In last week’s entry, I sounded pessimistic about the Fall 2015 videogame release schedule. Not much has changed since then; unfortunately. We had company on Saturday and I was laid up with a nasty head cold on Sunday, and so I only had a few hours of game time, and yet I was still kinda non-plussed at the end of it. I played an hour or so of the remastered Dishonored; it looked fine – about on par with my PC – but I’d already played those first few missions a lot, and I wasn’t feeling particularly inclined to play them once more, Achievements notwithstanding. I also played an hour or so of the remastered Gears of War, and it looks very much like how I remember it looking, which is probably the best you can hope for in a remastered port; it’s just that, as with Dishonored, I’m not really sure I feel like playing through the rest of it. Calvino Noir has gotten fair-to-middling reviews in the few outlets that have bothered to write anything about it, which is a bit disappointing, and Madden 16 simply isn’t my cup of tea. So there’s that.
This week is Metal Gear Solid V and Mad Max. I’m going to take a wild guess and presume that the release date review embargo for Mad Max probably means that it’s not going to score all that well, and also that launching it on the same day as MGSV probably means that its publisher isn’t expecting that much of a return.
Review scores are not necessarily the be-all end-all for me, of course; I have been mystified by the Metal Gear franchise at every turn and even though this latest installment has gotten impossibly high scores from nearly every outfit that’s looked at it, I can’t help but feel incredibly skeptical about it. I didn’t particularly care for Ground Zeroes, and if this is simply a much larger version of that, with a plot even more ludicrous and ridiculous, well… let’s just say I’m glad I’m not buying it.
Here’s the thing, though, and it’s maybe a point that I should probably have emphasized a lot more during this last year or so of general gaming apathy; I’d love to be proven wrong. I’d love to sit down with either one of these games and get sucked in and have a good time. That’s why I still write here, that’s why this blog exists. I have precious little time for gaming these days, and so I’d like the time I do get to play to be well spent. I genuinely hope that I can sit down later this week and rip open my rental copy of MGSV and get sucked in – if not to the impossibly ridiculous story, then at least into the moment-to-moment experience of exploring the environment.
Not all is doom and gloom as far as games are concerned, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw some love towards some iPhone games that have been kicking serious ass of late. To wit:
- Lara Croft GO, which is a strategy-action-board-game hybrid that feels far more accessible and interesting than Hitman GO, the game that preceded it; I was able to finish the entire thing without needing any help, which was very rewarding. I’d recommend playing it on an iPad as opposed to an iPhone (if only because the larger screen makes it considerably easier to find the hidden collectibles), though my iPad 3 did not run it particularly well.
- PAC-MAN 256, which is a novel combination of both Pac-Man and Crossy Road, and which works far better than you might expect; and
- Sage Solitaire, which is a poker-ish solitaire game built by the guy who made the excellent SpellTower, and which is fiendishly addictive and maddeningly frustrating.
While we’re on the topic of enjoying the moment-to-moment experience of a carefully crafted world, I want to pour one out for the dearly departed Hannibal, one of my all-time favorite television shows and which featured as thorough of a mic drop in its finale as one could’ve hoped for. Nobody else watched this show, which is why it only lasted three seasons, but they were three of the most gorgeously photographed and exquisitely acted and straight-up BOLD seasons of network television I’ve ever seen in my life. Not since Twin Peaks have I been so genuinely unnerved by something on a major network; there are images from nearly every episode of this show that I will never be able to get out of my head (the totem pole, the angel wings, the mushroom garden, the increasingly horrible fate of poor Dr. Chilton, etc.). It’s been a hell of a ride, and I hope they can secure financing for a filmed version of the 4th season’s arc. If Wet Hot American Summer can come back as a serialized Netflix show, then anything’s possible.
I’m currently reading Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker, which I’m enjoying, though not nearly as much as I enjoyed his debut novel, The Gone-Away World, which is one of the most fun books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite some time. I loved that book so much that I ended up buying the rest of his published output, and I suppose I should’ve expected a bit of a letdown after Gone-Away World’s brilliance; I’m not done yet, of course, and there’s still plenty of book left for me to get knocked out by – he has a remarkable way with words, of course, and even if the plot isn’t quite as riveting, his prose is still genuinely fun to absorb.