So I don't know how it was around your neck of the planet, but over here is was wet and cold all weekend long--which made it the perfect excuse to sit around the house and do absolutely nothing. Yay! Actually, I shouldn't say "nothing." It's not like I was suspended in one of those isolation vats for 48 hours. I did do some things. It's just that the things I did were those quiet, lazy things you do when you don't feel like going outside. Like making a belt out of human skulls.
Anyway, so the first thing I did was finally take care of the ongoing lack-of-sound problem I had with my Xbox 360. Thanks to my pals at Quarter to Three, it is now fixed. Woot! This meant I could finally boot up Mirror's Edge, which has been sitting around my house since it came out. We don't get "free games" at EA. What we do get is points--10 per year, that can go towards getting games at the EA Store on campus. Console games cost 2 points, while PC games cost 1 point---proof, again, that PC games are the retarded in-bred step-cousin of gaming.
In any case, I used 2 of my precious 10 points to pick up Mirror's Edge, but it has been mocking me for weeks, cuz I didn't want to play without sound. So yesterday I plowed through the prologue and first two chapters, and my short review is: Me likey, but me throwy controller a couple times too. The game looks fuggin' fantastic. I love the art direction, all bright and clean with big dollops of primary colors everywhere. And the platform game meets FPS hybrid is a really nice concept--adding tension to your every move. But, as others have noted in more official reviews, the combat is really not so hot. At first, I thought those people had missed the point. Clearly DICE didn't really intend this game to be about combat. But the fact is, even by Chapter 2 it's *also* clear that some enemies need to be dealt with--at least if you're not playing on Easy, which I'm not. Yes, I know you can blitz through the game, in theory, without ever engaging the enemy, but some of the scenarios just almost demand you at least engage in some disarming, which, in my case, usually means I'm going to end up dead. The worse problem I see, however, is that, unless you are really lucky or really great at this kind of thing, you basically need to die over and over and over to figure out the right path to take. DICE is super generous with the checkpoints, so that's cool, but it does get wearying to have to play this way after awhile. I find myself only able to play in short bursts so that I can keep enjoying myself and not get too frustrated. I credit DICE for this though: They didn't go out of their way to baby everyone too much, just in some misguided attempt to PLEASE EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. They let this be a somewhat hardcore game--and that's not a bad thing. I'd rather they err this way, with a game like this, then hold everyone's hand all the way through and not provide any challenge whatsoever. I just may suck too much to ever finish it.
Also played: Wow Lich King, of course. God I love this expansion. Luuuuuurve it. The more I play, the more I am certain that this is the best WoW content Blizzard has made to date. I've already blabbered on about the phasing---and that was *before* I got to the epic surprise in Dragonblight--so I won't do it again. But all the other little touches, the funny quest chains (I loved fighting along with "Future Eggbertt"--who told me afterward to "get us better gear"), the mounted missions, just really have renewed my love full-on for this game. Really, Blizzard could just be coasting at this point, laughing and high-fiving each other in their beds of money. But they went out of their way with Lich King. And to that I say: Kudos!
And in further gaming news: Brodeo fans will hopefully be pleased to know that my good pals at Gamers With Jobs invited both Shawn Elliott and myself to appear on their podcast together, which we recorded yesterday (Saturday) for airing on, errr, I think December 17. I think. Check their website for details! I always enjoy talking with those guys, and it was extra super-dee-duper fun to be reunited with Shawn for a couple hours of podcasting blather. We had a good time recording it, so I hope y'all like it!
The other "big" weekend activity was watching "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" on DVD with the family, which I'd never seen. I've loved every Miyazaki film I've ever seen, and actually had intended on reading the manga for this years ago, but never did. This movie didn't disappoint either. But what is it with him and the weird creatures? Either he did (or does) a lot of drugs, or maybe he just has a brain naturally geared towards the surreal. The great thing is, as weird as he gets, there's always so much heart and sincerity in his stories. He never lets things get odd just to be odd. "Totoro" will always be my favorite. And "Spirited Away" was just so moving. I'm not sure how I'd rank "Nausicaa"--but, like all Miyazaki, it was two hours of animation that had me completed wrapped in its spell.
Finally, I did have to leave the house at one point today for a potluck dinner for my kid's cross-country team. That itself was fine. What was notable, in a blog-worthy way, was the teen word usage I learned at the event. That would be "beast", used as a verb. As in, "I totally beasted that test on Friday," or, "even when she wasn't feeling well, she totally beasted it at practice every week."
Okay, the resident Jew in the house must now sign off to carry the Christmas tree inside. WTF? What's next? Putting the honey glaze on the ham? Oy vey!