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.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Assassin's Creed Syndicate Impressions

Assassin's Creed Syndicate is this year's entry in the series.  It's set in London during England's industrial revolution.  It's a classic Assassin's vs Templars set up but the setting seems especially fun this year.

The Frye twins are both main characters which is a first for the series.  They're Assassin twins with very different, but interesting, personalities.  Jacob likes to just wing it or charge into a situation, he specializes in fighting.  Evie plans and thinks before approaching a target.  She is great at stealth and infiltration.

They have separate skill trees so you can build each one the way you want to.  But, Jacob has a few end-game powers that make him especially good at combat and Evie has the same for stealth.

I honestly love the way these two characters play off each other and interact.  It's believable friendly banter that I didn't know I wanted in the Assassin's Creed series, but now that it's here I love it.  These are easily the most interesting characters in the series since Ezio.

As far as gameplay, things have been refined for the first time in many years.  Instead of just bolting on new systems like some crazy Voltron, as they have in the past, it seems like they've stepped back and fixed some of the core gameplay.  It's so much more fun to traverse the environment and I don't think I once got mad because my character didn't do what I wanted.  The combat feels similar but better than it has in awhile.

And it was a huge surprise to find it fun to sneak around again!  The best course of action in the last few Assassin's Creed games has been to just charge into an area unless the game absolutely forces you to stealth.  Combat was easy and almost every challenge could be overcome with brute force.  In Syndicate stealth feels great and it's more fun than it's ever been.  And then when you do get detected it's still possible to fight your way out of a bad situation, but your characters aren't gods among men.

Syndicate is so much better than last year's Assassin's Creed Unity.  This one actually has compelling characters, next gen graphics without huge glitches, and has been overall refined.

It's my favorite entry in the series since Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, which came out in 2010 and has always been the best Assassin's Creed game in my opinion.  I think Syndicate has become my favorite Assassin's Creed game.  Right after finishing a game it's always hard to tell how it will hold up long term, but I'm going to let this one percolate in the back of my head.  It's really a fantastic game.