Backlog Log Blog Holiday/End of School Edition

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.

The Walking Dead

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.

Borderlands 2

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.

Black Ops 2

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'm Going to Hell

Spelunky

FUCK YOU!

Hotline Miami

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.

Owls. Always watching. Hoot.

Fez

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.

Super Mario Bros.

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.

Super Mario Bros. 3

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.

Super Mario World

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.

Louie

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.

Workaholics

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

1 Comments

Ugh...another idiot's GOTY List

Honorable Mentions

Day Z: Due to it being a mod, I don’t really feel comfortable giving this game a spot on my list, but damn if I didn’t love it. Sunk a lot of time into this game over the summer. It was really unlike anything I’ve ever played before. If only the game was polished up and made specifically for that purpose, I think it could be something even better.

Mass Effect 3: I’m putting this on here because I thought it was actually a pretty decent game, and I don’t think it deserves the hate everyone has given it. I will say it was disappointing in many ways. So, I actually really liked it, but I don’t think it deserves a spot on the list.

10. The Playing-Old-Games-Cause-I’m-Poor Game

I've played a ton of old games this year. I started off in January playing Twilight Princess, which I thought was pretty good. Not great, but good. The beginning of the spring semester was taken up by some really great co-op in Dead Island, and a returning addiction to Gears of War multiplier. Somehow I found myself throwing away the first month of summer break by playing more Minecraft then I thought I'd play in the entirety of my life. Then, later in the summer, I rediscovered the awesome game that is Starcraft II.

Lastly, do you know what's awesome? Old 8-bit and 16-bit games. I get a sudden returning fascination with older games almost once a year, but this year it lead me down an awesome path. I bought a Genesis and a ton of old games, and I finally beat Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, and Super Mario World for the very first time. A lot of this year has been spent rediscovering old gems, and I can honestly say I wouldn't mind if I was only able to play old games for a while. And man, the old music is just fucking amazing. I could listen to old video game music forever. In fact, here's a cool little website for those of you who also love old game music.

9. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Oh...Oh GOD! WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING! HOW IS THIS ON MY TOP 10! Well, Zombies, that’s why. Most years I get to the third for fourth prestige in multiplayer, and I've only gotten to level 32 this year. That’s because it’s just the same old boring shit. Yeah, there’s some new stuff in there, but I’m just so sick of the same old thing again and again every year. I usually only get it because my friends do, and this year I was strongly against getting it...but I gave in. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed...with the Zombies mode that is. The campaign is utterly terrible, and the choices are just stupid. I played through it on Veteran to get the achievements, and I couldn't wait until it was over.

I know many people don’t like the Zombies mode, but it’s really the only redeeming thing about CoD anymore. I've gotten hours and hours of enjoyment out of it, and it’s actually the only thing my friends and I play anymore. It’s a great multiplayer game, and I honestly wouldn't mind if they just threw away everything else about the CoD games and just focused on the Zombies mode.

8. Spelunky

THIS GAME IS HARD AS FUCK! AND I LOVE IT! It actually may have made it further up the list if I was actually able to play more of it, but how the fuck am I supposed to unlock the shortcut to the last area...I mean, that’s fucking impossible.

7. Dyad

This game fucks your head, but in a good way. Just a crazy mix of music and flashing lights that takes all of your concentration to the point of becoming physically exhausted after playing.

6. Trials Evolution

I have one stupid achievement left to get in this game...and I bet I’ll never get it now that I haven’t played it for a while. Another game that is hard as fuck, but extremely satisfying. I could probably play new Trials tracks forever and never get bored.

5. Fez

I was so busy with school that I haven’t finished the videos of me playing this game, but I love it. I actually really like it without all the crazy complex puzzle solving stuff in the new game plus, but that stuff just makes it that much better. I probably would have had it further up on my list if I played it when it first came out and everyone was trying to figure the thing out, but I’m still having a great time with it.

4. The Walking Dead

You’ll find my criticism here. Even though that’s mostly negative thoughts, I still really liked the game. Episode 2 was one of the best story experiences I've ever had in any game, and even though it ended up disappointing me, it is still worthy of being pretty high on my list this year.

3. Hotline Miami

This game is just fun. It’s just awesome fun. Not to mention it has the best soundtrack of the year. I would also say it’s more psychedelic than Dyad with its serial killer/mob story on 10 different drugs.

