Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Year in Gaming

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!  Well... almost.  It's almost a new year!

I don't want to do a top ten list or anything so formal this year, I just want to talk about games that stuck out in my mind from the year.

Mario Maker has got to be the coolest thing that came out this year.  Infinite Mario levels plus the tools to make your own?  I'm in.  I love this idea so much and the execution has been fantastic.  Not to mention that Nintendo keeps updating and improving the game too.  It's nice to see them finally getting with the times and offering expanded content past a game's release.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate turned out to be my favorite Assassin's Creed game so far.  I was expecting some fun but most just another entry in the series.  That's generally what we get year-to-year.  But honestly, I love all the small changes that they made to truly tighten the game up.  It's now my favorite game in the series.

Hearthstone was a constant companion this year.  I did more traveling than usual in the last year and Hearthstone has been my game of choice on the go.  After giving up on it a month after release I'm been so surprised to get back into it.  I love all the new modes and that they're constantly adding to the game.  Tavern Brawls give variety every week and the Single Player adventures are a ton of fun too.  This is a game that will continue into the new year for me.

Persona 4 was my biggest find of the year even though the version I'm playing, Person 4 Golden, was released in 2012.  I played the first few months of the year in the game and realized that I wanted enough free time to truly give Person 4 my full attention.  So I put it on hold until I'm not so busy.  I'm still waiting for things to calm down because I really want to get back to this game.  It might become one of my favorite JRPGs ever.

Final Fantasy XIV took up a lot of the early part of my year.  It was the first time I seriously got into an MMO since before my kids were born.  Going into not expecting much I was blown away by how much this game earns it's place in the Final Fantasy mainline series.  The story is Final Fantasy through and through.

Having wrapped up FFXIV after beating all the content in the expansion I was finally officially caught up with my Final Fantasy Project!  A couple years ago I set out to play all the Final Fantasy mainline games in chronological order and this year saw the culmination of it!  I'm so happy to have done this project and it's only made my love for the Final Fantasy series grow.  I'm super excited to see what Final Fantasy XV holds.  Hey, it might even come out this year!

Indie games have become a mainstay in my life now too.  I love picking up little games released by small teams and experiencing new things from them.  There's so much more innovation in the space.  I still enjoy my AAA big budget gaming experiences but now I constantly have my eye on the indie scene as well.

PAX was one of the highlights of my year.  I got to go to a gaming convention for the first time ever and it was awesome.  It was especially great because I got to go with my brother.  I wish it could become a yearly thing, but being in the middle of the country means the cost of long flights to get to any PAXes.  Hopefully we'll do it again sometime in the next few years.

I have to end with my biggest gaming accomplishment of the year.  I cleaned out my Steam library.  I had hundreds of games that needed to be played and I gave each one at least 30 minutes of my time and tried them out.  I was able to separate out the really good games and give them the time they deserved but the rest of my library got organized into folders and hidden from day-to-day view.  It's so nice to look at my Steam library now and not feel overwhelmed.

Overall I had a really good gaming year!  How about you guys?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Clone Wars Season 6 Review

Ok... so I kinda got on a roll and flew through the last three seasons of Clone Wars.

Season 6 is interesting since it's the season of "Lost Episodes."  It turns out they were halfway through production of this season when they decided to cancel the Clone Wars TV show.  They decided to finish up production on the first set of episodes they were working on but they didn't actually air until much later.

Now they're on Netflix as part of the show.  It's interesting to see how much better they've gotten at storytelling by season 6.  None of it packs the punch of the Ahsoka story arc at the end of season 5, but there are a bunch of good episodes in this "Lost Season."

There are four main story arcs in the season and I felt that two of them were worth my time.  One of the others was about politics with Padme.  The one that made me cringe was all about Jar Jar and Mace Windu going on a mission together.

But the very first arc of the season is about a clone trooper who has order 66 activate early and kills a Jedi.  The rest of the story arc is about another clone trying to get to the bottom of what happened and if there's something mentally wrong with all clones.  It was well done.  Clone episodes tended to be good throughout the entire run of the show.

The best story arc was the final one that closed out the show.  It starred Yoda and his journey to learn about becoming a force ghost when he dies.  It directly ties into the original trilogy as well as the prequel movies.  It gives more depth to yoda as a character and shows new aspects of the force.  It's right up there with the best story arcs in the entire show.

And that closed out Clone Wars for me.  The Yoda story arc is where the Clone Wars ends.  After that it's Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

I'm glad that I've watched the Clone Wars because now I'm once again 100% caught up on the Star Wars canon... but I wouldn't actually recommend it as a show.  Your time is much better spent watching Star Wars Rebels or just revisiting the movies themselves.

Clone Wars finds it's feet by the end but it really struggles to get there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Clone Wars Season 5 Review

For me this season of Clone Wars justified watching the entire run of the show.  It ended with one of the greatest Star Wars stories I've seen.  And I've seen a lot.  And read almost the entire extended universe.  And played most of the games.

The last story arc in season 5 is, in many ways, a stronger story than any of the prequel trilogy.

There were still some rough spots earlier in the season, but wow, it ended with a bang.

It's the ultimate culmination of Ahsoka Tano's story as a Jedi.  Now I see why she has turned into such a fan favorite in the Star Wars universe and why it's so awesome that she showed up in Rebels.

I don't even want to talk about the rest of the season even though it had some cool episodes with Darth Maul coming back and an in-depth look at the process of Jedi building their first lightsabers.  Those were great episodes.  But the final story arc was amazing.

I don't even want to spoil it with discussion of the episodes at this point.  Even though the show has been out for years.

If you're interested and you have Netflix you should watch the story arc.  Go to Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 17 titled "Sabotage" and watch the four episode arc.  All you really need to know is that Ahsoka has been Anakin's padawan throughout the majority of the Clone Wars and they're a tight knit team.  It's worth your time to check out.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Clone Wars Season 4 Review

Clone Wars keeps getting better as it goes along.  I can tell they're getting better at telling compelling stories.

This is the first season where there aren't huge sets of bad episodes.  There are still some lame storylines that don't really lead anywhere, like the droids random adventures or Obi-Wan going undercover to bust a crime syndicate's plan.  But, for the first time, the majority of the season was good.

The season opens with a multi-episode storyline about underwater war on Mon Calamari that has cool battles and unique underwater stuff.  The storyline could have been faster but it was decent.

There's a mid-season storyline dealing with the clones that's amazing.  It's easily in the best storylines of the whole series so far.  It's about what happens when a general treats clones more like droids than like men.

The second half of the season has a compelling storyline about Anakin (and crew) dealing with slavers that makes him come to terms with some of his past.  It actually develops his character further which is something I always like to see.

And then the season wraps up with Asajj Ventress, the night sisters, and the return of Darth Maul.  After that, I'm really interested to see what they do with Ventress in the final seasons.

This is the first season where I can recommend most of the episodes as good, and that's a great change from the past seasons.

Now there's only one "true" season left in Season 5.  Season 6 is the bonus episodes that were completed but never actually aired on TV.  Now that I'm on a roll I might try to wrap these up quick and move on to a new show.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Holiday Gaming

Merry Christmas!  Or Happy Holidays!  Or whatever applies to you!

Today I'm curious about everyone's holiday gaming traditions.

