1. It’s funny; now that I’ve handed in my MGS V piece, I’m no longer feeling pressured to play it all the time. And when I do play it, I’m much more relaxed and far less over-analytical. So I try to steal a truck and suddenly stone-golem-soldiers appear out of nowhere and teleport out of the way of my bullets? Hot damn, Kojima, well done. I’m enjoying the side-op stuff a bit more if only because it’s more tactical and less ridiculous and the rewards are tangible. (Not sure why some of them still appear lit up in the menu selection, even though they’re finished, but, well, Kojima!)
1a. I’ve been using Quiet as my mission buddy, and she’s been more or less totally useless. In fact, I finally realized that she’s the source of this bizarre humming sound that I hear whenever I prepare for an infiltration; I thought it was some sort of animal cry, or a sung prayer, but it was just her mumbling what appears to be the first few bars of “My Way”, or possibly “Danke Schoen“. In any event it’s super creepy and distracting but at least now I know where the hell it’s coming from.
2. I had to take a sick day yesterday – these autumn colds are the worst – and because I was feeling a bit loopy, I had an urge to compare the outpost infiltration of MGS V with the outpost infiltration of Far Cry 4. They’re more similar than I realized, even if the controls are completely different; you scope out and mark enemies, figure out their patrol routes, look for things in the environment that might help you – oh, and pick up a few plants along the way. The only real difference is that Far Cry doesn’t care whether you use lethal force or not – indeed, you’re supposed to kill everyone, it’s just better if you do it in such a way where nobody raises the alarm, wheras MGS V gives you added value of going non-lethal by getting added information via hostile interrogation, and being able to kidnap certain soldiers for your own purposes (which sounds way creepier written down like that than it actually is, I suppose).
2a. Again, I was out sick yesterday and so I’m only peripherally aware of the new Far Cry Ice Age game or whatever it is. Far Cry isn’t necessarily one of my favorite shooter franchises; it’s just that there’s been a bunch of them lately and they haven’t been bad. My impression is that this is more of a Blood Dragon side story than a full-blown numbered-entry sequel; beyond that, I know nothing and will continue to know nothing until there’s something substantial to know, like a release date and price.
3. I’ve violated my “no pre-ordering” rule a couple times this year; I can’t remember what the earlier ones were, but I’ve already pre-ordered a digital copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider, and I also pre-ordered the digital version of the Uncharted remasters, which come out on Friday. I played a bit of the demo that came with it, and while it looks good, I’d forgotten just how much I hate the combat stuff. At least the PS4 controller is better-suited for it. Anyway, yesterday I played a little bit of U2 and U3 on my PS3, just to remember what it was that I was getting into (and also so that I could do a little compare/contrast of my own once the PS4 version lands). The PS3 games still look terrific, actually – and U2’s train sequence feels like a special bit of magic, and I’m looking forward to playing them all again.
3a. I’ve not yet pre-ordered Fallout 4, if you can believe it. Part of it is that I expect to spend a lot of time with it, and so I’d like to know which version performs better; console parity has gotten a lot better in recent months and so I don’t think there’ll be that much of a difference, but you never know. I am a bit curious, though, to know if the PS4 version will be getting the same sort of mod support that the Xbox One will be getting; even if I’ve never really goofed around with mods all that much, I’d like the option if it’s available.
4. My rental copy of Tony Hawk 5 arrived yesterday – a few days later than it was supposed to, though that hardly matters. I must confess that even after all the horrendous YouTube glitch videos and impressions had surfaced, there was a small part of me that kinda wanted to play it anyway. But then I remembered that there was a mandatory 7 GB patch I had to download before I could play, and that was enough for me to send it back ASAP.
5. Oh yeah – I almost forgot. I played Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide last week, and it’s one of those experiences that forces me to stumble upon the limits of my own writing ability; I’m not good enough of a writer to talk about it. (Believe me, I tried writing about it last week and failed miserably.) I found it moving and beautiful and wonderfully meta, and it does as good a job about describing the creative process and the emotional peaks and valleys that accompany that process about as well as anything else I’ve ever come across. It’s hard not to compare it to his previous game, The Stanley Parable, in that in both games you walk through a series of rooms accompanied by specific narration, but that’s about all they have in common. Beginner’s Guide feels much more personal and sincere and refreshingly avoids the emotional shield of detached irony that might ordinarily accompany this sort of experience. To say more would spoil it – it’s a 90 minute experience, give or take, and it’s one you should ideally experience without any other prior knowledge. Just know that the ending took my breath away.