Thursday, June 22, 2017

Vacation Plays 1

Since leaving for the trip to Japan we are on now, I've played a lot of Mario Kart, both 7 on the 3DS's and 8 Deluxe on the Switch. The guided play options of the latter make it especially kid-friendly, which is appreciated. The games are pretty fun, as well.

I've also been playing a little more of Breath of the Wild, it being my focus for the trip, as far as progress. I've got all my quests from Kakariko and Hateno, and I've made my way to Zora's Domain to see about this first Divine Beast. I'm thinking I'm probably under-leveled as it goes in this game, having only five hearts and one stamina upgrade so far. I'm one shrine away from the next of either, though.

Since my last booklog entry, I finished up Corax and also read The Master of Mankind, and am now beginning Garro.

Corax took the titular primarch basically to his end as far as his heresy-era deeds. By the end, he's bloodied the traitors' efforts to push to Terra, realized some hard truths, and set off on what amounts to a suicide mission, presumably within the Eye of Terror.

Garro picks up Battle-captian Nathaniel Garro's story after his return from Isstvan III to warn the Emperor of Horus and the others' betrayal there. From other books I've read, I know enough to know he goes on to work for Malcador the Sigillite to form the Knights Errant, who are a force of legionaries plucked from their former legions, both loyalist and traitor, to be Terran Regent's hand among the various theaters of the galactic civil war.

The Master of Mankind is a pretty interesting and important novel in the series. It chronicles the actual conflict of import, to the Emperor, of the Horus Heresy--the war for the Webway. Nothing, not the space marine legions, the primarchs, or even the worlds of the Imperium matter as much to the Emperor's dreams for humanity as the Webway, which offers the possibility to travel across the galaxy without need of the Warp. Without that, humanity can never be free of its corrupting influence. What abhorrent lengths the man will go to toward that end are explored here. The book is interesting in the wider context of the Horus Heresy series and all of Warhammer 40,000 because this is the closest we are ever likely to be to seeing the Emperor's own point of view, and apparent fallibility. It also sets up one hell of a Chekov's Gun that will no doubt come into play sometime in the far, far future of the setting.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

I had unfinished business in the French Revolution with Arno Dorian. It is now finished. I cleaned up the Templar problems of Paris and Franciade, recovering a couple of pieces of Eden in the process.


Overall, Unity is probably one of the least interesting games in the series. It's not bad, just not particularly exciting, considering the potential of the setting. A lot has been made of the open world, icons-on-the-map overload of this game, but there's also the fact that Paris is a big, flat sprawl that mostly looks pretty same-y from one end to the other. There are a lot more interiors in Unity, and I did always appreciate the scale of the world. Big places feel big.


There have been a lot of young men with a lot of typical young men's problems in this series. Arno's is basically star-crossed lovers; he's the son of an Assassin raised by a Templar, her father, whose murder he's been framed for. He falls in with the Assassins after breaking out of the Bastille alongside one, and he's off to the races to clear his name and find the real killers, and reconnect with her along the way. The big bad in Unity is a Templar leader who is also a Sage, someone who is essentially a reincarnated soul of one of the First Civilization, and who apparently has some access to their genetic memory, from what I can tell.


This game has some more in-depth stealth sections and elaborate mission structures, but the controls are as clumsy as ever, which led to some frustration in later parts of the game. Enemies in Unity are tougher, as well, since they level up as you do, as you progress through the story.


I also played through the Dead Kings DLC for the game, which was a more self-contained story with a clear villain and arc for Arno. It wasn't bad, either, and featured a connection out to the broader series through Arno sending an Apple of Eden he found to the new Al Mualim in Cairo.


I guess I'm not done with the series, I just needed a break in the middle of this one. I'll get Syndicate sometime later this year maybe and play through that. Hopefully it'll have a bit of that Peaky Blinders feel, at least. Also, it's E3 time now, and Assassin's Creed Origins has just been revealed. I'll be playing that, certainly. I just hope mechanics will have changed.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Mid-2017

Here in early June, already, it's been a pretty good year for gaming so far. I'm coming off two extended stays--Mass Effect Andromeda and a FFXI revisit, as well as having knocked out a few shorter games earlier in the year and knocked a bunch more off the backlog, if not completing them.


