Friday, December 13, 2013

NRS Video Games of the Year (Not Necessarily Released this Year)

Didn't play a whole lot from this year, and most of what I played were shooters, surprisingly. My best game of 2013 was Dark Souls, which I put one-hundred hours into, with only a few of those being composed of pure frustration. I loved the game world (bleak and strange), the art style (somehow reminiscent of Quake), the combat (simple yet difficult to master); yet it's one of those games that I probably won't come back to, seeing how my first play through was so thorough, and because it's a stressful game, really. Sure, you eventually come to catharsis after you beat the Four Kings or Seath the Scaleless, but every single failure builds up to that catharsis, hence the stress.The experience of playing Dark Souls is like becoming a geyser of emotion that only erupts periodically, unlike Old Faithful. 

Civilization 5 was a close second. It was the first strategy game I've played in a while, and it's certainly very addictive. The wife even liked it too, so bonus points for that. I'm not a veteran of the series, so some of the complaints others might of had didn't register. Loved that it allowed single computer multiplayer.

X-Com is number 3. The combat is great, the tech tree is okay, the random environments are a bit boring after a while, but overall an excellent game. Kind of wish that there was more to the interceptor mini-game, and that base building was more evolved. The expansion is on my wishlist.

Honorable mentions-Shadow Warrior, Metro: Last Light; Dishonored DLC; Hotline Miami.

Biggest Disappointment. Yeah, Bioshock Infinite. It's somehow too much like the previous games while simultaneously being too little like them. It wastes its wondrous floating world on a contradictory story about time travel (although all stories about time travel have similar problems). I liked the shooting, Elizabeth, and the main twist. I understand why they didn't just make it Bioshock in the sky. But we should've been able to explore Columbia, and like many others, I found the violence to be a little out of place. Still a good game and one worth playing, but still a disappointed. It was almost doomed to be.

Honorable disappointment mention. Crysis 3. Did you remember that it was released this year? All I remember about it are respawning enemies, lots of cutscenes (though thankfully fewer than the previous title) and giant guns that take up most of the screen. Why the hell did they switch the protagonist again? What the hell happened to Nomad and Alcatraz? Why can't I just run around on an island throwing turtles at Koreans?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

One-Hundred Obituaries

Philip J. Dick died on the way home from a farmers' market while in the process of preparing to eat a cinnamon pecan roll. His attention divided between driving his car and unwrapping his pastry, Mr. Dick's vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a semi-tractor trailer.  Like its occupant, Mr. Dick's vehicle, a 2003 model Chrysler PT cruiser, did not fair very well in the accident. One witness, a certain Mary Contrarian, described the scene as resembling "the meeting of a train and a cow." Mr. Dick would have been disturbed to hear himself compared to a cow, considering the amount of time he put forth trying to change his corpulent physique. His wife had just purchased one of those total gym exercise machines, this one in particular purporting to help its user drop fifty pounds in just a month when used only fifteen minutes a day. Mr. Dick had the opportunity to use the machine once before his untimely demise, though to be honest, he likely would have used it only a few times more, Mr. Dick being one of those people who detest exercise in any form. Yet his wife was constantly telling him to lose weight, which was why Mr. Dick was always participating in the latest exercise fad. He had attempted to dance off the pounds while watching videos of spandex-clad vixens throwing their lithe little bodies to and fro; he'd bought a bike, which rusted in the garage, as well as a weight set, which also rusted in the garage. He had implements and elastic bands and fat calipers and all manner of things which he had bought and discarded to the garage, which served as a sort of museum for the last decade's infomercial exercise equipment. He wife called it the monument to desire, though to whose desire the garage was a monument to was uncertain. Mrs. Dick was not particularly svelte herself; her son, a monster named Dick Jr., often called his mother "Momma Three-Bills," though her weight was not in actuality in excess of two-hundred and fifty pounds. This is not her obituary, however. We shall cease discussing Mrs. Dick.
            During his last thirty minutes of life, Mr. Dick spent fifteen of those minutes wandering around his local farmers' market, located in the rear of a church. Not being a spiritual man, churches made Mr. Dick uneasy. His mother had been especially devout, requiring little Mr. Dick to attend Sunday school every week, a mind-numbing experience, and one that was damaging to the boy's sense of religion. The market made him uneasy as well. Mr. Dick did not like vegetables; his wife (Mrs. Dick again) called him a "meatatarian," though that awkward adjective was not entirely accurate, since Mr. Dick did love his starches, particularly when fried, as well as his sugary sweets, as we already know. The presence of so much so called "good food"—apples and beets and lettuce and roots and god knows what else—made him feel a little guilty, for he knew that he was not going to buy any of it. He entered the market on an impulse. Forty years of American life had made him an impulsive, confused creature. The cinnamon roll was all he purchased, yet he felt good when he exited, certain that he had taken a step toward slimness. Life was made of small steps, of this he was certain, and all one had to do was make a concerted effort and all of one's desires would be granted, almost like magic. The progression by steps theory had not resulted in much personal success for Mr. Dick, yet he clung to it like a warm blanket all the same. He was actually thinking of exercising right before glancing down at his crouch at the cinnamon roll that lay there, wrapped up in white paper like a Christmas present, waiting. Mr. Dick could not wait.