2. Borderlands 2

This is the only retail release on my list other than CoD. That’s probably because I don’t have money to buy many games, but it’s also because I just haven’t been excited about many games this year. I think it’s been a pretty weak year for the big Triple A titles, but I actually think that’s a good thing in some ways.

Borderlands 2 could have been better. It improved upon the first game, but didn't change much. That being said, Borderlands was an awesome game, and I was ready for more Borderlands this year. It stands out above the rest in a weak year.

1. Journey

My game of the year is Journey because it does something no game has ever done before. It uses the interaction unique to video games to create an unbelievably dramatic and intense interpersonal experience without even allowing words to be spoken between the people communicating and interacting. Journey must be played with someone else to really understand why it’s such an amazing game. If you didn't play Journey with a co-op partner, then you didn't play Journey. On your own, Journey is a visually and musically beautiful game that uses its art and simplicity to create a relaxing experience in a world that can’t help but be explored. On your own, Journey is a fantastic advancement on the abstract ideas of That Game Company’s previous game Flower. On your own, Journey is a great game.

With another player, however, Journey becomes something much more. It becomes an experience of companionship unlike any I have ever felt before. Journey uses its restrictions on communication and drop in/drop out multiplayer to make you feel like you’re actually exploring this world with someone else. That other person being there really draws you into the world and the exploration, and the lack of communication options actually deepens the relationship in an extremely odd way. Climbing up the mountain at the end of Journey and reaching the climactic ending with a companion who stuck with me during the duration of the game was something I have never felt in a game before. We had only been playing this game for a few hours, and we never spoke a single word to one another, yet there was this awesome feeling of companionship and teamwork that I would never have had when playing with even a close friend.

That is the best way I can think of to describe Journey at this time. It’s really hard to convey what is truly special about Journey with words on a page. It’s simply something that needs to be experienced. In what I consider a weak year, Journey stands out as one of the best games I've played in the past 5...probably one of the best I've EVER played. Yeah, I said it. FUCK YOU!

Games I did not play that may have made it had I played them if I wasn't a poor college student: X-Com, Mark of the Ninja, Dust: An Elysian Tale, Dishonored, Assassin’s Creed III, Halo 4, Far Cry 3, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, Tokyo Jungle, Hitman: Absolution

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Figuring Out FEZ Episodes 3-8

So, here's my channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/DoctorEngle

Instead of spamming the Fez forums with my blog posts, I'm just going to post one week of episodes at a time for those that don't know about it yet.

I actually only uploaded 3 episodes last week instead of the 5 I wanted to for many reasons. First, youtube and my internet weren't cooperating and it took about three tries to actually upload Episode 8. Then, not only did Fez lock up on my at least 10 times during recording of Episode 9, but then my Hauppauge HD PVR 2 decided to shit the bed on recording it, so I actually lost a whole episode of progress. I was faced with a decision to replay all the way back up to the point where I could rerecord that episode, or just keep going. I decided to say fuck it and just continue the game cause, hell, I'm doing this mainly for fun anyway.

So far I'm really enjoying Fez. It's kind of relaxing and, as I've said in probably every episode, I love the art and the music. It does have a lot of technical problems which is really a bummer considering how nice it looks and cool this game is, but so far I've had it lock up on me over a dozen times, and the frame rate is just unacceptable in a bunch of areas. I find it weird that this game has performance issues because it doesn't seem like the game requires the Xbox to do all that much work, so I'm guessing it's just terrible optimization. Though, after watching Indie Game: The Movie it's pretty easy to see how the rocky development could have caused the game to be somewhat unstable.

Anyway, as I said I'm really liking the game so far, and I've almost reached the end by Episode 8. I just uploaded a short Episode 9 earlier today, and I will reach the end of the game within the next few episodes. I'm excited to go back into the game and try to solve some of the harder puzzles...if only I had something that could read a QR Code.

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Figuring Out FEZ Episode 2

Am I allowed to keep posting my daily episodes as new blog posts? Does this count as youtube spam? How the hell do people that do Let's Play things get people to actually care? Is it FEZ or Fez?

These are all questions I ask myself as I say fuck it, and post the second episode of me playing Fez.

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Figuring Out FEZ

So, I've decided to try playing through all of Fez without any hints. I doubt I'm going to be able to do it seeing as apparently some of the puzzles are pretty hard, but who knows. I also decided to record myself doing it because...well why not. Here's the first episode for anyone that's interested in watching. I'll probably be putting up episodes once every week day until I'm done, or simply give up. So, in a way, it's like my own personal endurance run.

