discover, and since that’s the way I like to play, I had an absolute blast with it.  Reminded me a fair amount of Far Cry 3, actually – and I mean that in a good way, because I really enjoyed most of FC3.

As I said before, I’m playing it on my PC, and it looks absolutely beautiful.  So beautiful, in fact, that it’s the first game I’ve played on my PC where I’ve had to really turn things down and/or off in order to get a stable/playable frame rate.  And even then, on the lower settings, it still looks great – maybe not as great as I’d like in order to take screenshots, but it’s definitely nothing shabby.  (Side note – the “modern” sections of the game tend to lock up on me, though, even on those lower settings.)  Frankly, it really makes me want to either get a new graphics card or… um… get a new console.

Anyway – I’m now in Havana, having synchronized almost all the viewpoints there, and I’ve done a fair bit of exploring and random side stuff (found some buried treasure, snatched a few sea shanties and Abstergo fragments, rescued a few pirates, etc.) and now I’m on my 3rd or 4th mission.  Very much looking forward to seeing what happens next.

sidetracked

My original plan was to come in this morning and talk about the first hour or so of Assassin’s Creed 4, which I played last night and enjoyed FAR more than I was expecting to.

Then I was going to talk about how I was inexplicably wide awake at 3:00 this morning, and I foolishly started reading newly-unembargo’ed reviews of the Xbox One, and then when I finally fell back asleep I literally had nothing but non-stop weird dreams about owning one and having the Kinect do strange things to my apartment and my dogs.

And then, when that was posted, I was going to continue to do some more behind-the-scenes work on the epic farewell post to the 360/PS3 (which is shaping up quite nicely, if I do say so myself).

But.

Real life got in the way, and totally sucked the wind out of my sails, and I found myself unable to think about anything – not even about the very things that help keep me distracted from the other, stressful things.  I’m not going to get into what happened (especially since, as far as I can tell, the nightmare scenario my wife and I found ourselves in has now been resolved to the absolute best possible outcome we could have hoped for, and so there’s nothing really to say at this point), but suffice it to say – there were some very pressing things on my mind, and suddenly all the stuff I wanted to talk about here felt incredibly unimportant.

Games are important; at least, they are to me, and I’ve felt that way since I was 6, and I wouldn’t be spending pretty much all my creative energy these days in putting thousands upon thousands of words out onto the internet about them – even without that big an audience to read them – if I didn’t really feel passionate about it.

But my family is more important.  And even though today really sucked, it was nice to be reminded of that.

(PS: The Assassin’s Creed 4 post will come tomorrow, hopefully.)

weekend recap: patience and more patience

It’s hard for me to admit this, but I feel I must be honest; I’m starting to get a little squirmy for the new consoles, even though (a) there’s nothing on them that I need to play just yet, and (b) I simply can’t afford them.  My plan has always been to wait until the spring, when more (and better) games are due to arrive, and each console would have had their chances to get the inevitable patch-jobs that fix the many things that need fixing, and – most importantly – that I’d have enough information to make a definitive decision between the PS4 and the Xbox One (since, at this point, I can really only buy one).  See, while my heart is with the PS4 right now, I’m still a 360 fanboy, and I’d like Microsoft to get their shit together and make a more compelling case.  (To wit:  I’m gonna need more than Titanfall.)

In the meantime, I’m still working on the 360/PS3 farewell post(s).  I’d like to think I can get them up by the end of the week, although who knows; every day for the last week, a new category will pop into my head that’s mind-bogglingly obvious, and I wonder why I hadn’t already thought about it, and then my lingering paranoia rears its ugly head about this thing not being as comprehensive as I want it to be, and on and on.  Even so, it’s over 5,000 words now, and I don’t have an extra set of eyes to make sure it’s doing what it needs to do.

And as for games – I continue to plug away at Lego Marvel Heroes, which continues to be fun and frustrating in equal parts.  Also, Steam had Rayman Legends for 50% off this weekend, and I felt compelled to pick it up at that price.  (I’d very much enjoyed my time with it on the 360, but had to send it back to Gamefly before I was done with it in order to keep the Queue moving along).  The PC version looks and plays flawlessly, as you might expect.

