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Game and Book 2013

Last year I compiled a list of games as I completed them. I played a lot of games. I imagine I will do the same this year. However, as a means of diversifying my consumed media, I've decided that for every game I finish, I must also finish a book. Thus this list will be the game, with the corresponding book in the text field, and my impressions of both

List items

  • I'm not sure what to make of the game. I enjoyed a lot of the open world activities, but not much of the story. Eventually I kicked the game down to easy to facilitate my fucking around abilities, because often a tiger would show up an ruin everything. By the time I got to the end, I was glad I had made the change because there was nothing fun about fighting those heavies, and I never got that melee skill until right before the end, when it was almost useless to me.

    The book I read was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It is a steaming pile of shit. There is not an original idea in there (many passages are just descriptions of games and movies) and everything about it leads me to believe that the author is an insufferable asshole. Supposedly they're making a movie out of this, but all the necessary licensing issues should kill that project

  • It seems weird to claim to have finished a game like this, but I guess I'm using my S rank to draw that conclusion. It's boggle. It's alright.

    The corresponding book was The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. A fascinating look at the development of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the serial killer that happened to be operating there at the same time. A tremendously well researched story that is written with great narrative flair. Highly recommended

  • I started this game last year when it came out and let it sit right at the end for a while. So finally I decided to plow through the last little bit and finish it. It's an interesting game, but I feel that the combat is ruined by a reliance on your pawns that prove far too often to be unreliable.

    I read Invisible Monsters Remix by Chuck Palahniuk. Invisible monsters is my favourite book of all time, and this is it's first hardcover edition. The odd quirk about this 'remixed' version is that it isn't arrange in sequential order. Constant flipping back and forth is required. Weird, and not really the way I'd recommend reading it. Pick up the regular version. It's a great little yarn

  • What I discovered while playing this game is that I really didn't need another Dead Space. Its a fantastically well-made game, but it seems so rote for the most part, completely devoid of any real tension. The odd jump scare, but that was about it. I'm not going to complain about the action-y element of it because that seems to fall quite in line with how horror/sci-fi eventually ends up.

    I read The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. It was bad, as most Stephen King is. I wouldn't have been so disappointed with it had it not been marketed as a pulp crime novel, but since there is no actual crime in the book, no pulp/noir elements, or even an actual resolution, I feel very lied too

  • Surprisingly not terrible! I became irritated with my last venture into an EB Games and vowed to never shop there again. Unfortunately I still had about $10 in credit left, so I hopped on over to their website and found this gem for $4.99! It wasn't bad. It's kind of ugly by today's standards (and probably was by 2008 standards too, but I can't really adjust my mind to think in those terms) but it had some cool moments. The gunplay was alright, and the story, while hindered by some terrible voice work, is mostly inoffensive and moves at a brisk pace. You could do a lot worse, especially at that price.

    I finished reading Reinventing Gravity by John W. Moffat. I'm into physics, and figured this was a nice way to read some current material on potential Grand Unified Theories. I was wrong. It was boring. Apparently gravity is not that interesting of a concept, or force, to make me want to wade through a book focused on various models as applied to the universe and their pros and cons. I'm glad its out of the way, and now I know to stick with quantum physics or astrophysics only. Don't try and pick some middle ground to bridge the two

  • Game is awesome! Genuinely one of my favourite experiences of this generation. Great gunplay, cool set pieces, gorgeous world and some great voice work that helped bring the people to life. I won't get into dissonance because fuck dissonance. It's a video game. You're supposed to kill shit

    I read Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevksy. It solidified in my mind that Tolstoy is by far the better writer. This book is the ramblings of a self-important asshole. And any time I read a book with a character so close to my own, I hate it (see: Catcher in the Rye). Supposedly this is an important book in the development of post-modern writing and existentialism, but fuck that. I loathe those to attach themselves so firmly to a philosophy that they use it as a self-identifier and this book reminds me of those types of people

  • This game is a mix of DMC style hack n slash, anime absurdity and truly inventive 2D platforming sections. Unfortunately it is also marred by some astonishingly awful 3D platforming, hindered by poorly chosen fixed camera angles. Come for the ridiculous spectacle. Throw your controller for the imprecision!

    I read the novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. It left me confused. At first, it was the multiple occurrences of the word 'moron' used in manner that has become outdated. Then I became confused at the target audience for it. There are some mentions of physics and religion and other things that young adults aren't necessarily into, yet the majority of the story seemed very much written for that age range. It's similar to how I view Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

  • A run of the mill character action (ugh) game with one conceptually interesting boss encounter. Not worth the praise nor the slander that people seem to heap upon it. Dante always is, was and shall be a dipshit antihero.

    I just finished The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva. I was recommended to me a few years ago by a lady that claimed this was her favourite book. I will read almost anything, and I'm always curious about the literary tastes of people, so I gave it a go. I'm not usually a spy thriller type of guy, and I think this books exemplifies why. I have a very hard time reconciling events that place in a realistic setting against the real world. In this case, its the spy who recruits a famous model, who is also a former spy, to help him on a mission. I just can't take it seriously when they expect me to buy a cover story that expects me to believe that this woman who is on magazine covers won't get recognized for who she is when she goes undercover. There are other issues I had, but not so much that I hated it. It was a light read and helped pass the evening, and there are much worse things to be said about a book.