Anyway, let me know what you think.

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Finally Done with C

So, I've been making a walkthrough for those who want to start learning to code but simply don't know where to start. There are many people that already know about CS50, but it's a super helpful, and amazing way to get into programing quickly, while also learning the right way to do things.

I just completed my time with C, and now I'm moving on to web programing and I'm extremely excited to learn how to use HTML, CSS, PHP, and Javascript. Anyway, I posted the first parts of my last two episodes below if anyone want's to check them out, or let me know what they think.

Also, for anyone in this community that actually knows how to code, is there anything fun I can actually do with my knowledge of C know so I don't forget it all?

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Backlog Log Blog 8/21/2012

Isn't my picture editing fantastic?

It’s been what...a month and a half since my first entry into the Backlog Log Blog? It seems as though the last two months of summer vacation have flown by in an instant. I feel like the Fourth of July was only last week. Even so, I’ve played/watched a good deal since that time. So much so that I doubt I’ll really remember everything I wanted to say about these topics at the time. If I do, this will probably get to be super duper long. I’ll try to keep it a reasonable length, but we’ll see.

A lot has happened since my last post. I went on vacation, got a little part time job, and of course, played a shit ton of games. As usual, I haven’t really watch any TV (I’d rather just watch the Breaking Bad season on my own time once it’s out), but I was able to catch the two big super hero movies of the summer in The Amazing Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises. Lastly, I managed to finally finish A Game of Thrones, so I’ll be giving a quick rundown of my thoughts on that book down at the end.

Uncharted 3

How about we start the show off with the show stopper. Sound good? Actually, the reason I decided to start with this game is because I just spent all day Sunday playing through this game in literally one sitting, meaning it’s fresh on my mind. I’ve been itching to express my opinion on this game, so let’s not delay any further.

Oh Uncharted, my dear Uncharted, why hast thou forsaken me? Well, maybe that’s being a little harsh. I don’t mean to give the impression that I hated the game, or that it’s some kind of abomination. No, in fact, it’s actually a pretty well put together game. It has the things you’ve come to expect from an Uncharted game, witty banter, unbelievably realistic character movement, big set pieces, climbing, puzzle solving, terrible combat, and Indiana Jones esque story. Its big problem is the same that most of these late generation sequels are having in that it feels like a by-the-book rehashing instead of a wholly new experience. Developers are playing it safe instead of going out on a limb and trying to make something special. I’m not saying completely refocus what the Uncharted games are about, but sticking to a formula can come back and bite you in the ass, and it has in Uncharted 3.

My most basic problem with Uncharted 3 is that it is essentially Uncharted 2, except worse. I know that sounds like a really lazy, overly simplistic criticism, but hear me out. I’ll start with one of the largest, most important pieces to Uncharted, the story. This story is all fine until you really start to ask why it’s happening. None of the characters have sensical motivations, and if they do, you’re never exposed to them. The game starts off by giving the player some insight into Nathan Drake’s past where you play as him when he was a young orphan boy trying to steal the ring he always wears around his neck. It gives us the impression that maybe we will learn a little something about Nate throughout this story, maybe we will find out what really drives him to do the things he does, and why he can’t seem to stay in a relationship with Elena. It even lends some information on Sully and his past, but from there the game acts as if none of that matters, and the only real reason for that sequence was to establish the main Villain.

Don't know why I'm here, but it's cool cause I'm a Pirate

After this, the story goes off the rails. Nate, Sully, Chloe, and the new character Charlie are off finding new clues until Chloe and Charlie decide that they are suddenly in over their heads for some odd reason, and then they just exit the story completely. We never know what happens to them. Chloe just gives us a line about it being too dangerous or some nonsense and then that’s it, they’re done. From there Nate and Sully meet up with who else but Elena (of course), and go looking for more clues until Nate gets captured by a pirate who works for the bad dudes...because...you know...pirates are bad right? Then you play through a pretty awesome, but ultimately pointless section of the game at a shipyard with giant rusted ships everywhere. Then you go on a plane, wonder in the desert, find an arab dude, and then decide to stop the bad guys from getting the treasure because, what a surprise, it’s actually some horrible curse/power that no human should ever have access to.

