Well, now that school is finally over, finals have commenced, the world has not come to an end (at least...I don’t think it has...HELLO?...IS ANYONE THERE?...ANYONE...PLEASE! OH GOD! TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE), and the holiday season is upon us, it’s time for another entry into the Backlog Log Blog. As per usual, I don’t think I played any of the games. Due to having a high level of stress this semester, and literally no cash to buy new games, there are still a ton of new games from this year I still need to play. So many so, that I don’t think I’ll be making my usual Game of the Year Top 10 list due to barely playing 10 new games this year. I might just do top 5 instead though...you know what, yeah, I’ll do that. (I actually did a top 10 anyway, and here it is).
Anyway, let’s get onto the games and movies I’ve watched and played in the last three months, and one little title you may have heard of that blurs the lines between the two, but maybe I’ll get to that when I start discussing it. Actually, how about I just start out with that game since it is the one I played most recently. Also, I’ve played more games than this in the past 3 months, but I choose not to include the ones I’ve played for review.
I just finished the last three episodes this week because I wanted to sit down and play the rest of the game when I actually had the time to concentrate on it. Episode 1 and 2 were awesome. The first one did a great job of introducing the setting and characters, and the second one was super fucked up in some really great ways. The whole cannibalism thing actually caught me by surprise, and the way Lee had to handle those evil bastards really made for a great ending to the episode. I think the second episode was definitely the best, but it’s also the most stand alone episode of the bunch. It doesn’t really move the plot forward as much as it just feels like a side story. Characters get introduced, some get killed, but in the end the group is right back where they started. I think this really benefits the episode because everything it does is strictly in service of propelling and dramatizing it’s own, self contained narrative, while the rest of the following episodes seem to focus too directly on the ultimate climax of the whole season. A climax that ended up really falling flat for me.
So, on to Episode 3. I was like, "HOLY SHIT," when Carley got shot, and it was really hard to just leave Lilly there, but I did. Then, the whole Katjaa and Duck situation was pretty brutal...and from there the game just kind of plodded along until the very end. Everything after Duck dying in Episode 3 was just boring as hell. Fixing the train and moving the trailer of petroleum was all very tedious adventure game “puzzle solving”, and the only character building that really mattered was making sure Clementine was properly prepared to survive which. The whole pacing and structure of the third episode just seemed off to me. They kind of blew their load of meaningful stuff in the very beginning of the episode, and then limped to a positive, yet extremely dull episode ending. I also found it odd that they decided to kill off most of the characters they were building over the entire game, only to replace them with generic, relatively unimportant ones, but I’ll get to that a little later.
Episode 4 could have been great. It was setting itself up for some big payoffs with the whole Crawford thing, and then nothing happened. Everyone turned out to be a Zombie and the gang escaped with supplies. That’s kind of all I have to say about this episode because there wasn’t much else to it. They introduced a pretty cool character, Molly, but then she ended up going her separate way. They spent the time introducing and building up Crawford and Molly. Yet, they proceed to throw them in the trash in favor of some run of the mill ending that all of us now the conclusion to.
Which leads us to Episode 5. The setup at the end of Episode 4 made Episode 5 extremely obvious. I saw him dying and having to let Clem go on her own from a million miles away. Not to mention the fact that the whole kidnapper guy fell so flat it was kind of hard to watch for me. They tried to make this guy seem insane and it just didn't work, and, as someone who reads and watches a lot of fiction, I pretty much knew how the scenario was going to play out from the start. I think they really went safe with the ending there. Imagine if they would have had Clem die in some horrible chain of events...or maybe even have Lee turn on her or something. I mean, they could have done worse, but it was just kind of eh for me.