I'm in a weird spot for the next week or so, not sure what to play before heading to Japan for four weeks. I know that while there I plan to play more Switch. I'm not sure what else. Maybe just that. I should probably pick up Mario Kart, thinking on that. It does have the kid-friendly mode. My girls like it on the 3DS, and I'm not certain I want to take the 3DS.


I suppose I probably should, since I myself have a bunch of DS/3DS stuff I need to play. I am unsure, though, how much time I'll have to play games there, and think I might want to focus on Zelda. But then, it might be good to have systems to pass off to them during travel or while killing time at home.


And what about the Vita? I'd like to have it along as well, but does it make sense to have a Switch, 3DS, 2DS, and Vita? In addition to a MacBook and two iPads? And my kindle, of course.


Back to the topic at hand, though: what to play leading up to the trip. I just buckled down and finished Andromeda. Maybe I could do the same with AC: Unity? Or make more progress into Shadow of Mordor? Surely it makes sense to finish The Witcher 3 before Mordor, and I plan to do that upon returning from Japan. I could play more of Dawn of War III, or Warcraft III, or Starcraft II, or Stellaris, or Endless Legend or... but I don't think I'm in a strategy mindset right now. I'm leaning toward AC Unity or a backlog blitz, I suppose.

Overly Hearthstone Inspired Hack Job

The Elder Scrolls Legends recently came out on Steam and Android OS, and I was kind of curious about it, so I decided to check it out, wondering what Bethesda's take on the digital CCG might be like.


Turns out, it's a lot like Blizzard's. As in, they just ripped off whole swathes of Hearthstone and gave them a different skin. I could see doing that early in production, with a mind to go back and redesign later, but for the most part things are laid out extremely similarly to the way the other game does them.


It wouldn't be so bad, really, if more care had been taken in thoughtfully re-arranging menu or UI elements. The design of the game itself, sectioning the playfield out into lanes, adding runes to the life bar that explode and grant card draw as life is depleted, and the like, does seem to show more than a surface groping of Blizzard's mechanics, but the presentation here is awful.


Apart from the blatant copypasta, The Elder Scrolls Legends incorporates terrible voice acting, very bad cutscene art, and tutorials aimed at an idiot. The cutscene art is most puzzling, considering the art on the game cards is generally pretty decent. What you get in the interstitial scenes features not only uninspired fantasy pap for a script, but some of the ugliest photos-digitized-and-fantasy-filtered stylings this side of Mortal Kombat.


The one thing I was really curious about was if the developer could make something as fun as but less frustrating than Hearthstone. I don't think I'll play enough to find out, though.


I wonder if the idea of a continuously evolving CCG is inherently flawed. The ever expanding card base presents obvious issues of balance, which games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering before it mitigate by restricting structured play to only the most recent sets of cards. However, you will still eventually run out of ideas keeping the game fresh. Maybe that's only a problem for the individual player, and not so much the game's stewards.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Paths Found

I have finally wrapped up Mass Effect Andromeda after some 80 game hours. It's a beast of a game, with some open world filler, but overall I had a pretty good time with it.

The combat was fun all the way through. Maybe that was a product of my character build choices--shotgun-centric, making liberal use of the dash and jump, with a heavy dose of melee damage and shield drain and fire thrower abilities from the tech skill path.

Plot-wise, Andromeda is pretty successful pseudo-reboot, set apart from the events of the original Mass Effect trilogy in both time and space. It's the story of the Milky Way races establishing a new home in a new galaxy, while at the same time helping the Heleus native Angara to fend of a militaristic empire of gene-consuming race assimilators called the Kett, to deal with the remains of an ancient race's AI constructs, and to weather the fallout of an apocalyptic war in the sector in the years the Andromeda Initiative arks were in transit from the Milky Way.

At the end of the game, a foothold is gained, allies made, and the Kett Archon fended off, but the rest of the Kett are still out there in the galaxy, one last ark is still making its way in Andromeda, and the Pathfinder and crew still have a job to do exploring and building a new civilization in their new home.

EA has made noises that sound like the game didn't perform to expectations, and while that's not hard to believe, given said expectations, I do hope we'll see a continuation of the series in Andromeda. Maybe DLC to begin with, to cover the arrival of the Quarians and other Milky Way races, and another game in the future, possibly a generation later, exploring the further integration of the new arrivals with the natives, and the looming threat of the Kett Empire.

In all likelihood, we get either the first or neither at all.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jack All

That's about all I've played that's new.

