Tag: far cry primal

Weekend Recap: Fare Thee Well

1. I am a few years late to finally seeing Inside Llewyn Davis, I know, but these things happen sometimes.  I’m a much bigger Coen Bros. fan than my wife, who is actually somewhat turned off by their films; we’ve discussed this at length and at the end of the day it simply is what it is.  As for the film itself, well, obviously the music is fantastic and the acting is wonderful and the cinematography is impeccable… but the movie also fell a little flat for me; I couldn’t figure out what the movie’s purpose seemed to be.  The AV Club used to have this feature called Justify Your Existence where they asked musicians to explain why anybody should listen to their record; I would ask the Coen Brothers the same question with regard to this one.  Did they want to make a road movie that doesn’t really go anywhere, and indeed ends up ending the same way it starts?  Unlike other films of theirs, I simply couldn’t figure out what it was I was supposed to feel, beyond that Oscar Isaac’s character does in fact deserve to get the shit kicked out of him at the beginning/end.  Of course, as with most Coen films, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it since we watched it, and I’ve also been unable to get this song out of my head.  The way they sing the word “Fare” over that suspended chord in the chorus fucking kills me.

2.  This was a busy weekend, as it turned out; a good weekend – multiple trips to parks, a fun visit to the local zoo with some dear friends, and the knowledge that there would be no transit strike after all – tempered by our first homeowner’s nightmare, a small leak in the basement that necessitated a plumber’s visit.  This meant that I ended up staying home yesterday anyway, and so I was able to finally dive into The Division.

Actually, before I talk about that, I also just want to say that since I was home alone yesterday, I decided to bring my PS4 up from the basement and into the living room, where I could hook it up to our surround sound speakers.  And this should go without saying, but playing a game in surround sound is a completely different experience.  I can’t believe I’ve been so careless about my gaming audio after all these years.  I kinda want to play Bioshock and Red Dead Redemption again through those speakers, which already had some of the best sound design I can recall in recent years; I don’t necessarily need a 3DTV, but I do need surround sound and I need it right away.  (I’m honestly tempted to buy a second system for the basement, that’s how eye-opening it was.)

Anyway, so with regards to The Division:  I’m currently just over level 9, I think; I’ve unlocked all three wings of my main base of operations, and I’ve got some pretty good gear, and even playing solo I’ve been able to take down pretty much every mission I’ve come across without dying.

Every preview/review that’s come out so far has referred to The Division as Ubisoft’s answer to Bungie’s Destiny – an online-only, co-op friendly, shooter/RPG hybrid.  Which is absolutely fair, and I suppose this comparison will be mostly borne out in the level-cap endgame.  I don’t know that I’m going to stick around for that endgame, though, because I’m not terribly big on PvP (especially since The Division’s endgame is currently very much a work in progress).  I didn’t stick around for Destiny, either.

Comparisons to Destiny aside, I continue to feel that The Division reminds me more of Mass Effect, especially ME3.  The meat of the gameplay – the cover-based shooting – is actually quite solid and engaging, and even if the firefights still feel very same-y after a while, they’re also still satisfying (at least at this early stage).  I’m also far more inclined to simply wander around NYC, looking for hidden collectibles and materials and treasure chests and such; the city doesn’t necessarily feel like New York to me, but in and of itself it’s a very cool place to explore, and I’ve been content to simply turn my waypoints off and poke my way through alleys and open doors (which is where a lot of those collectibles end up being hidden).

I’m enjoying it, is what I’m trying to say, and I suspect I’ll enjoy it even more once I try it in co-op.  I don’t know if I’ll have the energy to grind out the endgame stuff, which is also why I haven’t bought my rental copy just yet, but for the time being I’m enjoying the game a lot more than I expected to.  The beta wasn’t a fluke.

3. To that last point – I’m not pre-ordering games this year.  I believe this was one of my new year’s resolutions, and here we are in March and I’ve actually stuck to it without realizing it.

I have a Gamefly account and last year I barely used it; all the games I’d rented were games that I was only merely curious about, and nearly everything I rented I ended up sending back within a few days, if not the same day.  This year, though, I’m adamant about not ripping myself off; I have the rental account, now I’m going to use it.  As an example, I rented Far Cry Primal, and after around 12 hours I think I’m starting to get a bit fatigued with it.  (That being said, it bears mentioning once again that experiencing that game with surround sound is something I wish I’d tried earlier; the sound design is far better than I’d initially given it credit for, and the experience of stalking prey through the forest is completely different when you can hear the forest around you.)