What do you guys do for the holidays?  Does the holiday season inspire you to play a certain type of game or is there a specific group of people that you play with?  What are your holiday gaming traditions?

For me, I just try to find some time to play Mario.  I got an SNES with Super Mario World one Christmas when I was younger and it's one of my strongest holiday memories.  So now I always try to make some time for Mario on Christmas.

Besides that, the fall into winter holiday season always gives me a craving for a good RPG.  This year I spent a ton of time in Fallout 4 for the first week or two that it was out and I'll probably revisit it again.  But I'm also eyeing Persona 4 because I really want to get back to it and one of these days I'll revisit Final Fantasy X-2 since I haven't played it since it originally released years ago.

Let me know what your holiday gaming traditions are!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gaming Gifts

What should you get for the gamer in your life?

I always struggle when people ask me what I want for the holidays.  I'm in an interesting (and lucky) position now that I'm an adult with a decent income, if there's a game or system I want I can usually find a way to buy it.  It might require a bit of saving if it's a new gaming system, but even those aren't out of reach.

These days my limiting factor is time.  I put a lot of time into my family and into my work, so my leisure time is what takes a hit.  Of course, no one can buy me more time, so I never know what to say when asked what gifts I want for the holidays.

I usually default to saying a Kindle gift card is a good bet for me.  I mean, I'll always buy more books.  I love books.

What about you guys?  Is there anything that you're really hoping to get for the holidays?  Do you have any tips on getting good gamer gifts for people that are hard to shop for?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens Novelization

I finished The Force Awakens novelization this weekend after seeing the movie twice.  It's probably not something most of you would get a lot out of.  The movie is obviously the superior experience here.

But the novelization added some additional context to situations and that's what I was really hoping for.  It had bonus scenes that were either cut from the movie or never actually shot.  And it added just enough that I found myself drawn through the book in two sittings.

Especially towards the end of the novel it delved more into what the characters were thinking and feeling during the final scenes.

Again, it's too early to throw spoilers into a post like this.  I don't want anyone to accidentally have the movie ruined by me.  But, if you're a die hard Star Wars fan like I am chances are you'll get something out of the book.  If you're not, then go see the movie!  It's fantastic!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Master of None Season 1 Review

I really liked this show.  Master of None is about modern life in your late twenties or early thirties.  And it's definitely a show aimed squarely at people in their late twenties and early thirties.  This is exactly where I am in my life at the moment.

It's quick 20-25 minute episodes each focus on an aspect of life and explore it.  They never overstay their welcome and it's always easy to just click to watch the next one.

The acting can be a bit off sometimes but I think it's mostly the actors figuring out their roles.  By the end of the season it's not evident anymore.

Overall it's another good Netflix Original Series.  I love seeing things like this that we wouldn't ever get to see on broadcast or cable TV.  And I still love Netflix's model of releasing an entire season at once.  My wife and I watched all of Master of None over two nights.

I'm also starting to really dig this trend of 10-15 episodes in a season of a show.  A lot of shows that I really like have adopted it.  Game of Thrones, Jessica Jones, Star Wars Rebels, Downton Abbey, and this one.  10-15 episode seasons make for more compact narrative and less filler.  They also make it quicker to digest seasons of content.  It's really cool.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Clone Wars Season 3

Clone Wars keeps improving as a show each season I watch but it's still not a good show overall.  It's wildly inconsistent with the quality of it's episodes.

Clone Wars is at it's best when it's either adding to the dynamics between main characters from the movies or actually putting some of the key Clone Wars characters in danger.  Part of the problem is that anyone who is in the later movies has complete plot immunity so they're never in real danger.

At this point, Ahsoka is my favorite character.  She's an original creation for the Clone Wars TV show.  She takes the role of Anakin's apprentice and basically picks up his attitudes toward the force.  That means that she sometimes rides the line between the dark side and the light side, which is where most of the interesting aspects of the force are.

There was one fantastic three part storyline in this season.  It involved Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka stumbling on a planet that the core of the Force flows through.  The events on the planet have the ability to affect greater conflicts throughout the galaxy.  It's inhabited only by three people, one represents the light, one the dark, and the last represents the balance.  Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka all have force visions and character development.  The episode manages to tie in the entire prequel series of movies into the plot.  It's amazing.

But that's three episodes out of twenty one.  The overall quality and entertainment is better than seasons one and two so I'm hoping that trend continues with season four.

Honestly, at this point I'm mostly just watching Clone Wars to understand Ahsoka's story.  She shows up as an adult in Rebels, which I'm loving, and I want to understand her better as a character.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens (non spoiler) Thoughts

I don't feel like I want to do a formal review for The Force Awakens.  It's much too difficult to encompass all my feelings and thoughts.  But I've seen the movie twice already and I have to say I love it!

The Force Awakens captures the spirit and the feeling of the original trilogy while still managing to become it's own movie.  It feels like the Star Wars franchise has finally gotten a movie to live up to the originals!

This may become my favorite Star Wars movie.  I'm too close to it to tell right now, and hype is crazy.  Perspective and time is needed but I know that this one is right near the top of my favorite Star Wars movies.  The Empire Strikes Back is a difficult one to topple from the top spot but I'm thinking The Force Awakens may have done it for me.

Like I said, I need time and perspective before I'll truly know.

But I love what they've done.  The new cast is fantastic and they are definitely their own characters.  They don't fall squarely into any of the tropes of the old characters and I think it's going to give us a different view of the universe.

Not to mention that this is the movie where the original cast is starting to hand the series over to the newcomers.  I'm so excited to see how that happens over the course of this trilogy.

There are so many things I want to talk about but I know that so many people haven't seen the movie yet.  I don't want to accidentally spoil it for anyone.

The Force Awakens makes me really happy as a Star Wars fan.  I think the series is in good hands going forward.  You should see it if you haven't already!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Battlefront Battle of Jakku

The Battle of Jakku is the first (free) downloadable content for Battlefront.  It's the setting of the first major battle that happens after the events of Return of the Jedi.  I got to read all about the battle in Lost Stars which is an amazing Star Wars book.  It's cool to actually get to see the battle in action.

In the battle tons of ships get destroyed, fall into the gravity well of the planet, and crash.  It seems like this has made it into a ship graveyard by the time The Force Awakens happens.  I'm writing this post earlier in the month, but I'll probably know one way or another by the time this post goes live since I'm due to see the movie yesterday!

Anyway, it's cool to see the battle in full force.

It also introduces a new game type that I actually like.  I was mostly only playing Walker Assault and Squadron modes but this new control point mode is really fun too.  I hope they roll it out to other maps as well.  Basically you have a series of staggered control points and the attacking team only needs to capture one in a set to push the defenders back to the next set.  It starts with three points in the first set, then two in the next, two after that, and finally culminates with one control point.  This has the effect of the battle slowly closing in as the game moves on.

I'm happy to see them rolling out new content for free.  It'll be interesting to see how much more content they give out to players before they make us pick up the season pass that they're pushing so hard.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Telltale Game of Thrones Season 1 Finale

Episode six in the Telltale Game of Thrones games wrapped up what is apparently only season 1.

I was actually really frustrated by this episode.  I'd been loving this game so far and it seemed like everything would come to a head in episode six and wrap up the story.  Instead, there are some character deaths and big shifts in power but there's not actually a conclusion.