I got an alpha of a Frozenbyte-developed game in an indie game bundle a while back called Jack Claw. It's got a sort of Bionic Commando like character with an extendable super strong arm, except this game is set in a sort of quaint dystopia and played from an overhead perspective in the manner of a twin stick shooter. It's basically just a vertical slice like developers make as a proof of concept for new games, only a sample of play with no win or loss conditions and very little content. This game apparently never came to anything more, but I wouldn't say it's a huge loss.

It's Overwatch's first anniversary period now, so I logged in to open a free loot box, thinking I might play some, but I'm not so sure now.

I've been trying to concentrate on Mass Effect Andromeda lately, and I've made some solid progress. I'm moving toward having established settlements on every viable planet, but my main goal is to do all of the loyalty missions and priority missions. Everything else is secondary. However, it's hard not to swing by and scoop up every little thing in the open-world style maps. I'm going to have to reign in that impulse, though, because I want to finish this game in the next 3 weeks.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Speeding Toward Terra

The Horus Heresy reading continues apace.


I am now on Corax, book 40, a collection of novellas and short stories about the Raven Guard and their primarch, Corvus Corax, all about the things they've been up to since their prior book Deliverance Lost. I've just begun this one.


Praetorian of Dorn, book 39, is set in the solar system, and an Alpha Legion plot there. As is usually the case with the Alpha Legion, it's not clear exactly what their objective is, other than speeding along the end of the Imperium and through that the extinguishing of Chaos through the same of humanity. This one has a pretty momentous ending, as Rogal Dorn, primarch of the VII legion Imperial Fists kills Alpharius, the primarch of the XX legion Alpha Legion. From here on, it's Omegon leading them as Alpharius, making a tragic mockery of their famous line "I am Alpharius." This is only the second primarch to die since the beginning of the series, and the first since book 5, Fulgrim (III legion Emperor's Children), where the titular primarch kills his brother Ferrus Manus (X legion Iron Hands) at the Dropsite Massacre.


Book 38, Angels of Caliban, seemed to bring a cap to the Imperium Secundus arc of the series, focusing on Macragge, where the primarchs Lion el'Jonson (I legion Dark Angels), Roboute Guilliman (XII legion Ultramarines), and Sanguinius (IX legion Blood Angels) try to maintain humanity's hold on the galaxy while fending of the destructive efforts of Konrad Curze (VIII legion Night Lords). On the other side of the galaxy, on Caliban, Luther turns his other exiled Dark Angels away from the Lion and back toward the ancient Order that ruled Caliban before the coming of the Emperor. There's trouble brewing, there.


Book 37, The Silent War, is a collection of short stories all about the various forces under Malcador the Sigillite, the Lord Regent of the Imperium. We see a lot of the Knights Errant, the beginnings of the Inquisition, and more interesting things kind of behind the scenes of the galactic civil war.


The Path of Heaven, book 36, brings the White Scars home to Terra after years of harrying Horus' various forces on the edges of the galaxy. The Emperor's Children and the Death Guard figure into the story here, and Leman Russ (VI legion Space Wolves) makes an appearance toward the end, as well, as Jaghatai Khan (V legion White Scars) faces him to apologize for leaving his brother in a lurch back at the Alaxxes nebula, where the Wolves were beset by the Alpha Legion. Now that the Khan has returned, there is work to do reinforcing the Terra's defenses. The traitor legions are on their way.

I Game of Military

Aside from the usual plinking away at Mass Effect Andromeda and Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with little to report on either, I also reinstalled Spelunky the other day after hearing some podcast talk about it and catching the bug again. I should just keep it installed so I don't have to keep re-unlocking all the characters and Tunnel Man shortcuts due to save data loss on uninstall.


The main thing I should touch on here is the I game, Insurgency. I didn't expect much, really, other than another relatively dull military shooter. It's well done, though, and I was kind of surprised to find people still playing it. The game is built in Valve's Source engine, and it has a fun co-op mode I took part in for a round. I was actually impressed with the tutorial--not something I ever expected to write--due to how it morphs into a narrative mission toward the end.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lost Week Last Week?

It's been more than a week since my last post, but I have little to report, unfortunately. I know I spent some time playing games, but it doesn't feel like a whole lot.


