comfort food

Some random observations on a super-chilly Monday morning:

1. So yeah, I’m not gonna be finishing my 2016 Year In Review post any time soon.  There’s too much going on, there’s too little time in which to do it, and then there’s stuff like, well, how in the world am I going to have played enough of The Last GuardianFinal Fantasy XVDishonored 2 and the rest of it in order to know how I feel about them?

2. To that last point, let me talk about The Last Guardian for a second.  This is, for me, an exceedingly difficult game to discuss.  On the one hand, it’s totally up my alley; exploration and puzzle solving and a non-combative focus are exactly the sorts of things I like spending time with.  On the other hand, the controls are mind-bogglingly frustrating, the camera is among the worst I’ve experienced in years, and while I’m not necessarily one to complain about frame rate dips all that much, it’s so distracting in TLG that it completely takes me out of the experience.

And yet there was a moment last night that totally blew me away.  I’m still very early in the game, and I’d learned that my giant dog/cat/beast/friend likes eating these glowing blue barrels.  I’d found one tucked away in a corner, and I brought it over to the beast.  And then I watched the beast examine it, sniff it, approach the barrel with its paw, accidentally hit the barrel and then, very convincingly, react to the barrel’s movements (based on the ground’s physics – this was a completely unscripted moment).  It was breathtaking.  I’ve never seen something like that before, and due to the nature of how the moment played out, I may not see it again in this game.  Indeed, had I been looking the other way, I’d have missed it completely; there was no reason for me to look at what happened other than simple curiosity.

And then, shortly after that, I died about a dozen times trying to jump from a ledge to another ledge.  For a game to have been this long in development… I mean, to create the moment that happened in the previous paragraph, I get it – that’s the sort of programming work that would absolutely take years, especially if you want the player to believe it.  But the camera and the controls are so unbelievably and frustratingly broken… it defies belief.  I’m tempted to walk away from it until it gets patched, frankly, because I very much want to continue playing it without all this janky bullshit that’s getting in the way.

On the flip side, I don’t know if FFXV is something I can allow myself to care about.  I finished the very first mission series – I’d made it to the garage, I killed some bug things, I returned, I got my car back, I drove to the next place to return something; it’s all a bit… silly?  Its narrative tone is literally all over the place and I have no idea if I’m supposed to take it seriously or just enjoy the campiness (such as it is) or what.  I’m not a huge Final Fantasy fan, for that matter, so in this specific case I don’t necessarily feel like I’d be missing out if I skipped it.  And yet there’s something about it that’s compelling enough for me to hold on to it a little big longer.  It might be silly, but it’s 100% committed to whatever it is that it’s trying to do, and I kinda find that admirable.

3. To elaborate on my last post – I have finally crossed the 100K Achievement barrier.  The game in question that finally got me there was, of all things, the Sleeping Dogs remaster (which was a free download, and which I’ve already played on 360, PC, and a tiny bit on PS4).

4. As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve got a ton of games on my to-play list; I also went on a bit of a retail therapy binge on Black Friday/Cyber Monday and bought even more stuff, some of which I’ve already played on other systems; I also went and upgraded my hard drive capacity on both of my consoles.  What this essentially means, now, is that when I head down into the basement for gaming purposes, I am able to feed my wandering attention span at a moment’s notice without having to move.  And sometimes, this means I get to scratch some older itches.  So it’s true that I purposefully picked the Sleeping Dogs remaster in order to crash the 100K gate, because I knew there were ‘cheevos in the early going of that game; but it’s also true that I kinda like that game a lot, and I was in the mood to play it.  Similarly, even though I’ve got that aforementioned ton of new stuff to play, I’ve had a rather strange urge to play through Far Cry 4 again, and who am I to say no, when it’s sitting right there on my hard drive?

5. I truly can’t believe that it’s the week before Christmas.  This is good and bad; on the one hand, time is flying wildly out of control and it’s scary as hell; on the other, well, 2016 was a shitty year and good riddance to it.  But more to the point, I’m basically shit out of luck on scoring a PSVR any time before the end of the year, and that’s totally my fault for not staying on top of it when I had the chance.  (In fairness to myself, I didn’t actually get to try it out until last week, long after it had disappeared off of every shelf; that said, it’s still annoying to want something and not be able to have it.)

 

tidying up before a brief intermission

Just a note that I’m going to be pretty quiet this week, if I post here at all; the wife is going to be out of town, and so I’m going to be at home, working on music and hanging out with my kid and, yeah, probably just finishing up the various odds and ends in The Division.  If I post at all, it’s going to be elsewhere.*

Regarding The Division:  last week I wrote that I was struggling to stay motivated, and also that I will eventually need this game to end.  I kept assigning various goalposts to reach, just to give myself something to look forward to, and I’ve pretty much ticked off all the items on the to-do list:  I’ve seen where my office is supposed to be (as I expected, it bears absolutely no resemblance to the real thing); I hit level 30; I’m almost done with all the main story missions (I wiped out on the final boss in the final mission a few too many times last night, and it got too frustrating and the hour grew late, and so I turned it off).  All I plan to do now is to get all the wings in my main base up to 100%, which most likely means I just have to finish all the side missions and encounters (since I finished all of the main missions, save that last one).  I might screw around in the Dark Zone, too, but I don’t particularly care for PvP, which is not news to anyone.

I’m about halfway through Matt Ruff’s “Lovecraft Country“.  It’s got an interesting structure; it’s less of a novel and more of a connected set of short stories that are arranged in chronological order and contain the same characters, though each story is from a different POV.  With a title like Lovecraft Country, you’d expect there to be a fair amount of dreadful, otherworldly weirdness – and there certainly is, though it pales in comparison to the real, true horror that is American Racism.  I get far more terrified by that stuff than I do the occult business, and I suppose that’s because (a) the racism stuff is true, and feels very real, and as such (b) it works much better than the Lovecraftian stuff that exists within it.  Again – I’m only halfway through, and so I’m still not quite sure where it’s going.  But I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

Finally:  even though we bought the BluRay, we couldn’t help ourselves; and so, because our families were in town this weekend for our son’s 3rd birthday party, we watched the digital download version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and GODDAMN I will never get tired of that movie.  I don’t care that it’s basically A New Hope retold, because it’s done so goddamned well.  (And if you haven’t already seen this shot-for-shot comparison of Eps 4 and 7, well, you should fix that.)

EDIT:  I knew I was forgetting something:  I played that Final Fantasy XV demo this weekend, and… was it supposed to be totally underwhelming and janky and kinda shitty?  Because it was totally underwhelming and super-janky and definitely kinda shitty.

Also downloaded the Doom beta, and attempted to get into a match (which took about 10 minutes just to find a lobby), but then I remembered I don’t give a shit about multiplayer, and so I deleted it, and that’s that.


 

* I started a new, personal, private blog last week.  I’m not going out of my way to publicize it, though I suppose even mentioning it here is doing the exact opposite of not publicizing it, but, I mean, look: blogging is weird.  If you want to read it, contact me privately and I’ll email you an invitation; no hard feelings if you’re not interested, though.