Not a lot of game-time this weekend; I caught a vicious headcold while in the middle of a double-feature at the movies on Saturday, and so I spent most of Sunday and Monday horizontal, with intermittent breaks for sneezing. That being said, a few gaming-related items are worth mentioning: 1.  Before the movies on Saturday, …

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So one of the reasons why I was so quiet last week was because I was working on a review of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the New York Videogame Critics Circle, which can be found here. This was my first experience writing a review the way the professionals do it:  with a free download code given out …

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Finished Tomb Raider.  Currently at around 93% completion, and I’m not sure I give a shit about finding the last few things there are to find.  Lara is fully leveled up, as are her weapons (not that there are that many people to fight), and the stuff that’s left (mostly GPS caches) doesn’t have much of …

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I’d started a post last week, but never got around to finishing it; things are still a little weird, and I’m finding very few pockets of idle time these days.  A brief summary of what’s going on in apartment-land can be found here. As for games & stuff. To be honest, these days I’ve mostly …

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weekend recap: well, that wasn’t so bad

January 28, 2013

Firstly, some necessary meta-news to report:  the aforementioned apartment drama might very well be resolved, which is, as you might imagine,  a HUGE weight off of my shoulders.  I’m reluctant to say anything further, as we haven’t actually signed any leases or anything, and I don’t want to jinx it.  But the point is that I’m pretty sure we’re OK, and that the logistics of the move itself would be the easiest and least costly move we could possibly undergo, short of actually not having to move at all.

And so, in the midst of continued purging of apartment stuff, and the various frantic callings and emailings and textings of assorted realtors and landlords and such, I found that I needed to blow off some steam.  And so I dabbled in a bunch of games.

First off:  I finished 1 playthrough of The Cave, Ron Gilbert’s long-awaited new adventure joint with DoubleFine.  (My playthrough was with the Knight, the Time Traveler, and the Adventurer.)  Considering the pedigree of those involved in its creation, I feel a little cheap reducing my opinion of it to a 7-word sentence, but what follows sums up the experience pretty accurately:  it is equal parts charming and tedious.  The writing is certainly humorous but very rarely laugh-out-loud hilarious; the puzzles are, for the most part, straightforward and free of old-school obtuseness, but they can be exceedingly tedious to execute, requiring you to move three characters independently, all of whom move just slowly enough for it to become annoying after a while, especially when a puzzle requires frequent backtracking.  I still found the experience worthwhile, and I’m sure I’ll get around to seeing the other characters’ individual stories, but it’s a hard package to heartily recommend.

On the console front, I played a few levels of Devil May Cry.  I don’t really know how to talk about it; I’ve never been much of a DmC fan, and I don’t really know anything about the franchise or the character or the legacy or how radically different this particular reboot is.  I’m not necessarily all that good at these kinds of games, either; I rented it purely based on the review scores, which have been, more or less, exceedingly positive.  But what I can say is that, if nothing else, it features some rather astonishing visual design – some of the levels seems straight out of a Terry Gilliam fever dream, and I mean that as one of the highest compliments I can bestow.   So while I don’t particularly give a shit about what’s going to happen next, I do very much want to see what happens next, if you know what I mean.

I also reconnected my PS3 to my living room TV* so that I could get some time in with Ni No Kuni and The Unfinished Swan, the latter of which is currently only $3 or $4 on PSN for Plus subscribers.

Ni No Kuni is very charming, very beautiful, and very much a JRPG, with all the good/bad that goes along with it – the bad, in this case, specifically referring to a certain pet peeve of mine.  Lots of Japanese games do this particular thing, by the way, not just JRPGs, but JRPGs do it the most – where every single movement of a character, no matter how arduous, is vocalized.  You can be climbing up a mountain, or simply running along a shady lane, but every step of the way is grunted and oomphed and aahed and it’s very distracting and weird.  That aside, the game is as lovely and charming as you might expect a Level 5 / Studio Ghibli collaboration to be.   I can’t yet tell if the battle system is overly complicated or not; there appear to be a lot of mechanics that you need to be paying attention to at any one time, but the game does a rather wonderful job of showing you how it works.  I’m only an hour or two into it, but I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with it, especially during this pre-baby, slow-release-calendar window we’re currently in.