I did make my way a little further into Dawn of War III. I'm about to begin the 5th mission of the campaign, and got a chance to play a match of co-op multiplayer against AI, which was also fun. There seems to be a lot more to enjoy here.


I also knocked out some pretty good progress in Mass Effect Andromeda, at least toward the end of settling the planet Kadara. I did every quest I could find there, and unlocked and reset the Remnant vault, purifying the planet's water. Next I'm headed to the planet the Krogan exiles are on to see what's up over there. It's one of a couple I need to check out before I go to confront the Kett flagship to push events along to whatever the next big thing is. That will be the next episode of this ongoing saga.


I felt like knocking an H game off my backlog yesterday, so I played a little of Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders. I'd definitely seen it around back in the 90s, but I don't know if I'd ever actually played much of it until now. It's basically DOOM, with a medieval fantasy and wizardry skin. Developed by Raven, John Romero as executive producer. It's like 90% the same game, with a few extra features, like a limited ability to look up and down. It also seems harder right off the bat, or at least the levels are longer and more complicated sooner than in DOOM. Like it's forebear, it's a cool game that holds up very well even now, provided you go into the settings (using DOSBox) and set the controls to something resembling a modern WASD setup. I probably won't play any more, but I do have the rest of the Heretic/Hexen series to check out, as well.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Wonder Weekend

I was home alone a good amount this weekend with a cold, but it afforded me some pretty good game time.


I had a pretty good time playing more Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap, defeating a boss and gaining access to another transformation type: Fish Man. This in turn opened up a couple of new areas I could get to and another couple of abilities to go to even more places by breaking blocks in the environment, and in some cases, creating new ones. Again, this is a pretty cool game for something originally released on the Sega Master System.


After Wonder Boy, I loaded up Breath of the Wild again for the first time in a week or so, and had a great time making my way to Hateno village and unlocking the Sheikah slate's final functionality, a camera and compendium. Next it'll be back to Kakariko again to speak to Impa again. I'm not sure how I'll travel it this time, though. I might go overland a different way, or maybe just fast travel it. Adventure awaits, either way.


Dawn of War III has finally come out, and I've played through the campaign tutorials and the first couple of campaign missions, one as Space Marines and one as Orks. It seems like fun, so far. I have a couple of gripes, though. First, the performance in the menus is pretty bad, which is odd. It seems fine in game. Second, panning around the battlefield by mousing to the screen edges is S-L-O-W, and for seemingly no good reason. You can hold down the mouse wheel (middle mouse button), and do a kind of grab and pan thing, and that moves at the speed you would expect. I'm not sure why this extremely sluggish movement is there, and there doesn't seem to be any option to change it, either.


Finally, I got a chance to check out the beta version of the Necromancer class in Diablo III. It didn't take long for me to determine that, yes, I am very interested in playing this once it's released. Hopefully that's not too far out at this point.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wonder Boy Pathfinder

I made some progress in Mass Effect Andromeda over the last week, actually getting out into the open world on one of the planets for only about the second time in probably 35 hours of play. I'm at a point in the game where I can go to one of two potentially habitable planets, or go hunt down the Kett leader's flagship for a confrontation. Instead, I've opted to dig into some side quests that, in a roleplaying sense, sounded urgent.


I've also dabbled in Super Mario World and Heroes of the Storm. The latter now has a fresh 2.0 update that I'm interested in exploring a bit. I still think I am fundamentally not that into multi-player games, though. I've been playing beginner level bot matches just on a lark here and there. Playing a game to relax, imagine that.


I picked up another retro-style 2D action game on the Switch, the beautiful remake of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap. It's a cool game from the Sega Master System, a platform I have very little familiarity with, though I can credit my interest in video games to it. Wonder Boy lets you flash back and forth from the modern, very lavish 2D art to the super old school 8-bit reality of the original. I find the new art really nice and have been almost entirely playing that way.


The underlying game is very well done, and while it definitely feels simplistic, it's an interesting design considering when the game first came out. It's an open-world action platformer more or less contemporaneous with Metroid, but not done in quite the same way. Here, doors open into the background, where in Metroid they always open on one of the four sides of the screen, which means the way the world fits together is pretty different. It's also clear some or all of the doors are magical, so it may not be possible for all of the levels to exist in one contiguous chunk.