All that gets pushed aside this week, though, because the PC version of Assassin’s Creed 4 will be at the top of my to-do list.  Oh, and I think that new 3DS Legend of Zelda game comes out later this week, too, and that’s been getting really great reviews.  And once I’m finished with those two titles, I think I can start putting together my 2013 Year In Games post – I don’t think there’s anything of any significance due to arrive this year (except maybe Walking Dead Season 2, which I’m not 100% sure I’m going to pick up – as great as the first game was, there’s only so much darkness I can deal with these days).

taking in the sigh(t)s

I’m taking a brief respite from the 360/PS3 post; I just crossed the 4,000 word barrier (!) and yet most of the draft is still in bullet-point format (!!), so there’s a lot yet to write.  On top of that, my desire to make sure I’m not forgetting anything is making it difficult to keep everything organized; I’ll be reviewing older posts looking to fill in nominee slots for a certain category and then suddenly I’ll stumble across a mention of, say, Viva Pinata, and suddenly I’m off chasing yet another rabbit hole…

…But I’m also heavily caffeinated right now and I need to keep on typing, so, here’s whatever this post is going to be:

1.  I’d bought Papers, Please a little while ago but somehow it got lost in the shuffle.  Last night I finally gave it a spin.  It’s hard to explain what’s so engaging about being a passport agent at a vaguely Soviet-European border crossing in 1982, and so I won’t bother to try.  And really, the thing that hit me the hardest isn’t even the game itself, but rather how emotionally similar it is to my actual, real-life job.  I should probably keep quiet about that comparison, being that this blog is public, but still; if you’ve played the game, then you’ve felt the stress of trying to process as much work as possible while trying to make as few mistakes as possible (though you will inevitably make a mistake and receive one of those little passive-aggressive notices that pop up informing you that you’ve made a mistake, but it’s just a warning – this time), all the while knowing that your family is depending on you and that you never have enough money to have all the things you need.  After the second or third day of work I returned home to a message saying that my child was sick and needed medicine, and of course I thought of my own son, and I kinda had to stop playing for the night.

2.   I also played about 30 minutes of Burial At Sea, Part 1, the new DLC for Bioshock Infinite.  It is incredibly weird (and also very, very cool) to be back in Rapture in its heyday, filled with people not-yet-fucked-up from Plasmid/Vigor overuse.  I probably spent more time taking screenshots than I did actually paying attention to the game.  All the reviews I’ve read say more or less the same thing – the first half is magical, but the second half is where it falls apart (coincidentally, it’s when you start shooting) – and so, for the time being, I’m content to take my time exploring and taking in the sights.

3.  I think I mentioned this already, but it bears repeating – if you haven’t yet picked up Rayman Fiesta Run for your iOS device, please do so immediately.  It’s gorgeous and fun as all hell.

the first few hours: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

As I said last week, I am now in the process of wrangling together my retrospective(s) of this console generation.  This is no easy task; I played a lot of games since 2005, and while I’m doing my best to make sure that certain games don’t get lost in the cracks, it’s inevitable that I’ll forget something.

So I’m saying this up front – I don’t want to sleep on the LEGO games.  I’ve played almost all of them, and while I don’t think any of them have ever appeared on any of my year-end top 10 lists, I’ve generally always had fun with them, and they’ve always been great in terms of fan service.

As it happens, I’ve been a bit stressed out lately, and I felt like indulging in some minor retail therapy, and so I treated myself to a PC download of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes over the weekend, even though I knew my weekend schedule was going to prevent me from really digging in.   (Side note – this is my first PC Lego experience.  I’ve played everything else on the 360, and I’d been hoping to score a 360 rental copy of Lego Marvel from Gamefly, but the timing wasn’t going to work out and in any event I don’t care about Achievements the way I used to, so here I am.)  I did manage to sink around 2-3 hours into it, though; I did the first 5 or 6 missions, and then spent a bunch of time running around Lego NYC.

Here’s what I can offer after such a short play experience.

