Tag: batman arkham knight

the fall release calendar

1. I keep waffling on how personal I can allow myself to get on this blog.  But since other social media avenues are closed to me at the present moment, and since it’s been at least a week since I last posted, I might as well explain – I’m on some new head meds, and even though it’s only been a week, I seem to be doing rather well.  So that’s good!  It’s not necessarily an easy thing to admit, but I don’t want to create the impression that I am somehow ashamed of taking prescription medication for depression or anxiety; the quality of my life was not good, for a long time, and it seems to be getting better, and that’s the most important thing.

2.  I am nearly halfway through Nathan Hill’s “The Nix”, and it is amazing.  I’d read reviews that compared the author to both DFW, DeLillo and Pynchon, and so I bought the book almost immediately, like some sort of reflex had just been triggered.  I suppose I can see a bit of that comparison – there are occasional passages in which Hill articulates a particularly neurotic train of thought that covers every conceivable base, in much the same way that Wallace did in “Infinite Jest”, but beyond that the book is very much its own thing.  And while I’m only halfway through, it’s certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year.

3.  I found myself listening to Jane’s Addiction’s “Up The Beach” not too long ago, and I decided to declare it the best opening song on an album post-1985.  (Why 1985?  I don’t know, but I knew that going back farther would make any discussion impossible to reconcile.)  I started a thread on Facebook about it, and got some other very worthwhile candidates, and so I’ve created a Spotify playlist with most of the suggestions that cropped up.  This is by no means definitive (nor is it sequenced in any particular order beyond where they appeared in the original discussion thread), and it is obviously a bit too white-guy heavy, and so if you’ve got further recommendations, by all means send ’em my way.

 

4. I’ve been trying to finish most of the games I play this year, but I decided to give up on finishing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.  This is mostly due to the fact that I was right near the end of the game and I was suddenly asked to make a choice, and I realized that not only did I not care about either of the options presented to me, but that I had literally no idea what the hell was going on.  I’d been content to find sneaky and non-lethal ways to infiltrate buildings and do whatever task needed to be done, and had stopped paying attention to the why at some arbitrary point that was, I realized, too far back to return from.  There are a lot of interesting critical analyses of why DE:MD’s story is fucked up and/or irresponsible and/or bad and/or misses an opportunity to take current political issues and do something interesting with them, but I never got anywhere close to seeing the game’s story in that sort of detail.  I instead found myself focused on the mechanics, because that was the thing that was enjoyable; the story was never particularly engaging, and then by the time I realized that the story mattered, it was too late.

5.  We are about to enter the fall release schedule, which means shit’s gonna start getting real.  I’d already bought the ultimate edition of Forza Horizon 3, which means I get to start playing it tomorrow.  (Possibly tonight at midnight?  If I’m awake?)  But I’m not sure there are any must-plays that are grabbing my attention more forcefully than others.  I mean, I’ve got a bunch of these upcoming games in my rental queue, and I did pre-order Gears 4, but I’m not quivering with anticipation.  Maybe it’s the meds?

I did stop myself from ordering the Bioshock remasters; I still might get them, but I’m waiting for a Digital Foundry verdict first.  I’m currently replaying Batman: Arkham Knight on Xbox One, because (a) cheevos and (b) procrastination.  That game still holds up, though I can say definitively that the PS4 version looks better.  If that matters.

Anyway, as far as the schedule is concerned, Kotaku posted a release calendar; my personal picks are in bold.

September 23

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided System Rift | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Story DLC

September 27

  • FIFA 17 | PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Sports
  • X-COM 2 | PS4, Xbox One | Strategy
  • Forza Horizon 3 | PC, Xbox One | Driving
  • Dead Rising 2 HD | PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure
  • Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice | 3DS | Platformer
  • LEGO Dimensions Wave 6 | PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U | Action Adventure
  • Darkest Dungeon | PS4, Vita | Dungeon Crawler

September 30

  • Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits | 3DS | RPG
  • Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls | 3DS | RPG

October 4

  • Warhammer End Times: Vermintide | PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure

October 7

  • Paper Mario: Color Splash | Wii U | Action Adventure
  • Mafia III | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure
  • Five Nights At Freddy’s: Sister Location | PC | Horror

October 10

  • 100ft Robot Golf | PS4, PS4 VR | Robot Sports

October 11

  • Gears of War 4 | PC, Xbox One | Third-Person Shooter
  • Dragon Quest Builders | PS4 | Action RPG, Sandbox
  • WWE 2K17 | PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Sports
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience | PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider | PS4 | Action Adventure
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties/Lara’s Nightmare | PC, Xbox One | DLC
  • Duke Nukem 3D 30th Anniversary World Tour | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Memories