It appears that they've kicked resolution down the road so that they can create an entire season 2 of the Game of Thrones game.  I wanted definitive conclusions and I didn't get them.  At this point I wonder if they'll just try to milk it and create as many seasons as they can out of it.  That's not what I want from a Telltale game.  I want a quick series of episodes that give me a complete narrative arc.

Not to mention that episode six was the buggiest one in the whole season.  Loading times were terrible and I experiences a ton of glitches in graphics and with characters saying things twice or not saying things when they should.  It just felt shoddy compared to the previous five episodes that I loved.

Overall it was a disappointment and now that I know they're averse from actually concluding the story I'm not sure if I will be tempted to pick up the inevitable season 2... since it might just leave resolution until season 3, or 4, or 10.

I still like Telltale games in general.  By all means I think what they did with Tales from the Borderlands is amazing.  But this may be where I bow out of the Telltale Game of Thrones series.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wayward Cultural Lessons

You never know where you're going to be exposed to a new way of thinking.

Earlier this week I mentioned that in finally sampling 90ish comics from last year's free comic book day I found two series that inspired me to actually pay money and pick up more comics.  One of those was Wayward.

Wayward is about supernatural occurrences happening in modern day Japan while most of the people are none the wiser.  It has relatable characters, fun powers, and an engaging story.

The thing I like most about it is the section in the back of every issue that has a short essay on a facet of Japanese culture.  It's honestly the thing I look forward to the most in each issue.

It's often an essay explaining the Japanese mythological origin for a character or group encountered in that week's comic.  But sometimes it's simply about the structure of day-to-day life in Japan.  I find both unbelievably fascinating.

I love being exposed to new culture and finding out about new belief systems.  It's amazing how things are set up in different parts of the world.  Right now I'm finding myself excited to get the next issue of Wayward so I can read the next essay but I'm realizing there may be an itch that hasn't been scratched in awhile.

I might need to venture outside of my normal pop culture channels and actually do some research or find some books about other cultures around the world.  I didn't realize how much I had missed the subject.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sunless Sea Impressions

Sunless Sea is a game that got a ton of praise when it came out last year.  It finally fell enough in price that I picked it up in the latest Steam sale.

It's a narrative driven game in the vein of Fallen London.  Fallen London is a free browser based story driven game that I got fairly heavily into for about a month a year or two ago.  Sunless Sea is actually created by the same team and with the same engine as Fallen London and it shows.

It's basically Fallen London with more gameplay elements tacked on top.  There's a ship that you navigate around the sea while having to manage your crew, inventory, and combat.  It's a smoother and more engaging version of the free Fallen London game that's been available for awhile.

My problem is that I got my fill of Fallen London when I dove deep into that game a few years back.  This feels like playing it again.  It's an interesting game and the sea is fun to explore... but I've already gotten my fill of this style of game in this particular engine.

I can see why a lot of people liked this game.  I'm sure I would have loved it if I hadn't already played Fallen London.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Belated Free Comic Book Day!

Free comic book day is something that happens every year in May.  I've still never gone to a free comic book day in person at a comic book shop, but the last few years Comixology has done free comic book day digitally.

When I first started getting into comics it was digitally with Comixology and right around the time of year for free comic book day.  They released a ton of comics for free and I devoured them.  The last two years I've been busy during that time of year but I go "buy" them all digitally for free and download them.

I just finally got around to reading through all the free comics from the past two years worth of free comic book day.  I started it on my trip last month and finished them all up within a week or so.  Most of the comics were either an issue one, special issue, or one-off.  They're meant to entice you into picking up more comics from the series and get invested.  Honestly, it's really smart.

I read somewhere between 80 and 90 comics in that week.  It was fun to see such a variety but I'm really picky in my comics, I don't like a ton of them but the ones I enjoy I really latch onto.  Out of the 90ish I read I picked up more issues for two series.  That sounds like a really low success rate but I was actually not expecting any to intrigue me enough to the point where I would pay for more.

The two I liked are Wayward and Rat Queens.

Wayward is all about a half-Japanese transfer student who just moved to Japan for the first time in her life.  She quickly finds supernatural happenings going on and she starts having encounters with traditional Japanese monsters and spirits.  I really like it as an interesting look at Japanese culture and Japanese mythology.  The fact that the main character is an outsider helps me relate since I've never stepped foot in Japan myself.

Rat Queens is a sarcastic look at a fantasy world full of quests and monsters.  It definitely shows DnD roots but it's the sarcasm and the main cast of female party members that make it entertaining.  I've already read the entire series that's been released to date and it's wonderful.  The adventuring makes a nice backdrop for a lot of mature issues and interpersonal relationships.  Rat Queens deals with characters and relationships just as much as it deals with adventures and violence.  Chances are good that I'm going to keep up to date with this one going forward.

Now I'm really excited for next year's free comic book day.  Sampling so many different comics in such a short amount of time was a ton of fun!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Escapists Impressions

Continuing with my new Steam game impressions is The Escapists.

I like the premise of this game.  You're an inmate and you need to escape a prison.  There are different difficulties for different levels of prison.  It seems like there are quests, routines, items to buy and sell, and some light crafting.  I really like the premise of this game.

I played through a couple levels but on PC I had a lot of frustration with the controls.  It's not intuitive at all when to use which click or how to interact with different types of objects.

I think I would much rather be playing this game with a controller.  Sadly, it doesn't support a controller on PC so I can't play the way I want to.  I bet this would even control better on a touch screen.

At this point I've basically been striking out on all the games I grabbed on the Steam sale.  I'm mostly ok with that.  I picked up all these games on the cheap for just this reason.  I knew that I might not like them but the premises were interesting enough that they've stayed in my Steam wishlist.  I have a couple more to try out.  I'm hoping to find something that sticks.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Subnautica Impressions

Subnautica is another game I picked up in the latest Steam sale.  I had overheard some people talking about it and the general impression I came away with was that Subnautica is a game about underwater exploration.

It starts out with you crashing on an alien water planet and basically just tells you to go.

I was really excited to splash into the water and start swimming around to discover new life and strange oddities.

What I actually found is an underwater game with a limited oxygen meter that is channeling the crafting mechanics of Minecraft.  I've done enough Minecraft style crafting for one lifetime... I don't really need to do it in any other game again.

Granted, Subnautica is still in early access and things could change.  As it stands it isn't a game I want to play.  But if they make a mode with no oxygen meter and free exploration of an underwater realm then I'll jump back in and have fun exploring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ori and the Blind Forest Impressions

Ori and the Blind Forest is another game I grabbed during the Black Friday Steam Sale.

It's a beautiful platformer with great sound design.  It set a mood and made me feel for the characters within the first ten minutes.  It seems like it has high production values and offers a lot for platformer fans.

I'm coming to realize that I may have played so many platformers in my life that I'm not nearly the fan I used to be.  I'll still sit down and love all my time with a new Mario game... but beyond that I'm finding the genre less and less interesting.  Everything feel derivative and samey.

That's how I feel about Ori and the Blind Forest.  I can tell intellectually that it's a really good platformer with fantastic art direction and a story to tell.  My problem is that moment to moment it's not doing much for me in the gameplay.