The last point I want to make is about the characters. It was kind of shocking when they killed off the characters they were building up over the course of the game, but that left the ending stale with characters you didn't really care about. Not only that, but the only character they decided to keep from the first episode to the last was Kenny, and that guy is just a fucking asshole who I didn't give a fuck about. The key to something like this working is the characters. That’s what’s interesting. So, yes, it is shocking when characters that I’ve known for a while suddenly get shot in the face or eaten by a zombie, but at a certain point one is trading shock value for an effective climax full of a snowball of fucked up shit happening to the characters. Imagine how insane it would have been if Episode 3 was them meeting Molly and dealing with some really fucked up shit in Crawford, not just more zombies, and then Episode 4 and 5 just became this epic chain of events that leave every single one of the characters fucked except for Clem.
When Episode 5 was released, I had only played Episode 2 and loved it. So, when everyone was freaking out about this game, I was expecting more of what I got in Episode 2. As it turns out, everything after the beginning of Episode 3 was kind of boring. It's not a bad story/game/whatever by any means, but I definitely don't think it's some masterpiece of narrative genius. I was expecting more of what I got in Episode 2, and then I would have agreed that this game has really show us that games can have amazing stories too, but, as it stands now, I’ve found The Walking Dead to just be an above average game story with a whole hell of a lot of squandered potential.
I’ve played the shit out of this game. So much so, I actually bought the season pass, which is something I never ever do. I really loved the first Borderlands game. I had so much fun playing co-op, and I welcomed more Borderlands this year. Yes, I do wish there would have been some more improvements to the game, but the refining they did was enough to get me hooked again.
I thought the story was awful. This is mainly due to the last game having an easily ignored story, while this one has a noticeably terrible one. The characters are annoying, and their humor is cringe worthy. I will say the quest making fun of internet fools getting mad about review scores found in the most recent DLC was pretty great, but most of the time I wanted the characters to shut the hell up so my friends and I could get back to shooting dudes. I know this isn’t how a lot of people like to play games, but when I have a choice between actually playing more of a game I think is great or spending more time following the lackluster story, I pick playing the actual game. I felt the same way about Diablo III earlier this year, except I then started to get extremely bored of playing Diablo, and so I just stopped.
The shitty story aside, I find Borderlands to be one of the best games of the year. In the same way that some people think mixing the Combat of Dark Souls with the world and story of Skyrim would result in one of the best games ever made, I similarly think the Shooting and mechanics of Borderlands mixed with the world and story of Fallout would make one of the best games ever made. I say this because I’m really interested to see where Borderlands goes from here. I’m not sure how well it did sales wise, but I’m hoping it did well enough for there to be a third game. With the new consoles just around the corner, I hope the next borderlands doesn’t play it too safe because I might be okay with more Borderlands right now, but I’m not so sure how I’ll feel about more of the same game in another 3 years.
Yes, I did cave and get this stupid game once again. Every single year I tell myself, and my friends, that there’s no way I’m getting this game. And every year I end up getting it. I’ve been getting sick of the same old multiplayer cycle for years, but since I have a bunch of friends that play this six months out of every year, it’s really hard not to buy it just to have fun playing with people I know. I was really disappointed with Modern Warfare 3 and the first Black Ops. So, thankfully, this year has been a pleasant surprise. I haven’t played much multiplayer because I still find it extremely boring, and I found the campaign just as shitty as every other CoD campaign, so my last hope was the Zombies mode, and it paid off.
At first I found the Zombies mode to be questionable. “Why the hell would they make only one map with a bunch of little areas in it?” I thought to myself. However, the more I play, the more I enjoy it. There’s a strategy involved in deciding where to go, when to go, and in what order to go to the different locations. Then, once everyone playing has all the perks and guns they need to start killing some undead, there’s some careful planning that needs to go into deciding where to train (For those that don’t know, training is running in a pattern to make all the zombies follow you in one straight line in order to shoot them all in the head without wasting too much ammo). I don’t really understand why some people are so anit-zombies mode in Call of Duty. I honestly wouldn’t mind if they just threw out the rest of the bull shit and focus on this interesting mode that actually changes in some significant way from year to year.