October 13

  • PlayStation VR | PS4 | Hardware  [I will obviously need to read some reviews and/or determine if I need to upgrade my OG PS4 to the Slim or the Pro before plunking down any money on this.  People appear to be having cathartic, out-of-body experiences with Rez Infinite, though, and who am I to say no to something like that?]
  • Batman: Arkham VR | PS4 VR | Action Adventure
  • PlayStation VR Worlds | PS4 VR | Action
  • Battlezone | PS4 VR | Action
  • Harmonix Music VR | PS4 VR | Music
  • Hustle Kings | PS4 VR | Pool
  • Rez Infinite | PS4 VR | Music Action
  • Shadow Warrior 2 | PC | First-Person Shooter

October 16

  • Skylanders Imaginators | PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U | Action Adventure

October 18

  • Batman: Return To Arkham | PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure
  • Lego Harry Potter Collection | PS4 | Action Adventure

October 21

  • Battlefield 1 | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Horse Simulator
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization VI | PC | Strategy

October 25

  • Dark Souls III: Ashes Of Ariandel | PC, PS4, Xbox One | DLC

October 27

  • Just Dance 2017 | PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U | Dancing
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Fighting
  • World of Final Fantasy | PS4, Vita | RPG
  • Harvest Moon: Skytree Village | 3DS | Simulation

October 28

  • Titanfall 2 | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Third-Person Shooter
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition | PC, PS4, Xbox One | RPG

November 1

  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Vita | 2D Platformer

November 4

  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare | PC, PS4, Xbox One | First-Person Shooter
  • Mario Party Star Rush | 3DS | Party

November 7

  • Lego Dimensions Wave 7 | PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U | Action Adventure

November 10

  • PlayStation 4 Pro | PS4 | Hardware

November 11

  • NES Mini | Nintendo | Retro Console
  • Dishonored 2 | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure

November 15

  • Watch Dogs 2 | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure
  • Road Rage | PS4, Xbox One | Racing
  • Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection | PS4, Xbox One | Action Adventure

November 18

  • Pokémon Sun | 3DS | RPG
  • Pokémon Moon | 3DS | RPG
  • Killing Floor 2 | PC, PS4 | Survival Shooter

November 29

  • Final Fantasy XV | PS4, Xbox One | RPG
  • Star Trek Bridge Crew VR | Oculus, Vive | Simulation

December 1

  • Syberia 3 | PC | Adventure

December 2

  • Gravity Rush 2 | PS4 | Action Adventure
  • Steep | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Extreme Sports
  • Super Mario Maker 3DS | 3DS | Mario Maker

December 6

  • The Last Guardian | PS4 | Action Adventure
  • Star Trek Bridge Crew VR | PS4 VR | Simulation
  • Dead Rising 4 | Xbox One | Action Adventure

Good books! Good games! Good times!

1. I’m only about a third of the way into John Wray’s “The Lost Time Accidents“, but let me say this: if the rest of the book is just half as brilliant as what I’ve already been through, it’ll still be one of the best books I’ll have read in 2016.  I’m reluctant to discuss anything so far, if only because I clearly have so much more to get through, but MAN – this is a great, great book.  What a great feeling it is to be incredibly excited for something and then have it be just as good, if not better, than one had hoped.

2.  I played through the first day of Firewatch last night.  It’s quite something, I’ll say that; the prologue, a text-driven series of events that sets up your character’s motivation for taking the park ranger job, is far more emotionally heavy than I was prepared for.  I’m thinking I might wait for the much-needed frame-rate patch to land before I continue.  The frame-rate hitching isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but given that the game is so beautiful and the atmosphere is so intoxicating, I’d rather experience it without being unnecessarily distracted.

3.  Also played through a little bit of Klaus, a very stylish 2D platformer that uses the PS4’s touch screen to great effect.  I can see that this one is going to break my brain in short order.

4.  Also, for some reason, I’ve been playing through the Batman: Arkham Knight Season of Infamy DLC, which is far better than any of the side-story stuff that had previously been released.  It’s short, but it’s well-written and visually striking, and there’s some pretty heavy-duty stuff that happens along the way.

I thought I’d had enough for a #5; I guess I didn’t.