You begin as a boy with a sword, but begin to gain the ability to transform into other types of animals and fight and explore in different ways. So far I have been a lizard boy and mouse boy. I'll continue to explore what this nifty game has to offer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Perfect Compliments, Shovel Knight

For the last few weeks I've been bouncing back and forth between Mass Effect Andromeda and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I'm finding that the two compliment each other very well, Mass Effect being mostly a game about talking to people, and Zelda a game mostly about wandering around doing things. Each has a bit of the other, of course, but my experiences in each have fit together like yin and yang.

In Andromeda, I'm mostly following the main path so far, having now been to Aya, the home planet of the Angara, and having rescued one of their leaders from the Kett and their "Exaltation" practice of converting other species into themselves. I have to say, this is trending a little close to what the Collectors were doing on behalf of the Reapers back in Mass Effect 2. Now I'm on to investigating the ties a colony of exiles, both of Milky Way and Andromeda species, have to... I forget. Either the Remnant vaults or the Kett, I guess. But also some potential sabotage of the Nexus' efforts? Tonight is tentatively Mass Effect night, so I should probably make sure I understand the mission before commencing with it.

In Zelda, and much more simply, I'm on my way from Kakariko village to Hateno village to learn a little more about my mission and Sheikah slate, finding towers and shrines along the way. This is a game that's much simpler to talk about. In fact, there's really little to say, other than that I really like it, so far. It's fun and interesting just in its world and mechanics. If anything, I feel like this game fits more in a series with the first two Zelda games than anything that came after.

Starting with A Link to the Past, and later with Ocarina of Time, there have been two paradigms for Zelda games, top-down and third-person, each cast in the mold of its first, some might say classic, example. Breath of the Wild certainly owes much to earlier games in the series, especially Ocarina (as do most games that use lock-on, or "Z-targeting"), but feels on the whole so far more evolved past it as to be itself a mold for future games. And I think it goes one better than either aLttP or OoT in creating something a little further afield of the original Legend of Zelda. Either of those can be seen as 'the original but look how we can do it now'. Breath of the Wild leaves behind so many conventions of the series that it seems to me one of only three mostly unique archetypes of the series: the original, the side-scroller, and the free-form adventure.

Since I only had one game on the Switch, and Shovel Knight was released on it, and I had been wanting to try that, I bought the collection, and began playing the core game. It's pretty cool, so far. I've been through 3-4 stages, having beat Black Knight, King Knight, and Spectre Knight, if I recall. It plays like a kind of amalgamation of NES side-scrolling action classics like Super Mario Bros. 3, Zelda II, Mega Man, and Castlevania. The art and music are vintage NES, as well, and very well done. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Switch and Zelda

The combination of immense hype, a separate enthusiasm on my own part, and a large tax return led me to pick up a Switch last week along with a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.


The Switch is still hard to come by, just a month after launch, but I happened on a small stack of about 7 in my local Best Buy, and eventually temptation won out. As the console itself goes, its nifty. I like the pretty seamless transitioning between handheld and TV modes, and I like the system interface and styling. I am a little reserved about the build quality and robustness of the console, though. For now I have applied a screen protector to the system and am not letting my kids know about the system. This is still feasible while they go to bed earlier than I, and I can keep the system put up somewhere. They have found the dock and joy-con grip, but don't know what they are or what they are for. Yet.


As far as Zelda goes, I like it. It has really been quite some time since I was into a new Zelda. The last was Ocarina of Time, actually, of which my impression has suffered over the years just due to the unwarranted amount of ludicrous worship the game has had in the years since it came out. I have played, briefly, subsequent games in the series, but not much cared for them on the whole, to the point where I had basically dismissed the series as uninteresting. To this day I would say my favorite Zelda game is the original, followed maybe by The Adventure of Link just because it is such a different thing, and I could take or leave the balance of the series. That might sound harsh, but I honestly never see myself playing A Link to the Past or Ocarina or any of the others through again in my lifetime.


All that in mind, Breath of the Wild seems like a real departure for the series in how it dispenses with all of the hand-holding some of the other games have opened with, and gets right to the adventure. Not a lot is explained to Link until several hours in, when the player has had the chance to get out and get some experience and have some fun in the world, and is ready for some plot and guidance. This is the point I'm to now, having just left the Great Plateau with the semblance of a mission to carry me through the rest of the adventure.


