Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Tidying

With the new year, as always, comes a period of reflection and resolution. I have an unbelievable backlog of games I want to address, and I'm beginning 2014 with an eye toward that. I'd like to polish off my library of PS3 games in the coming months. A few stragglers remain from the previous console generation. The first on that list is Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.

I enjoyed the first two Uncharted games, though with a large crop of reservations as compared to most. I typically do not care for the play in these games--there is too much combat, and it goes on for far too long. Drake and his animations are weirdly out of synch with the environment as you run around. I am totally in agreement with the wide consensus on these games outside of those gripes, though. That is why I have elected to play through Uncharted 3 on easy. So far, so good. I played the first seven chapters in one session (with interruptions--I do have a toddler vying for my attention, too) yesterday. The characters and writing and setpieces and graphics are all very well done, of course. I still contend that I would rather watch a condensed movie version of all this, though. Maybe it's that it's too linear, maybe it's that there is no agency given to the player in the plot, maybe it's that the Dual Shock 3 is a terrible controller for first- and third-person shooting. Whatever the reason(s), I don't have this complaint with too many other games.

I wanted to quickly mention Toki Tori. I loaded it up on my PC last night with my daughter sitting on my lap just to entertain her for a few minutes. I wanted to mention it to warn people off what appears to be a slapdash port from iOS. Big, touch-friendly (not mouse-friendly) interface bits make it seem like a quick cash-in port job, and the game itself is bland cookie-cutter copy/paste-with-different-palletes-and-call-it-done puzzle pap. I hope Toki Tori 2+ actually comports itself like a proper desktop PC application, at the very least.

I ended up finishing off the much-ballyhooed suburbs hit in Hitman: Blood Money, but I think I'm done with the game, now. I adored Hitman: Silent Assassin, and have had good times with Contracts and Blood Money, playing about half of each, but I'm not sure I need much more of that formula. Not now, at least. I have plenty of other stealth games to catch up on, though, so no big deal. I even just recently bought Hitman: Absolution for about five bucks; a game which is apparently not much like the prior trilogy. I have the original Hitman, as well, which I should check out just for curiosity's sake.

I finished up Assassin's Creed IV, the story of Edward Kenway the pirate Assassin in the Caribbean. I liked that game a lot, and ended up doing almost everything you can do in the game; I only lack collecting the rest of the animus fragments and some miscellaneous community challenges. I killed a white whale and took down all of the legendary ships, fully upgraded the Jackdaw, and collected every outfit and set of swords and pistols available to me.

I am playing through the Freedom Cry DLC now, featuring Adewale, Edward's Trinidadian quartermaster, former slave, and devoted Assassin, now shipwrecked in Port Au Prince and fighting to liberate slaves from the huge slave trade there. It's like a miniature Black Flag, and I wonder why they couldn't just sell this as a stand-alone like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or Call of Jaurez: Gunslinger. Wouldn't that make more sense, and wouldn't more people pick it up separately than as DLC? I can't imagine a lot of people buy DLC. It just doesn't seem to make much sense to present it this way, and its unfortunate because Adewale ends up being treated like a second-class protagonist because of it. Contrast this to Aveline, the female Assassin from Liberation, formerly a Vita game, about to be re-rereleased on PC and console digital platforms. People are always going on about diversity in gaming characters, and Ubisoft admittedly does a lot with this series to progress that front--why not give Adewale top billing in is own $10 or $15 stand-alone AC mini-episode?

I've done relatively little gaming over the last week or so, having been on a road trip. I did take my Vita and Spelunky with me, though. Daily challenges were attempted, and many fun runs were had. I made it to the temple for a second time. I still have yet to progress much further than the entrance to 4-1, however.

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