Wrapping up the Knight, and Looking Ahead to the Fall

1.  I’ve been toying with the idea of reviving my personal WP blog, which I’d impulsively shut down a few years ago for reasons I can’t quite recall anymore.  But I did want to revive two specific lists – my top 50 albums of the 80s and 90s.  I liked writing those lists, and they still feel more or less accurate, and I figured they ought to resurface.  (Speaking of which – please let me know if, for some reason, those links don’t work for you; I’m not 100% sure I’ve figured out how to mass-edit privacy settings.)

2.  Unlike games, which I have no problem giving up on if I’m not enjoying them, I am debating giving up on Joshua Cohen’s “The Book of Numbers“.  It’s a difficult book, but usually that’s not that big a problem; it’s more that I started reading it right before work got crazy, and I put it down, and when I pick it up now I’m totally clueless as to what is going on and, to the extent I remember any of the characters, why I should care about them.  I’d like to get back to it at some point – he’s extraordinarily gifted with words and phrases – but I think I need to read something a little bit less obtuse.

3.  I finished the main Scarecrow-centric Batman Arkham Knight storyline the other night, and yet I’d only completed 64% of the game.  I took a much-needed sick day yesterday and ended up finishing almost everything else – there’s only one or two more militia-themed sidequests to finish, as well as some kidnapped firemen to track down – which brings me up to around 91% completion.  That said, I’ve only found 25% of the Riddler’s question marks, and if I have to find all of them in order to fully activate the Nightfall protocol, I’ll just watch it on YouTube.  Can’t be bothered with that bullshit.

Overall – I think it’s fair to say I liked it, though I did find it tedious and repetitive at times, and almost all the militia-themed quests are straight-up filler and get super-ridiculous towards the end.  (The bomb quests in particular, where you eventually have to fend off 50+ drones, are just flat-out stupid.)

It’s hard to discuss the story without spoiling everything, but I did find it both effective and affecting; if this is indeed Rocksteady’s last Batman game, they went about as all-out as they possibly could, and I commend them for that.  I don’t know that I’ll find myself itching to play it again, though, the way I did with Asylum.

4.  Speaking of what to play next…. I’m looking at the release calendar and it looks pretty goddamned depressing.  Next week is the new EA golf game (which I can’t not call Tiger Woods, just out of habit)… and then:

  • Mad Max (I want to hope this isn’t terrible – there was an interesting-looking preview video a little while ago that suggested it was a bit more ambitious than you’d think – and the fact that it’s telling its own story and isn’t necessarily a naked licensed cash grab seems promising – but I haven’t seen any coverage about it since that video in April, and its September release date isn’t that far away)
  • Metal Gear Solid V (I’m renting this and I fully expect to send it right back.)
  • Forza Motorsport 6 (I missed Forza 5; I’m curious as to whether or not I’m going to like this, given how much I prefer the Forza Horizon games.*)
  • Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 (wouldn’t it be great if this game didn’t suck?  I miss the old THPS games like crazy.  I have little faith that this won’t be a piece of shit, but little > none, so…)
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (I’ll play this for at least a little while, I suppose.  It’s gotta be better than Unity, right?  I just need to figure out its nickname; AssSyn?)
  • Halo 5: Gaurdians (I’m at least renting this because I own an Xbox One and I feel obligated to, but I haven’t enjoyed a Halo game since maybe Halo 2.)
  • Fallout 4 (I cancelled my PipBoy preorder, mostly because I couldn’t figure out which system to get it for – has anyone confirmed whether the PS4 is getting mod support the way that the XB1 is?)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (This and FO4 are the only two games I could see knocking Witcher 3 out of the top spot in my GOTY ranking.  For some reason – perhaps simply my desire to play a good, fun action/platformer – I think I’m going to like this one more than Fallout 4.)
  • Star Wars Battlefront (I’m not really a multiplayer shooter kind of dude, but I loved the original games, and I’d like to think this would be fun enough for a little while)
  • Just Cause 3 (sure, why not)

And then there’s a bunch of remastered editions which I may/may not check out purely out of graphics-whore-ishness, like Uncharted, Gears of War and God of War.