It’s crazy. The game is basically the exact same game as Uncharted 2 except the characters have been through it all before, they should know better, and there is basically no reason for them to be doing anything they are doing. Why did Chloe and Charlie suddenly leave? What the hell is the purpose of that Pirate guy? How did Nate actually survive wondering through the desert? Why did some arab dude help him? Finally, why the hell did they even do any of this in the first place. I guess it could be because Nate wanted to find out more about his “ancestors”, or maybe it’s simply because he can’t help himself, but at one point Elena is even telling Nate it’s obvious what all this means, and he still keeps pushing for no apparent reason. It’s not that I’m totally opposed to what was happening in the game. In fact, would have been fine with everything if there was actually some explanation as to why these characters care, and why I should then care about them, but there was absolutely none of that.

Next, I hate the combat. It’s been three games and Naughty Dog still hasn’t been able to nail down the shooting, and it seems as if they didn’t even try to make it better in 3. Enemies still take too many bullets to kill, the aiming is still awful, the A.I. is still completely insane, and the hand to hand combat gets extremely old after the opening bar fight scene. I felt like every single shootout ended with me beating up a one of those big guys in hand to hand using the same 5 animations over and over again. Also, I’d like to add that I don’t mind a hard game, especially if it’s a shooter. I’m the guy who has beaten all the numbered Halo games on Legendary, a couple CODs on Veteran, and the Gears of War games on the hardest difficulty, but I still find Uncharted to be unfair in a really annoying way. It’s not that it’s so difficult I couldn’t beat it, it’s just that almost every death felt like the games fault and not my own. Realistically, I don’t come to Uncharted for its shooting, but when everything around it isn’t as top notch as it needs to be, its flaws really start to stand out.

This one doesn't look too bad, but believe me, it is.

I have a few minor complaints about the game in addition to the big ones. I don’t know why they felt they needed to change the way Elena looked, but her face was really distracting. In a game that is known for its great facial animation and realistic style, her face just completely broke all that illusion. Even if her face wasn’t completely messed up, I still feel it’s a bit strange to change drastically change the facial structure of a character that people have come to know over the course of two games. It just really seems odd that they would even spend time tweaking that part of the game.

Phew. Now that all that’s out there I’m going to conclude by saying I don’t hate the game. I actually had a pretty good time playing it, otherwise, I wouldn’t have spent an entire day playing through it in one sitting. I think the set pieces were even better than in Uncharted 2, and the whole wondering around in the desert thing simply looked amazing. I just really wish this game would have had something worthwhile in its narrative. I had really high hopes after the first couple chapters and seeing Nathan Drake as a kid, but after that it just went all downhill until I really didn’t care about the ending between Nate and Elena at all. I’m kind of sad to see this franchise possibly end on this note. I’d love to see another one of these games sometime in the future, but obviously not until Naughty Dog can come back to it with a fresh mindset.

Oh...you’re telling me I have 7 more categories to write about? Well, I better try to make these next few shorter.

Trauma Team

Right before I jumped into Uncharted 3 on Sunday I managed to finish up Trauma Team. I never played any of the previous Trauma Center games, and I heard Trauma Team was pretty good so I thought I’d give it a shot. The main reason I decided to play it was because it was an Atlus game, so I knew it’d be story focused, and it seemed unique. Actually, come to think of it, this is the first Atlus game I’ve actually played to completion. Unless of course you count watching other people play Persona 4.

Trauma Team definitely has that Japan feel to the story with overly dramatic characters, and dialogue that is unrealistically on the nose, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The characters are pretty interesting, and the story is pretty decent too. I will say I wasn’t wowed by anything, but I did enjoy myself. The story and characters are not up to snuff with other Atlus games though, and that doesn’t do it any favors when you consider what you’re actually doing in the game.

Every character has his or her own set of “let’s play doctor on my Wii” style mini games, while one of the characters is focused on diagnosing patients, and another focuses on solving how people died. In fact, I found the diagnosing and solving of deaths to be the most interesting part of the game, while all the other medical stuff eventually became tedious. Once I got to the end I wanted to just burn through it to see the story stuff, and the gameplay was more just an annoying hurdle I had to jump over to get to the next cut scene.

At the end of the day, I would probably recommend staying away from this game unless you know for sure you’re going to like it. If you aren’t hooked after playing as each of the characters, then stop playing it because chances are you may get annoyed and put it down even if you start off really enjoying the game like I did.

