Monthly Archives: February 2014

Games I’m playing, rambling edition

This was a bit of a binge play games weekend, including trying out a few that I’ve had for a while but never gotten around to. I have a (flexible) ban on new games till I finish the ones I’ve got, so I played FTL for a bit before I realized that I would never, ever beat it and would only be frustrated trying. Strategy games, whether turn based or real time, just aren’t my strength and I generally don’t enjoy them. So I watched a friend stream his win on a game and then deleted it, feeling not at all guilty. It’s a great game with a lot of charm, and I suspect if I DID enjoy those games I would have played the hell out of it.

I played a little bit of Swapper as well, streaming it for Ch00 and spending most of that time saying: “This isn’t scary, nothing is wrong here, this is completely normal,” as giant space rocks talked to me. Not creepy at all, right? This game is right in my wheelhouse, though. Physics puzzlers speak to my soul, right down to the root of it.

On my iPad, I’m reluctantly playing Limbo. It is an unbelievably gorgeous game, and I enjoy it, but the controls are crap (or possibly I’m crap at controlling the game). As a result, this has been my experience thus far:

limbo death by bear trap limbo death by spider limbo water death

 

The issue is that to jump you slide your finger up on the screen, and to move you hold your finger on the side you want to move to. So sometimes you’ll be trying to jump and instead you’ll just trot merrily to your death by water, bear trap, spider, spike. There’s enough things trying to kill you without having a hard time because you can’t jump… the spider (pulling off its leg, UGH) alone will give me nightmares for the rest of my days. But it’s so lovely that I want to keep playing it. Afterwards, I have Year Walk on tap. They seem like they’d complement well. Year Walk is actually prettier, I think, and I understand it becomes atmospherically oppressive.

I also finished Bioshock — I was literally 5 minutes from the ending the last time I played, wish I had known. The final boss fight was shockingly easy. Frank Fontaine, you got nothing on my monster, messed up self. The ending was sweet. Started Bioshock 2 and let me just add my voice to the greek chorus lamenting companies that don’t keep controls the same across a series. The F key in Bioshock, for example, was for first aid. The E key was to interact. E to interact is pretty common, I could get behind that. Now, the F key is to interact, and control to use a health pack, which is an annoying placement that drove me insane. I’m aware that you can remap keys, by the way. I just don’t understand the rational behind the change. The game itself is…good? I like Rapture, a lot. I’ll miss it something fierce in the next installment. I love wandering around and listening to the journals and eavesdropping on splicer conversations. Delta is loud as hell, though, so every time I walk, brush up against something, jump — BREATHE — I think there’s someone sneaking up behind me. The shadows don’t help. What I wouldn’t give for a damn in game flashlight, friends.

I DO like that I don’t have to switch back and forth between plasmids and weapons. I DON’T like that the plasmid hand shows on the left and yet uses the right button to fire. I remain bad at switching weapons/ammo in the heat of the moment.

Tonight I’m finishing up Dead Rising, and I will miss this game when it is gone. Next comes Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, and I’m excitedly waiting for Jordan’s complete annoyance at the fact that I will LOVE this game but still not like other shooters, even though the mechanics appear to be the same. I didn’t love the Plants v. Zombies 2 iOS edition because it was so damn grindy compared to the original, but this is not a game with inapp purchases so it should be fineeeeee. I already see myself as all sunflower, all the time.

More navel gazing

Earlier, I was navel gazing on liking problematic things. I started writing a post on it, as if my opinions on these things mattered. I’m not devaluing my voice here, I just don’t have anything new to add to the conversation. I decided the right thing to do would be to delete the five paragraphs of nonsense and talk about other things.

1) I finished Jane Eyre and felt an echo of my teenage rage over it. Jane is this great early feminist character, you know? She makes choices not based on what society would think of her but what she would think of herself, and acts accordingly. And ok fine she apparently really loves Rochester for whatever reason, but he’s an ass. He figures that if he just explains to Jane why he tried to trick her into a life of bigamy and why his marriage doesn’t count, she’ll just fall into line. “I’m being reasonable. I’m a GOOD GUY.” He may have been blindsided by Bertha’s insanity (which a footnote intriguingly informed me was likely caused by syphilis! Wikipedia concurs.), but he also married her out of pure lust. That marriage counts, dude, no matter her mental status.