* I forgot to mention that I tried the PS+ edition of Driveclub the other day; I did about a lap and a half of the first race and couldn’t figure out whether it was meant to be arcade-y or a sim, and while it’s pretty it didn’t grab me, and I promptly uninstalled it to make room for future HD installs.  Much ado about nothing, I guess.

the first few hours: Batman Arkham Knight

Every year I tell myself to stop apologizing for long blogging absences, and every year I almost immediately backtrack and apologize for even the smallest hiccup.  Given that I haven’t posted here since June 22 – a 2-week hiatus that did not involve a vacation – I feel compelled to explain what happened:  my day job involves working as a legal secretary for a corporate law firm, and the two associates I support work in the real estate department, and the end of June is a particularly busy time for corporate real estate.  Point being:  I was here until 1:30am pretty much every night for the week and a half – including the weekend – and was basically a shambling wreck.  I did not read books, I did not listen to music, and I certainly did not play any games that weren’t on my iPhone.  It’s only now, after the craziness has subsided and after some much-needed during the 3-day weekend, that I can finally start talking about whatever I talk about here.


So, then:  if I were to pick up from my last post, I’d say that the ending of Witcher 3 was perhaps a bit of a letdown compared to what had come before it, but I’d also put some of that on myself for having rushed through it (knowing that I wanted to have a fresh slate for Arkham Knight, and also because I had somewhat of an inkling that I’d have – to put it mildly – limited access to my consoles for the following few days, and that if I didn’t finish the story before having to put it down, I’d be thoroughly lost and confused if I ever came back to it).  There’s been a few post-release DLC things that have come out and I don’t think I’d touched any of them; I’d like to get back to them at some point, perhaps during the next few weeks when notable new releases are still few and far between.

In any event, I agree with my earlier assessment; it’s the best game I’ve played since Portal 2 and/or Red Dead Redemption, and it’s my clear front-runner for Game of the Year.


But what of Batman: Arkham Knight?  I’ve been able to sneak in some time here and there over the last few days, and if the percentages are correct I’m about 2/3rds of the way through the main story.  The best word I can think of to describe my experience thus far:  exhausting.  Which is not to say that I’ve not had a good time – I’ve very much enjoyed what I’ve played so far (with one notable exception*), and I’m looking forward to finishing the story and perhaps a few of the side things.  I don’t even really mind the Batmobile, though I still prefer the grapple-and-soar approach to traversal.  And the studio’s decision to focus solely on PS4/XB1 development clearly paid off on the presentation side of things (PC port notwithstanding); I’m hard-pressed to think of a better-looking game I’ve played on the new consoles.

That being said: I’m with Kotaku on this one.  There’s way too much stuff to do.  There’s so much stuff to do, in fact, that at one point, after running a bunch of story missions in a row, the game actually stopped me from progressing (by saying that Lucius Fox needed some more time to develop new gadgetry) and then gave me 5 or 6 more side storylines to do (in addition to the 5 or 6 other side storylines I’d already accumulated).  Let’s also leave aside the however-many hundreds of Riddler challenges and trophies there are, which is something I’ve already decided I’m not going to bother finishing.  If you somehow finish a mission and don’t immediately pick a new one, and decide to just wander around, you’ll come across a new mission within seconds.  It’s almost as if the game refuses to let you stand still; which is a shame, since the game is absolutely fucking gorgeous and I’d like to be able to look at the scenery every once in a while.

It’s hard to not keep thinking about Arkham Asylum when playing Knight, or any of the other sequels for that matter.  I hesitate to use the word “perfect”, but Asylum got pretty much everything right – it was paced incredibly well, it had a clear sense of progression, it used its smaller and self-contained size to its fullest advantage by utilizing nearly every inch of available real estate, and even if the final boss battle was a little silly it still didn’t matter in the grander scheme of things; I’ve played that game to 100% completion on both the 360 and the PC and had an absolute blast both times, and that final boss battle took 5-10 minutes each time.  Every minute of that game felt like it meant something.  Here, though, in Knight, it’s easy to feel that there’s all this stuff to do because the developer felt that there had to be that much stuff to do; it’s hard to know if any of it actually matters.  And when you can’t tell if something really matters in a game, it becomes even harder to justify the actual, literal act of playing it; sure, each activity is “fun” in and of itself, but it feels like a hodgepodge as opposed to a cohesive whole.

Ironically, I didn’t necessarily feel this way while playing Witcher 3, and even though I beat that game and did a fair amount of side stuff I still have a ton of leftover things to do, and I look forward to getting back there and doing them.  It might be just busy work, but it felt justified in the context of Geralt’s character and profession.  In Arkham Knight, the main thrust of the story is that Scarecrow is trying to deploy his fear toxin all over the Eastern Seaboard, and he must be stopped.  But also: Two-Face is robbing a whole bunch of banks!  And Penguin is hoarding weapons!  And there’s an opera-obsessed serial killer!  And Firefly(?) is torching buildings!  And firefighters are being held hostage!  And there’s a weird mutant flying creature that’s doing weird mutant flying creature shit all over the city!  And Riddler needs me to drive my Batmobile through all these obstacle courses in order to free Catwoman!  Etc. etc. etc.  Each of these things starts to feel a bit silly and ridiculous as this endless night drags on and on, and it’s hard to feel invested in any of the urgency that these tasks are supposed to impart.  I usually only end up doing this stuff if the game happens to tell me that I’m right next to one of them, and it’s only because I’ve been going all over the place that I’ve done as much of it as I have.