Day Z

This is such an odd game...if calling it a game by itself is even reasonable. This mod is one of those things you simply have to experience for yourself. Yes, the framework of Arma II isn’t exactly the best game to do the things you want to do in this game, but at the same time there isn’t another game that could spawn what Arma II has spawned. Even though the game doesn’t look all that great, and the movement and aiming is mediocre at best, there is an odd sense of realism Day Z that most video games cannot capture.

Yeah, it's goofy too.

Exposing human emotion in games is something that I am only just starting to see and it really excites me. I’m not talking about emotional story telling or a connecting with a franchise, but rather a play off of human emotions that can only be accomplished in games because it is something you are in direct control of. A game like Dark Souls requires a sort of self control of emotions in order to progress, and there’s a weird element to the game that forces you to play a game within your own psyche in order to actually get better and progress. A game like Journey gives you this strange sense of companionship that would never be achieved if you could wholly communicate with other players. There are moments in that game that make you feel as if you are actually on a journey with a companion in a way that can’t be accomplished in other media. I give these examples because, oddly enough, Day Z does something similar.

Although the world is not realistic looking, and actually moving in the world feels like as much of a game as it could, there’s something about the interaction with players in Day Z that accomplishes something I feel MMOs have been searching for for years. The world is alive in a strange way. There’s a sense that things are happening without you, that those things actually matter in that world, and at any moment you could stumble upon someone or something that may kill you just as easily as it may help you. Day Z captures that defining zombie universe trait of making you feel like you are actually in a Zombie apocalypse where survival is your only goal. It does this better than any other game because surviving really is the only goal, and you it is left up to you to figure out what the best way of doing that is.

I will admit, the game didn’t have enough systems at work to keep my interest for more than a few weeks, but the time I did spend with the game was truly amazing. It really gives me hope to one day play an MMO that feels new and exciting instead of the same old rehashing of systems with a new layer covering it. I truly think that games like this are the future of what we think of as MMOs. I’m really excited to see what this game can be when it is developed as a stand alone thing instead of just a mod for another game. I would recommend everyone try it out if they haven’t already, and give it some time to sink in if you are playing by yourself.

Doom

I finally finished the 360 version Doom on Ultraviolence. Now if only I can find someone to help me get the multiplayer achievements. I’m not going to spend long talking about this one because...well, it’s Doom, but I will say it holds up even after all these years. I played very little of Doom and Doom II back in the day because I was young and didn’t really know what I was doing with a computer. I’m glad to go back and have what is basically my first experience with Doom, and find that the game holds up remarkably well. If you haven’t played this game yet, get it on 360. It’s still great and it has achievements too :D

The Walking Dead Episodes 1 & 2

I’m not a huge fan of adventure games, I’ll say that right off the bat. I simply find the whole item combinations and tropes of most typical adventure games to be painfully boring. Thankfully, though, Telltale has found a way to eliminate the tedium, and focus on what can really make adventure games great. This is the first adventure game I think I’ve ever found myself really excited to play.

For me, the fact that this is a Walking Dead product doesn’t really make it any better or worse. I don’t hate zombies like some people do, and the show never really grabbed me, so my perspective coming in was just about as middle of the road as you can be. Once I started playing, though, I was hooked. I’m really excited to see what happens in the remaining three episodes, and I’m hoping the next one comes out soon.

It’s weird how Day Z and The Walking Dead are such different zombie games, and yet both capture that survivalist desperation, “man is actually your greatest enemy” thing. Day Z does it through a world that is alive and moving without you, and The Walking Dead does it through a fixed set of narrative events that show you the true horror of the zombie apocalypse while forcing you to make tough choices. Both are so different, and yet both are completely valid and great in their own way.

Dark Knight Rises

Yeah, I know, this is getting pretty long. I’m at about 2700 words at this point. I’ll definitely remember to do these more often so there aren’t as many things to discuss.

Batman. If there was one word to describe this movie, that’d be it. I say that because I feel like it is the best Batman movie in the trilogy, and probably the best one of all time. That being said, I still think The Dark Knight is the best movie in the trilogy, and is still up there in one of my favorite movies of all time, if for no other reason than the performance of Heath Ledger. I say all this because I really feel that Dark Knight Rises encapsulates everything that is Batman in the best way anyone could have imagined. The crippling start, the attempt at resurrection, the fall, the climb back to save the city, this movie was everything I could have wanted and more.