On the one hand: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is by far the best Lego game yet, which is saying quite a lot considering how good the recent Harry Potter, LOTR and Batman games have been.  Even though I’m not especially knowledgeable when it comes to comics (my familiarity with all things Marvel these days is primarily through the films and my wife’s rabid Marvel fandom), I can still appreciate the unprecedented levels of fan service being offered through its absurdly deep character roster, and even in the early going I can get a kick out of pairing Wolverine, Spiderman and the Hulk.  (And the fact that each character has their own specific idle animation is sure to tickle the most die-hard Marvel fan.) The game also features a surprisingly impressive graphics engine – even if, on my PC, frames tend to lock up during mid-mission saves and level loads.  Most impressive, though, is the open world simulation of New York City that serves as both a between-missions hub world and a full game unto itself, complete with side quests and hidden Lego bricks and races and all sorts of diversions to mess around with.  It’s LEGO GTA, basically, and it’s pretty amazing.

On the other hand: the game is still janky as hell, in the same maddening ways that all Lego games have been janky ever since the first Star Wars game, and it’s absolutely mind-boggling that these sorts of control and camera issues have never been adequately addressed.  Characters still get stuck on geometry; platforming still is successfully achieved mostly through trial and error; some puzzles are still never adequately explained; the controls still never feel as responsive as I want them to.  Iron Man can fly – which is great! – except that controlling him is a nightmare, especially in tight areas.  Certain objects can only be used by “web-slinging heroes”, except that Hawkeye can also interact with them via bow-and-arrow.  Combat can grow tedious, especially as most enemies are one-hit-kills.

Still, though, I can (usually) look past that stuff, because when the game is working it’s an absolute delight.  And the amount of content on display is nothing short of ridiculous; as in previous Lego games, each level is designed to played multiple times and with multiple characters in order to unlock all the hidden areas and find all the hidden stuff (and in this case, to help free all the Stan Lees, too).  And – again – did I mention the Lego New York City that binds all this stuff together?

Barring some sort of game-breaking catastrophe that I’ve yet to encounter, this seems like a very easy recommendation for the Marvel fan in your life – even if you’re just a fan of the movies.

a trip through the archives

Before I get into whatever this post is about, I must make mention of three excellent iOS games that I’ve picked up this week.  Firstly, there’s Rayman Fiesta Run which came out on iOS last night.  It’s absolutely fantastic, and probably somehow better than its excellent predecessor Jungle Run, and if you have $2.99 lying around you should pick it up.

Secondly, I should also mention that Tiny Death Star is out, being a Star Wars-themed version of Tiny Tower, and I’m kinda glad that I burned out on Tiny Tower so that I don’t have to succumb to Tiny Death Star, even though it’s adorable, and I need to remember to adjust my iPhone’s notification settings or else I’ll never see my loved ones again, even if we’re sitting in the same room.

Thirdly, I’m also kinda heavily addicted to the new (and free) Deadly Bullet, which has an art style very reminiscent of Hotline Miami and which has you playing as the titular bullet, mowing down gangsters, and using a control scheme that takes a bit of time to master but is quite engaging once you get the hang of it.

 *     *     *

I’m now officially working on my “farewell to this console generation” post, which will most likely need to be broken into at least 2 posts, because I have a lot of navel gazing to do as far as this generation is concerned, dammit, and I intend to do it.

Anyway:  in preparation for this epic post, I’ve been going through my old Gamespot blog, which is where this blog originally lived (back in 2004) (?!).

I’ve always gotten a little kick rummaging through my blog archives, even though the writing was worse than it is now (which is not to say that my writing now is where I want it to be).  Those old entries remind me not just of forgotten games, but of who I used to be and what I used to think about.  They tell me where I’ve come from, which also helps me figure out where I seem to have gone off to.  (They also show that I’ve probably started at least 80% of my posts with apologies for not posting, so I clearly haven’t changed all that much.)

I’m a little bummed, though, because there’s an unexplained hiatus between 2005 and 2006, and so it seems that I never wrote about the purchase of my (first) 360.  But I did find my original reactions to that Chuck Klosterman piece about the lack of a Lester Bangs of video game criticism, which can be found here (1, 2).  It would appear that I’m still in disagreement with good ol’ CK, even if my reasons have changed.

I do miss those Gamespot days.  I was part of a tight community there, and I made a lot of great friends in the forums, and it’s where I started figuring out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.  I haven’t really found anything like it in the years since I left, though it’s not for lack of trying.  I’m happy to be an independent voice, for sure, but I miss the feeling of being in a community.  To be sure, there’s a number of great WordPress game blogs that I follow and engage with, but WordPress doesn’t quite do the “community” thing the way a dedicated game site does.  I suppose this should be my call to arms to start a WordPress game blog group, though I suspect I’ve probably got the smallest audience out of the blogs I’d want to court, and so who am I to lead?