I’m tired enough as it is.  I’m kinda hoping that part of the game’s season pass DLC has Bruce taking a little bat-nap.

* The one notable exception is the last Batmobile race you have to run before (presumably) freeing Catwoman.  I say “presumably” because I haven’t beaten it yet.  Lap 3 of that goddamned race is a whole bunch of cheap-ass bullshit and I beat my head into the wall for a good 45 minutes last night before saying “enough is enough” and moving on with the rest of my life.  There’s some combat sections that are tougher than others, and there were a few other things that I had to restart several times before finally solving them, but that one lap is a motherfucker and I hate it and I have better things to do with my life right now.  Catwoman can – and will – wait.

2015 Resolutions and Anticipations

A Preface in Three Parts:

1:  I finished the Forza Horizon 2 Finale race last night.  I’ve apparently still got more to do, as the credits didn’t roll, but that was the big one.  If I were still keeping track of Achievements, and if I still had a category for “Favorite Achievement of the Year”, I suspect the 50 points I picked up for winning that 20-minute gauntlet would rank right up there with anything else I did this year.  After soaking in that victory for a bit, I then headed over to race in Storm Island, and WHOA, that shit is crazy.  Extreme weather, terrain, lighting and visibility – total madness, a complete 180 from the relatively calm and serene mainland campaign.  I’m not sure what the rest of the island is like, but that first race makes one hell of a first impression, and it shakes up the already-excellent formula enough to make it worth spending some more time in.

2:  I hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should buy it; I’d already sunk in a fair amount of time, and felt like I’d seen what I needed to see even if I only got halfway through…. but I also felt like I needed to finish it for real.  And so, in the end, Alien Isolation was on sale for $30 on PSN, and I picked it up, and it remembered my last save point from October.  So that’s something to look forward to.

3: I want to join the chorus in wishing Patrick Klepek the best of luck in his future endeavors.  His is a necessary, vital voice in this business, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.  On a purely personal level, he’s also single-handedly responsible for the biggest spike in traffic this site’s ever gotten (scroll down to #3), and so if nothing else I’m indebted to him for keeping this site visible, however marginally that visibility may be.


 

Pop Culture Consumption Resolutions for 2015:

  1. No more pre-ordering.  As you’ll see below, my “must-have” list of games for 2015 is relatively small, and given what we’ve been through in 2014 with nearly every significant AAA release bogged down by serious issues on release day, I don’t necessarily have any faith that these future releases will be released in an acceptable shape.  I can wait; I can rent.
  2. Along those lines, I’m going to try and beef up my commentary skills this year.  Maybe I’m being overly hard on myself, but most of my analysis is pretty superficial, and doesn’t necessarily get to the core of what’s actually going on.  Even this Cameron Kunzelman piece about how he doesn’t know how to describe Super Time Force Ultra still explains more about his experience playing it than I do on an average day.  I’m always aiming to be a better writer, but now I think I have a better idea of what “being a better writer” actually means (for the purposes of this blog, at least).
  3. I am going to stop.  playing.  Clicker Heroes.
  4. The backlogs are getting dealt with.  And if it means that I’m going to start keeping widgets on the sidebar to further shame myself into finishing stuff that needs finishing, then that’s what it means.
    • As far as my PC goes, I’m rapidly approaching the point where it’s not really capable of performing on par with my PS4 and XB1, but I still have a frighteningly large backlog to address on Steam that it can handle, and I’m gonna have to deal with that at some point.
    • And I still have a bunch of games on my PS4 that I haven’t finished – Shadow of Mordor and Far Cry 4 perhaps being the largest omissions, though there’s also Transistor, Valiant Hearts, and Oddworld New & Tasty.  (And also Sunset Overdrive on the XB1.)
    • Regarding my Kindle backlog – I’m cutting myself off and not buying any more books until I finish my to-read pile, which at this point is probably 20+ titles deep.  (I did end up buying the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, but that’s it.)