As I try to do with most media, I went into the theatre middle of the road. I loved the first two movies in the trilogy, but getting one’s hopes up will only set oneself up for a greater disappointment. I knew it might be great, or it might be middling, so I went in with no preconceived notions about the quality. That being the case, the first half of the movie kind of bummed me out. Batman was pretty much out of the picture, and I felt that it was less an actual Batman movie than either of the other two. I guess I knew he was going to come back in the end and save the day, but after the first half of the movie I felt like his return was going to be hamfisted and awkward. Little did I know setting my expectations in such a way was kind of the point (or at least that’s the way I see it).

The next half of the movie was simply amazing. I felt the whole thing came together brilliantly, and I pretty much have zero complaints about the ending. I actually teared up during the scene at the grave stones because of Alfred being so upset. I really felt bad for the guy. Truly, the only way I could have said the ending would have been better is if Alfred sat down to have his drink, looked up, smiled knowingly, and then cut to title card.

I could probably go into more detail as to why I really loved the movie, but considering this is already super long and supposed to be mainly about video games, I think i’ll just leave it at this. Dark Knight Rises brings a fitting end to what is, in my opinion, up there with the likes of Star Wars and LoTR as the best trilogies of all time.

The Amazing Spiderman

Now we move from a truly remarkable superhero movie, to an okay one. I won’t spend too much time on The Amazing Spiderman because, frankly, I don’t think it really warrents too much discussion. Spiderman was my favorite superhero back when I was a kid, but the previous Toby Maguire trilogy never really hooked me. I don’t consider this one to be any better than the first of the previous movies, but I feel they are both equal for different reasons.

Everything about the first Toby Maguire Spiderman movie was pretty good, but for some reason Spiderman just felt off. The opposite is true of this one. When I first heard that Andrew Garfield was going to be in this movie, I thought it was going to be a terrible fit. Surprisingly enough for me, he is the entire reason why this movie isn’t garbage. I found pretty much everything happening around Spiderman to be run of the mill and not terribly exciting, but I felt the wittier, cockier Spiderman really felt more like the Spiderman I know (yes personally, shhh, don’t tell anyone).

A Game of Thrones

And last but not least, I finished the first book in the ever so popular A Song of Ice and Fire series. I’m really itching to get onto the second book, but I’ve been putting it off because I know once I do I won’t put it down. The first book didn’t really hook me until the second half though. the first chapter was a nice lead in to things to come, but I felt the first half to three-fourths of the book was this elaborate drama filled dance of people doing irrational things for the sake of doing something irrational. Once Robert Baratheon died, things started to actually happen, and it got a lot better from there.

I’m actually really glad I read this book for reasons that actually have nothing to do with the actual book. My lack of enjoyment of the first half or so let me come to the realization that Lost (yes the show) ruined interpersonal drama for me. I actually really liked Lost, and it’s actually one of my favorite shows. The thing I hate about it though, is that there is a ton of random pointless drama that happens simply because characters don’t just do normal things any person would do like logically explaining a situation instead of giving arbitrary one off statements that hint at what’s happening. The show kind of made me jaded and picky about dialogue and character motivations. It’s the same reason I thoroughly dislike Mad Men, because that entire show is simply interpersonal drama for the sake of interpersonal drama (but that is an entirely different 3000 word post in and of itself).

It’s the same reason I disliked the first half of A Game of Thrones, because it was all petty drama almost for the sake of petty drama. I realize that the drama in A Game of Thrones creates some good character development and a thorough background into the lives of the people living in this world, there’s just something about it I didn’t like. Thankfully, it started to get better, and now I’m excited for the next book.

So, before anyone who reads this freaks out over my hating of Mad Men and such, I just want to clarify all this by saying I haven’t yet reach an articulate way of explaining why these certain shows and narratives, like Mad Men, really annoy me, while something like Breaking Bad draws me in and doesn’t let me go. Once I completely understand and can explain it, I’ll definitely write about it, but right now I have to end this insanely long blog post.

Next Time

I already have some things I know I’m going to be writing about for next entry. I have Mirrors Edge sitting right next to me waiting to be played. I might jump back into WoW because a friendly GiantBomb user was kind enough to give me one of those invites that gives you a free level 80 character. Plus, I haven't played that game in like 5 years, it might not be a bad idea to go back.

So, here’s the list of things you might see in the next Backlog Log Blog. As usual, let me know which of these games you feel I should play first.