When I look at this year’s slate of upcoming releases, I’m hardpressed to think of anything that I absolutely have to own, no questions asked.  In fact, there’s only two games that I can think of that I would immediately pre-order purely out of reflex, and neither of them officially exist (yet) – Portal 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2.  I don’t know if this is simply me being a more discerning consumer, or if I’m just not looking forward to 2016’s slate, or what, but it is what it is.

Greatness in all forms

1. I said this on Facebook late last night, and in the cold light of morning I think it still holds true:  the wife and I finished True Detective S1 last night and while I don’t watch nearly enough TV to consider myself any sort of critical authority, I’d have to put it among the very top of my Top 10 favorite TV seasons ever.  (I have no idea what that list looks like, by the way.)  Certainly I have a much more profound respect for Matthew McConaughey than I ever did before; his performance throughout the season is nothing short of extraordinary.  But also the writing, the cinematography, the sound design (sweet jesus, the sound design!), the rest of the cast… I’m not necessarily thrilled with the show’s gender politics (and I can now certainly understand why fans of the first season wanted to see two female detectives in Season 2), and maybe there’s a little too much gratuitous/unnecessary T&A (even if this is an HBO series, which apparently stands for Has Boobs, Obviously), but look:  for what is ostensibly a cop show, these eight episodes make for some of the most compelling and thought-provoking experiences I’ve had in quite some time.

2. I just finished Thomas Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer this morning, and am about to start Grimscribe, the second collection of stories in the omnibus edition.  Even if I don’t find Ligotti horrifying, I find his ability to conjure the feeling of uncanny, nameless dread nothing short of breathtaking.  I started reading Ligotti specifically because of his apparent influence over True Detective; now that I’ve finished Season 1, I suppose I see it a bit though not nearly as much as I expected to, if only because the Louisiana Bayou is the exact opposite of the sort of grey, misty, shapeless towns that Ligotti’s stories all seem to occupy.  But certainly some of Rust Cohle’s nihilism can be traced through to Ligotti, that’s for sure.  In any event, there’s one story in Songs that I simply adored (though that’s maybe not the right word for it) – seek out “Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story”, which executes on its premise in such a fantastic way that I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

“He has failed to embody in words his semi-autobiographical sorrow, and all these games with protective names have only made it more painful. It hurts to hide his heart within pseudonyms of pseudonyms.”

3.  I woke up to the news that George Martin had passed away.  It’s hard for me to put my thoughts in order about it.  Regardless of your thoughts on the Beatles themselves, there can be no question that Martin was the most influential producer in the history of modern music.  He pioneered so many recording techniques and oversaw some of the most mind-bending sounds that had ever been heard; even now, all these years later, songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “I Am The Walrus” and the string arrangements of “Eleanor Rigby” are still mesmerizing and astonishing.  A true giant, a true legend.

4.  I am continuing to putter around in Far Cry Primal, though with my rental copy of The Division arriving either tonight or tomorrow, I expect FCP will be put away for a bit.  I am not nearly as down on it as I expected to be, even if I find it somewhat aimless and without any narrative urgency.  Indeed, FCP is one of the few instances where having so much shit on the map is actually a good thing rather than a bad thing, because I find the non-story stuff infinitely more compelling.  I do like me some crafting; and while I’m not crazy about hunting, at least it’s somewhat tastefully done here.  It is very easy to pick up and mess around and then put away, without feeling like I’ve lost anything.  I still have no idea why this game needs the “Far Cry” tag, beyond the obvious corporate need to get the attention of gamers who might not have internet connections.

5.  iOS gamers:  download Train Conductor World now.  Just do it.  It’s free.

 

friday lists: distraction edition

Games I Should Be Playing, Apparently, According to Twitter:

  1. Undertale, which is somehow already old news thanks to
  2. Stardew Valley.

To be fair to both of these games, it’s not their fault.  It’s mine.  I have a PC that’s barely holding itself together, and I’m also missing the part of my childhood that has any nostalgia for retro graphics and/or Harvest Moon.*   (This is also why I’m finding myself somewhat immune to the charms of the (currently free for PS+ members) Broforce.)