Speaking of changing from year to year, everything else about this game hasn’t. I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that Activision just puts out the same game with some minor tweaks and new maps so they can make millions, so I don’t think I really need to go into too much detail as to why I’m sick and tired of this game. I will say that the way they handle perks, weapons, and attachments with the 10 point system is interesting, it’s just not enough to make what happens in the actual game any different. It’s still the same old process of join game, run down right path, center path, or left path, and try to pull the trigger before someone else does.
Lastly, the praise for the story is extremely baffling to me. Not only is just as hand holdy and boring as it’s ever been, but everything about the plot just feels so desperate to achieve some shock and awe moment. Every single Call of Duty game is trying so hard to top the previous game with it’s action movie stupidity that it just makes the whole thing pathetic. Not to mention about half of the six hour campaign doesn’t even take advantage of their so called “futuristic” setting because half of the missions are played in the past. I honestly don’t even understand why they spend the time and money to make the campaign anymore. Maybe I’m completely off on this, but I’d be surprised if there’s more than a few thousand people that buy Call of Duty due to its completely awful campaigns.
Before I’m done talking about the pile of steaming, hot, wet, runny poo that is the campaign, I guess I’ll have to quickly talk about the so called “choices” in the game. I wouldn’t really call these things “choices” as much as I’d call them, “Hey, we have two different versions of these three ending cutscenes that you probably don’t give a shit about because the story is awful and they don’t really alter the ending all that significantly anyway. Oh, and I almost forgot, one of your partners may or may not die, but you probably don’t really care because you’ve only known him for about an hour because this thing is so damn short.”
I’ve already written so many words, and so many still to go.
Hotline Miami is a just great, fast paced fun with an awesome soundtrack. I probably won’t write too much here because this is one of those games I feel doesn’t need commentary. It does what it does and it does it better than I could have asked. I honestly don’t know if I have anything bad to say about this game, other than it’s story is maybe a little to bat shit crazy. Even so, I think it lends itself nicely to the manic, gorey, stress filled murderfest that is Hotline Miami.
This is the first game I ever recorded with commentary (here). I decided to play through the whole thing and upload it to youtube. I have never really expected anyone to watch or enjoy it, I just wanted to get some experience commenting on a game while also playing it. It’s actually much harder than you might think. I know everyone says that, but it’s hard to split your mind like that, especially when you’re by yourself and there’s no one to play off of.
In any case, I found myself really enjoying Fez even before I got into the crazy puzzle solving that pops up towards the end of the game in the new game plus. I think the whole rotation mechanic and art style could support it’s own game if the controls were maybe a little tighter and the levels were designed to suit a game that stands on it’s own without the puzzle solving aspect. I probably would have enjoyed this game more if I had played it when it first came out, and if I hadn’t known it was going to become a complex puzzle solving game, but I’m still really enjoying it.
The last thing I’ll mention about Fez is the unfortunate bugs I’ve found. I’ve had this game lock up on me more than any other game in the history of my 360, and it’s really unfortunate. I mean, it’s nothing game breaking, but it’s disappointing to see a game so good have such horrible bugs.
This game is a beloved game of my childhood. In fact, the first game I probably ever played (that I can remember) was the Duck Hunt, Track and Field, Super Mario Bros. all-in-one cart. Back in those days, I was never good enough or smart enough to figure out to beat the whole thing and find all the secret warp pipes, but now that I’m much better at games, and a lot older, I decided it was time to fix the travesty that has been my inability to beat any 8/16 bit Mario game. And let me tell you, this was no easy task.
Now that I’ve played through the entirety of Super Mario Brothers 1, 3, and World, I can confidently say that this first game is the hardest mother fucker of them all. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to beat this game without keeping Fire Mario all the way through the warp pipes into the final world. Those fucking Hammer Bros. are the biggest dicks in the world, and it’s SOOOOOOOOO much easier if you have Fire Mario. I usually just restarted the entire game if I ended up getting a game over because beating that last world with shitty little Mario and only 3 extra lives is basically impossible.