  • There isn't much I could say about this game that hasn't already been said. I think Ken Levine pulled off the greatest sleight of hand trick video games has seen since MGS 2.

    I read two books that I will attach to this. Not because they relate thematically, but because they were both short. The first was A Sociopath Beside Me by Junie Moon.I had assumed this would be a stirring account of discovering that your spouse has been committing unspeakable acts. Instead, its half rhetorical questions about where she failed and half story being told to you by someone as they rush out the door to catch a bus. The details that would have made this compelling are completely absent. Instead we get a brief overview of what her husband did and not much insight into her life with him.

    The second book was Beatrice and Dante by Yann Martel. This was an interesting story about a guy who just meets a taxidermist with a secret. I won't say what it was, but it involves the writing of a play and the books author protagonist offering helpful advice to the troubled play write.

  • Terrible. I already filled this one out, but something went wrong and it didn't save. All I can remember is that on the last level my character loaded in weird, and any time I went to iron sights, his head was blocking the retical.

    The book was Janissaries by Jerry Pournelle. It was an interesting mix of alternate history and sci-fi. The quality of the writing was spotty, and it contained one of the most poorly written female characters I can remember

  • This game was pretty underwhelming, even by my own low expectations. I think the biggest flaw is the level design. Every level is a very linear crawl, fight some enemies, move to next area. Nothing exciting happens and then it's over.

    I read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I didn't really know much about it, but while reading it I couldn't help but get the sense that this is some sort of precursor to Harry Potter and Hunger Games type stories, although with more racism. I enjoyed it, but I don't know that I want to go down the path of any more books in the series

  • Other than guns and 'splosions, I didn't know much about the game. I had heard good things about the guns and 'splosions, so when this went up on XBLM back in 2008 (wait, really? It took me 5 years to beat this?) I bought it. It was better than I was expecting since it was not just a shoot-the-red-thing shooting gallery like some have said, and while the level design is nothing amazing, it does pre-date COD4, so it's interesting to see how games handled modern FPS in the good old days. And holy shit have we gotten soft! I played it on easy as I just wanted to get through the game, and while I didn't die a lot, it certainly took a lot more effort to gun down enemies (who are sponges to anything that isn't a headshot) than a current game would, and not having recharging health takes some getting used to. There were several moments in the later levels that had me down to near death and peaking around corners pot-shotting the last machine gunner or rocket launcher. Fortunately the AI is kind of terrible!

    I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, largely inspired by movie trailers that use "No Church in the Wild" by Jay-Z and Kanye West. It was quite different than what I expected. I went into it thinking it was a story about a larger than life figure (which it is to a certain extent) and the crazy adventures he had. Instead I got a depressing look at the shallowness of people and the lengths to which people will go to be loved and meet the status quo.

  • Playing a pc game that was designed for the console, on a pc supporting only m/k, using a game pad adapting program, is not fun. Aside from that, this game does not play well with new versions of windows (anything past XP), so it required a lot of workarounds on my part which gave me my truest pc gaming experience I have had in years. As such, my complaints about the controls and camera have more to do with how I tried to bend the game to my will as opposed to the other way around. The combat is kind of terrible, and given how often they will just swarm you with enemies, I have no idea why they though a lock-on/blocking/dodging system of melee combat would be a good idea. Trying to deal with constantly blocking enemies is a major pain when fighting 6 guys at once. This was easily the least enjoyable of the three main Fable games, and a lot of that has to do with playability, and the vulgar charm didn't really come through like it does in the follow-ups. I opted not to do The Lost Chapters quests because I had had more than enough of this game by the time I got to the end

    I read the Crippled God by Steven Erickson, which is the final instalment of his Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Not quite to catastrophic finish I was expecting as way more characters survived than anticipated, but a satisfying end the decade long journey I took as each new story was released

  • Awesome. I started this game in July of 2011 and I only just finished it in May of 2013. I lost focus. Anyway, this was really great. The only complaints I have are the awful chase sequences, which are fortunately quite short and only pop up a few times, and that the shotgun is almost worthless. I'm not quite sure why I have to have a pinpoint target retical on an enemey if he is right in front of me, but I probably missed more shots with that gun than I hit.

    The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larson. A note to all authors: end your fucking stories. When I finished this, I had assumed my ereader hat cut off a few pages. It literally stops in the middle of the action. So I went to the next book to see how it starts, and it is pretty much at the exact same point. So I now I have to read the third one to get some closure and get these poorly written characters out of my life for good. Second note to authors: don't put technical specs for computing technology in your work. Larson keeps mentioning the specs of any computer that pops up in the story. And this supposed beast of a machine that the titular Girl uses seems so ridiculously out of date by this point. Save the direct comparisons and just say it's a good machine

  • I've never played an RE game before, and after this I have no intention of ever touching another. This is borderline unplayable garbage. Also notable for really bad boss fights that game me poor indication of whether or not I was actually doing anything effective to it. On the plus side, the cut scenes looked really good. More developers probably should have used letterboxing to decrease the amount of rendering that needed to be done. Although there's not much point in complaining about it at the end of the console cycle.