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Learning How to Program Episode 4

So, I decided to change things up a little bit. I actually went back and rerecorded the first parts of my second and third episode to make the learning process a little bit easier for those who may watch this in the future, that way people aren't spending hours actually learning how to learn this stuff.

I actually made these two videos a few weeks back, but didn't get around to posting them. That being the case, Episode 5 will probably be right around the corner. I'm hoping to finish it before school starts next week, but we'll see.

Thanks to those that are watching. I'm getting at least a couple views on everything, so I'm glad to see at least someone is paying attention, even if they aren't actually using these videos for their purpose.

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Learning How to Program Episode 3

So here is the third episode of my learning how to program series. For everyone/anyone who watched the last episode, this one is much shorter. Also, I did realize after listening to the next lectures and doing this next problem set that the Week 2 Monday lecture should have been listened too along with PSet1. I think I'll go back and add a comment to my second episode just to make sure anyone watching knows in the future.

This episode delves deeper into C by actually using it to encrypt text. After completing this problem set there are some important concepts about command line arguments and functions that you should have a firm grasp of. There is definitely not as large of a learning curve for this problem set as there was for the last problem sets, but maybe that was just me. Regardless, the more I learn about this stuff the more excited I get to learn more, so I'm probably going to jump right into the next lectures after I'm done writing this.

In any case, I hope this at least helps one person who wants to get into teaching themselves to program. If you've tried before and failed, or just don't know where to start I hope I can give you a good jumping off point. Also, there are definite times where it feels like you're hitting a wall, and you just kind of want to give up, but if you walk away and come back and then just push past it you will feel and immense amount of satisfaction. If this is you're first time seeing this you can just go to my youtube channel or look at my other blog posts for the first episodes if you want to start off from the beginning.

So again, comment if you have any suggestions, and hopefully I will crank out the next episode a little faster than the 3 weeks it took me to get around to this one.

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Backlog Log Blog 7/6/2012

Like this awesome picture I made in about 1 min?

This past week has been pretty busy with all the 4th of July nonsense, relatives coming in from out of state, my sisters’ graduation party, and a bunch of other craziness going on. So, I haven’t really had time to play many games in over a week and a half, not that there’s really any games coming out now. In fact, other than Diablo III, this summer has been pretty much barren in terms of games. A great chance to dig back into the pile of games I have always wanted to get around to, but never really found the time to play. So along with the other stuff I’ve started doing this summer, I’m also going to start a sort of “log” (or as I decided to call it the “Backlog Log Blog”, because I’m an idiot who thinks he’s hilariously clever) of all the older games I have finally decided to play.

Whether anyone ever actually reads this or not, it’s at least going to be fun way to motivate me a little more to dig back into those games I’ve had sitting there, begging to be played for years. And it never hurts to document your thoughts and get some extra practice writing. So why don’t I stop explaining what I’m going to do (like always), and just get to it.

Batman Arkham City

Yes, this game isn’t even a year old yet, but it’s been one of those games I’ve been meaning to play for a while and just never seemed to get around to it. I had played the first 5 minutes when I first bought it about 2 months ago, but just never commited to playing it until recently. I don’t know if it was the excitement for the new Batman movie this summer or what, but I finally got that itch to jump back in.

I really liked Arkham Asylum. I wouldn’t say I loved the game like some people did, but I still consider it a surprisingly awesome game. As you probably know, Arkham City is basically the same game with an added open world element to it, and I still can’t decide whether or not that’s a good thing. The world is definitely bigger, and there is still a whole hell a of a lot to do, but the added openness didn’t cause the completionist part of me that obsessed over the first game to show itself. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been trained to ignore all the excess boring side missions in other games, but this game just didn’t hook me the way the first did.

Add the open world to the fact that the main storyline is much shorter than the original, and I couldn’t help but feel a small amount of disappointment after finishing the game. Of course I went back and finished all the side missions I hadn’t done, and don’t get me wrong, more of this kind of Batman game is pretty awesome. I just couldn’t help but thinking maybe they expanded the game in areas that didn’t really add to my enjoyment, and if anything, detracted from it.

Of course, at the end of the day, this is still an awesome game that everyone should probably play. With the combat just as fluid as always, the gadgets even more numerous and extensive than before, and the riddler trophies as addictive to completionists as any game, there’s really no reason not to play this game, especially if you liked the first.

