Monday, May 19, 2014

From the Visitation to the Violation

Reading, lately, I finished up the rather short Roadside Picnic, though it took me a month or more, such is my pathetic, contemptible reading volume these days. That was a really interesting read. What S.T.A.L.K.E.R. took from it in tone and inspiration far outweighs the superficial differences in the settings, which I suppose make it a fairly successful adaptation. Book to game; who would have thought?

For my next feat of literary dullness and sloth, I retreat back into the arcane lore of the Horus Heresy, with James Swallow's Nemesis. This seems to be a story of competing beureaus of assassins, one gunning for Horus Lupercal, and one for The Emperor of Man, or just The Emperor, for short.

I'm alternating Horus Heresy stuff with non-HH stuff in a wierd sort of literary palate cleansing. I'm defining where the Horus Heresy sits in terms of literature by figuring out where other things are in relation to it.

Putting Hell the Hell Away

I'm going to have to force myself to stop playing Diablo III. I got my Demon Hunter, Isam--after a similarly haunted Wheel of Time character--to 70, and then promptly switched back over to Orda--after the Khan--to gear him up a little more for Torment level Nephelam Rifts. I've been having fun wrecking stuff and finding game-changing legendary items with him, such as ground-melting boots, a monster-charming helmet, and a demon-summoning greatsword. This game is so good! It's even better now after the expansion and extensive patching than it was at launch--far, far better, as a matter of fact. It's high time to shelve it for a while, though, and when this 7-day period of increased Legendary Item drop rate and double Rift Fragment Bounties ends, I'll do just that. I have half of the classes at the level cap, now, and while it may not be the most efficient, each of them can get along in Torment mode with reasonable comfort. I want to play a Witch Doctor next, but I don't have it in me now. It makes more sense to wait until whenever Blizzard introduces Seasons to the game, where players will compete on leaderboards as to who can start with a new character and level up the fastsest, the most, with the best gear, or whatever it turns out to be. That will be fun. I will not be able to compete to much of any extent, but it will be fun.

I've also been playing some Assassin's Creed: Liberation. It really is pretty mediocre, which is a shame. Not that the even the greatest entries in the series stand up as shining examples of the form, but this is even lacking in their charms. You can tell that the developers were ambitious with their design; it mainly just feels like there was a shortfall of funding and time to make the game great. It probably also has to do with the constraints that attempting to shoeorn an AC game onto the Vita placed on the whole endeavor. I can see in Liberation the many things I like about this series, I just have to look harder. I wish the production values were higher--particularly the voice acting, which is pretty bad. I wish the plot was more coherent and had more connective tissue, because it's hard to decipher, as is. I wish the game just had a better feel to it--it's pretty janky. To be fair, jank is nothing new to AC. Maybe the frequency with which we see these come down the pike is finally starting to wear on me. Maybe I needed more time to put 80 hours of Black Flag and DLC behind me. I will soldier on through, this, though, and await with anticipation this fall's Assassin's Creed: Unity, and the rumored Comet, to a lesser extent. Maybe Liberation will pick up, who knows?

I felt like monkeying around with Dawn of War II: Retribution's The Last Stand mode last night, wondering if I could seque my routine from Diablo III into that, soon. I'm not so sure. Instead, maybe I'll go back (again) to Borderlands--the first--to try out all the DLC before finally, ultimately canning that game for real this time. I need to play Borderlands 2 sometime, after all. I'm undecided whether the Pre-Sequel (not developed by Gearbox) is something to be excited about. I'm leaning toward no, but again, who knows?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Still Slaying

I decided on a male Demon Hunter for my third Diablo III character. He's level 40, now. I've only slowed my roll on Diablo a little in the last month, after finishing up my Wizard's campaign (again), and putting a good couple of weeks into further gearing her up. I'm kind of in an effective holding pattern with gaming, stalling some before we're slated to be blessed with another beautiful baby girl to care for. It's easy to cling to this rather than try to invest too much into yet another game that I may or may not have the time and concentration to finish.

That hasn't stopped me though, from beginning Assassin's Creed Liberation HD, the redux of the ill-fated Vita series entry. It's alright, so far. It has a very AC III feel to it, much like the Aveline DLC that was a part of Black Flag did. It has probably been ported over to III's engine or something. It seems to use a lot of similar art assets. Aveline is cool; this is the series doing what it does, though, and lacking in the massive production values that proper entries get. It's a shame that the only entry with a woman as the player character (and both entries with a black person as the lead) are a kind of afterthought, though--Aveline in the Vita game and Adewale in the now standalone spin-off DLC from Black Flag. I'm only two sequences in. I really would like to finish this up before our baby is born. Side note--and this is completely coincidental and unintentional--we are giving her a name that is shared by a character in the AC series. I'll confirm any correct guesses on the matter.

Dawdling around here and there, and spurred on by the recent announcement of Firaxis' next game, I finally picked up and began messing with Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Simply put, it's a Civ game on another planet, but with a more dour and pragmatic bent to the theme. It's Kim Stanley Robinson's Sci-Fi Civilization, perhaps. I need to give it more time, though. I am still in the bewildered-by-UI stage of the game.

I mentioned Toki Tori a while back, and how I did not like it. I gave Toki Tori 2+ a shot, owning it, as you do with PC games these days, and I find that it is a much more pleasant mobile port. Not so blatant about it's roots, in other words. It seems fine, but my daughter didn't seem too into it. Maybe it'll get a few more tries before being uninstalled.

I don't make a habit of talking about iOS games on this blog; probably because I don't make a habit of playing them. I do own a bunch, though, and I probably should give them a fair shot more often. Hearthstone was recently released on iOS, and you might remember me being fond of it during its beta testing. Well, I was--probably a little too fond of it. I think I burned myself out on the game, at least for a while. The iOS version seems to work, but performance was pretty bad even on my ipad 3. Hitman Go, though, is very nice. It's a pleasant surprise. I love the model/diorama look to the game, and the abstraction of the mechanics through making it look like a board game. It's the sort of thing that keeps me from completely dismissing mobile as a platform I don't care about (like I have consoles/handhelds at this point).

On the reading side of things, I recently went back and re-read the entirety of The Walking Dead comics from 1 to 126. Big things are apparently in play for issue 127 and the series' future, and I thought it was a good time to go back for a refresher. It look 2-3 weeks of nightly reading on the Comixology app on my ipad. Now, though, I am in the middle of Roadside Picnic, which is really interesting. It is very S.T.A.L.K.E.R., as it is, of course, the inspiration for that game series. I think I'll go back for more Horus Heresy after this.