I knew this would happen; I’d be unable to choose between Far Cry 4 and Dragon Age Inquisition while still keeping Assassin’s Creed Unity and Forza Horizon 2 in the rotation (side note – originally typed that as Forizon, and I might end up keeping that for shorthand purposes) with periodic messings-about in GTA V and Sunset Overdrive. And so I kinda just move from one to the other, primarily spending an hour each with both Far Cry and Dragon Age, and those specific two games are so completely different that my brain ends up getting scrambled.
What can I offer in the way of impressions? Hmm. After 90 minutes with Far Cry 4, it is essentially Far Cry 3 in a new locale, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s not necessarily a new thing. FC3 felt new and refreshing and daring, and 4 is essentially a refinement of what worked in 3 with a better-looking engine, an absurdly charismatic villain, and a player character so bland and uninteresting that I’d forget his name if everyone in the game didn’t constantly gasp with amazement when I walked into a room. It’s more of the same, but what made FC3 so good (relatively speaking) was how surprisingly vital it felt, how clearly it was designed with a purpose. Sure, I’m still very early, and I’m already in an especially cynical mood, but thus far in my time with it FC4’s primary purpose for existing seems to be so that Ubisoft can say they had a robust and diverse holiday release calendar. This is not to say that FC4 isn’t strikingly pretty, or even fun – it is both of those things – but it’s also relatively mindless, which is a disappointment.
Dragon Age, on the other hand, feels absolutely vital, lovingly crafted and cared for and built by a team that has something to prove, to make up for DA2’s inadequacies and the original’s limited reach. So that’s wonderful! BUT: it feels awfully weird in my hands. This is not necessarily DA’s fault, of course – I’ve still got the Assassin’s Creed Unity controls scheme very much in my fingers, and so every third-person experience is going to take some getting used to (this is also true of my time with GTA V, a game that I’ve already spend 50+ hours with). That said, BioWare RPGs are almost always magnificent experiences that have kinda clunky combat, and so there’s some precedent here. Once I decide to remain focused on it, and only it, I suspect I’ll get over my clumsiness quickly.
In BOOKS: I finished Steven Galloway’s “The Confabulist” yesterday, which is a book I’m not even sure I knew about until just a few days ago. It presents itself as a magician’s odyssey, the intertwining tales of Harry Houdini and the man who killed him “twice”. I expected it to feel much like Glen David Gold’s splendid “Carter Beats the Devil”, a similar story about magicians in the early 1900s. Instead, it’s a book about memory, loss, loneliness and regret, and so while I might have been disappointed that I didn’t get the adventure/mystery I’d thought I was getting, I ended up relating a lot more strongly than I anticipated to the “killer”, Martin Strauss. Galloway’s prose is unremarkable, and yet in its plainness there are some moving passages that resonated very strongly with me (particularly in light of my own recent bout of memory-induced panic/regret):
It’s inexplicable what causes a person to love someone. It is a feeling so irrational that it allows you to believe that the person you love has qualities they don’t actually possess. And when someone loves you back, it’s nearly impossible not to feel you must never let them see what you are really like, because you know deep inside that you are not worthy of their love.
We talked in a roundabout way about nothing in particular: school, people we knew, things we liked and didn’t like. It was the sort of conversation people who haven’t known each other long but understand they will have many more conversations have, uncomplicated and almost lazy but also anticipatory.
What do you do when the best you have is not very good? I had always been paralyzed by my own inadequacy.
Being a parent is a monumental thing. You shape reality for another person. You cannot be an illusion. You cannot be paralyzed by the fear that you are an illusion. If you have done a bad job, or no job at all, what remains of you is proof that the world is an unfeeling place. If you have done a good job, what remains is the part of you that was magical.
It’s not the sort of must-have book that I’d heartily and eagerly recommend, but it’s certainly an interesting way to spend a few days, and I found myself unexpectedly moved by a reveal that I even sorta saw coming at a certain point.