weekend recap: a year older

I turned 38 over the weekend.  There is a time for philosophizing and reflecting, for getting melancholy over what I might’ve done better and for getting hopeful for what I’ve yet to do; this is not that time, unfortunately.  I’ve got like maybe 10 minutes to cram in whatever I’m going to say, so here goes.

Biggest news is that I finished the single-player campaign for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, even if the game tells me I’m only 71% complete.  This is, if I remember correctly, the same approximate completion percentage I had when I finished GTA V.  The difference is, it’s easy for me to figure out how to 100% AC4 – it’s mostly doing assassin missions, naval contracts, sunken treasure dives, one or two more fort battles, really souping up the Jackdaw, and then finding all the chests and stuff in those little islands at sea, whereas getting 100% in GTA V requires, among other things, scouring every goddamned inch of ground for hidden collectibles, which I’m never going to do.

AC4 is, for the most part, a very welcome return to glory for a franchise that had very much lost its way in its last two outings.  This is not to say that AC4 is not without some serious problems of its own, of course – the overall narrative remains confounding, the “present-day” stuff is both confusing and, ultimately, profoundly underwhelming (I found all 20 sticky notes and hacked all 33 computers and didn’t even get an achievement or any sort of acknowledgment), the PC version has some bugs and some technical shortcomings that make the game nearly unplayable at times, and the campaign’s ending felt rather anti-climactic; I never really felt that the “bad guys” were all that bad, and – more troublingly – I was never convinced that my character had suddenly become a “good guy”, motivated by right and good and not by money and personal gain, especially since, once the game ended, I could return to pillaging and plundering and boarding and sinking as I had for the previous 58 hours.

In the end, though, it gets a lot of stuff right that the last 2 games never did.  It never adds too many systems, and the systems it does have in place are, for the most part, fun and engaging (though they do get repetitive if you let them).  Hey, look – I spent nearly 60 hours of my life playing it and finishing the single-player campaign, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for ACRev and AC3.

I am inching along in Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; I found the master sword and am about to enter Hyrule Castle, which (according to a walkthrough) means I’m roughly 1/3 or 1/4 into the game?  I like it, I guess, but my 3DS time is very limited these days, and this isn’t necessarily grabbing me as much as I thought it might.  I suppose this is my fault, as I never played the original game, and so I don’t have the same nostalgic pull that everyone else in the entire world seems to have.  But I’m also not the world’s biggest Nintendo fan anyway, so feel free to accuse me of bias.

Finally, I did not watch the VGX awards show.  I thought about it – I specifically thought about running a hate-tweet commentary – but figured my time would be better spent doing almost anything else.  I get no pleasure out of hating something, especially something that’s supposed to be something I like, and since the wife and kid were out of the apartment I figured it was a better opportunity to blast through as much AC4 as possible without having to feel guilty about neglecting my family.  If internet opinion is to be believed, it appears I made the right decision.

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