The Last Few Hours: Destiny

Current Status:  Story complete; level 21.


Destiny_BG

I finished Destiny‘s story and hit level 20 on Thursday night, and then sloooooooowly grinded my way up to level 21 by Sunday night.  Did a lot of strikes, co-op missions/patrols, a few rounds in the Crucible.   (I am terrible at the Crucible.)  I’ll even cop to spending 20-30 minutes shooting at the Cave of Loot (though I didn’t get all that much for my efforts).

I am more or less done with it, though, I think.  While it’s true that the next big game doesn’t come out until 9/30 (Shadow of Mordor), I’m not really feeling the pull to keep coming back.  Destiny’s endgame is similar to Diablo III in many respects – you’re basically just doing the exact same stuff over and over and over again, grinding away for better gear, BUT Diablo III has several big advantages over Destiny, even if it’s similarly tedious after a while:  there’s far more to do in Diablo right now, the loot is far more generous, and you can also hit the pause button if you need to take a bathroom break or if your kid is crying or if your aging TV decides to suddenly switch itself off.

Now, to be fair, the launch version of Diablo III on PC had a similarly lackluster endgame and barely resembles its current form.  And as Bungie has repeatedly said that they’re playing the long game with Destiny, I fully expect new content to roll out over the next few months, and I might even come back to check it out every once in a while (though I expect I’ll be woefully outclassed when I do).

But even as Destiny’s gameplay remains mechanically solid – and it is, there’s no question about it – there’s almost nothing else that’s compelling me to stick with it.  Leveling past 20 is arduous and arbitrary (as @LegendaryEngram is so cruelly brilliant in pointing out).  The Strike playlist consists of maybe 4 missions – maybe there’s more, but it certainly feels like there’s only 4 – and I’ve done them all to death.  I’m done with final bosses that sponge up 15 minutes’ worth of shooting, and I’m even more done with final bosses that are bullet sponges AND teleport, because teleporting is bullshit.  Few things feel as cheap as when you only get one grenade that takes minutes to recharge, and then the boss vanishes mid-throw.

I’ve said before that it can be a bit of a critical cop-out to compare one game to another, and so it would be hypocritical of me to compare Destiny to its most obvious influences and contemporary titles – Mass EffectBorderlandsDiablo III, Halo.  But if I’m being honest with myself – and therefore with you – I have to admit that the game that Destiny most reminded me of is this year’s Watch Dogs.  Both games were hyped beyond all rational measure, and they both appeared to look like phenomenal games during their preview stretch.  And then they came out… and left so much to be desired.  Both games featured solidly designed mechanics and impressive-looking graphics, both games eventually grew somewhat tedious and tiresome and repetitive, and both were saddled with dreadfully poor writing and voice performances (though it should be noted that each game’s writing is bad for much different reasons).  I think there’s obviously still plenty of time for Destiny to right the ship, and as said above Bungie’s playing the long game here, but as of right now, these two games are battling for my Biggest Disappointment of 2014 award.

The Year (So Far) In Games

A bunch of sites have been putting up “Best Games of the Half-Year” posts this week, and I was tempted to follow suit, but after looking at my Games Played spreadsheet I found myself wondering how I could spin Wolfenstein: The New Order and South Park: The Stick of Truth into 800 words; it’s just not happening.  Those are two surprisingly terrific games, and they’ll most likely end up in my year-end list, and you should play them if you haven’t already.  Beyond that, it’s a bit of a reach.

I don’t know if it’s fair to call the first half of 2014 a disappointment; I expected this transition period between last-gen and current-gen to be a little weird and underwhelming.  That being said, a lot of the year’s biggest-hyped games fell relatively flat for me.  I was certainly impressed with the tech in Infamous: Second Son, but I hardly gave it a second thought after easily getting to 100% completion.  Similarly, there are certainly quite a few things to like about Watch Dogs, but if I think about that game for more than 5 seconds I get irrationally angry.  And Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is what it is, I guess, though I haven’t felt compelled to pick it back up since I finished it the first time.

I could continue on in this vein – there’s plenty of bummers on my Games Played spreadsheet (*cough* Thief *cough* Mario Golf World Tour *cough*) – but I’d prefer to keep the rest of this somewhat positive.

Jazzpunk!  That’s a spicy meatball if there ever was one.