I'm going to set this one aside and if I'm ever in the mood for a solid platformer that's not Mario I'll come back to it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Titan Souls Impressions

I picked up a couple new Steam games in the Steam sale over Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  At this point I have almost all the Steam games I want, I just keep indie oddities on my wishlist so if they drop low enough I can grab them on the cheap.

Titan Souls is the first one of the games in this category that I grabbed in the latest sale.

The basic premise of the game is that you are given one arrow to shoot (and retrieve), one point of health, and one hit kills.  One hit on your character will instantly destroy you but one arrow in the right spot at the right time will kill a boss too.

It makes for an interesting dynamic.  The entire game is made up of boss fights and the open world spaces between them.  In a big way it reminds me of the structure of Shadow of the Colossus.

Bosses are scary and imposing at first while you figure out their weakness and their patterns.  Then you think you've figured it out but can't quite execute the kill correctly.  And finally you have a good run and vanquish the boss.  I really like the structure of the game and the fights.

I beat about four or five bosses and had fun with the game.  I'm going to put it on hold to try out other games but I think Titan Souls is pretty cool.

Monday, December 7, 2015

StarCraft II Legacy of the Void Multiplayer

Ugh.  So.  I tried to get back into StarCraft II multiplayer after playing through the single player campaign the other week.  While I was immediately able to throw myself back into that single player campaign it was really hard to get back into multiplayer.

I basically failed to get into it.

I was placed in Bronze league and I lost a lot.  Bronze should be the easiest league in multiplayer with the newest and worst players.  I think at this point there aren't really any new players.  Bronze league was a great place to learn the game back in 2010 when it first came out but now the people there will tear a newbie apart.

I'm sure I could buckle down, look up some current strategies, check out a few guides, and work my way back into StarCraft II multiplayer.  But I don't really want to.  That's a lot of work for something that doesn't seem very rewarding for me these days.

I still think StarCraft II is the best RTS game out there right now, but if you aren't already deep into the competitive multiplayer it's not worth it to attempt.

There is a new archon mode which lets two players control the same units.  That's novel, but doesn't add much.

The co-op mode is fascinating.  You're given a hero with specific special skills and a limited army and then asked to accomplish tasks.  There's not a ton of variety in that mode though.  There are only about 6 maps and after playing each one once you've essentially seen the entire mode.

I really respect StarCraft II as an amazing RTS.  It's an amazing game.  But outside of the single player campaigns it's just not a game for me anymore.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Video Game High School

Video Game High School (VGHS) is a YouTube series by Freddie Wong.  He's a creator that I've followed for awhile because he does tons of videos about film making and special effects.  Since that was my profession for the first ten years of my career I've always been interested in his videos.

VGHS is his first long form show.  It's structured like traditional TV shows into longer episodes.  It's all about a group of kids that enter into a high school specifically for gamers.  Everything in the school revolves around gaming.

As a gamer I find so much enjoyment in this show, even though it's often rough around the edges.  I've been watching it since season one but I hadn't realized until last week that the third and final season was finally out.  I got to binge watch it over the holiday break and it was a fun diversion.

If you're a gamer and you've never heard of it I would definitely check it out.  There are three seasons and each one is better than the last.  As they go on the individual episodes and the seasons get longer and longer as they get more complex.  I'll embed the very first episode below.

Or if you're like me and you were caught up but didn't realize season three was in the wild, here's the first episode of season three:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jessica Jones Season 1 Review

I think this is the best thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has created so far.  It's so much better than the other shows I've watched, especially compared to DareDevil.

Where DareDevil left me frustrated with the pacing problems and inconsistency in quality, Jessica Jones is well paced and interesting the entire way through.  I watched it in two sittings but stopping that first night because I had to go to bed was painful since I was so engrossed in the story.

The premise is that Jessica Jones has super powers but doesn't want to be a super hero.  She's super strong and can heal faster than normal people but she mostly just uses her powers in an everyday sort of way while doing her job as a private investigator.  The story is all about her dealing with her powers and confronting her past with the villain Kilgrave, who is played by the amazing David Tennant.  I thought he was good in Doctor Who but he's amazing in Jessica Jones.

Kilgrave is a mind controller who does basically whatever he wants.  In the past he had taken control of Jessica and used her powers against her will.  The main thrust of the story is about Jessica deciding to fight back against Kilgrave and the ways she goes about it... while still being worried that he might gain control over her again.

The show gets dark and violent but never for the sake of darkness or violence.  In DareDevil I felt like they made things extra bloody or violent just because they could.  In Jessica Jones whenever it goes there it feels like it fits the story.  That makes such a huge difference in my ability to enjoy the show.

It also deals with adult issues like sex and complex relationships.  The thirteen episodes truly do cover a lot of ground.

If Marvel makes more shows like this as part of their Marvel Cinematic Universe then I'm in.  I'll be watching them all.  Now that I've finished Jessica Jones I'm really excited to see what they do with the next couple Netflix Original Marvel shows, Luke Cage and then The Defenders.  I have high hopes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Battlefront Follow-Up

Now that I've had more time with Battlefront I really need to follow up on my initial impressions.  While I still think this is a must-have for Star Wars fans I'm also starting to see the limitations of the game.

Don't get me wrong, it still gives an amazing sense of place and of being in the Star Wars universe.  When I need a quick fix for Star Wars this is an easy game to reach for.

But from a gameplay standpoint as a shooter... it doesn't have the same refined qualities as a game like Destiny, Halo, or Call of Duty.  The progression system is too slow and doesn't give enough options.  There are only 4 big maps, and they're cut up into smaller maps for different game types.  So while they say there are something like 16 maps... it's really just 4 tilesets and you'll quickly start to recognize parts of maps within different game types.

I'm also a bit disappointed with the single player offerings.  There are a few missions and survival mode... but they just aren't that fun solo.  Luckily they can be played co-op, which is a lot of fun.  But if you want to sit down for some non-competitive Star Wars action solo there isn't a lot here for you.

There are a lot of game modes, but most of them aren't that fun.  At this point I'm basically only playing three.  Walker Assault and Squadron modes are amazing.  They're a ton of fun.  When I need to break it up I jump over to Heroes vs Villains mode and take control of some of the special characters.  None of the other modes really clicked with me.

I'm still loving being in the Star Wars universe.  And I know that they're adding new maps and new abilities to the game for free as time goes on.  Jakku is the first new map being added and it comes out this week.  I'm interested to see what else they add for free before they kick off their season pass.

I'm also cautiously optimistic about the season pass.  Depending on how much content it adds I might pick it up.  If they use the season pass to actually add Galactic Conquest mode back into the game I'll probably have to buy it.  That's where almost all my time went in the original Battlefront games on PS2 and Xbox.

I don't regret my purchase at all, I just love Star Wars so much.  But I wanted to temper my initial enthusiasm because if you aren't as big of a Star Wars fan as me you could easily be disappointed with the amount of content in this game.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

StarCraft II Legacy of the Void Campaign

While I got delayed by Fallout 4, I did get around to playing Legacy of the Void.  I've always been a fan of Starcraft and I think Starcraft II is the best RTS out there.  I'm not as big into the multiplayer as I was when it first released, but it's still an amazing game.

Legacy of the Void is the final campaign in StarCraft II finishing off what started back in 2010 with Wings of Liberty.  The main campaign follows Artanis and the last of the uncorrupted Protoss as they try to regroup and then eventually retake their homeworld.  All the threads start wrapping up as the Hybrids, the relationship between the Zerg and Protoss, and the Xel'Naga are all explained.