And then there’s St. John, who I hated like no one else in this whole book. Here’s why — if I thought he was representative of something that existed in Jane Eyre’s England but not today, I might roll my eyes and move on. But no, St. John can still be found today in any forum where woman might dare to speak for themselves and make choices that don’t fall into line with his morality. OBVIOUSLY not all men are like this, but his archetype hasn’t disappeared. It’s been nearly 200 years and people are still the same. That’s the gift of great literature, I guess, to remind us that at our core people are still assholes.

Now I’m reading Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon. I haven’t read a single book by him I didn’t adore — The Adventures of Kavelier and Clay was amazing, of course, but so was Mysteries of Pittsburgh. And Wonder Boys haunted me for months. I’m only about 30 pages in but it already does what those other books did to me: make part of me feel like I’m drifting through that world. The scholarly parties and strange little bar of Wonder Boys, the apartments and streets and cloud factory in Mysteries of Pittsburgh…part of me is already entrenched in Brokeland, wandering around.

 
2) I am about to restart playing FTL and hoping to actually beat it. Strategy games are not in any way my strength — turn based or real time, doesn’t matter (there’s a reason that my simcities were always destroyed by natural disasters. Spawned by me) (and also, in Civ, I’d always cheat so the city states around me would be working on bowmen and I’d have freaking nuclear weapons) (the one time I tried to play starcraft I gave up in disgust). But! FTL is charming and I WANT TO WIN. I have only 2 ships unlocked and also I always end up boarded by aliens and fire in every room and my cloaking system nonexistent. DAMNIT. My FTL escape game is going to be the Hidden World, which I started and liked but found baffling. I got a worm drunk, first of all. And bargained with a garbage seller for some garbage that turned out to be, wait for it, garbage. Games that are bonkers speak to my soul, which perhaps says something about the state of my soul. Sorry, years of Catholic schooling, you never quite feared the bonkersness out.

 

3) I’m getting to the bottom of my book backlog which means NEXT I get to buy a bunch of books mentioned in Among Others, and also another Jo Walton book. And also, after all these years, I’m going to read Lord of the Rings. I NEVER DO THINGS ON TIME. I always am years too late, like some kind of reverse hipster. I don’t even hop on the bandwagon when it’s hot, I wait till it cools right down. I LIKED THAT AFTER IT WAS COOL, suckers.
God. I’m insufferable.

 

4) Wandering around leveling in Dead Rising, I was chatting with Uggs about history. I admitted that I have some major lapses of historic knowledge, and that my mother somewhere was shaking her head sadly at me. He teaches science and civics out in the boonies of Canada, and was telling me some funny stories about Canadian history. Here’s what I wish more of my history teachers had done over the years: show how hilarious history is. It’s heartbreaking, and momentous, and important. But it’s also HILARIOUS. There’s a reason why Hark! A Vagrant is so great (aside from Kate Beaton’s art and writing) (which obviously are both amazing). Her love of history shines through, and with it her ability to see how absurd much of it is. It’s comforting, right? Someday all of this nonsense will seem absurd too, to some future generation. I hope, anyway.

And then I learned about the electric crusher.

I’m a video game completionist, and Jordan is definitely NOT. Since he’s tolerating my outlandish outfits with some sort of grace, I’m tolerating the “finish the storyline” mentality, which is why we were only level 20ish when we hit the last chapters. Then, two great things happened.

 

One, I found my newest outfit, which actually Jordan may hate more than ALL the other outfits combined, including the daisy dukes and daisy dukes top. And the cocktail dress. And the summer dress (the latter two he outlawed, but I actually wouldn’t have worn them anyway. I have SOME taste). I found it, crowed enthusiastically, and immediately hightailed it to find him. “Oh my god, that’s AWFUL,” he said. “I’m shooting away and fuck if it’s not a knight in shining armor. SERIOUSLY?” If only I could keep the go-go boots with it…

Knight in shining armor

 

But that pales, I have to say, in comparison to a major discovery I made. The electric crusher, a combo weapon we found relatively early, seemed weak to me. After all, it would take a swing or two to kill a zombie and I could one shot them with the pummel blast. Plus it knocks out friendly targets. I’d get pissed at myself for accidentally picking it up from the weapons locked instead of something I would find more useful, like the Grim Reaper (an endless favorite).