I enjoyed playing Tomb Raider again on the PS4 and my HDTV, although I suppose its retail success is partially to blame for the HD double-dips that are in our immediate future as we wait for the real next-gen stuff to appear, i.e.The Last of UsGTA VDiablo III, to name a few off the top of my head.  And I’m planning on at least renting all of those games, too, so I suppose I’m partially to blame as well.

Speaking of Diablo III, I suppose I should heap a little bit of praise on its Reaper of Souls DLC and the additional patching that game’s received in the year since I last turned it on; the DLC managed to suck another dozen hours of my life after I’d sworn I was finished with it forever, and the daily missions and objectives are an intriguing carrot that I still consider chasing after.

I really enjoyed Bravely Default right up until I realized that I was going to have to play the entire game a second time; and then I read some walkthroughs that revealed that I’d actually have to play the whole thing 3-4 times before getting to the final ending.  This will not do.

What else, what else… I’ve not yet had that much time to actually play anything in depth on my PS Vita, and yet I keep downloading free games on it.  I’m very happy to finally own it, though.  The port of Fez is great – I just love having it in portable form – and Luftrausers is excellent and I need to get back to it, and Olli Olli hurts my brain but is also really good.

I was also going to include my favorite bits of gaming journalism and criticism, but it’s a gigantic list so far, and it’s also full of rather depressing stories of how toxic this industry is.  Still, if you’d like to check it out, I’ve made it publicly available as a Google Doc.

This weekend I’ll be away with the family, so I’m not sure what gaming there’ll be.  I’m currently playing A Story About My Uncle, which is both exhilarating and frustrating, sometimes simultaneously; I’d like to try and finish it tonight, since I’m not taking my PC with me.  I picked up Civ Rev 2 for my iPhone this morning; it’s not quite as graphically interesting as the 360 version from a few years back, but it’s leaps and bounds better-looking than the previous iOS version, and the touch controls are a lot more intuitive.  I’m still way over my head most of the time, but such is life.  And I guess I’ll bring the Vita along, too, and maybe keep plugging away at Tearaway and also perhaps one of the 6 Final Fantasy games I’ve got on there.  (The voting was inconclusive.  I might go with 8 or 9, since I’ve never touched those before.)

Have a happy and safe 4th, everyone.

Watch Dogs: the empty promise

If I’m feeling particularly cynical this morning – here, on the cusp of E3 2014 – it’s because I’m tired of feeling like a sucker.

Remember the deafening, jaw-dropping roar of hype that accompanied the reveal of Watch Dogs when it was first announced at E3 2012?   Of course you do; it’s all we talked about for the last 2 years, and it’s why Watch Dogs became Ubisoft’s highest-selling new IP of all time when it finally came out.

But what was it, exactly, that we were all excited about?

Is it possible that the trailer was just an amazingly slick, kick-ass bit of promo that made vague promises about what open-world games might look and play like on the new, not-yet-released PS4 and Xbox One?

Look:  I finished Watch Dogs over the weekend.  I did a fair amount of side stuff in addition to the campaign; there’s still plenty left to do if I wanted to 100% it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what that stuff will look like.  I’ve seen more or less everything that game has to offer.  I don’t know how many hours I spend with it – the “statistics” tab is comically bereft of useful information – but I definitely did my time.

And when all is said and done, and for all the game’s actual strengths – of which there are a few – Watch Dogs is, ultimately, one of the most poorly written AAA titles I’ve ever played in my life.  However many millions that Ubisoft spent on graphics and animation and gameplay systems are irrelevant in the face of a stupid story filled with stupid characters who say stupid, stupid things.

It’s not just that Aiden Pearce is grotesquely unlikable; it’s OK for a game’s lead character to be an anti-hero.  The problem is that Ubisoft clearly thought that Aiden was someone worth rooting for, someone worth getting emotionally invested in, someone whose fashion sense was “iconic”.   They misjudged him so spectacularly that it’s almost hilarious.

Aiden is an asshole to everyone; his enemies, his friends, his family. He consistently thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room – and each mission begins with an unskippable interior monologue that is meant to establish why Aiden is about to do whatever it is he’s about to do, and that whatever it is, he is in absolute control of the situation.  And yet he gets outsmarted at every turn, and gets gobsmacked by plot twists we can see coming from miles away.  (i.e., Clara.)