I loved the Protoss campaign because I got to play my favorite race in the game.  In all honesty, I think that Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm had more variety in missions and more unique missions.  But, I've been waiting more than five years to finally get the Protoss campaign and I enjoyed it immensely.

Where the Protoss campaign ends the StarCraft II epilogue begins.  It's included with the expansion and it ties up all three campaigns in a series of three missions that totally wrap up the StarCraft and StarCraft II storyline.  After finishing the prologue it doesn't seem like they'll ever be able to revisit this time period or these characters.  If we eventually get a StarCraft III it will have to be something new.

I should warn you, the epilogue is super tough.  The first mission you control the Protoss, the second you get Terran, and the third you get Zerg.  Since I barely ever used Terran or Zerg in multiplayer and haven't played their campaigns in years I struggled a lot to finish the last two missions.  For perspective, I beat the Terran campaign (back in the day) on hard, the Zerg and Protoss campaigns on Normal, but for the last two missions of the epilogue I had to drop it down to Casual difficulty.  I actually needed to use cheats to finish the very last mission for the first time.  After I saw how it played out I was able to go back and finish it on Casual regularly.

At this point it's really nice to have completed character arcs for all of the main characters in the StarCraft and StarCraft II series.

If you've played Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm you deserve to see the end of the story.  Definitely pick up Legacy of the Void.

I'm going to start digging into multiplayer and seeing what's new.  Expect a report back soon!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors these days and I just found out that he released this novella Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell a while ago and I somehow missed it.

I remedied that situation.

My favorite thing about novella length fiction is being able to sit down and read the entire thing in one session.  This one was no exception.  I read through the novella in one night and really liked it.

Sanderson creates a new world with a new system of magic and superstition, as he usually does.  It's always interesting to see which direction he takes it.  In this world it seems to be built up around puritanical belief systems.  I'm not a person that likes too much religion in my fiction, but Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell does a great job of using it as source material but not lingering on it.

The story follows Silence, a character who owns a waystop along a dangerous road through the forests and the White Fox, a bounty hunter who tracks people down in those same forests.  It didn't take long for the story to grab me and pull me along all the way through the end.

If you're interested in novella length fiction or an author who does some of the best world-building you should definitely check it out.  I actually found a link to a snippet you can read for free right now.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Travel Entertainment

Last week while I was traveling I got some time to dabble in various distractions.  I was away from my main gaming PC and consoles, so I got away from the newest game releases and dug into other things.

I listened to a lot of podcasts on the trip.  I even picked up a new one, Rebel Force Radio, which is an awesome Star Wars fan podcast.

I got caught up on all the Star Wars comics I've purchased on Comixology.  Then I started picking through the 80+ unread comics that I got for free through Comixology last year on free comic book day.  They were a lot of either one-off or issue #1 and I didn't get through them all yet, but there were a couple that were intriguing and I might actually go purchase some more in those series to see if they hold my interest.

I'm basically up to date on playing all the 3DS games I wanted to so I browsed the Nintendo e-shop and realized I had never picked up Pokemon Ruby or Sapphire... they were after my prime time with Pokemon Red/Blue and Gold/Silver.  They now have a 3D remake of Ruby and Sapphire on 3DS so I picked up Omega Ruby for my trip.  I barely got to play it, but it's nice to have a low key Pokemon game to play around with.  Especially one I haven't played before.

One day I had a bunch of down time in the hotel so I watched the first half season of Jessica Jones.  It's another Marvel Netflix Original Series in the vein of DareDevil and it released the entire first season last week.  I really like what I've seen so far.  It's so much better paced than DareDevil and the characters are way more interesting.  It also feels a lot more consistent... where DareDevil had inconsistent quality problems.  I'm excited to dive in and finish up Jessica Jones season one soon.

Besides reading a bit the only other thing I did for fun on my trip was playing a little bit more Hearthstone.  It's a really good game for when you're stuck in an airport but still have an LTE connection on your smart phone.  It helped me kill a lot of hours while waiting for plane delays.

It was nice to break up my media consumption a bit by being away from home.  It got me to spend time on things that I enjoy but that I don't normally make much time for.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Overloading my Brain in a Good Way?

I'm an introvert.  I know this about myself.

When I need to recharge I need time by myself.  Preferably some time without any noise or needs from other people.  This is the core of being an introvert.  It's not how you act or if you're a people person.  It's how you recharge yourself.

I noticed something interesting last week on my trip.  I had a lot of travel for three days in a row and no real time alone to recharge.  Instead I did the opposite... I kinda overloaded my brain.  On the plane I put on a podcast and played games and paid attention to my traveling companion all at the same time.  Apparently this can help me deal with stress when I can't actually recharge the way I need to.

As soon as I got back home I just wanted to retreat to a quiet corner of the house and relax... but it's good to know I have another coping mechanism for when that isn't possible.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Star Wars Battlefront Impressions

So good.

It's so good.

Well... if you're a Star Wars fan it is.  If you aren't a Star Wars fan I don't know if the gameplay is anything groundbreaking enough to recommend it to you.

But if you are a fan this is an amazing game.  Everything comes together to make it feel like you're in a real Star Wars battle.  The graphics and sound design are simply amazing.  It's spot on.

Now that the full version is released I finally got to play around with all the gameplay modes.  My favorite two are Squadron and Heroes vs Villains.

In Squadron mode you are never a trooper on the ground, you spawn in an aircraft and you're always in the air.  It's so much fun.  It makes me crave another Rogue Squadron game.  I'm already thinking that Squadron mode will be my preferred mode of play before too long.  I already love it that much.

Heroes vs Villains is a really cool set-up too.  It's a 6v6 match where three people on each team spawn as heroes.  The hero characters are single elimination and whichever team destroys the other team's heroes first wins.  It's both a fun gameplay mode and a cool way to get to be hero characters much more often than in other modes.

My brother and I also started dabbling in the Co-op challenges.  I'm going to wait until we dig in more to write much about them but so far we've had a fun time together.

Honestly, if you are a serious Star Wars fan go buy this game.  I don't know what other advice to give you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Star Wars Hype Rising

I am so excited for The Force Awakens!  My hype level has been slowly rising over the past few months and at this point I just can't wait for the movie.

Star Wars is my favorite universe and to see it move into new hands that are finally going to expand the universe officially with new movies makes me happy.  I'm mostly over the fact that they had to wipe out the old expanded universe because they've started creating a new one, and this time it's all canon.  Disney is going to keep all Star Wars media canon going forward and so far I love what they've done.

I'm still reading all the Star Wars Marvel comics that they're releasing in the run up to the movie.  And I've read all the books.  And now I've played Battlefront too.

At this point I'm re-watching the original trilogy and digging into the special features in the latest Blu Ray collection.  The behind the scenes stuff is super interesting, especially the footage and interviews from the original trilogy.

I have my tickets for opening night and I'm ready for the movie.  I can't believe it's less than a month away.  Honestly, nothing could get me as hyped up as a new Star Wars movie.

I'm just so excited for The Force Awakens!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fallout 4 Main Story

This post obviously contains spoilers.  You have been warned.