Cryostasis

With Patrick Klepek constantly tweeting about his experience playing through the odd, freaky experience that is Amnesia: The Dark Descent (which I plan to play soon), I decided to play...Cryostasis? Yes, Cryostasis. Though my logic jump from Amnesia to Cryostasis isn’t all that apparent, I was pretty much wanting to play something unique with a slow pace and an eerie tone. Also, I recently heard Dave say something about Cryostasis being a game that freaked him out, so I decided to jump in.

I, for one, am not a person that gets scared all that easily. I’m occasionally a little freaked out by movies if I watch them by myself late at night, but I always have to forcibly put myself in the optimal environment in which to be scared if I want to really freak myself out. I guess it might be just be the fact that it’s really hard to suspend my disbelief when I’m watching a movie where people make the stupidest decisions. For instance, it always baffles me why characters in movies decide it might be a good idea to split up and search the bowels of some basement, cave, or spaceship when those who wander off by themselves have met nothing but a horrible, gruesome death throughout the entire movie. Of course, games are a little bit better because I’m actually the one controlling the character and making the decisions, but the graphical capability of video games is still not really at the point where I get scared all that easily.

That being said, there were a few times I was legitimately scared while playing Cryostasis. There was one particular part where I couldn’t really see where the things were coming from, but I could here them in the darkness, and hearing without seeing the enemies is almost always the way I get scared while playing games. However, the biggest problem I have while playing scary games is the eventual staleness of the situations. Once I’ve played the game for a few hours and understand the mechanics, as well as the methods in which the game trying to scare me, there’s really nothing left to be frightened by because I feel as though I have everything under my control. This is why I can’t wait to play Amnesia, because if there’s one game that could probably scare me it’d be that one.

Despite my inability to feel fear, I still had a really great time playing through the game. The story is pretty interesting right up until the end when it kind of disappoints (other than that I’ll try not to give any spoilers here), but the journey was a bit mysterious and odd in a way I liked while the storytelling was unique in a very interesting way. Actually playing the game was fairly fun, although occasionally frustrating, and they do some pretty cool things with tying the story to gameplay together.

Overall I would not suggest this game to everyone, but it’s definitely still worth playing for a select few. However, if you don’t have a fairly new computer, I’d probably steer clear. The game was known for its technical issues when it was first released, and now that the game is several years old those issues are going to be less noticeable for some, and painfully annoying for others. I build my computer about a year ago and the game ran perfectly up until the end of the game. I’m not exactly sure why it started doing this, but I had it crash on my every 5 minutes or so when an enemy would pop on the screen or when I would try to swing my cursor around really fast. This persisted for about one whole chapter until it suddenly just stopped. So just a word of caution to those of you who don’t have top of the line computers, it might be more of a headache than it’s worth.

The IT Crowd

I probably won’t spend too much time writing about non-game related stuff, but I will at least mention it if I think it’s worth mentioning, and The IT Crowd is definitely worth mentioning. All four seasons of the show are on Netflix and I finally decided to give it a try after Gary Whitta tweeted about the hilarity of one of the episodes. At first I was skeptical after I’d being thoroughly disgusted by the first episode of a similarly “nerd focused” show called Code Monkeys, but The IT Crowd is literally a billion times better than that awful piece of garbage.

For those that don’t know, The IT Crowd is a British comedy centered around three IT department employees of a large company. The characters are great, the situations are hilarious, and I really can’t recommend it enough. If you don’t have Netflix, well then what the hell are you doing, and if you do, you should go watch The IT Crowd.

Indie Game The Movie

Last but not least, Indie Game The Movie is a must see. Anyone with any interest in how games are made should definitely check this movie out, but most of you probably already know that, so let’s just leave it at that.

Next Time

That’s all for now, but I’m going to end each one of these things with a little preview for next time. I’m currently reading the book A Game of Thrones, so once I finish that I’ll probably write up some of my thoughts about the book and my expectations of the next one. As for games though, I’m not really sure what I’m going to play next. I will continue playing Diablo III, but I doubt anyone needs to hear anything about that game, and I might get back into Starcraft II if I have the time. I’ve really been itching to play as of late, and now that I have some people to play with I might jump back in. Who knows, maybe I’ll try something no one’s ever done before and make some youtube videos of me playing starcraft. Wouldn’t that be ever so exciting :D...

So, here are the games I may play next, if you have any suggestions or comments about which one I should choose, let me know. Many of these have been sitting there, waiting for me to play them for a while, so don’t be surprised if they’re old. Also, there will probably be a lot of JRPGs in there.

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