Anyway, I’m suddenly full of nostalgia for the mid-00’s, which is a weird era to be nostalgic for, and so that’s what’s going on with me.  I have no idea when this farewell post will go up.  It seems silly to me to feel like I need to rush it out, though, considering that I’m not buying a new console until next spring, and I want to make sure that it’s not redundant with my Best of 2013 post, and I kinda also want to make sure that Assassin’s Creed 4 isn’t the best game of the generation before I start making lists and such.  (Oh, did I forget to mention that I directly contradicted my previous post, and ended up pre-ordering the PC version?  With a Season Pass, to boot?  Have I mentioned that I have no willpower?)

 

 

weekend recap: fun in San Andreas, not so much in Blackgate

There was good and bad over the weekend as far as games are concerned, so let’s start with the good.

THE GOOD:

1.  This is something I never thought I’d say, but here goes: GTA V Online is starting to grow on me.

Right off the bat – it is 1000% more stable than it was at launch, which means it is now, more or less, working the way it’s supposed to. Load times are still a bit long, but the important part is that game sessions do finish loading instead of being endlessly hung up, and once you’re in a race or a mission people don’t seem to teleport or glitch out the way they were a few weeks ago.

More to the point, though, the online game is starting to make a bit more sense.  I should back up and say that I didn’t even really start playing online until I’d finished the main story, and so it seemed sort of insane how little there was to do at the outset of my online career, considering how much I’d done in the single-player campaign.  But I’m now up to Level 10, and the activities and customization options that have opened up with each level-up are enough of an incentive to keep me coming back.

For example:  I took a nice chunk of the money I got from being in the beta and bought a deluxe apartment with a 10-car garage.  The apartment itself isn’t necessarily useful except that it’s nice to be able to spawn into it, as opposed to spawning on a street corner and then immediately getting gunned down before I’ve even had a chance to set “passive mode” on.

Another thing (though this feels like an exploit or something) is that you don’t have to play Missions with other people if you don’t want to, and so this is a rather easy way to make money and XP without dealing with jerks and/or long stretches of boredom while you wait for your lobby to fill up.  Nobody seems to want to play the Missions, is the thing – whenever I get into a group with people, the pre-match voting results are almost always a 50/50 split between races and deathmatches – and so it seems silly to sit there doing nothing when the Missions are just as easily doable by yourself.

But, that aside, the more I time I spend with it, the more it feels like it’s the primitive first draft of what a true next-gen GTA should be – one where you design your own character and create your own narrative, and make your own way in the big city.  (Which Saints Row is already sort-of doing, and which the Elder Scrolls games have been doing for ever.)  And it also proves, conceptually at least, that GTA III‘s model of a silent protagonist isn’t necessarily bad.  (Which also works for The Elder Scrolls games, too.)  Like: I’ve decided that I don’t need a fully-voiced character reaction to every minor traffic infraction; if I’m playing as Michael, and I crash into someone while missing a corner at high speed, and then Michael screams “YOU ENTITLED PIECE OF SHIT” at the person I just hit (because he’s certainly not saying that to me, the player)…. well, if it wasn’t funny the first 100 times he said it, it certainly doesn’t get any better.  Truth is, whenever I drop back into the story mode for whatever reason, I find that I’m immediately irked by whoever I choose to play – Michael is just a terrible person, Trevor is, well, Trevor, and Franklin seems like he’d rather be doing something else.

I don’t think Rockstar will go that route, though; they’re too committed to this endlessly repetitive vision of American Satire, and they take their “storytelling” very, very seriously, and in any event they already did the silent-protagonist-climbing-up-the-ranks story in GTA III.  And considering how much money GTA V has just made, it’s easy to presume that the Houser Brothers would feel justified in staying the course.  It’s just that there’s no story quite as compelling as the one you make yourself, and when you’re given a world like the one in San Andreas, every action you take in exploring it becomes more meaningful because it’s you doing it, and because you want to do it.  I’m not saying they can’t have scripted missions – those are still fun, when they’re done right – but I think I’d be a lot more engaged with the next game if I had more control over who I ended up playing, and especially if I could like or at least empathize with the person I was playing.  (And as it turns out, this ability to create your own character and shape your own narrative is something that a lot of my favorite games of this generation  have in common.)