The script itself makes no sense, and can oftentimes feel as if it was written by many different people in many different rooms, none of whom were able to see the parts of the script they didn’t write.  Here are some examples which, obviously, contain SPOILERS, so just know that there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD:

When Aiden first meets T-Bone (also:  there is a character by the nickname of T-Bone; his given name is Raymond Kenney; the nickname is not explained), they engage in a drinking game.  The clearly aggravated bartender says it’ll be $100 up front, as a “damage deposit.”  T-Bone looks at Aiden, as if to say, hey man, you’re paying.  Aiden then literally says “I’m not a cash kind of guy.”  Let’s leave aside, for the moment, that Aiden is in somewhat of a desperate situation by this point and really, really needs to talk to this guy, and is not in the sort of position to be such a fucking dick about $100.  Let’s instead notice that by the hours of game-time I’d played at this point, when Aiden finally said that line, I’d stolen over $300,000 in cash by hacking into random people’s bank accounts.  This is not me being a dick, by the way – the game continually interrupts you to point out people with hackable ATM accounts.  Point being:  Aiden clearly had the money.  Indeed, I’d just hacked some rich people and walked away from an ATM right outside the bar with an extra TEN GRAND in my pocket, figuring, I’m going into a bar, why not make sure I can buy a round.  Why the fuck wouldn’t he just pay the $100, considering what was at stake at the time?  Does it just make him look tough?

After Aiden finally rescues his sister, and she’s able to process the ordeal she’s just been through, she slowly realizes that he is “the vigilante” that she’s heard about on the news.  One: she heard news reports while being kidnapped?  She barely got a chance to talk to Aiden on the phone.  Ok, but then Two: even if you turn off the in-car radio, which you should probably do anyway since the soundtrack is pretty shitty, you will be interrupted by news reports.  The news reports that continually interrupt you IDENTIFY AIDEN BY NAME EVERY 10 MINUTES.

There is also the issue of Bedbug and Iraq.  Well, there’s really a larger racism issue with the whole Black Viceroys gang, in that you can tell the people who wrote this sequence must’ve marathoned all 5 seasons of The Wire in a very short amount of time in an attempt to make sure that this hi-tech pack of black gangsters speak “realistically”.  Bedbug, a cousin of Iraq (who is the top man of the gang) is not technically seen getting thrown out of a top-story window, but it’s certainly implied that he did, and his sudden reappearance (only via cell phone voiceover) literally makes no sense whatsoever.

Iraq, on the other hand… I don’t know where to begin with him, so for now I’ll just concentrate on his boss fight appearance at the end of Act 4, which was a bunch of fucking bullshit.  You chase him and emerge in this small enclosed rooftop space.  There are no obvious exits or entrances except for one door behind you, which is locked.  He talks all this bullshit at you and then sends in soldiers to fight his fight for him.  The soldiers, by the way, materialize out of thin air.  As does Iraq himself and his heavily-armored friend – I know this because I was trying to plant IEDs for their reappearance, and I actually watched them spawn out of nowhere.  Iraq also is a bit of a bullet sponge, and while I understand that bosses need to be challenging, Iraq is not a super-human bullet-proof monster; he is an unarmored human being, and when I shoot him in the face from 5 feet away, I expect him to die.  And because he is somewhat bulletproof, and because I died several times during this encounter, I had to listen to these goddamned extended monologues OVER AND OVER AND OVER again, and they never once sounded menacing or threatening or anything that was probably intended.

Oh, one more thing.  There are two instances where Aiden gets hacked; once by some douchebag hacker/DJ named Defalt (whose look is so clearly modeled after Deadmau5 that one wonders if Deadmau5 might have a claim to copyright infringement), and once by the main baddie, Damien.  The hacking is so complete that it actually affects the game’s camera, which glitches out and can cause minor problems (especially when driving, because the driving system still sucks, even after 12 hours or whatever).  At this point I was convinced that the whole game was taking place in the Assassin’s Creed Animus, because otherwise there is LITERALLY NO REASON WHY A THIRD-PERSON GAME’S CAMERA SHOULD BE GLITCHING OUT.

[END SPOILERS]

I said last week that Watch Dogs is the modern-day Assassin’s Creed that I’ve been wondering if I’d ever see, and there are levels and layers to that comparison that go far deeper than any superficial story elements.

The first AC game’s primary flaw was that there simply wasn’t enough to do; you had these beautiful open worlds but no real way of interacting with them.  The ensuing AC games made sure that you had more than enough to do; indeed, you’d run into a side activity every 20 seconds.