BUT THEN. We were hanging out in the subway because that’s a fun place to be stuck in a zombie apocalypse. And psychotic bikers lock us in because they have some sort of GRUDGE that we broke up their little gang and killed their leader DAYS ago. To get back out of the metro, we’ve got to cobble together some sort of power system, and the place is swarming with zombies (go ahead, make your own joke about not being that different from an average commute, I’ll wait). And I don’t want to waste my pummel blast, since I figure we’re going to have to kill the insane bikers soon, so I take out the electric crusher. And after a minute I notice something. THIS WEAPON has an aoe. That jumps from zombie to zombie. I could take out an entire horde of them with a few swings. And I’d get combo points building up and suddenly I’d be getting a level in about ten minutes of horde killing. And I fell a little bit in love with the electric crusher that day, friends. A little bit in love.

 

electric crusher

 

If there is ever a zombie apocalypse, I’ll be searching out a car battery and sledgehammer and performing some arcane rites of magic that make this thing real.

 

We’re on the last chapter now, and the game stuttered here. There’s never been a point, up until now, that I found it pointless or boring. But suddenly we’re chasing drones from spot to spot in the city, and it’s just tedious. It’s not hard, or scary, or entertaining. Just a slog. But we want that good ending cheeve, so…onward.

 

 

Dead Rising

Cape Cod continues stormy — blizzards and all. When the power is on, I’ve been reading Jane Eyre, which suits itself well to winter weather. Howling winds are a good accompaniment to a gothic novel — and Jane Eyre is creepier than I remembered. The opening scene of the book stayed with me from reading it in high school. I remembered young Jane in the window seat tormented by her cousins and then petrified by what she imagines is an angry ghost of her uncle, struck ill by her terror. But the meat of the book was a bit foggy. I enjoy the re-read more than I thought. I’m nearly done — Jane’s preparing for her wedding with a vague, and prescient, sense of foreboding. Poor Jane.

Meanwhile, still chipping away at Dead Rising 3 with Jordan. This is a bit jarring!  “You know,” Jordan said, “This game could have a great storyline if it wasn’t so silly.” But Jordan, consider. If it hadn’t been silly, I wouldn’t be dressed like this:

image 2

And you wouldn’t be killing a zombie with a tennis ball turret.

 

image 3

 

Dead Rising works because it doesn’t take itself seriously. If it tried to, it’d fall flat on its face. The core storyline isn’t awful — the town we play in is infected with whatever caused the zombie virus (unclear). It was pretty catastrophic — everyone from policemen to high school athletes are part of the ravening horde. There’s some sort of chip that is supposed to keep people safe, but it’s failing, and the town’s shut off from the rest of the world by the government, despite promises of rescue by the uninfected. So, ok, there’s a halfway decent, unfleshed out storyline! But the writing isn’t superb — it’s not Last of Us. And the graphics aren’t groundbreaking, despite it being next gen. And like most video games, there are plenty of problems with misogny, etc. So, it can’t stand alone – if it wasn’t for the humor, I’d find it boring. But it’s funny, and I can play dress up and annoy the hell out of Jordan, so I love it.

Magicka

kul

So here’s how it goes. There are a ton of little mobs running around (in this case, little gremlin looking things that a) turn invulnerable and b) have a push back) and we were on islands. I was very, very focused on killing these little jerks when I realized that… well.

lol

It wasn’t the first time that I killed Ch00. It’s a game with friendly fire. Death’s inevitable. He’s killed me plenty, which is no big deal because a res is quick and it’s easier to res your pal than it is to recast the charged spell you’re holding. BUT! it was the first time I had so single-mindedly done so, and I definitely laughed so hard I was laughing silently, that kind of open mouth gasping laugh.

Magicka was the perfect starter for game nights. It’s a forgiving game that’s clearly capable of a lot if you’re more skilled than I am — I don’t use most of the more advanced combos, and I still mash lightning beam as my main attack. I like a game with a sense of humor, and if I roll my eyes at some of the pop culture references I’m charmed by others.  Throw enough jokes at a wall and at least some should stick, right?

 

We’re not quite through with it, and I only recorded gameplay from the second half due to poor planning, so there’s a few more coming. Next we’re playing Castle Crashers  and then King Arthur’s Gold.

 

 

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