Further Adventures in Adulting

1. Hey, so, we bought a new car over the weekend.  I feel like I’m finally an Adult.  Yes, we have a child; yes, we bought a house.  But now we bought a new car, from a dealership, by ourselves.  I’m so terrified it’s going to break!  It’s not going to break.  BUT WHAT IF IT DOES?

Anyway, yeah, that happened.  And I know this is a cliche, but still – that new car smell is no joke.  There’s something kinda awesome about that smell.  It… smells like victory.

101-Apocalypse-Now-quotes

2.  Because we bought a new car, I had to take a personal day yesterday and get our parking stickers sorted out, and also deal with some pet/vet stuff.  And in between all that, I finally got a chance to watch Blade Runner 2049.  My short version:  it is a beautifully shot film, and even with its slow pace it’s still more engaging than the original film (which, I’m sad to say, is a film that I respect more than I enjoy).  But it’s also a bit problematic with how it shows women (they are either robot love slaves, ball-busting bitches, or trapped in literal cages), and quite frankly I never need to see Jared Leto in anything ever again.

3.  Speaking of problematic media, we also finally watched the first episode of the new season of Black Mirror last night – the USS Callister episode.  I have a weird uncomfortable relationship with that series, specifically because of Season 1’s “The Entire History of You”, which affected me in an unexpectedly deep and emotionally unsettling way, especially as I was in the process of re-reading my college diaries at the time for an unrelated creative project.  (If you’re familiar with the episode, you might understand why a sudden influx of forgotten memories might be emotionally traumatic.)  In any event, this new episode was quite good – the twist was genuinely unexpected and the ending was, unusually for this series, quite satisfying.  I’m not 100% sure I’m going to watch the remaining episodes, because there’s only so much technological dread I can handle at any given point, but still – it was nice to be pleasantly diverted for a little while.

4. So I finished Nick Harkaway’s “Gnomon”, and even if it didn’t quite stick the landing, it’s an excellent read; he’s a marvelous writer and this is a very smart book.  Now up – a 2nd attempt at reading Zachary Mason’s “Void Star”, which from the book’s description is right up my alley, but in practice is a bit difficult to follow.  I’m kinda just padding for time – what I really want to read is the new Brandon Sanderson volume in the Stormlight Archive, but I feel like I need to re-read the first 2 books and then the mini-story that connects them to this new one, and as much as I like reading big books, knowing that I’ve got at least 2500 pages in front of me before I start reading anything new is a bit daunting.

5.  Game-wise, I’m still in this weird limbo of having this fancy new TV but nothing new to play on it.  I’d been putting Forza 7 through its paces, and that’s a fun game in limited doses – and since the last game I’d played in earnest was probably Forza 3 or 4, it’s kind of a neat deja-vu effect to revisit the same courses in radically improved fidelity.  Likewise, I saw that Forza Horizon 3 got its own Xbox One X Enhanced patch yesterday, and that game is definitely more up my alley.  The graphical enhancements are nothing to sneeze at, either; it looks utterly amazing.  Beyond that, I’m kinda half-heartedly going through my backlog, not feeling particularly attached to anything.  (Indeed, I keep forgetting that I have a ton of shit to play on the Switch.)  The next big AAA release that I have my eyes on is Far Cry 5, which is still a ways off.

That’s what I’ve got, folks.  Hope you’re well.

Weekend Recap: Forza Horizon 3

1. This was a lovely weekend.  Glorious, brisk autumnal weather; met up with friends every single day, both old and new; had one of the best bloody marys I’ve ever had in my life; really, the only way it could’ve been better is if all my sports teams hadn’t decided to collectively shit the bed at the same time.  I’ll credit my new head meds that I didn’t take that too much to heart.

2. I will not be watching the debate tonight.  I mean, look: my mind was made up a long time ago, and tonight’s shitshow is going to accomplish nothing beyond raising my blood pressure beyond acceptable limits.  If this infograph below doesn’t spell out how absurd tonight’s playing field is, I don’t know what else to tell you.  If “smile more” can seriously equal “stop lying” in terms of importance, then this nightmare will never end.

