Apologies for the dry week; life hit Colin and I square in the nose, and we’ve been chasing him ever since, demanding an apology. Thankfully, we’re all bandaged up and ready to fight another week. In the meantime, take a look at what we’ve been up to between summer courses and an unfortunate computer accident…
The French Open
So, I was laid up for a couple of days, and there wasn’t a hell of a lot for me to do during that time. I ended up watching a lot of the French Open- one of the big international tennis tournaments. I played some tennis as a teenager- never enough to be more than a joke, but I enjoyed it- and as a guy who’s never really had cable TV, watching professional tennis was quite engaging.
I watched men’s and women’s, both of which were a pleasure to watch. It was great to come into a match with no feelings or loyalty, and after ten minutes have a favorite. I was on my feet again before I could see the end, but players like Monfils and Tsonga have rekindled my interest in the sport. I’d love to pick my racquet back up once my body’s good for it.
I saw the first Fast movie (The Fast and the Furious) when it first came out, and it wasn’t a bad movie, but it didn’t do much for me. I’ve never been much of a car fetishist- give me good mileage and air conditioning, that’s all I ask. But the series gradually transformed from being all about cars, to being all about its characters and completely absurd plot, and Fast 5 really pushed it from being an interesting novelty to being completely fucking outstanding. The seriousness and gravity with which they handle their honestly not that clever characters and plot is riveting, and the action is out of this world. It is the best kind of dumb.
When I saw the trailers for Fast Six, I knew I had to see it. So last night I saddled up and made the twenty minute trek to the movie theatre that, for me, is made very infrequently. It was interesting to note that the trailers beforehand seemed to nearly all be focused on the apocalypse- World War Z, Pacific Rim, and White House Down. Gee, do you think society’s starting to get obsessed with its own demise?
Anyway. The movie was everything I’d hoped it would be. Bombastic, ridiculous, and funny without being parodic, it was honest to god the best movie I’ve seen all year, and that’s kind of terrifying. I am not a guy who generally likes to turn his brain off, so I have trouble enjoying these sorts of movies, but with Fast, I don’t have to. Sure, it’s not brilliant stuff, but they DO avoid the plot holes and logical inconsistency. It’s ridiculous, but it’s not broken like most of these kinds of films. And the bombast is out of this world.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Ohhhhh, Techland, Techland, Techland. Is there any development team so hit and miss? Call of Juarez was solid, Call of Juarez: The Cartel was hot garbage. Dead Island had a lot of potential, Dead Island: Riptide really just didn’t. And that’s not even mentioning Karaoke for Fun. So when I heard that Call of Juarez: Gunslinger was 15 bucks on PSN… well, like many, I was wondering which side of the FPS development Janus we would be dealing with.
We lucked out, people. Gunslinger is a first person shooter set in the American Old West with an interesting narrative hook- the whole game is being told by the main character decades later in a bar. The effect of this on the story is occasional revision as the narrator’s memory fails him, which causes scenes to change on the fly. At one point, you’re fighting a bunch of Apache Indians, and then the story teller corrects that he misspoke- it was a bunch of bandits fighting Apache-style, not actual Indians. In this moment, suddenly the Indians turn into red-bandana’d gunmen. It’s not a massive gamechanger, but it keeps things interesting and fresh, which is essential for an FPS.
The gameplay is very fun, and the scoring system on levels is a great way to encourage competition among friends. Let it be known that Ben is never gonna top my scores.
Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe
It would be easy to dismiss Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe as “a Tetris clone with guns” after watching it for 30 seconds, but that would make you (A) a jerk and (B) someone who hasn’t watched Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe for more than 30 seconds. Yes, you’re destroying patterns of colored falling blocks, but trapping the player inside of the hazardous playfield makes all the difference in the world. The levels even try to trick you with the siren call of screen-clearing combos; by the time you realize it also destroys the protective layer above the spike-laden floor, it’s already too late.
Unfortunately, its blistering difficulty makes for a poor party game with friends and family. Even my brother, who enjoys a good challenge, quickly lost patience when he lasted 10-15 seconds every time we fought in the couch multiplayer mode. It never pretends to be accessible, but a quick tutorial for first-time battlers would have gone a long way.
It feels like society burned through every conceivable conversation about BioShock Infinite within the first month. I knew I wouldn’t be playing it until I finished my finals, so it was painful to watch the game’s relevance come and go in the blink of an eye. I almost threw up my hands and left it for dead, but I knew missing an “event” game this big would come back to bite me if I didn’t give it a cursory look.
I immediately fell in love with the floating city of Columbia. It’s such a gorgeous, sprawling creation with the same eye for detail that turned Disney World into a commercial Mecca. If a curious friend wasn’t poking me with a stick and moaning “COME ONNNNNNNNNN” every few minutes, I probably would have spent upwards of an hour roaming the streets and taking in the sights and sounds of the parade!
Much like Comstock, I imagine anything I have to say about Elizabeth or the Luteces will be preaching to the choir, so I’ll just cut to the chase and say that this is one of the best games I loathe playing. The weapons and Vigors transform Infinite from an audiovisual wonderland to a thankless slog through waves of decidedly dull enemies. Every bullet fired feels like an obligation; consumers won’t pay $60 for a city-wandering game (or would they?), so here’s your requisite banal shooting to fill in the empty space between the fun bits.
I finished an electrifying meeting with Slade, but by then the action was even more unpleasant, so I called it quits for now. I may come back to it in a week or so, but for now I’m not interested in eating my peas before gobbling up the dessert.
I knew to expect the unexpected when I booted Little Inferno for the first time, but even a lifetime of Terry Gilliam and Paul Verhoeven films couldn’t prepare me for the creepy, biting social commentary that lined the walls of my brick fireplace. It presents itself as a virtual toybox where you spend in-game credits on the latest trinkets and set them on fire. These items range from an adorably feral raccoon to an ordinary looking e-OH NO IT JUST SPROUTED A BLACK LEG SPIDERBURNITBURNITBURNIT… good, it’s gone.
Even when it’s chuckling at the stupidity of the microtransaction market, Little Inferno never lets you feel safe. Prolonged exposure to the game in one sitting isn’t wise; little spiders scamper across your hearth and you’re never quite sure what that eerie gentleman doll will do when fire makes his acquaintance. My friends have promised it bears a wondrous conclusion, but seeing as how I need to take a breather every 20-30 minutes, the end will have to wait for another week.