This extreme level of difficulty is actually why I think this game stands up for more than just nostalgia sake. It doesn’t feel cheap like many other difficult games of that era did, rather, it felt like good level design. I will say I may find this game to be the hardest because I spent so much time honing my skills in this game that the next two were much easier, but I’ll never truly know. Anyway, this game is still awesome even if you don’t have the nostalgia for it like a lot of people do.
This is the Mario game I spent the most time with as a kid, and I think it’s the best 2D Mario game ever made. Even though I recognize there are obvious improvements made in SNES launch Mario game Super Mario World (which I’ll get to later), I still hold this game as the best for a few reasons. But before I go on to that, I’ll just say that Super Mario Bros. 3 is no slouch when it comes to kicking your ass. There’s specifically one level with a shit ton of pipes and pipe monsters that took me maybe a million attempts to beat. I still think that the first game is harder, but this one comes pretty close. Now, onto the reasons why I love this game.
First, look at Super Mario Bros. Then look at this game. The improvements are so fast and so huge, that it’s actually kind of baffling that there wasn’t a real, proper Mario game in between. The overworld map, the mini-games, the new power-ups, the new enemies...just...EVERYTHING! The leap from that first game to this one is the most substantial in the series. The only other Mario game that I would considering having a similar amount of impact or influence is Super Mario 64, simply because of how well it seamlessly transitioned platforming into 3D. But really, when you think about it, Super Mario Bros. 3 is just a mind-blowingly amazing game.
Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but I think the look and sound of this game is the best of any Mario game. I’ve always thought Super Mario World just looked too mushy, if that’s the right word. I just like the hard, visible pixels and the design of Mario and the enemies of Super Mario Bros. 3. And other than the two obvious beats from the first game, I find the Super Mario Bros. 3 music to be the best music from the series. I really dislike that Super Mario World went with a more cartoonish look with more whimsical music.
Unfortunately, I missed most of the SNES era because I went straight from the NES to the N64. So, I had very little experience with Super Mario World before recently. I found it to be a great game with some obvious improvements over the last one with a full world map containing replayable levels, the much appreciated ability to keep a save game, and the addition of new mechanics like the cape and Yoshi. However, I found it extremely easy compared to the previous games. I was actually able to beat all the Special levels with ease, while the only one that gave me any real trouble was Outrageous. Overall I was maybe a little bit disappointed with how little trouble I had beating the game, but I that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the game. No, not at all. I thought it was really awesome, just maybe not as awesome as the juggernaut that is Super Mario Bros. 3.
Star Wars Original Trilogy
I recently rewatched this with my girlfriend because she had never seen any of the films. Don’t worry, I learned a valuable lesson from listening to the This Is Only a Test podcast when Gary Whitta informed everyone that he did a great disservice to his girlfriend by making her watch Episodes 1-3 first. So, my girlfriend and I watched Episodes 4-6 and she loved them. I’m not going to go into why these movies are so great, but I will say that they apparently hold up even for people that had no prior interest in them. Now, my only decision is whether or not to show my girlfriend the prequels. Maybe I should just save her from that pain.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Yet another trilogy of movies my girlfriend and I watch, her for the first time. I think she liked these movies better seeing as they were both newer, and fantasy rather than a sci-fi fantasy thing. I’ll keep this one short as well, but I did get a new perspective on these movies when going back and watching them. I used to think that the first movie was the weakest, while the second and third were tied for being totally awesome. However, I now think the first movie is the best of the three. The introduction of the characters and their journey leading up to Gandalf being “killed” is awesome by itself. The only thing that could have made it better was the inclusion of Tom Bombadil.
I’m excited to see The Hobbit, but I’m kind of discouraged that it’s being made into three different movies. I would rather have one solid movie, but I shouldn’t judge it until I see it. Maybe it will be better than I expected. In any case, I’ll probably be writing about it in a later blog when I finally see it.
I watched a few episodes many months ago and just wasn’t in the mood for the style of comedy. I came back to it the day I finished my finals for this semester and I watched the whole first season and half of the second season in one day. I finished the second season the next day, but I haven’t jumped into the third season yet because it isn’t on Netflix. I’ve heard some pretty negative things about the third season, but I hope it doesn’t taper off.