I have to say that I like Fallout 4's main story so much better than Fallout 3's.  I completed Fallout 3's main quest because I felt like I should.  I finished Fallout 4's because I was really excited to see what would happen.  The story actually drove me to complete it, which is super rare for a Bethesda game.  I still don't think I've actually seen an ending to any of their Elder Scrolls games that I've played.

Fallout 4 is my favorite Bethesda mainline story so far.

The intro to the game was super cool.  I loved seeing the world of Fallout before it was destroyed.  That futuristic yet 50's style is so well done.  It's the first true glimpse of that world that they've ever let us see and I thought it was a big insight into the rest of the world of Fallout.

Shortly after entering the Vault and narrowly avoiding death by nuclear war you are frozen for 200 years in a cryogenic chamber, your spouse is killed, and your kid is captured.  When you escape the Vault you're compelled to track him down.  As someone with kids of my own this setup really worked for me.  I was driven to search for the child without dawdling around.

But it's Fallout so there are diversions.  Despite being interested in the main story I still spent the first two nights just wandering around and getting the lay of the land.  Exploring the world is some of the most fun in the game.

Then I decided to go critical path and blast my way through the story.  Eventually the main questline just kinda stops.  I wasn't sure what to do so I looked it up.  It turns out that the 4 different major factions in the wasteland are needed to progress the story.

All 4 of the major factions have interesting things about them and the coolest part of the main story is that eventually you'll have to pick a side an exclude one or more of the other factions.  You can't finish the game and see an ending without pissing off at least one of the four factions.

At this point I've seen two endings.  The Railroad ending, which is my main game and the one I'm still playing after seeing the "ending".  I also had a good save state to jump back to and see the Institute ending.  It was much less interesting to me, but at least I know how that one ends now.

If I ever decide to start the game over from scratch I'll most likely try to get my gamestate to a place close to the endings for the Minutemen and the Brotherhood of Steel.  I think you can push both of those close to endgame together without running into too much conflict.  Some day I'd be interested in seeing their endings.

I'm currently sitting at about 36 hours played in Fallout 4.  I would guess that if you only did the critical path you could probably get to an ending in about 15-20 hours in your first playthrough.  But you won't.  You'll get distracted by something in the wasteland... and that's fun.  So don't fight it.

I seriously overloaded on Fallout 4 in trying to finish it in one week.  Battlefront was releasing the next Tuesday and I needed to clear my plate.  So I'm stepping away from Fallout 4 for awhile.  I want to dive into Battlefront and Legacy of the Void.

But there's so much more to find in the wasteland.  I know I'll be back.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sorcery! 2 and Sorcery! 3

Sorcery! (the exclamation mark is actually part of it's official name) is an interactive fiction game that I played awhile ago on iOS.  Scorcery! 2 picks up where it left off.

These games are basically a choose your own adventure book brought to life with combat, gear, and pieces moving around on a map.  It's a pretty cool format.

In Sorcery! 2 you're immediately thrown into a city of thieves and untrustworthy types and are tasked with getting through this massive city to the other side.  Your true objective lies beyond the city and this is an interesting detour that you have no choice but to take.

Quickly you realize that the different sections of the city and different factions within all have a variety of motives and goals.  You can choose who to help and who to hinder.  And occasionally you'll stumble on a really cool diversion.

I loved my time with Sorcery! 2 and was considering replaying it until I saw that Sorcery! 3 had also been released.

I immediately jumped over to the third game to continue my adventure!  I was so excited after the fun I had with Sorcery! 2... and was quickly let down.  The third game is a return to the main quest to defeat the big bad and return the something or other.  It doesn't really matter, what matters is that it's so much less interesting than picking my way through an imposing town.

I guess the main story just didn't grab me, but the giant sidequest that was Sorcery! 2 was right up my alley.

It's still an interesting series but I don't think I'll finish the third game.  I lost all momentum in it and it doesn't seem super compelling.

I would really recommend checking out the first Sorcery! if you're interested at all.  I remember having a lot of fun with that one.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Battlefront: Twilight Company

My regular readers all know by now that I love all things Star Wars.

That being said... this is the first Star Wars book in the new canon that is extremely mediocre.  It's not horrible but there's no way I would recommend this one to anybody.

Seriously, if you want a recommendation go read Lost Stars.  It's probably my favorite Star Wars book ever and it's in the new canon extended universe.

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company is supposed to be a tie-in book to the Battlefront game that releases today.  Actually, it's a very generic sci-fi military novel.  I've never been a big fan of military books.  These are novels that spend the whole time focusing on what it's like fighting on the ground and being one of the troops.  Twilight Company is no exception.

There are a bunch of undeveloped flat characters that you spend the whole book with.  They're ground troops in the war against the Empire but they rarely tie into the overall Star Wars universe and the book barely adds anything to the universe at all.

Out of all the new canon novels this has been my least favorite.

But at least the Battlefront game is out today!  I loved the beta and I'm super excited to play the full game!  It looks amazing!  Just skip the tie-in novel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Do You Use the Default Character?

Let me pose a question.  Do you use the default character?

Because a lot of the time I do.

When I started up Fallout 4 last week I was so excited to get into the game but within the first minutes you are thrown into the character creator.  I know a lot of people who will spend hours creating their character... but I don't.

All I did was change a couple of the scars and tweak the hair color slightly.  It took me less than a minute.  Basically, I'm just using the default character the game provided me.  And I'm completely fine with it.

The best part was getting to the gameplay right away.  I didn't have to put my excitement on hold while I tweaked and modified and changed and tweaked some more.  I got to dive into Fallout 4 right away.

As long as the default character isn't horribly ugly I do this in a lot of games.  I played through all of the Mass Effect series with the default male Commander Shepard.

I'm extra glad I didn't spend a ton of time on my character in Fallout 4 because within the first hour I had a helmet that is actually a full face mask... so I'll probably never see my character's face again.  It seems like all the advanced armor covers your entire face.

What about you guys, do you ever use the default character?  Or are you a tweaker... will you spend hours getting your character to look just perfect for you?  And why?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Avoiding Game Media After Purchase Decision

As soon as I realize I'm going to purchase a game that's not out yet I stop consuming media about it.  The lead up to Fallout 4 made me realize that I've started doing this over the past few years.

I love finding out about games while playing them, so as soon as that purchase decision has been made the only thing I can do is spoil it for myself.  I don't actively hide my eyes from all things about the game I'm interested in but I do stop seeking it out and reading every in depth article.

These days I'm much more likely to consume media around a game I'm on the fence about.

It's actually really fun this way.  I get to go into huge games with giant media blitzes basically blind and truly experience it all for the first time.

That's how it's been this year since Fallout 4 was announced.  Immediately after the E3 press conference I knew I would buy it.  I pre-ordered it on Steam as soon as it was an option and then promptly forgot about the game until a few days before it's release.

If you're a constant consumer of media for a game you want, you might want to try my way.  It's been surprising how much more fun I can have with big AAA games when I don't know as much going into them.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fallout 4's Post Apocalypse... and Mood

The setting in Fallout 4 is starting to get to me.  This is something that has happened with every Fallout game I've played.

I love the open world and the exploration.  I love stumbling onto something unexpected and investigating it.  I love the stories in the world and all the activities to do.

But the post-apocalypse wears on me.  It's mostly brown and grey and everything is destroyed.  They do such a good job of setting the scene that after playing a Fallout game for a couple days it starts to affect my mood.

