First thing’s first: regular readers of this blog know that I have a tendency to post somewhat irregularly. Unfortunately, due to events beyond my control (i.e., my day job just moved to a new location and my computer monitor is now far more visible than it ever was at the old location), this is probably only going to get worse before it gets better.
I’ve been stressed out about the Goodreads challenge. I am still 2 books ahead of schedule, but I don’t like only being 2 books ahead of schedule; there’s not a lot of breathing room. But more to the point, I don’t like feeling like I need to read quickly just to hit some arbitrary number that I selected at the end of last year.
In any event, I finished David Means’ excellent and very trippy meta-Vietnam-memoir “Hystopia” this morning, which means I can now jump to “The City of Mirrors”, the just-released and final installment in Justin Cronin’s wonderful Passage trilogy. I recently re-read the first two in order to get better prepared; I’d always adored the first book, but wasn’t quite as hot on the second. After this re-read, though, I thought the 2nd book was much better – possibly because the first book was still fresh in my mind, and also possibly because I wasn’t rushing through the ending and so I found myself better able to follow what was happening. I still think he’s better at writing about people than he is at constructing elaborate action set-pieces, and to that end the 2nd book is still problematic, but it’s still engaging.
As for games: I’m finding myself having conflicting thoughts about Uncharted 4, the longer I stay away from it. It’s tricky. While I was playing it, I was thoroughly enraptured by it; the pacing is so fucking good and I always felt involved and invested in what was happening. But now that it’s over, and I’ve read some more critical appraisals, I’m starting to wonder if it’s “THE BEST GAME EVER MADE.” I certainly wouldn’t go quite as far as, say, David Shimomura’s disemboweling of it in Unwinnable, but there are some interesting points raised therein.
I had planned on replaying it, but as it happens, I’ve found myself more and more entranced by the new Doom. It started off very slow, almost alarmingly slow – though I concede that this might’ve been because my initial hour or so was spent in that post-Uncharted 4 haze. But it’s become quite enjoyable.
I don’t have the same relationship with Doom that most people do; I played the first few levels back in the day but I don’t think I ever beat it. Same thing with Castle Wolfenstein. The only games I had access to in those years, for whatever reason, were Duke Nukem 3D and then Quake 2. I’m sure I bought the Xbox Arcade version of Doom, just to have it, but I don’t know that I did anything with it.
Point being, even in my limited experience, I’m familiar with the old Doom enough to recognize that this new Doom feels like it’s coming from the same place. Certainly the movement feels similar. The momentum through a combat arena feels the same – constant movement, jumping all over the place, nonstop action, and then a very pleasing break after that last kill, when the music calms down, and then you can begin to explore for hidden stuff (most of which I can’t find, even though I do look for it – even with my recon upgrades, I’m still missing things all the time). It has the same confounding first-person platforming bits on preposterous architecture. My first visit to Hell felt… well, not particularly hellish the way a more modern horror game might depict it, but it certainly felt like a Doom version of Hell should, which is appropriate.
I don’t give a shit about the narrative and, refreshingly, the game knows it. It gives you just enough to point you in the right direction, but doesn’t overplay its hand; nobody’s playing this for the story. (Which, again, is an interesting thing to experience after playing Uncharted 4, a game in which there are several different levels specifically dedicated to wandering around a person’s private residence, where every single item is part of a larger character study.)
So, yes: it’s going to be quiet-ish around here for a little bit, until I can better figure out how to write without making it profoundly obvious that I’m not doing actual work-work. Bear with me.
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