Archive for ‘April, 2012’
So last week I took my sort-of annual vacation to Florida, to enjoy an early week of summer with the fam. If you spend the winters in New England, you know how precious a solid week’s worth of Vitamin D can be in mid-March. When I got back, the weather was appropriately crappy (40 degrees Fahrenheit and rainy… you know the drill), but it was the perfect opportunity to finish Mass Effect 3!
Man, would I love to talk about the ending. I want to keep things SPOILER FREE here, though, out of respect for those who haven’t gotten there yet. I realize I’m probably one of the last to finish it anyway, but just in case, I will not be spoiling things. I would, however, like to share a few of my thoughts, and I’ll be as vague as possible.
Firstly, I didn’t hate the ending. For those of you who do hate the ending… I know, I know. I see your points. But let me explain. I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to a product I adore. It takes a lot to turn me sour. The ending of “Lost” was the last thing to awaken hatred in me, and I’m sure a few of you share my sentiments there. But my gut reaction to ME3′s ending was not one of ire. Yes, it was abrupt. And yes, upon further reflection, there are a LOT of loose ends. But I kind of feel like I was getting closure throughout the entire game, at least with regard to my favorite characters, so when it came to the end, it was just “The End,” and that was that.
Having said that, I was still very curious to see what everyone had been saying so far about the ending. What was all the ruckus about? It didn’t take me long to find plenty of info about something I will refer to as “IT.” I figure that’s vague enough for those of you who don’t know. And for those of you who do know… well, you know, don’t you?
At first I was skeptical, but after reading waaaaaaayyy too much about IT, I’ve gotta admit: I’m a believer. There are a bunch of clues throughout (too many to ignore), and it involves a piece of Mass Effect lore that is not only prevalent, but central, to each Mass Effect game. Honestly, my hope is that they’ve been planning this all along, and aren’t simply changing stuff to appease fans. Remember two weeks ago, when I wrote somewhat coherently about narrative in games, and how the great games use narrative in ways that other media cannot? Well, if IT is accurate, Mass Effect will end up as one of my all-time favorite games. Let’s face it; even with the current ending, taken as a whole, Mass Effect is already one of my favorite game franchises. Second only to Half-Life. If IT proves true, I may have to re-evaluate. Seriously. Although, when Half Life 3 comes out, that may shake things up all over again.
For those who think IT is a bunch of paranoid nonsense, I understand. Bioware keeps saying that they’re not going to change the ending. But then again, if they’re moving according to plan, then they’re not really changing anything, are they? Look… I know it’s a lot to swallow, but we have two options here: either the writers knocked it out of the park for hundreds of hours of content over several years and then somehow borked it all (forgetting half the lore they’d built up previously) within the last 15 minutes of their creation… OR they’re using their otherwise top-notch game to take the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format to a whole new level. I prefer to believe the latter.
Really, the thing that sells me on it is the ending you get if you maxed out your Galactic Readiness (or whatever the heck it’s called) and then pick the “What Would Anderson Do?” option. That really tells me that they have something up their sleeve. And think about it… Bioware has admitted they’re coming out with DLC within a month or so that will “clarify” the ending. It takes a long time to produce game content. The backlash is only a few weeks old. There’s no way they could cobble content together and release it as DLC this quickly if they were only doing it to appease fans. They’ve been working on it for a while. And if you follow their Twitter feeds and interviews, you’ll notice how damn coy they’re being. I’ll give you a few links; this one is from early February, an interview with Mike Gamble in Eurogamer. And here’s another interview with Mike Gamble in 360 Magazine, also from February. This quote in particular is interesting: “There are risks involved in how you get there or how you completely not get there.” Food for thought. And here he is in Gamerzines, telling us to hang on to our finished game saves. Also, here’s a statement on Bioware’s site from Ray Muzyka.
I guess we’ll know for sure in a few weeks. Hold the line, people.
On a completely unrelated note… who’s going to PAX East this weekend!? I am, that’s for sure. I’ll be the svelte, bald-headed guy with glasses, searching for the Supergiant Games booth, so I can score me a sweet “Bastion” t-shirt. I will also be playing arcade games in the Classic Arcade room. You can pretty much count on that. If I remember my camera, I’ll take pictures!
Oh, and one more thing… THIS.
I blame PAX East. They aren’t here to defend themselves, so it’s the best option for me, at this point.
Yes, I had today’s Circuit written, but I went to Boston yesterday for PAX and didn’t leave myself enough time to actually finish the strip for today. I am sorry. It’s very funny, I think. It will definitely be there waiting for you on Wednesday.