As for The Unfinished Swan, I’m not sure what to make of it.   It’s an astonishingly well executed visual trick, and I certainly appreciate the attempt at an engaging narrative.   That being said, I’m currently in the blueprint level, and I’m a bit stuck; the controls are kind of terrible, all of a sudden.  I wonder if it’s because I’m not using a Move controller; I certainly hope not, because up until this point the game was controlling just fine.

I’m also sort-of still dabbling in Hitman Absolution; I’ve started to figure out how the game is supposed to work, even though I still find myself getting impatient.  I also find the game rather distasteful; all the characters are horrible (on purpose), and the world is really seedy and disgusting, and it’s a hard world to want to stay engaged in.  I can really only play for, like, 10 or 20 minutes at a time before I need to turn it off and cleanse my palate.  It makes me feel unclean.


* Because my wife was a recent Fringe fan and needed to binge very quickly on the first 4 seasons to get caught up for the current (and last) season, we’d had to move the PS3 into the bedroom and our other Blu-Ray player over to the living room, as the other Blu-Ray player didn’t have a wi-fi connection.   Suffice it to say, I hadn’t really missed the PS3 in the interim until this week.

weekend recap: the stress

January 21, 2013

I don’t have many rules when it comes to maintaining this site, but I do try to adhere to two primary goals: (1) post on a regular basis, and (2) don’t get overly personal, if it can be avoided.  Rule 1 is mostly in place so that I can keep a consistent audience, even if it’s just a few people, but it’s also just so that I keep my chops (such as they are) from getting rusty.  And Rule 2 is there because, among other things, getting personal can mean getting lazy.  There’s a difference between keeping a personal voice and going over the deep end; that’s what personal blogs are for, and this is not one of them.

I bring this up because I’m going to be violating both of these rules over the next few months; I’m probably not going to be posting all that much, and whatever I do post is probably going to be personal.  It can’t be avoided.  My personal life was already going to be overwhelmed by the impending arrival of a newborn child; but now I have the added (and unforeseen) stress of trying to find a new place to live before the baby arrives, as the owner of our apartment has decided to sell.  (Without telling us, I might add; we found out by accident.)

We found this out on Saturday morning.  The baby’s due date is early April; it is now the second half of January.  The owner of our apartment has not yet found a buyer, but we’re obviously not being kept in the loop on how that’s all shaking out, and so we have to take matters into our own hands.  We would rather move before the baby’s born, so there’s not much time to work with.  We’ve spent the last 48 hours scouring Craigslist, calling brokers, following leads; we’ve already begun purging our clothes, books and DVDs in preparation for packing for an unscheduled move to an as yet unknown destination.

The beauty of New York City is that there are a thousand real estate agents ready and waiting to help us; the soul-crushing tragedy is that the Venn Diagram representing the type of place we want at the price we can afford yields a wafer-thin slice from which to choose, as well as a thousand other people looking at the same apartment.

This is all to say that posting here is going to be light.  You have to understand that any time I spend playing games is time I’m not spending actively trying to secure a new place to live, which makes me feel guilty; and all the stuff that I’d be playing if I weren’t going through this madness – like the stuff I bought during the Steam holiday sale – is all violent and stressful and not necessarily the kind of stuff that takes my mind off the stressful things I’m going through.

Frankly, the only thing I’ve been playing is the newly-released Temple Run 2 on my iPhone, because that’s about the extent of what my nervous system can handle.   And even that sucks, as my poor old iPhone 4 has a hard time running it without stuttering; I’d bet that at least 90% of my deaths are because the phone seized up and didn’t register my finger swipe.

Anyway.  You get the idea.

I will keep this blog updated as much as I can, but, well, the situation is what it is.  Hopefully we’ll find a place sooner rather than later, and we can get set up and unpacked and organized, and THEN have a baby, and then go through the normal, expected stress of being new parents.  That’s a stress that I’ll gladly welcome.  For now, though, it’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.

Thanks for bearing with me.

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