Louie is one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. The stand up bits are great, but the magic really happens with how the comedy is intermingled with some of the horrible depressing situations that Louie is in (If you haven’t watched this show, I beg you, do not read ahead, because I don’t want to spoil one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in a show). A great example of this is when his pregnant sister comes over and they have to rush her to the hospital and it turns out she just had gas. For me, that joke was set up over the course of like three episodes. Almost everything up to that was just horrible, real life kind of depressing shit, and then that happens and I almost died. This has never happened to me before, but it was so funny to me, that I like didn’t even laugh. I was basically shocked by comedy. That moment took comic relief from a serious situation and took it to it’s extreme. When people are met with some really serious, depressing, tragic topics, little comments that are only slightly comedic will get a big response because it’s peoples’ natural reaction to want to brighten the situation. I’m not sure what this is called exactly, and I’m sure there’s some kind of technical scholarly term for what I’m talking about, but, anyway, the point is that Louie takes this tragedy and depression and mixes it with hilarious comedy to great effect.
I do have one criticism of Louie, and that is the lack of character progression. Each episode isn’t supposed to be stand alone because relationships form and develop over the course of the show. The problem is when Louie seems to learn a lesson one episode, and forgets it the next. There’s this weird disconnect that happens with the character. It’s almost like Louis C.K. doesn’t know whether he wants each episode to stand on it’s own, or whether he wants there to be a kind of arch with his character. It can just get annoying when you see him make the same mistakes over and over again throughout the first few seasons, even though he should obviously know better by now.
After I was done with Louie, I jumped into Workaholics. I caught a little bit of this show about a year ago, and I couldn’t decide if this was the television show form of LMFAO duchebagery, or if it was just a legitimately funny show. I’ve decided it’s fucking hilarious. It does a great job of walking the line between praising the immature, idiotic actions of a high school/college student and making fun of itself by just being ridiculous. At first glance, it looks like it might be the kind “lax bro” humor that makes me want to punch all the lacrosse morons at my college in the face...(even more so because I’m actually pretty good at lacrosse (or at least was) and would probably play if everyone of my teammates wouldn’t be a scumbag...but that’s beside the point), but ,in reality, it’s just insane fun. If I could compare it to something, I would say it’s like a wilder, less subtle version of Always Sunny.
I have yet to watch any of the third season, but so far I am loving it. This might be one of those shows that you have to be in the right mood for, I’m not sure. So, I can understand if someone doesn’t think it’s all that great. Especially because I think comedy is one of those things that relies so much on taste and personal preference that it’s really hard to know what any given person will find funny. I mean, just look at some of the people on youtube that make painfully unfunny videos but still manage to have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
For Next Time
As I said, I will probably have watched The Hobbit, and hopefully I will get around to watching Lincoln if that is still in theatres. I’ve also got a horrible secret to admit...I’ve never seen any Back to the Future movie. Maybe that will be fixed by the time I write another one of these, who knows?
As for games, I have plans to play Eternal Sonata finally. I will definitely play Skyward Sword, and maybe I’ll get around to playing Super Mario Galaxy 2. I may cool on wanting to play a JRPG after playing Eternal Sonata, but I’m really interested in checking out Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. I’m also getting a 3DS for Christmas, so I will probably play Super Mario 3D Land, and maybe some Pushmo. I get money for Christmas as well, and I’m really tempted to go to Just Press Play and blow it all on old games. Speaking of which, I’ve had a really hard time trying to decide if I want to keep investing what little money I have into old carts, or if I should just say fuck it and play everything on my PC with an emulator. Being a poor college student, I honestly couldn’t give two fucks about the legality of playing emulated old games, so that’s really not a deciding factor. There’s just something about holding the controller it was meant to be played with and playing it on the system it was made for.
Anyway, until next time...uh...I have no idea...I don’t have an outro phrase or anything...so...bye I guess...ellipsis ellipsis