2.  I finished Enslaved.  I was surprised at how much of that game I still remembered – the game feels pretty epic in size, but I forgot how short it is.  It’s not without some problems; a lot of the story beats feel like they come too quickly, and there’s quite a few camera glitches that make the game downright unplayable.  But the action feels good, the platforming is quite fun (albeit completely devoid of challenge), and I still think that the relationship between Monkey and Trip is genuine and convincing.  (Especially the facial animation, which I’d put right up there with the best of this generation.)

3.  I managed to not spend any money in Steam’s Halloween sale, and I also managed to not buy Batman Arkham OriginsLego Marvel, or pre-buy Assassin’s Creed 4.  I will probably end up buying AC4 when it shows up on the PC in a few weeks, but at least I didn’t splurge on it now.

THE BAD:

1.  Part of why I was able to hold off buying Batman was that I’d heard that the game had some crippling, save-corrupting bugs that Warner Brothers actually came out and apologized for; the other part was that I was playing the 3DS version of Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate, which I was hoping would sate my Batman fix.  Alas, it did not, and if anything it further soured my hopes for the PC game.  I can’t speak for the Vita version, which is apparently the better of the two handheld games, but the 3DS version was tremendously annoying to play; and this is very disappointing, because when I heard that the game was trying to mashup the console Batman games with a side-scrolling Metroidvania experience, I expected something amazing.  Instead, it feels very obligatory and uninspired; the map is all but useless; the sidestuff (i.e., evidence for random detective cases) feel utterly meaningless and devoid of any real purpose; and the combat is not nearly as much fun as it should be, because the 3DS buttons are often unresponsive and I ended up taking far too many hits that I shouldn’t have.  I spent about 2 hours or so with it and eventually gave up; I just don’t have the time anymore to push through with games that aren’t doing anything for me, and I especially don’t have time for games that feel like they’re deliberately antagonizing me.

THE UNRELATED:

Saw this link this morning, in which The Verge plays with the Steam Machine, and now I’m really glad I’ve waited on buying a new console (or, alternately, a new video card for my PC):

http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/4/5063760/we-try-the-steam-machine-valves-video-game-console-of-the-future

talkin’ next-gen blues

This is my mantra for the next few months:

I CAN WAIT.

I CAN WAIT.

I CAN WAIT.

I can, too, is the thing.  I have never bought a new console on launch day.  My Dreamcast was a birthday gift from a (now ex-) girlfriend; my purchase of an Xbox was almost a full year after it first came out; I bought a 360 via Craigslist about 2-3 months after it came out, so I suppose I was weak in that moment, but I didn’t get a PS3 until 2008, and at the time it was mostly being used as a Blu-Ray player.   And Wiis were impossible to find for the longest time, too; I think it took me at least 6-8 months to get one after it launched.

The point is: I’ve established a precedent when it comes to not buying a console on day one.

Furthermore, the launch lineups for both systems are, in my opinion, kinda weak – especially with Watch_Dogs getting pushed back.   Yes, Titanfall looks amazing, but I’ve never been much of an online-multiplayer-shooter dude, so it does nothing for me.  Yes, the next-gen versions of Assassin’s Creed 4 look impressive, but I can also play it on my PC.   (Side note: I think I’ve decided that I will play it after all.  *sigh*)

Let’s also not forget how gimped both the PS4 and the XboxOne are going to be out of the box; both systems will require rather sizable software patches out of the box, and those patches will most likely require patches of their own.

To be honest, the money I have saved for a next-gen console could just as easily be spent upgrading my PC graphics card; I’m already doing most of my gaming on the PC anyway, and even though my PC currently runs with an ancient nVidia card that still manages to pump out nice graphics, a newer card would make everything look a hell of a lot nicer.  (And now that I’ve successfully swapped out a busted hard drive for a new one, I feel a bit more comfortable swapping out a graphics card…. like that GeForce GTX 770….)

And I’ve still got a rather sizable backlog of current-gen games to get through…

…and I’m still not necessarily done with GTA V Online…

…and…

….and….

um…

[I CAN WAIT.

I CAN WAIT.

I CAN WAIT.]