PAX was awesome, by the way. I only had a few hours there, so I didn’t go to any panels, but I took some pictures and got some boss T-shirts. More on Wednesday.
Did anyone get to PAX this past weekend? I’m lucky enough to live within 2 hours from Boston, so I got to drive down for the day on Sunday and check it out. Of course, there was a ton of stuff that I wanted to do, but didn’t have time for; this includes the Classic Arcade room. I’m so, so, sorry, Classic Arcade room. How was I to know you were closing at 4:00? Yes, that was a tough loss for me. However, it does give me extra incentive to trek to the American Classic Arcade Museum in Laconia, New Hampshire, this year. I’ve been before, a couple years ago, but it’s high time I made the trip again. If you live even remotely close to Laconia, please do yourself a favor and go as soon as possible. ACAM are the ones who put together the Classic Arcade room at PAX East, and the machines they have there are a tiny sample of what they have. There are hundreds of games at the Museum in New Hampshire! Dig Dug, various Donkey Kong and Pac-Man iterations, Frogger, Asteroids, Space Invaders… the list goes on and on. There’s also a good amount of pinball machines there as well, though that’s not really my thing (I like playing pinball okay; I just happen to suck). You do have to pay to use the machines, but if you get a big-enough handful of tokens (and of course you will), it costs slightly less than 25 cents to play any game. American Classic Arcade Museum. Laconia, NH. You won’t be sorry.
Back to PAX East… though I didn’t hit any panels this year (no time, unfortunately), I got to spend some quality time in the Expo. There was a respectable amount of cosplay going on… I saw a Khajit!
And I saw Joffrey get punked by Jon Snow!
Jesus was also there. Not cosplay Jesus. If cosplay Jesus was there, I missed him. Or maybe I mistook him for a homeless guy. KIDDING! Jesus is everywhere, that goes without saying, but I mean specifically, Jesus was there in poster form.
What’s that he’s holding? That’s right! An XBox controller. Could be for PS3, maybe, but I’m going by the color. His headset is pretty fly, too.
Let’s see, what else… oh yeah. Drizzt Do’Urden was there, with his loyal Guenhwyvar. No big deal.
I got a couple killer T-shirts; one at The Behemoth booth for a new game called “Battleblock Theater,” which comes out later this year. And I got a “Binding Of Isaac” shirt at the Team Meat booth! I’m pretty pumped about that one.
Some skeleton totally tore up this guy’s rig…
I saw a zombie conga line…
I wish I would’ve taken a better picture of this…
Also there was this…
But the thing I was happiest about was that I got to go to the Supergiant Games booth! You know… those cool cats behind “Bastion,” the best action RPG in recent memory? They were totally awesome dudes, and I’m really happy for them. I can’t wait to see what they do next. Alas, I was too late to score a T-shirt in my size, but lucky for me (and you) their website still has some.
All told, I had a great time this year, even though I didn’t have a ton of time to spend there. Next year, I think I’ll try to do it right. Take some time off from work, get a 3-day pass, go to some panels, some shows, and next year I swear I’ll check out some of the tabletop games. I told myself I was going to do it this year, but I simply ran out of time.
I leave you with one final picture. It’s me and my pal Greg, hangin’ with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I’m the bald guy on the left, sporting the ill-fitting New California Republic t-shirt. See you next year, PAX!
Okay… first up: If you haven’t seen the new Prometheus viral video, watch it right now!
[UPDATE: I noticed this video is no longer accessible via the YouTubes. After much needless digging, I was able to find a proper link to the video here: https://www.weylandindustries.com/site/david Come on, Comcast... there's a difference between protecting your IP and undermining your own promotional campaign. This was intentionally produced as a "viral" video. It can't be "viral" if you destroy every link to it and no one can watch it. Don't be stupid.]
I recommend watching it in HD if you can. It looks glorious. Every time I find a tidbit about Ridley Scott’s latest project, I get more and more excited. Just judging from the quality of these viral quickies alone, it seems like Ridley very much has an affection for the material and the lore behind it. I really enjoyed this short, even more so than the last one. Which was nothing to sneeze at. Unless you’re allergic to movies. In which case… I pity you. As much as I like the tone and setting of “Alien,” from what little I’ve seen so far, I like “Prometheus” even more. As much as “Blade Runner,” possibly. We’ll see… I don’t want to jinx it. I am more than cautiously optimistic, however.