I also further resolve to SPEAK UP and SPEAK OUT when stupid bullshit is happening out there in the world.  I can’t call myself an ally if I’m not doing anything to back that up.  I sincerely hope that 2015 provides less opportunities for shouting, but if it doesn’t, then I aim to shout as purposefully and effectively as I can.

Game Anticipations for 2015:  (with special assistance from this handy Game Informer page)
* denotes a game that I’m not 100% convinced will be coming out in 2015

THE MUST-HAVES

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Witcher 3
  • Uncharted 4 *
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider *
  • Firewatch *
  • Superhot
  • Below

THE RENTALS, AT THE VERY LEAST

  • PGA Tour Golf (EA’s first without Tiger, after a year-long hiatus)
  • Crackdown 3 *
  • Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture
  • Final Fantasy XV *
  • Mad Max *
  • Inside (from the makers of Limbo)

THE CURIOSITIES

  • The Order 1886
  • Bloodborne
  • Halo 5
  • Star Wars Battlefront
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain
  • Silent Hills *

Here’s hoping we all have a safe and happy New Year’s, and may 2015 be everything that 2014 wasn’t.  Cheers.

 

The Week That Was: South Park, Next-Gen Games, Sony, Health Insurance

I’ve been trying to work on some more thoughtful and reflective pieces for the site, but this week’s been bananas, and who in their right mind wants to read my navel-gazing when there’s some serious game business to discuss?

This week saw:

  1. the release of a South Park videogame that doesn’t suck;
  2. the announcement of Rocksteady’s long-awaited, next-gen only Batman game (with a Batmobile you can drive!);
  3. the release date (and some explanations for the delay) for Watch_Dogs (and do we really have to write it with that underscore thing?);
  4. the sudden departure of Sony’s Jack “Mic Drop” Tretton; and
  5. the heartbreaking news (and fundraising page) of Brendan Boyer, a champion of the indie scene.

1.  My rental copy of South Park showed up last night, and I played for around 45 minutes or so.  The biggest news is that this was the first time I’d turned on my 360 in maybe 3-4 months, and I suppose more than anything else I was pleased to see it’s still working.  As for the game itself – I don’t feel like I’ve seen enough of it to write a “First Few Hours” post just yet; I’m also not sure I’m the game’s intended audience.  I mean, I like South Park but I haven’t watched an episode in years, so there’s a strong possibility that a lot of the more referential material is going to sail right over my head.  That being said, it’s still really funny, and the RPG systems are surprisingly enjoyable, and I’m going to try to push through as much as I can.

1a.  Speaking of which, I may have reached the point in Thief where I stop giving a shit.  It’s not that it’s bad, but it is starting to get dull and tedious.  I’m doing some side missions where the objectives are on the complete opposite side of the City, and the map continues to be horrendous and irrelevant, and these side missions only seem to be doable if you go ahead and knock everybody out first.  I was trying to play as non-lethally as possible, but now I kinda just want to get it over with.  I’m not quite ready to give up on it, but I’m having a harder time staying engaged with it than I’d like.

2.  So, yeah – that Batman game looks terrific.  And I’m pleased to see it’s next-gen only, frankly.  If the rumored release date is correct (which I think is mid-October?), both consoles will have a rather healthy install base by then, and I’d be hard-pressed to find a new console owner who isn’t going to pick this up – this is already near the top of my own “most anticipated” list.  Keeping the game on the new platforms prevents the game’s vision from being diluted, and should ensure that it makes the most of the more powerful hardware.

3.  I’m trying to not read too much about Watch_Dogs, though sometimes I can’t help myself.  I’m mostly just glad to see they’ve entered the home stretch, and that they seem to be happy with it.  Of course, most AAA games at this stage of development are spoken in exceedingly positive PR-approved tones, so it’s unwise to take that stuff too seriously; and yet, well, look – this was the game that made everybody’s jaws drop when it was first announced, and it’s just exciting to know that we’ll all get our hands on it soon enough.

4.  I can’t possibly fathom a guess as to what Jack Tretton’s sudden resignation means; under his leadership (or, at least, his E3 keynote speeches) the PlayStation brand has come roaring all the way back from oblivion and they now appear to be sitting very comfortably in the driver’s seat, and I suppose one could argue that if you’re going to go, go out on top.  It’s just that the rest of Sony’s businesses seem to be flailing wildly to stay afloat, and one can only hope that the games division has a backup plan to keep riding this wave of momentum.

5.  The US healthcare situation is a goddamned travesty, and that’s all there is to it.  What’s happened to Brandon is a fucking disaster.  If you can support him, please do.