Games I’m Playing, Not Quite Begrudgingly, But Mostly Just Because They’re There:

  1. Far Cry Primal.  It’s not bad!  And while it’s more or less the same game as the last two, I find that I do prefer the emphasis on stealth.  And certainly ever since Elder Scrolls: Oblivion I’ve always found myself in open-world RPGs gathering plants obsessively, and it’s nice to finally have a real, legitimately important use of them.  Do I care about what I’m doing?  No, but that’s never really stopped me before, as far as Far Cry games go.  Will I finish the game?  Probably not, since The Division is coming next week.
  2. Train Conductor World, which just hit iOS this week and is the third (and best) iteration of the Train Conductor formula.  Also, I’ve been using it as a negotiating ploy with my son; if he stays in bed, he gets to play it on my iPad in the morning.  (He is obsessed with trains.)  (He is also getting somewhat better about staying in bed.)

Books I’m Currently Reading:

  1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra, which has been on my to-do list for a while.  The problem is, I’m not really in the mood for it right now; I do want to get to it, but I’m finding myself unwilling to stay with it.  So I’m putting it aside for the moment and instead I’m reading
  2. Songs of a Dead Dreamer / Grimscribe, by Thomas Ligotti, which is ABSOLUTELY my speed right now.  Why is my current speed that of super-creepy dread that gets under my skin and stays there all day?  I don’t know, but it’s what’s happening.  I’d previously read Ligotti’s Teatro Grottesco, which was similarly creepy and dreadful; I’m still in the beginning of this collection but I’m ready to say that it’s far superior already, for whatever that’s worth.

Things I’m Currently In Denial About:

  1. that there’s $11 in my checking account
  2. the Republican party
  3. that I’ve had Cookie Clicker running in my browser for two weeks
  4. that I’m still no closer to getting my album done, even though I’m taking off a week from work in early April with the specific purpose of finally finishing this goddamned thing
  5. the impending NJ Transit strike

(Normally I’m very much pro-union, and I hate Chris Christie with the fire of a thousand suns, and if Christie is the sort of shitbag who’s willing to fuck up the George Washington Bridge just out of spite, I have little to no faith that he’s going to be a reasonable negotiator at these talks.  That being said, have you ridden NJ Transit lately?  It’s a fucking joke.  The morning train has been overcrowded and inexplicably late all week this week, and Penn Station during the evening rush is the living embodiment of a panic attack, and I only wish it were possible for me to work from home.  It is literally impossible for me to work from home.)

 


* I know I’ve said this before, but if you’re just joining us for the first time, I went from the Atari 2600 to my younger brother’s Sega Genesis, and then only had cursory knowledge of the PS1, and my first console that I bought with my own money was the Dreamcast.  Actually, that’s not even true; the Dreamcast was a birthday gift from an ex-girlfriend.

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further adventures in sleeplessness

This post will be somewhat random.  I am tired.  The boy’s sleep habits are continuing to evolve and change; last night it took him about 45 minutes to stop getting out of bed, which is better than most nights, but then he climbed into our bed at around 2:00am, and he does not necessarily sleep lengthwise.  (Funnily enough, when our alarms went off at 6:00am and we turned our lights on, he very slowly climbed out of our bed and very sleepily walked back into his room and climbed back into his own bed.)

There is also a faint, weird smell in my office, hovering near my desk.  The engineers have been here all morning; nothing’s on fire, but it has that dusty heat smell, like a space heater kicking on after a long period of dormancy.  I am distracted.


 

I would love to offer up some insightful comments after playing bits of both Superhot and Far Cry Primal, but I can’t.  The above-mentioned issues with my kid’s bedtime are interfering with my evening free time, and by the time he does finally go to bed I’m usually too exhausted to do anything.  If I’m repeating myself, well, what can I say?  It is what it is.

Superhot is awesome, and I am also not very good at it.  I’ve tried playing it with the Steam controller (which is very, very bad), with mouse and keyboard (which is better), and with the good ol’ 360 gamepad (which is probably best), and I continue to get killed very quickly.  I am tempted to wait on it until the XB1 version comes out, which is supposedly coming in a few weeks; I’m wondering if perhaps my couch and big TV might at least make the experience more comfortable.

Far Cry Primal, on the other hand… well, it’s basically Far Cry 3 and 4, but in the Stone Age.  So it’s not exactly the same game – there are no guns, cars or gyrocopters, obviously, and you’re speaking in caveman gibberish – but in nearly every other respect it’s the same game I’ve played over the last 2-3 years.  I appreciate the novelty of the game’s setting, and the game looks fantastic… but I really don’t know if I care enough to keep pushing through.  It’s not like the game’s story is all that interesting, and in the meantime the game suffers from that ubiquitous Ubisoft-ness where the map is covered with so many different things to do that it’s nearly impossible to know what’s actually important.  Mostly I gather flowers and light bonfires.  I’m holding onto it for at least a few more weeks, because there’s nothing else on my radar until The Division, but I’m not feeling pulled toward it with any urgency.