Second up: There’s a running joke among my friends and I that involves a cartoon character I haven’t fully developed yet; his name is Robot Hipster. I went so far as to buy the rights to RobotHipster.com, and if you happen to follow me on the Twitters, you’ll see that I will occasionally post with the hashtag #RobotHipster. So far, I haven’t gotten it past the “funny idea” stage, other than a few concepts for a single panel strip and some amusing quotes from Robot Hipster him(it)self. But yesterday my hilarious and talented friend Krister was bored enough to create and send me his very own “fan art” for Robot Hipster, and it is fan-tastic.
Ah, hipsters… you are such easy targets, and for that I love you. I could fill up an entire blog post with my thoughts regarding people who bring guitars to parties, but… perhaps another time. And, to be honest, I do like mead. Bees and their bee-related products are pretty great, generally.
Last up: Superbrothers: Swords and Sworcery EP arrives today on Steam. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this game, but I don’t own an iPad and I’d kind of lost hope that I’d ever be able to play it. But now I can! I’m buying it right after I finish this post. Hopefully I’ll have some post-worthy thoughts about it next week.
And now last last up… I’ve been listening to a lot of MC Frontalot lately. I saw him a year and a half ago at New England Webcomics Weekend, and I’ve been getting familiar with his extraordinarily mad rapping skillz ever since. I found this video of him performing “Spoiler Alert” in a VW bus, and I cannot stop watching it.
Also there is this clip of a song he made for Sesame Street. It’s about how toilet paper is made. Frontalot is one rad dude. As long as he continues to represent, I really don’t care how much he fronts.
And now it’s time to download Superbrothers!
I was supposed to have finished “Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP” by now, wasn’t I?
Oops. It’s a great game, though. Brings me back to the days of the Sierra game. Those were the Golden Years. Literally. My parents had a Tandy with a monochrome monitor. I used to play King’s Quest 2 on it. Whenever King Graham walked to a new screen, I got to watch the new screen draw itself in glorious shades of amber. Speaking of Sierra games, did you hear that the Two Guys from Andromeda are getting back together? To make a space adventure! A spaceventure, even! They’ve got a website, Facebook page, etc., so if you have the time and you have any idea what I’m talking about, go and give them some love. Space Quest 2 was one of my favorite games, as a youth.
Back to Superbrothers; I really dig the music and sound effects, and it’s got a great sense of humor. Being no stranger to the Point & Click style of adventure game, I’m constantly clicking everything on the screen in the hopes of getting a humorous description of a bush, tree, rock, or dog. It usually works. I’m not addicted to S:S&SEP like I am to Skyrim, but every time I sit down to play it I am thoroughly entertained. I can’t comment on the story yet, as I am only roughly halfway done. More next week.
I didn’t plan on it, but I ended up getting the Witcher 2, also. CD Projekt RED released an “Enhanced Edition” on the PC at the same time they released the game on 360 and PS3. It was on sale, so I snagged it. I wasn’t sure I should, because I honestly did not like the first Witcher game very much. I liked the dark fantasy world it introduced, but the combat mechanics felt super clunky and there were so many bugs that it took me out of the game completely. I never got back into it.
Witcher 2, on the other hand, seems awesome so far. The level of polish on this game is insane. I feel like I’m playing an episode of Game of Thrones, complete with gratuitous nudity, gore, and cuss words. At the risk of infringing copyright, I dare say “I’m lovin’ it.”
I’m only a few hours in, but I can see myself sinking some serious hours into this game. Like, Skyrim hours. Maybe not Skyrim hours… I don’t think I have enough time in my life for another game like that. Maybe more like Mass Effect 3 hours. And the combat immediately feels way better than the first game. Enemies are unforgiving, even on “Normal” difficulty, but if you build your skill tree with a little forethought and drink many many potions, it doesn’t seem so bad. Also, I started playing using the mouse and keyboard, and then switched over to a gamepad in the end. The menu and hotkeys are easier to navigate with a mouse, but the actual gameplay works a lot better for me when I use a gamepad. I find myself using the gamepad more and more these days. Even Skyrim. I logged over a hundred hours in Skyrim with the mouse & keyboard, and then switched to a gamepad just for the heck of it. I like it more. It just feels like it was designed to be played on the gamepad. Amalur, too. We live in a console-ruled world, I guess. But there are certain games that require a mouse and keyboard, still. Dawn of War and Shogun 2, obviously. And you’ll never catch me playing TF2 with a gamepad. That’s asking for trouble.
Oh, and while I’m thinking of Game of Thrones… damn, Joffrey. Just… damn. Is anyone ever going to give you your comeuppance? Oh, here we go…
And since I’m posting silly videos now, here’s something else that made me laugh this week:
You crazy, Werner Herzog!
I hurt my neck looking at these guys and trying to figure out if their eyes were looking in the right direction while they were talking.