2015 Resolutions and Anticipations

A Preface in Three Parts:

1:  I finished the Forza Horizon 2 Finale race last night.  I’ve apparently still got more to do, as the credits didn’t roll, but that was the big one.  If I were still keeping track of Achievements, and if I still had a category for “Favorite Achievement of the Year”, I suspect the 50 points I picked up for winning that 20-minute gauntlet would rank right up there with anything else I did this year.  After soaking in that victory for a bit, I then headed over to race in Storm Island, and WHOA, that shit is crazy.  Extreme weather, terrain, lighting and visibility – total madness, a complete 180 from the relatively calm and serene mainland campaign.  I’m not sure what the rest of the island is like, but that first race makes one hell of a first impression, and it shakes up the already-excellent formula enough to make it worth spending some more time in.

2:  I hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should buy it; I’d already sunk in a fair amount of time, and felt like I’d seen what I needed to see even if I only got halfway through…. but I also felt like I needed to finish it for real.  And so, in the end, Alien Isolation was on sale for $30 on PSN, and I picked it up, and it remembered my last save point from October.  So that’s something to look forward to.

3: I want to join the chorus in wishing Patrick Klepek the best of luck in his future endeavors.  His is a necessary, vital voice in this business, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.  On a purely personal level, he’s also single-handedly responsible for the biggest spike in traffic this site’s ever gotten (scroll down to #3), and so if nothing else I’m indebted to him for keeping this site visible, however marginally that visibility may be.


 

Pop Culture Consumption Resolutions for 2015:

  1. No more pre-ordering.  As you’ll see below, my “must-have” list of games for 2015 is relatively small, and given what we’ve been through in 2014 with nearly every significant AAA release bogged down by serious issues on release day, I don’t necessarily have any faith that these future releases will be released in an acceptable shape.  I can wait; I can rent.
  2. Along those lines, I’m going to try and beef up my commentary skills this year.  Maybe I’m being overly hard on myself, but most of my analysis is pretty superficial, and doesn’t necessarily get to the core of what’s actually going on.  Even this Cameron Kunzelman piece about how he doesn’t know how to describe Super Time Force Ultra still explains more about his experience playing it than I do on an average day.  I’m always aiming to be a better writer, but now I think I have a better idea of what “being a better writer” actually means (for the purposes of this blog, at least).
  3. I am going to stop.  playing.  Clicker Heroes.
  4. The backlogs are getting dealt with.  And if it means that I’m going to start keeping widgets on the sidebar to further shame myself into finishing stuff that needs finishing, then that’s what it means.
    • As far as my PC goes, I’m rapidly approaching the point where it’s not really capable of performing on par with my PS4 and XB1, but I still have a frighteningly large backlog to address on Steam that it can handle, and I’m gonna have to deal with that at some point.
    • And I still have a bunch of games on my PS4 that I haven’t finished – Shadow of Mordor and Far Cry 4 perhaps being the largest omissions, though there’s also Transistor, Valiant Hearts, and Oddworld New & Tasty.  (And also Sunset Overdrive on the XB1.)
    • Regarding my Kindle backlog – I’m cutting myself off and not buying any more books until I finish my to-read pile, which at this point is probably 20+ titles deep.  (I did end up buying the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, but that’s it.)

I also further resolve to SPEAK UP and SPEAK OUT when stupid bullshit is happening out there in the world.  I can’t call myself an ally if I’m not doing anything to back that up.  I sincerely hope that 2015 provides less opportunities for shouting, but if it doesn’t, then I aim to shout as purposefully and effectively as I can.

Game Anticipations for 2015:  (with special assistance from this handy Game Informer page)
* denotes a game that I’m not 100% convinced will be coming out in 2015

THE MUST-HAVES

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Witcher 3
  • Uncharted 4 *
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider *
  • Firewatch *
  • Superhot
  • Below

THE RENTALS, AT THE VERY LEAST

  • PGA Tour Golf (EA’s first without Tiger, after a year-long hiatus)
  • Crackdown 3 *
  • Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture
  • Final Fantasy XV *
  • Mad Max *
  • Inside (from the makers of Limbo)

THE CURIOSITIES

  • The Order 1886
  • Bloodborne
  • Halo 5
  • Star Wars Battlefront
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain
  • Silent Hills *

Here’s hoping we all have a safe and happy New Year’s, and may 2015 be everything that 2014 wasn’t.  Cheers.

 

On Comments

The first rule of Internet Club is (sing along with me) DON’T READ THE COMMENTS.  (The second rule of Internet Club is don’t ever go to WebMD, regardless of what symptoms you might be feeling, and third rule is to simply be yourself and have a good time.)