    Girl who kicked the Hornets nest by Steig Larson. The increased quality of this novel over the previous two is mind blow. Worth reading for an amazing courtroom witness testimony scene towards the end

  • Great game. Incredibly atmospheric and they really nail the feeling of isolation. It's like Dead Space if all their tension came from the tone instead of monster jumping out of vents. Great puzzles too. The most enjoyable puzzle game I've played since Braid.

    The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. I don't much care for Dan Brown as a writer, yet for some reason I have read all of his books (note: note the brand new one, Inferno). I will admit that I enjoyed Angels & Demons a great deal, and would probably list it as the best thriller I have read. This is no A&D. There's nothing terrible wrong with the book, but there was a huge plot twist that you could see coming a mile away which made it impossible to suspend disbelief.

  • I want to like this game a lot more than I actually do. The story stuff was interesting, but very seldom was the path to get you there. I found the combat mostly inoffensive, save for the poltergeist items, which I'm sure seemed like a much cooler idea than it turned out to be. And the boss fights never felt like a challenge. Oh, and Alice Wake has some of the worst facial animations I have seen in recent memory. She looked like one of the marionettes from Team America

    C is For Corpse by Sue Grafton. Very different from what I expected from a forced series of books with one entry for each letter of the alphabet. It reads very much like TV show where the PI is suddenly injected into the lives of people in her city and she solves a mystery. My only complaint is that I wished there was an Agatha Christie style wrap-up of the case at the end, because when it was all said and done, although I knew who did it, I never quite understood why

  • Ooooh, fuck this game. It's beautiful, but it gets so unfun and frustrating towards the end of it. I couldn't wait to get this thing deleted from my hard drive

    A is For Alibi by Sue Grafton. A nice, easy summer read. Everything I said about her other book still applies

  • It was fine for mindless entertainment, but it didn't really seem to satisfy the itch that that genre sets out to. A lot of the appeal of the loot is absent by virtue of there being no cosmetic change to your character with each piece. Though considering it was completely free, I can't really complain about it. The other problem I had was with the random way it would group you up. There was a few bosses I encountered solo which became battles of attrition as I would die, respawn, run back and do a little damage, die, repeat. However I got grouped up with two guys for the final boss and it was a cakewalk. I don't think they handled scaling well, if they even do it at all.

    The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard MLodinow. Much more enjoyable than my last foray into physics books. Very simple to understand while remaining fascinating the entire time. No easy feat, so props to the authors for pulling it off

  • This was fantastic experience, but not so great of a game. I thought the characters were great, and the way relationships were developed was nicely handled, but sneaking around shanking zombies was never not boring. Save for one or two really tense moments in the combat (hotel basement being one of them) the scenarios were either 'easily sneak around' or 'hoards rushing at you, but the gun-play isn't up to dealing with it effectively." Still worth a playthrough.

    The Last Wish by Andrejz Sapkowski. I've fallen into a Vinny-style Witcher hole. At the time I write this, I have already finished The Witcher 2 and and half-way through the first game. I love the universe, and I think the way it incorporates fairy tale elements and playes with genre conventions is fascinating. I'm just having a hard time reconciling the business-like indifference that Geralt approaches everything with to the fuck anything element of his actions. There's your ludonarrative dissonance

  • A halfhearted attempt at a Modern Warfare style campaign, that seem to lack much of a narrative, and worse, fun.

    False Gods by Graham McNeill. In addition to my Witcher hole, I'm also in a Warhammer 40K hole. This is the second book in the Horus Heresy series. I like it for what it is even though it is very bare bones story telling. Not a lot of flowery language but rather constantly moving the plot forward. I really just want to see the heresy unfold

  • What a great game! The third act is a little short and underwhelming, but the world and characters from the first two chapters are great. I love the slightly off fairy-tale world Geralt lives in, and now hold The Witcher 3 as my most anticipated game of next year

    Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter. Third book in the Horus Heresy Series. Read what I said about the previous book

  • Another wonderful game. This game does so much with so little. And much like The Witcher, it seems to take place and a fairy-tale world. The game offers very little in the way of impediment of player progress, but the goal here is clearly to tell a story about family hardships.

    The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow. This is probably the last of the Horus Heresy books that I will read. I did not enjoy this one. The author's writing style seemed overly wordy for what he was trying to convey. On top of that, nearly half of this book is a re-telling of events from the previous book, but based around a different character.

  • One of the creepiest games I have ever played, and also one of the most moving. A remarkable piece of story telling via player detective work. Really something special

    I read a collection of short stories by Denis Johnson called Jesus' Son. They're about junkies. Yay

  • They tried to make Gears of War. That wasn't a good idea. I would love to know how much of the direction that this game took was related to Syfy's involvement.

  • I loved the first half of this game. It was magical. The the second half really stunk up the place. Plus there was a boss you have to fight twice that I'm still not sure what I was supposed to be doing to effectively deal with it

  • I was insane like a Kojima game, but told like someone who understands story structure!