This Zelda is also really interesting in that it is a very open game with a lot of systems that intersect freely and in interesting ways, a lot like a Stalker or Far Cry or any number of other more modern games, even things like FROM Software's Souls series or the wave of survival games on the PC that are so big these days. It's interesting because Nintendo seems to be taking the game in a new direction, perhaps due to there being a new generation of folks working on the game, with newer influences and goals.


I'm not very far in, really, and from what I've heard this is an absolutely huge game, so I'm sure my overall impression will evolve as I continue to play, but I feel like it's pretty promising.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hello Galaxy

Mass Effect Andromeda is out now. I had been looking forward to it as a fresh start in a new galaxy with a new broad objective; 'establish a foothold' as opposed to 'prevent the eradication of intelligent life by an overzealous species of sentient machines that think they are gods'. So far, I think I have pretty much what I wanted.


I'm still in the early parts of the game, having established my character and his role as Pathfinder for the Andromeda Initiative. I've been with my crew down to the planet of Eos and successfully terraformed its atmosphere enough to establish a colony. Next will be to rendezvous back at the Nexus with the Director of the Initiative to plan my next move. It will likely be to the standout planet on the chart discovered in the Remnant vault on Eos. That one was different from the rest somehow.


One thing I appreciate about the game so far is just how little most people know about what is going on in Andromeda, and what they're doing there. Ryder and crew  pretty often are clearly spouting conjecture as to what things in the environments around them do or how they came to be where they are. This is the sort of exploratory, scientific approach you would hope people in this position would take. Probably the most interesting choice I have made in terms of roleplaying so far was to decide between founding a military or science-focused outpost to begin with. The game pretty clearly indicates this first founding is a landmark and the decision you make here will set a tone for the rest of the game.


In terms of playability, and with respect to the game's nature as a third-person cover-based shooter with super powers, this is probably the best Mass Effect to date. Ryder is much more mobile than Shepard ever was, and much more flexible in terms of skill paths and variable loadouts, as well as available equipment choices. This makes for more possibilities on the battlefield, as well. Ryder's enhanced mobility extends to the non-combat exploration of the worlds presented here, as well. I love the jump pack and dash/dodge abilities. These allow for enhanced verticality of terrain in the game, too, which is important in large, open environs like the game is serving up to this point. It feels good to play, for the most part.


I can't really judge the writing, plotting, or character development authoritatively yet, since I am still so early in, but it's been fine thus far; if not stellar, also mostly not terrible. There is one really poorly done character (Addison), but she stands out for it, making me wonder if somehow it wasn't a conscious move somehow to make her like that. Many characters have odd-looking facial features or animations, Ryder included, but I don't find it too distracting--yet. There was one obviously erratic instance of blocking in a cutscene that took me out of the moment, and there are some issues with audio samples overlapping each other or being cut off unexpectedly, but again I'm not too bothered by them.


All in all, I think the game is off to a fine start. My taste in Sci-Fi is probably a little more forgiving or allowing for the slow burn than some, of course. I am definitely looking forward to playing a lot more of Andromeda, though.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Twirl, Then Pivot

I've kind of been casting about lately in a holding pattern waiting to maybe or maybe not get Mass Effect Andromeda. I'm going to move on to either that or something else tonight, though.

I played some GRID, a G game to remove from my backlog. It seems pretty good, like Codemasters' racing games often are. This is an older one, from 2007, focused on city street track racing. You begin as a nobody, racing for various teams in order to earn cash to progress your career. It was fairly difficult when I started, I think owing to its more realistic handling model. One real problem here--GRID 2 is out, and in my library. It has apparently been obsoleted, as games so often are.

I played some Zelda: A Link Between Worlds last night, finding my way to the mountain palace "dungeon" and completing it. It was fun enough in the moment, but left me feeling kind of empty afterward. A curious feeling.

The other day was the 20th anniversary of the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and as one must do, I paid tribute (!?) by accessing one of my numerous copies of the game, and playing it for a while, appreciating the crisp movement, and clear tones of the soundtrack, and awful recorded dialog. It is, as ever, a masterpiece.

I have continued to play Shadow of Mordor, as well, determining that my character needs more experience for skills and abilities to be able to hold his own against the worst of Sauron's monsters. I'm told I need to stick with the game at least long enough to make it to the second large region. It's pretty fun, so I'll keep it around for now.

I also replayed the first 30 minutes perhaps of Resident Evil 4 today, years after having played that game back on the PS2. It's still pretty cool, though it's really aged.