weekend recap: notes and errata

This weekend we celebrated my son’s 1st birthday, and as such there was not a tremendous amount of time for gaming – so I’m still in a holding pattern as far as Infamous Second Son and MGS Ground Zeroes are concerned. Still, there’s a couple things that I wanted to talk about, so here we go:

1.  In my haste to get that Tokyo Police Club post out the door, I completely forgot to include what is arguably the most important point I was trying to make:

In this current social and economic climate, where trying to make a living as a professional musician is arguably as difficult as it’s ever been because nobody buys records anymore and revenue from streaming services like Spotify is laughable at best, and for a band that’s trying as hard as it possibly can to prove to both its old fans and its potential new ones that it didn’t hit its creative peak 8 years ago, it takes an astounding set of brass balls to have the first (and best) song on your new album be nearly 9 minutes long.  And because the song is so good precisely because of how well-constructed it is, and because editing it for the purposes of making it a single kinda defeats the song’s whole purpose, it seems improbable that it’ll see any significant radio/airplay.  (It is fortunate – and probably much appreciated by the record label – that the 2nd song (“Hot Tonight“) is also quite catchy and hummable and ear-wormy.)  But still:  I remain impressed that they did what they did.  Bands don’t often get a chance to make more than 3 albums these days before either getting dropped from the label or just imploding naturally.  If this album tanks, it may very well be the end of TPC – I suspect there’ll be a solo album or two from the singer, but you can only hang on to your dream for so long before the bills start to pile up.

2.  I did manage to squeeze in a little bit of Bioshock Infinite: Burial At Sea Pt. 2.  I’m not quite sure how far I am into it, and so I’m reluctant to discuss it in great detail.  But there are certainly things about it that merit discussion.

My relationship with the Bioshock franchise is in a difficult place, to be honest.  I’m still in love with the technical side of the game – the graphics and audio remain superlative, and it’s very difficult to play the game without wanting to take screenshots at every single moment.  It is more that my appreciation for the games’ narrative ambitions – even if they’re not entirely coherent – are directly at odds with their gameplay, which I’ve always found problematic.  As it happens, I fell in love with BAS2 pretty much immediately, and remained enthralled with it… right up until I picked up my first weapon, and then my heart sank a bit.

That this episode switches the emphasis from shooting to stealth is a very smart move, and in retrospect it feels incredibly obvious, and I’m certainly not the first to make the observation that it’s entirely possible that the entire franchise might’ve benefited greatly from being a stealth-focused shooter right from the get-go.  It’s just that…. well… considering how much intelligence went into crafting every other element of these games, making the game combat-focused above all else feels like an easy reach towards the lowest common denominator of audience.  I’ve felt this way ever since the first game, and even though the stealth approach feels a lot more natural, I still kinda hate it.

Still – I won’t fully speak my peace until I’m finished with the episode.

3.  Last week was a bit of an emotional downer, as far as things go, and so in my melancholic state I went and did a silly thing and ordered a PS Vita.  I also ordered a protective case and a 32gb memory card.  The problem is that while the Vita and case arrived on Thursday (as promised), the card is still nowhere to be found – it should’ve arrived on Friday, and I’m hoping that it didn’t get lost entirely.  And because the memory card is not here, the Vita itself is completely useless – I can’t even turn it on and get it set up without it.  (And because the Vita only works with these specifically branded memory cards, I can’t just run out to Staples and buy a non-Sony one.)  I know this is old news, but it’s infuriating that the Vita is set in such a stupid manner.

UPDATE:  the card literally just arrived as I typed that last sentence.  Woo-hoo!

UPDATE 2:  the Vita won’t work on my office wi-fi, so I can’t actually do anything just yet.  Boo-hoo!

taking in the sigh(t)s

I’m taking a brief respite from the 360/PS3 post; I just crossed the 4,000 word barrier (!) and yet most of the draft is still in bullet-point format (!!), so there’s a lot yet to write.  On top of that, my desire to make sure I’m not forgetting anything is making it difficult to keep everything organized; I’ll be reviewing older posts looking to fill in nominee slots for a certain category and then suddenly I’ll stumble across a mention of, say, Viva Pinata, and suddenly I’m off chasing yet another rabbit hole…

…But I’m also heavily caffeinated right now and I need to keep on typing, so, here’s whatever this post is going to be:

1.  I’d bought Papers, Please a little while ago but somehow it got lost in the shuffle.  Last night I finally gave it a spin.  It’s hard to explain what’s so engaging about being a passport agent at a vaguely Soviet-European border crossing in 1982, and so I won’t bother to try.  And really, the thing that hit me the hardest isn’t even the game itself, but rather how emotionally similar it is to my actual, real-life job.  I should probably keep quiet about that comparison, being that this blog is public, but still; if you’ve played the game, then you’ve felt the stress of trying to process as much work as possible while trying to make as few mistakes as possible (though you will inevitably make a mistake and receive one of those little passive-aggressive notices that pop up informing you that you’ve made a mistake, but it’s just a warning – this time), all the while knowing that your family is depending on you and that you never have enough money to have all the things you need.  After the second or third day of work I returned home to a message saying that my child was sick and needed medicine, and of course I thought of my own son, and I kinda had to stop playing for the night.

2.   I also played about 30 minutes of Burial At Sea, Part 1, the new DLC for Bioshock Infinite.  It is incredibly weird (and also very, very cool) to be back in Rapture in its heyday, filled with people not-yet-fucked-up from Plasmid/Vigor overuse.  I probably spent more time taking screenshots than I did actually paying attention to the game.  All the reviews I’ve read say more or less the same thing – the first half is magical, but the second half is where it falls apart (coincidentally, it’s when you start shooting) – and so, for the time being, I’m content to take my time exploring and taking in the sights.

3.  I think I mentioned this already, but it bears repeating – if you haven’t yet picked up Rayman Fiesta Run for your iOS device, please do so immediately.  It’s gorgeous and fun as all hell.

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