 

I’m kinda racing through Foucault’s Pendulum, now, which I don’t like doing.  It’s a book that I still have very fond feelings for, but it’s also somewhat tedious in its digressions; I didn’t mind that so much in my previous readings, but for whatever reason I’m finding it tedious now.

I’m wondering if part of this feeling of urgency is tied to the Goodreads challenge.  I’m still 4 books ahead of schedule, but I don’t particularly like feeling rushed.  And I’m reluctant to read some of the longer books in my to-read list for that specific reason; I don’t want to get bogged down in something enormous if I start feeling like I’m falling behind.  I’m fully aware that this is a ridiculous, self-imposed neurosis; I don’t win a prize for beating the challenge.  That doesn’t stop me from succumbing to it.


Two good reads to recommend:

  1. Holly Green wrote an absolute stunner of a piece about Firewatch and unrequited love; I only wish I felt as strongly about the game itself as I do about this essay.
  2. John Biggs wrote a pretty great piece about writing 11,000 blog posts.  That essay is why I’m writing this particular post right now, even though I feel like I have very little to say.

I need to get back to the album.  I took a little break from thinking about it, and that break got extended thanks to the boy’s recent adventures in stretching out his bedtime boundaries, but honestly I could come up with a dozen more excuses (Trump!  Thinking about getting a new car!  My day job’s impending office move!) and none of them would change the simple and obvious fact that if I wanted to find time to write, I’d make the time to write.  Well, I need to make that time happen.  So I’m logging off now.

 

 

disconnection

I’m feeling a little disconnected lately, which might explain why I’ve been quiet here.

The biggest problem I mentioned in my last post – that of my almost-3-year-old son refusing to go to bed – is starting to wind down, so that’s something positive, at least.  Of course, my wife is sick, and the kid has a bit of a cough as well, and I’m very much feeling on the verge of catching something, too.  We’re all falling apart, is what I’m saying.

That said, I’m feeling guilty about whining.

I’m trying to tone down the amount of whining I do on social media, which is actually a bit easier than I expected, given that almost all forms of social media are driving me crazy right now and make me far less inclined to post than I normally would be.  Facebook keeps hiding posts from friends; Twitter is a garbage fire; Tumblr is filled with ads and every once in a while a random naked person will show up, unannounced and uncalled for, and so that’s off-limits.

I’m also starting to reach critical mass in terms of the upcoming election.  I’m disgusted and anxious and not at all prepared to move to Canada.


 

And, of course, I’m disconnected from the things I normally talk about here.

Book-wise, I’m re-reading Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, which I’d been thinking about recently (especially after reading Christopher Buckley’s The Relic Master), and which I felt obligated to pick up in light of Eco’s passing.  It’s one of my all-time favorite books, and yet I’m having trouble fully engaging with it this time around for some reason.

Music-wise, I’m still struggling with writing lyrics, and in the meantime I’m not listening to anything particularly inspiring.  On a related note, I have to say that my weekly Spotify Discovery playlists have been awfully lackluster this year; the ratio of hit/miss is way, way off, especially as compared to last year.

Games-wise… I’m a big pile of “meh”.  I’m very much intrigued by The Division, and I’m looking forward to playing it in co-op, but I’m also wary of it; the beta showed off a lot of high points as well as a lot of lows – the writing in particular is just awful, and a lot of the mission designs felt very familiar (i.e., the final encounter in the Subway Morgue is a very typical “hold your ground for an arbitrary length of time”, and I was tired of that kind of mission in Destiny).  I tried playing a little bit of Fallout 4 last night, given that it’s been patched up quite a bit of late, and… yeah, I still don’t give a shit about that game.  I’m inching along in my NG+ of Witcher 3, but the Hearts of Stone expansion is for level 61+, and I’m still only at 43 or so; that’s an awful lot of ground to make up, and as much as I love that game I’m not sure I have it in me to repeat it.  Later this week my rental copy of Far Cry Primal will arrive, and as I’ve been lukewarm on that franchise for the last few iterations, I’m not sure that I’ll be fully engaged with it – even if the Stone Age setting is novel.

So, yeah.  I’m scared of American politics, I’m culturally out of sorts, and I’m physically falling apart.  I hit the trifecta.