Clearly Ubisoft didn’t want to make that same mistake twice, and so Watch Dogs contains more side missions than actual story content.  I said this before; the game is so desperate to make sure you have something to do at all times that it can almost get confusing; multiple side missions will open up nearly at the same time, meaning that you have to press multiple buttons on the D-Pad to set up a waypoint.  At one point I was doing a side mission requiring me to eavesdrop on a conversation that would lead me to a briefcase that I’d need to scan.  While I was eavesdropping, another side mission popped up on my screen, asking me to press down on the d-pad to set a waypoint.  But then the eavesdropping part of the mission stopped, and the briefcase waypoint flashed on the screen, but only for a second; I missed which button I needed to press; and when I checked the map, I didn’t know what icon I was looking for.  I didn’t fail the mission, but I lost the opportunity to complete it, and so I assume that conversation will respawn somewhere else, later.

As much as the game drove me crazy – and I’m feeling angry just writing this down – there’s still a neat idea here.  The idea of using surveillance and stealth to carry out missions is still interesting, and to the game’s immense credit it’s actually executed quite well.  The gunplay is competent enough, too, so that when you run out of remote-controlled booby traps you can go in guns blazing and take care of business easily enough.  Or at least, if you die, the checkpoint system is fairly generous (IN MOST – BUT NOT ALL – CASES) and you can re-approach your task without having to do the whole thing over.  (That said, if you do re-spawn mid-mission, all the bad guys you took out come back, which can actually make things harder.)

But my god, this game made me angry.  I don’t want to think about it anymore.  Smarter people than me will tackle the game’s myriad issues with respect to its treatment of women and minorities, and I will link the hell out of those essays when they go up.  In the meantime, I need to switch off.

I’m not sure what I’m doing for E3.  I’ll do my best to livetweet reactions, although that’s wholly dependent on what I can get away with at my day job.  In any event – if you’re there, have a great time, and if you’re watching from afar like me, have… also, a great time?

Weekend Recap: Dogs and Wolves

I’m maybe 8 hours into Watch Dogs, even though I only finished Act 1 (of 5) last night.

The reason why I’m 8 hours into the game but am barely 20% into the story is because the game is constantly interrupting me with other things to do besides the main story, and since playing the main story means having to listen to shitty dialogue made worse by shittier voice acting, I’m more than content to indulge those side missions.  I check into hotspots; I hack the shit out of ATM accounts (even though I’m not spending any of the money); I hack into buildings and spy on weird people; I unlock ctOS towers (WD’s version of the radio towers in Far Cry 3 and/or synchronizing viewpoints in Assassin’s Creed).  Anything that involves not having Aiden Pierce speak (whether to a person or simply as part of an internal monologue) is something I’m more than happy to indulge in.

Actually, say what you will about the narrative and the characters and the numerous plot holes and nonsensical premise and the rest of it – and I’ll get to all of that – but Watch Dogs is, for all intents and purposes, the modern-day Assassin’s Creed that I wondered if we’d ever see.  My wife watched me play it for a few minutes and thought it was Grand Theft Auto – and certainly you can make that case.  But the DNA between Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed is so similar, in fact, that it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see that this future-Chicago is, in fact, part of the Animus.  Even the digital glitches seem familiar.  (This Eurogamer article all but confirms that the two franchises take place in the same universe, even if the bottom quote of that article calls these references mere “Easter eggs”.)

I can’t seem to talk about Watch Dogs without getting totally scatterbrained, so I’m going to do the rest of this in bullet-points:

  • Comparisons to GTA being unavoidable, I’d have loved it if Watch Dogs had stolen GTA’s driving model, if nothing else.  It is fucking impossible to keep a car moving at any speed on the road without spinning out, hitting a dozen cars, or killing civilians who are all too eager to get in the way.  (Perhaps those civilians feel guilty in that their complacency in letting a private corporation like the one that makes ctOS completely take over Chicago.)
  • To that last point – the reason why the NSA’s surveillance tactics are as thorough and as voluminous as they are is because they are (or were) collected IN SECRET.  There is only a certain amount of disbelief I can willingly suspend, and the idea that a private corporation could do what the one in Watch Dogs has done is completely in-fucking-sane.  In a major, heavily liberal city like Chicago, no less!  Certainly there’d have been some angry op-eds in the local papers, at the very least, because I’m not sure that the general populace would be content letting a group of anonymous hackers be their voice, either.
  • The game’s protagonist, Aiden Pierce, is one of the more difficult protagonists in modern games to empathize with.  And this particular problem with empathy is totally different than what you might expect with the three men of GTA V, who you at least understand right from the get go are monsters.  Aiden is (at least I think) meant to be someone you root for, someone you understand, someone who can guide you through this city and show you how messed up it is.Alas, Aiden is poorly introduced.  The opening cutscenes establish that he’s some sort of hacker, in the middle of the digital robbery of an upscale building.  Something goes wrong and he bails, and then, some time later, he is shot at by gangsters while driving his car, resulting in the death of his niece.  Now, the way this opening sequence is laid out, one gathers that we are meant to feel bad for Aiden, and that this scene helps us understand his rage and his quest for revenge.  They killed a child, after all!  But: he’s also a criminal, right?  Even if he’s only robbing the rich (and who even knows if that’s the case), he’s engaged in illegal activity as a full-time profession, and he got caught, and the bad(der) guys tried to take him out.

    And he’s not charming or witty or even likable, as with, say, the Ocean’s 11 crew.  He’s poorly acted, as he’s basically been a one-note grumble so far, and it doesn’t help that his dialogue is so stupid.

  • Also:  he’s continually recognized by passers-by as “the vigilante in the news”, which makes literally no sense as his face and body are digitally obscured by all the cameras you hack – plus, at least as of yet, he’s done nothing newsworthy to grant him that title.  And while I appreciate all this extra stuff to do, I don’t understand why he’s so interested in doing it when he’s written as being single-minded of purpose.  Why should he care about random crimes?  Why should he care about random people, for that matter?  For all intents and purposes he is a broken man out to right a grievous wrong – why the fuck is the game interrupting me literally every 30 seconds with gang hideouts to break up and criminal convoys to derail?

As I haven’t seen nearly enough of the game’s story to comment on it in any detail, I won’t.  But I will absolutely pass along Cameron Kunzelman’s pretty definitive look at some of the game’s larger issues.  That article alone is enough to keep me stalling, let alone all the other ridiculousness detailed above.

And it’s a shame, too, because there actually is some interesting stuff here.  Underneath all the narrative stupidity and the horrendous, horrendous driving (and the average third-person shooting), the game offers unique ways of handling enemies that have nothing to do with guns.  One of my favorite moments thus far was how I was able to unlock a ctOS station – different than unlocking one of the radio towers – purely through hacking cameras.  I found a hidden vantage point, hacked a surveillance camera, found the guard with the access codes and hacked him, then found another guard wearing a hidden camera, distracted him with a ringing cell phone which put him in the same room as the [cable box?], hacked that; mission accomplished.  I could have just as easily gone in, guns blazing, mowing all the guards down and doing everything directly.  But this was a far more satisfying way of dealing with the situation, and I didn’t have to kill anybody.  Didn’t even have to sneak around!  I just stood out of anyone’s line of sight and my phone did the rest.

This is how the game generally encourages you to play, for whatever it’s worth.  And it’s a really interesting concept, and for the most part it’s satisfying to pull off.  But it’s not foolproof, and it’s not always successful, and you can’t take too much direct fire before getting killed, and the checkpoint system is somewhat inconsistent; a mid-mission death can either mean replaying 5 minutes, or 20.

I’m going to keep playing it, because there’s more than enough to do to keep me busy for the rest of the summer, but I’m not sure how much I’m going to enjoy it.


On the other hand, I can’t say enough positive things about Wolfenstein: The New Order.  Indeed, I very well might put Watch Dogs back on the shelf if it gets too infuriating just so that I can go back to Wolfy and find all the collectibles I missed the first time around.

Unfortunately, it’s now been almost a week since I finished it, and so the words aren’t coming as quickly as I’d like them to.  I did write a whole bunch while I was in the middle of it; I’d really only add that it’s remarkable and refreshing to see a single-player-only FPS so lovingly crafted and cared for in this day and age.  With every ensuing Call of Duty I find myself getting more and more cynical, wondering if the FPS genre has passed me by; even the more interesting shooters, like Far Cry 3, still have moments of tedium (as well as troubling, tone-deaf overtones of tribalism and racism).