That being said, when the comments are starting to go apeshit over something that you’ve written, sometimes you can’t help but wonder what it is they’re getting so upset about.

Which brings me to the startling realization that, apparently, nobody actually reads the article they’re commenting on, or even (in this specific case) the actual headline.  They see what they want to see, and comment and yell and scream about how the article disagrees with their perception of what was written.

To wit:  I wrote a piece about No Man’s Sky for Gamemoir yesterday that seems to be doing quite well, as far as generating traffic is concerned.  It’s a bit of a relief, to be honest, because a lot of the posts I’ve written over there lately have more or less died right on the vine.

It’s not the best thing I’ve written, nor is it a deliberate, transparent attempt at click-bait.  The premise of the article is that for all the new games on the new console systems, the only game that actually seems to be “genuinely new” and “different” and “something impossible to achieve on previous generations of hardware” is No Man’s Sky, and therefore it’s the first “real” Next-Gen game.  That’s all I was trying to say.  Nothing particularly controversial, nothing particularly noteworthy.

But apparently I did generate some controversy, because on one of the portal sites the article was linked to, there’s a lively bunch of comments from people who have obviously not read the article or even read the headline fully.  The article’s headline is “Why No Man’s Sky Is The First ‘Real’ Next-Gen Game”.  The angry people are saying no, Infamous Second Son and Killzone SF were the first next-gen console games; those are the ones who seem to have glazed over the emphasis on the word Real.  Other angry people are saying that because NMS is an “indie” game, it doesn’t really count as a “real” game.  I guess their premise is that because the game isn’t being developed by 1000 people in multiple time zones with a gigantic budget, it can’t possibly be any good.

Here’s the thing – there is every reason to wonder if NMS is actually going to be fun to play.  For all its majesty and wonder and jaw-dropping vastness, the actual moment-to-moment gameplay is still very mysterious.  But even if the moment-to-moment experience is fun and engaging, there’s also the very real possibility that the game could be horrendously boring and tedious after a time, if the universe is as big as they claim it to be.

But that’s neither here nor there.  I’m excited for NMS because it’s different.  While I’m sometimes intimidated by truly open-ended games like Minecraft, I have a very easy time losing myself completely in open worlds like Skyrim and GTA, and as such I can see myself being totally immersed in exploring the vastness of NMS’s galaxy.  Moreover, it appears to be not only something I’ve never played before, but also something I’ve been wanting to play for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been wanting to explore the universe since I was a little kid wearing Star Wars underpants.   The Mass Effect games have come the closest to giving me that feeling, but the exploration was severely limited and very tightly scripted.  NMS is a completely different ballgame.


 

I did end up finishing A Story About My Uncle last week.  I sat in front of that aforementioned gauntlet, set up a timer on my iPhone, and said to myself – if I can’t get past this gauntlet in 15 minutes, I’m quitting, deleting the game from my hard drive, and moving on with the rest of my life.  I ended up getting past it in 10, and as it turned out it was the 2nd-to-last challenge in the entire game; the credits rolled about 10 minutes after I finally reached that elusive checkpoint.  Can I recommend it?  Sure, if it goes on Steam Sale again.  It’s got charm, and it’s certainly doing something different, and it’s nice to not kill anything for a few hours.  The difficulty does tend to spike unevenly at times, though, and it can be incredibly frustrating.  I am glad that I finished it, though I almost certainly won’t return to it.

I also gave Sniper Elite III a quick look-see over the weekend, and saw enough of it to know that it’s not my bag.

I’m mostly playing Stealth Inc. on my Vita, which I’m enjoying the hell out of – I’m at the beginning of Stage 8, which means I’m near the end, and it’s getting very difficult.  But it’s also a lot of fun, and it’s a perfect puzzler to play in short increments.

Speaking of the Vita, I still haven’t decided which Final Fantasy to commit to.  I’ve already played the first 6 hours of VII (though I think I’d have to start from scratch), I’ve played the first hour or so of X (and found it kinda meh), and also gave the first 20 minutes of IX a whirl (but couldn’t find a save point quickly enough).  As it happens, I’m probably not going to play any of them any time soon, being that I rented Persona 4 Golden.  I haven’t started that one yet, but I figure I might as well give it a shot first.

The Destiny beta comes out on the 17th.  I pre-ordered the game digitally a while ago on the PS4 but haven’t yet received my beta code; supposedly they’re arriving via email any minute now.  If you get in, look me up on PSN – I’m JervoNYC.