It's not going to cause me to feel truly depressed but I have noticed that it bums me out even after I step away from the game for a bit.

So I've decided to just critical path the game to see the ending.  Then I'll see how I'm feeling, but chances are I'll look online to see if there's anything really cool that's a "must see."  After that I expect to take an extended break from Fallout.

The setting is the only reason Fallout 3 never became an evergreen game for me.  It's not something I can revisit over and over like some people.  And Fallout 4 won't be any different.

I'm loving my time exploring the wasteland, but I know it won't last for long.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fallout 4 Initial Impressions

No Spoilers in this post!  Promise!  Just gameplay thoughts.

I'm not a Fallout diehard fan but I really liked Fallout 3 and I've been looking forward to Fallout 4 ever since it was announced.

Since it came out earlier this week I've been able to starting digging into it.  I picked it up on PC and have been playing it both on my computer with keyboard/mouse and on my TV via my Steamlink with a Xbox 360 controller.  Well, I would be but the Steamlink set-up is a little buggy at the moment for this game.  I can get it to stream to the Steamlink but I can't get sound.  It's launch week though, and it's such a low priority bug.  I'm sure it'll get patched up quickly.

As a quick side note so far I haven't had any gamebreaking bugs on PC.  Just a couple super tiny graphical oddities, but they're rare and far between.

I really like Fallout 4.  It's a brand new open world to explore.  The very first night I touched the game I played a 6 hour session.  I honestly don't know the last time that I was so into a game that I sat down and played for 6  hours straight.  That's a crazy amount of time for me with my current schedule/responsibilities.

I'm having the same feelings I did when I first played Fallout 3, I just want to explore the world!  It's all new and anything could be around the next corner.  As always, some of the most fun comes from getting distracted and stumbling onto something when you were actually trying to do something else.

It's a lot like Fallout 3... but refined.  The graphics are better, the gameplay is tighter, the world feels more dense, the dialogue flows easier, everything is just cranked up a notch.  If you liked Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas you will love Fallout 4.

There are a couple new things as far as crafting goes.  Such as the fact that crafting exists.  All of the junk you pick up can be used as material either for crafting structures or crafting modifications for weapons and armor.  One of the cool things I noticed is that I'm actually starting to get attached to weapons since I'm modifying them.  It's giving me a weird sense of ownership... but that's probably it's own post.

So far I'm loving Fallout 4.  If you're a fan of Bethesda's open world games you should definitely pick up Fallout 4.  You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's That Time Again, Gaming To-Do List Check-In

It's time to check in once again on my gaming to-do list.  I've loved this idea ever since a fellow blogger brought it up in the middle of Blaugust this year.  It's a good way to make a plan and keep tabs on the games I intend to play.

So, let's check in for the first time since September.  Here's my current list:
  • Fallout 4 - At the time I'm writing this post Fallout 4 isn't out yet, but by the time it's published we should be a couple days into the craziness of Fallout 4 launch.  I hope I like it.  I'm looking forward to exploring the world![adding to list]
  • StarCraft II Legacy of the Void - StarCraft II is still my favorite RTS ever and the latest expansion should come out two days before this post goes live.  I'm interested to see how the campaign plays out and I'll probably end up giving online multiplayer another shot too.[adding to list]
  • Star Wars Battlefront - I played the beta every day this game was available.  I'm so excited to get my hands on the final product!  This is quickly going to become a new evergreen game for me.[adding to list]
  • Persona 4 Golden - I still need to make time for this one.  I will.  I promise.
  • FFX-2 - I will make time for this one too, it just hasn't happened yet.
  • Super Mario Maker - I've loved my time with it.  I'm still playing it here and there so I'm leaving it on the list for now.
And here's what's being removed from the list since last time, and why:
  • Hearthstone - The luster has faded.  I played this a ton for months on end, but I'm out of the habit now.  I'm removing this from the list but expect to see it again next time there's an expansion.[removing from list]
  • Fire Emblem Awakening - Realistically I don't think I'll get back to this game before the next 3DS Fire Emblem comes out, so I'm removing it and I plan on jumping into the newest Fire Emblem right away when it launches in the west.[removing from list]
  • Star Wars Uprising - I was really disappointed with this and stopped playing after a couple days.[removing from list]
  • Disney Infinity - I loved the Star Wars playsets but I haven't touched the game since completing them.  I'll definitely dive back in next time a new playset grabs my attention.[removing from list]
  • Steam Game Catch-Up - I caught up on all the Steam games I wanted to.  This was just a convenient catch-all.[removing from list]
  • Fall Releases - Another convenient catch-all.  I've played a ton of fall releases and all the ones I'm still playing or plan to have their own entry now.[removing from list]
This fall has been crazy with game releases I've looked forward too.  In a fluke of getting sick at the right time (not that it's ever the right time to get sick) I've actually kept up with all the Fall releases and I've been able to finish games and then dive into new ones on day one when they come out.  This is the first time I can remember that happening in years.

I'm super happy with my current list.  It's not too long and I expect good things from all the games on it.

It's just nice to step back every once in awhile and assess what games are making me happy, which aren't, and what I'm looking forward to putting time into.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hand of Fate Impressions

Hand of Fate is a card based choose your own adventure... action game?  It's honestly a weird blend of genres.  It's out now on multiple systems, including PC where I picked it up.

I'm realizing more and more that I like these modern incarnations of the choose your own adventure novel.  This game is all about a journey through a deck of cards.  There are encounters, items, locations, shops, enemies, and all sorts of interesting things in the deck.

It seems like both the player deck and encounter deck can be customized if you so choose.  So far I've only used the "recommended" deck setup for each situation but it's nice to know that there is a lot of variety in replayability if I want it.

The strangest part of the game is that combat actually takes place in a fully rendered 3D hack and slash setting while the rest of the game takes place on a tabletop with cards.

The hack and slash portion is serviceable but the game shines with the cards on the tabletop.  This is where it really feels like the interesting parts of the game are happening and where all the encounters take place.  It's full of interesting decisions and story elements.  I would honestly be fine if the 3D combat was entirely removed from the game.  It's the rest of it that I'm having a lot of fun with.

And one of the coolest parts is that by playing the game you unlock more cards for all the decks.  That means over time the possibilities grow and the gameplay becomes more and more diverse.

I love a good choose your own adventure and I love a good card game.  Hand of Fate combines them both in an interesting way and I'm really excited to see what else it has in store for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rebel Galaxy Impressions

Rebel Galaxy is a 4x game refined down and made more arcadey.  It's by the developers of Torchlight who have already proved that they can take a game (Diablo) make it their own (Torchlight) and refine it until it's really solid (Torchlight II).

I have a strange relationship with 4x games.  I've always wanted to love them and I end up trying a lot of them out.  But not a single one of them has ever stuck with me.  I quickly get either bored or overwhelmed... or both somehow.

I love the idea of a giant open world with multiple strategic ways to approach it, especially since the 4x genre is often set in space.  I love sci-fi.

Trying Rebel Galaxy has just made me realize that this genre might never be a good fit for me.  I liked what they had done with the gameplay and story.  It was super approachable and the moment to moment gameplay felt so much more fun than any 4x game I've played before... but it still didn't do it for me.