3. I tweeted last night:

I meant to follow this up with some further observations, but I couldn’t put my controller down long enough to type them out.  In any event, Forza Hoziron 3 is wonderful.  I think the thing I appreciate the most is that it’s genuinely and sincerely interested in me having fun on my own terms.  Indeed, the game’s earnestness and sincerity encompass almost every facet of the game’s design; even the cheesiness of the “narrative” seems well-intentioned.  Unlike other “car culture” games whose hyper-machismo bullshit gets incredibly irritating after just a few minutes, FH3 is inviting and welcoming and friendly.  I have no idea if car festivals like the one Horizon is attempting to recreate actually exist; I have literally no interest in car culture or anything beyond making sure my own car is gassed up and not falling apart.  I am very content to simply drive around and explore FH3’s vision of Australia, and the game actively encourages this sort of behavior.  In a way, I’m actually kind of glad that the Xbox One’s screenshot capabilities are so clumsy, because otherwise I’d be taking pictures nearly every other second.  At one point last night I was driving in the outback, and the in-game sun had begun to set, and suddenly the stars started to appear… and kept appearing… and suddenly there were, like, millions of them, and it was so breathtaking that I could barely keep my car on the road.

4. I may have hit the wall as far as Picross 3D: Round 2 is concerned.  I’ve seen the credits roll, I’ve unlocked all the stamps, and so all that’s left are some brutally difficult puzzles, and I’m the sort of perfectionist that needs as few errors as possible or else I automatically restart, and I find myself accidentally selecting the wrong color (which I still can’t believe I’m doing after all this time)… the short version is that I’m getting more frustrated than anything else.  So I think I’ll take a little break from that.  At least – I won’t bring it into work with me anymore.

5. The Nix continues to be amazing.  There’s a chapter right in the middle of the book that takes the form of a Choose Your Own Adventure, and it’s one of the most brilliant things I’ve read in ages.

I think that’s all I’ve got for the time being.  I’m hoping to get my hands on XCOM 2 for console later this week, as my PC did not meet minimum specs when it was released there earlier this year; I’d like to post some impressions of that, though it’ll be tough to get FH3 out of my mind.

E3 2016: much ado about nothing

I’d hoped to have posted my impressions of Sony’s press conference much sooner, but events have conspired against me.  I suppose it’s for the best, since I have the benefit of hindsight now and I feel that I can be a bit more objective about what Sony had to offer.

Did Sony “win” E3?  Was this “the greatest press conference ever”?  I’ve seen several tweeted headlines that answer in the affirmative to both of these questions, but I’m not convinced.  Again – I’m writing this a few days after the presser, so I’m not nearly as breathless with anticipation as I might’ve been during the actual event.

Sony’s actual press conference was certainly not the epic, no-doubt-about-it mic drop of a few years ago.  (And when I look at that recap, I am simply stunned by what I managed to be stunned by.)  I did find it much more substantive and tasteful than Microsoft’s, though that could’ve been the live orchestra.

More to the point, the games – or, rather, the portions of new games that were presented to us – seemed more mature, more sophisticated.  This new, Norse-themed God of War reboot feels like a Naughty Dog game, with a nuanced relationship between a father and son.   Horizon similarly looks quite astonishing, although it’s hard to know how to extrapolate a full game experience from that 7-8 minute demo.  We have a 2016 release date for The Last Guardian, which is nice, even if I haven’t read any preview coverage that managed to get a clear handle on what it is.

Honestly, I’m mostly excited about the Crash Bandicoot remasters.  And also the PSVR, which comes in at a price point that I can most probably survive.

This is all well and good, but now that’s it’s been a few days I’m more concerned about what we didn’t see – like No Man’s Sky (which I suspect was withheld simply because they’re in crunch time and didn’t have time to show anything without severely cramping their style).  And of course Sony did not talk about the “Neo”, which begs the question – will my PSVR work better with the new hardware?  Can I afford a Neo and a Scorpio while still paying my mortgage?  Will my wife leave me if I buy them both anyway?

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With regards to the rest of the show: I am the wrong dude to ask.  Work has been crazy, and whatever free time I’ve had this week has been devoted to posting about gun control and how horrible Donald Trump is. But I can run off a few bullet points:

  • I bought Trials of the Blood Dragon after hearing about it at the Ubisoft presser because I love the Trials games, and after 15 minutes with it I can tell you that whoever decided to make a Trials game where you get off the motorcycle and engage in shitty platforming/shooting segments needs to get fired immediately.
  • The South Park game looks awesome.
  • Ubisoft’s winter-sports thing looks promising, though I’ve heard some absolutely dreadful impressions.
  • I must cop to admitting that Call of Duty in space actually looks pretty neat.
  • I very nearly pre-ordered the ultimate edition of Forza Horizon 3 earlier today.  I don’t know why, nor do I know why I stopped.
  • I’m willing to give that standalone Gwent game a look, though I never played more than the tutorial in Witcher 3 proper.
  • Speaking of which, I need to get back to that Blood & Wine DLC.
  • Also need to get back to Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, though to be honest I’m not enjoying it all that much.  It feels like EA’s first draft of a Ubisoft open-world game, and you can take that however you want.