Wolfenstein is, at heart, an old-school shooter, and it’s not necessarily reinventing the wheel here.  What it gets right, though, is so tough to do these days; it has astonishingly good pacing, objectives that are clear and understandable, a supporting cast of characters that are as three-dimensional as you could hope for (given their relative lack of screen time), and a diverse and satisfying arsenal and thousands of Nazis to kill.  There are a few tough spikes in difficulty, and towards the very end (maybe the last 30 minutes of the game) I turned the difficulty down just because the hour was getting late and I wanted to see at least the first 20 minutes of Watch Dogs before going to sleep, and because I’m a grown-ass man and I don’t have to feel bad about that sort of thing.  Even with the difficulty lowered, the game was still fun; I don’t feel like I diminished my experience at all.

I’m not sure what the rest of the year’s release calendar is looking like – E3 is just around the corner, but I also expect a lot of games to get delayed until next year – but I’d be very surprised if Wolfenstein wasn’t in the running for my Game of the Year.  Highly recommended.

The Week That Was: South Park, Next-Gen Games, Sony, Health Insurance

I’ve been trying to work on some more thoughtful and reflective pieces for the site, but this week’s been bananas, and who in their right mind wants to read my navel-gazing when there’s some serious game business to discuss?

This week saw:

  1. the release of a South Park videogame that doesn’t suck;
  2. the announcement of Rocksteady’s long-awaited, next-gen only Batman game (with a Batmobile you can drive!);
  3. the release date (and some explanations for the delay) for Watch_Dogs (and do we really have to write it with that underscore thing?);
  4. the sudden departure of Sony’s Jack “Mic Drop” Tretton; and
  5. the heartbreaking news (and fundraising page) of Brendan Boyer, a champion of the indie scene.

1.  My rental copy of South Park showed up last night, and I played for around 45 minutes or so.  The biggest news is that this was the first time I’d turned on my 360 in maybe 3-4 months, and I suppose more than anything else I was pleased to see it’s still working.  As for the game itself – I don’t feel like I’ve seen enough of it to write a “First Few Hours” post just yet; I’m also not sure I’m the game’s intended audience.  I mean, I like South Park but I haven’t watched an episode in years, so there’s a strong possibility that a lot of the more referential material is going to sail right over my head.  That being said, it’s still really funny, and the RPG systems are surprisingly enjoyable, and I’m going to try to push through as much as I can.

1a.  Speaking of which, I may have reached the point in Thief where I stop giving a shit.  It’s not that it’s bad, but it is starting to get dull and tedious.  I’m doing some side missions where the objectives are on the complete opposite side of the City, and the map continues to be horrendous and irrelevant, and these side missions only seem to be doable if you go ahead and knock everybody out first.  I was trying to play as non-lethally as possible, but now I kinda just want to get it over with.  I’m not quite ready to give up on it, but I’m having a harder time staying engaged with it than I’d like.

2.  So, yeah – that Batman game looks terrific.  And I’m pleased to see it’s next-gen only, frankly.  If the rumored release date is correct (which I think is mid-October?), both consoles will have a rather healthy install base by then, and I’d be hard-pressed to find a new console owner who isn’t going to pick this up – this is already near the top of my own “most anticipated” list.  Keeping the game on the new platforms prevents the game’s vision from being diluted, and should ensure that it makes the most of the more powerful hardware.

3.  I’m trying to not read too much about Watch_Dogs, though sometimes I can’t help myself.  I’m mostly just glad to see they’ve entered the home stretch, and that they seem to be happy with it.  Of course, most AAA games at this stage of development are spoken in exceedingly positive PR-approved tones, so it’s unwise to take that stuff too seriously; and yet, well, look – this was the game that made everybody’s jaws drop when it was first announced, and it’s just exciting to know that we’ll all get our hands on it soon enough.

4.  I can’t possibly fathom a guess as to what Jack Tretton’s sudden resignation means; under his leadership (or, at least, his E3 keynote speeches) the PlayStation brand has come roaring all the way back from oblivion and they now appear to be sitting very comfortably in the driver’s seat, and I suppose one could argue that if you’re going to go, go out on top.  It’s just that the rest of Sony’s businesses seem to be flailing wildly to stay afloat, and one can only hope that the games division has a backup plan to keep riding this wave of momentum.

5.  The US healthcare situation is a goddamned travesty, and that’s all there is to it.  What’s happened to Brandon is a fucking disaster.  If you can support him, please do.