Sunday, June 12, 2011

More on The Wise Man's Fear and Other Pop Culture Detritus.

Happy Sunday!

It has been the best kind of Sunday for yours truly--that is, absolutely no plans whatsoever. With all sorts of travel behind me, and another trip out of the country in a week, I seriously needed a day of downtime, and today I got it.

The best part of my day--or maybe the worst--was finally finishing up Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear. If you read my previous blog entry on this book, and if you cared, you will note that I was supremely disappointed in this followup to one of the great fantasy novels of the best decade or so--The Name of The Wind. I was holding out hope, against all reason, that the last bit of the book would somehow redeem the mess that is the first 2/3. But, nah. No surprise really. This book was just all over the map plotwise, with just atrocious pacing throughout, so even though some individual parts were okay, thanks to Rothfuss' lovely prose and good ear, my overall impression is the same as it was about 800 pages ago: this book needed a serious edit. Ugh.

In happier news today, I plowed through a humongous chunk of Uncharted 2 today on my new PS3. It took me five years to finally get my act together and buy the console, partly because of money (like everyone else), and partly because I felt like my 360 was enough and I don't play that much of that console anyway. What tipped me over the edge was receiving the email from Sony that I was entitled to the two free "welcome back" games on PSN, following their security debacle, thanks to my foresight in registering the one PSP game I've bought in the last five years, Tactics Ogre. Those free games, plus the fact that I knew I had $300 in credit sitting on my card at GameStop, finally pushed me over the edge. And, ya know what? I'm glad. I'm totally digging it.

I have four PS3 games in my possession now: Infamous and Little Big Planet from the "welcome back" deal, Uncharted 2, and Demon's Souls. Uncharted 2 I picked up at the store with the machine, based on remembering everyone and their mom and their mom's mom telling me this was the best game of 2009, back when I didn't give a shit cuz I didn't have the console. And, yeah. It's awesome. What's particularly satisfying to me is the dialog--something I was not prepared for.

Since I'm so utterly LTTP on this, there's no real point in me blabbering on about it, but I'll just say that it's a rare videogame indeed that actually manages to pull of witty, adult banter that isn't just cheesy or groan-inducing or a pale imitation of the sources its mimicking. Clearly we're in Indiana Jones turf here--obviously--but somehow Naughty Dog is able to give Nathan Drake and his pals (and enemies) personalities, and lines to say, that totally hold their own. And if the story isn't particularly original, I still--amazingly--feel emotionally invested in the characters' plight. Gameplay-wise (and I believe I have at most 2 chapters to go), I've loved the variety of the level design (the train was my favorite), and the difficulty (I'm playing on Normal) is just right for me, though I imagine lots of hardcore folks find it too easy. My only complaint? A bit too much shooting, especially near the end here. I'm all for shooters. It's not that. It's just that I like the adventurey/platformy stuff in games like this more. Some of the firefights here just feel a bit too gratuitous, and long. And I seriously could have done without the sniper level (or any sniper level in any game ever again.) Overall, though, I'm loving it. And had I played it at the time, chances are it would have been at the top of my list in 2009 too. Now I just have to go back and play the first one.

More quick pop culture hits:

The Killing on AMC: Still totally hooked on this, as is the wife, but it ain't perfect. For one, there's the issue of the rain. Seriously, it doesn't even rain this much in the fucking rainforest. There isn't this much water in the ocean. We get that it's in Seattle, okay? And we get that you must have read somewhere that it rains in Seattle. But the constant heavy downpour in practically every scene has now moved from distracting to ridiculous. Oh yeah, and, err, it might help to advance the plot a bit now and then, and not devote weeks to plot points that end up being total red herrings. (And also, I can't tell if the Twin Peaks references are deliberate and loving homage, or just straight ripoff. At least they didn't call the casino Two-Eyed Jacks.) But credit the writers, and my love of a good whodunnit, for still tuning in every damn week.

Oz on HBO GO - I've already seen this entire series. And there's other series on HBO that I could/should be watching instead. But there's something about Oz that's compelling me to do a second run-through, and I don't think it's all the male nudity. At least that's what I'll keep telling myself. Mostly I'm loving seeing all the actors who would then go on to The Wire. So many more than I originally thought! Still, I wish I could just get myself to stop watching it already, since I know what happens, and finally get on to Deadwood.

Comic Books: Yeah, I'm back in. Only digitally though. And I'm taking it easy so far. Based on recommendations from Twitterites, I've now gotten myself into Chew, Atomic Robo, Criminal, Invincible, and Morning Glories. All great stuff. I'm totally going to stay away from the Marvel/DC superheroes though, especially with DC's reboot looming. I've lived long enough to see this kind of reboot more than once, and ya thanks. In fact, let's get Hitler to weigh in on this matter, since he says it best:

That's it for today. Not a particularly funny or witty or insightful post, but, hey, maybe none of them are! This was more a Sunday afternoon brain dump, in front of the NBA Finals. And if you made it this far, and have a PS3, and feel like being my pal on PSN, go ahead and add me: JeffAtPopCap. I'm reluctant to send that out to 17,000 people on Twitter, but since only a fraction ever look at this page, and only a fraction of that will make it to this paragraph, why, consider yourself "lucky!"



NetNomad said...

Why not JeffatCDW for us old timers? :)

spdiscus said...

The original Uncharted is also very good, but the shooting is much more of a chore. When you burn through your current PS3 titles you should pick that one up.

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Rax Nahali said...

First time commenter, long time reader. Like 20yrs

Glad to see you started blogging again Jeff, I thought twitter would be the death of this blog. I haven't been here in a while and I have some catching up to do it seems.

Glad to hear PopCap is working out for you as well.

Still missing the old mag man, I enjoyed it a lot. Be well.

Nelson said...

"JeffAtPopCap" If only I could trade this invaluable secret for millions and millions of dollars ;)

Shobo said...

Jeff, good to see you enjoyed Uncharted 2, it really is a great game. It may sound odd, but it's worth checking out the Behind the Scene's Cast and Crew videos on PSN as well (you'll have to search for them), there's an almost Firefly-esque dynamic that makes you really appreciate when a creative endeavor just clicks.

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Nice pictures. Uncharted is one of the best for the PS.

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