If you're a 4x fan or if you like ship to ship broadside combat then this game might be for you.  For me, it was a Steam refund.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tales from the Borderlands

I finally made some time to finish up the last episode of Tales from the Borderlands by Telltale games.

It was great!

I can't say anything about this particular episode without giving out huge spoilers for the other four episodes leading up to this one.  But I can say that they tied it all together and they answered all the questions they had asked earlier in the series.

I love that so many decisions from the four earlier episodes ended up having an impact in episode five.  It was really well done.

Now that Tales from the Borderlands is complete I can honestly say it's my favorite Telltale adventure game.  It consistently made me laugh and held my interest throughout all the individual episodes.  I still like a lot of their other games, but this is my favorite.

If you're the type of person who waits for all the episodes to come out in an episodic series, now's your chance to jump on this game.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Triforce Heroes Impressions

Triforce Heroes is the newest Legend of Zelda game on 3DS.  It came out two weeks ago but I still haven't see much coverage of it.  Maybe it's because Triforce heroes isn't structured like a typical Legend of Zelda game, it's basically a follow-up to The Legend of Zelda Four Swords.

If you don't know what that means... it's essentially multiplayer Zelda.

The main conceit in making Zelda multiplayer is that the open world exploration is completely gone.  Instead, the game is structured into zones which contain levels which contain stages.

You connect online and choose the zone you want to play in.  This will match you with other people who also want to play levels in that zone.  Once you have a party of three you enter the zone and cast your vote for the level you want to play.  It does a little roulette spin and choose the one of your three votes randomly.  Then you actually enter the level and play through the four stages within it as a team.

It's not a bad system but it doesn't feel like traditional Zelda.  Without the open world to explore the game takes on a different tone.

Not to say that the game isn't fun.  Figuring out puzzles with three people who have different types of special items can be a joy.  At least it can when your connection to the server remains stable.  And when your teammates actually understand what needs to happen.  And when the emotes which are your only means of communication are up to the task of conveying what you need to say.

Once you get past all that, the levels can be very fun.  Overall, I'm more frustrated with this game than anything else.  I have constant server issues which I'm sure aren't on my end (I do online gaming on all my other platforms daily) and I keep running into random people online who can't quite grasp what our team needs to do to accomplish an objective.

I honestly think the best way to play this game is to have three friends with three 3DS systems sitting in one room together.  That would be amazing!  Unfortunately, that's an extremely rare setup to encounter in the US.  I'm sure it's going over better in Japan, but it's a hard sell here.  I mean, you can't even do two player, otherwise I would love to try this game with my brother.  But no, Nintendo has decided that only three player co-op will do.

I haven't even talked about some of the cool mechanics, and I feel bad about ranting so long without getting to them.  There are costumes that you can craft out of dropped materials from levels.  These give you special powers or make your items behave differently.  Items themselves are pre-set for each level.  Each player can only hold one special item, so on the first stage of a level there are three special items to pick up.  Sometimes they're all the same but typically they're complimentary items that must work together to solve puzzles.  Oh, and you can totem on top of each other to reach new heights.

I've been finding enough fun in this game to not feel bad about the purchase, but I love Zelda.  If you're not a huge Zelda fan then the only reason you should pick up this game is if you have a local three player co-op setup for 3DS.  If you do have that I'm jealous, because this game would be so fun to play in that setting.

Friday, November 6, 2015

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

This was an awesome book.  I don't often read or listen to non-fiction novels but I make exceptions for people or authors that I really like.

I like a lot of Felicia Day's work and I'm always interested in seeing the next thing that she creates.  This was a good chance to find out more about her and the creative process she goes through.  It was very fascinating.

I'm always interested in hearing about how people work and how creative work is accomplished.  This book gives a good feel for both in Felicia Day's work.

I listened to this one as an Audiobook and it's definitely the way to go, because the author is also the narrator.  I love when that happens.  When the author is the narrator you can be sure that the correct tone is carried through in the reading of the piece of work.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how creative work gets done, the beginnings of video web series in the infancy of Youtube, or if you're just a fan of Felicia Day.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Weapons as Character

Playing Assassin's Creed last week really brought something to light for me.  Often, in games, we define characters by the weapons they use.  It's an interesting phenomenon.

In Assassin's Creed Syndicate the Frye Twins have different default weapons that give them a different feel from one another.  Evie has a cane sword and Jacob has a brass knuckle.  It immediately distinguishes them even though they're twins and mostly have the same skills.  They are quickly shown to have unique styles via their weapons.

When I was watching DareDevil the other week there were a few episodes that focused on how he started using his batons as weapons.  They end up becoming a defining part of his character.

Not to mention iconic characters like Cloud and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII are also often defined by their weapons.  No one ever really thinks about Sephiroth without thinking about his super long Masamune sword.  And the image of Cloud with his Buster Sword is recognized by gamers everywhere.

It's interesting that we often choose to define our characters by their weapons but I suppose what we're really doing is defining them by the way they choose to fight.  It shows their style and their skills.

But really, the weapon someone chooses says something about them as a person.  I suppose that's why it's so often used as a shorthand for defining characters.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

DareDevil Season 1 Review

DareDevil is another show I got to catch up on while I was sick the other week.

Oh boy, does this show have some pacing problems.

I don't exactly know how to review DareDevil for you because it has some great episodes and it has some absolutely amazing scenes in certain episodes.  But it also has episodes where almost nothing happens and the show seems to drag on for way too long.

That's especially bad as a Netflix Original since the show can be any length it feels is appropriate.  It doesn't have to fit into the normal 42 minute block for an "hour long" TV show airing on network TV.

But then we have scenes like the hallway encounter at the end of episode 2.  It's one of the most interesting fight scenes I've ever seen.

And then there are amazing moments with Wilson Fisk, the bad guy.  He's portrayed so incredibly by the actor.

I'm honestly torn.  I'm glad I watched season 1 of DareDevil but I don't see myself ever wanting to sit through it again.  But now that they've gotten a lot of the origin story out of the way in season 1 it means that season 2 can pick up the pace if they so choose.  I hope they never do a flashback again.

I don't want to tell you to watch it but I don't want to tell you to skip it either.  This is a show where your mileage may vary drastically.

I'm just not sure if season 1 was worth the time I put into it.  What I do know is that now that I've watched season 1 I'm very interested to see what they do with season 2.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Blade Runner Novel

I was surprised to see that Blade Runner was actually a novel  from the 60s.  I've tried to watch the movie a bunch of times and it never grabbed my attention but I'd never given the novel a shot.

Once I started reading it I very quickly ran into that 60s Sci-Fi feel.  I didn't know if I had enough drive to read a book like that at the moment so I got the Audible version instead.

It's actually a pretty interesting book.  It's all about a bounty hunter in search of renegade androids on the loose in his territory.  It's post apocalyptic and the world is a radioactive wasteland where most life is dead.  There's an entire religion built up around the remaining living animals and it also influences how people feel about the artificial life of androids.

It's not a book I would necessarily recommend to anyone, but I am glad that I've read it.  I know it's either based off of or another name for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which is a famous book from that time period.

From the old school sci-fi to the cultish nature of the religion a lot of parts of the book weren't fantastic.  But, like I said, overall I'm glad to have read it.

I wonder if it would be worth it to give the movie one last shot now that I know the source material.