Recently, and not for the first time in the last year of streaming, I began to feel a period of burnout coming on. It was a slow creep at first, and last weekend it hit me suddenly like a wave. When this happens, the natural instinct kicks in and you either fight it or try to get out of its way, but it is too late. The water surges in and you feel yourself getting pulled around in all directions. To further milk this poetic tidal analogy, there is only so much water you can fight through before you fall in and get rolled around. And the only thing left to do is to scramble back to the beach with a mouth full of sea water and some seaweed clinging to your head
I am by no means a professional games reviewer. I don’t keep up with the games market all day every day and often I buy games that are a few months on the shelf, but I do enjoy games and gaming in general. Here are my thoughts about the games I play and my experience being a gamer.
Geralt of Rivia. Mercenary. Witcher. Made and trained to kill monsters in the defence of humankind as a sword for hire, he wanders from town to village to smallholdings in the countryside seeking notices nailed to bulletin boards and fence posts. Or maybe the sound of screams from somewhere deep inside the forest nearby, heralding potential work for his kind that they might fill their coin pouch. Drowners, manticores, vampires, kikkimoras, anything the local alderman might pay a bounty for. His downtime is spent playing dice or cards, or brewing potions for his work and tending to his injuries while enjoying the company of a beautiful woman.
Geralt’s adventures were first published in book form by Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski, as a series of short stories depicting the Witcher’s various jobs ranging from slaying a beast preying on local merchants along the road to lifting curses from a princess at the personal behest of the King. Through all of this, he endures the adulation of those he saved in equal measure to the animosity from those who scorn his kind. Witchers are not quite human, you see. They are usually taken as children to a Witcher fortress that acts as their school, taught to fight with swords, practice herblore for potion brewing, given training in tracking animals, anything that their work would require. Once they come of age, and only if they survive, they are put through the Trial of grasses where their young bodies are subjected to powerful mutagen potions, one after the other, and infected with various sicknesses to develop immunity that will last a lifetime to all sickness. Spells are cast to inject a little magic into them, though just a little.
It’s been way too quiet here lately and I should blog a lot more so here is a little update on what I have been up to outside of the writing front. I have another half-finished blog about writing from a month ago I owe some time to, and will get round to finishing it. Meanwhile, I have been a little preoccupied with a new activity: streaming video games on Twitch.
Streaming games has been something on my mind for the last two years. I have been watching lets-plays on YouTube for around a decade, ever since I got bit by the Minecraft bug and played it non-stop when I was not at work. In the last three years, I have added watching live streams to my list of chosen entertainment and have found a batch of streamers who play games that I enjoy watching on a regular basis.
Browsing the Steam offerings at the beginning of the year, I noticed a new indie looking game called Don’t Starve. After a quick glance at the page I see it is labelled as a wilderness survival game developed by Klei Entertainment. OK, sounds like my kind of thing I guess. Scavenge and gather resources, keep the terrors of the world at bay and such. I also see it is still in beta and this is an early release, so expect bugs and an unfinished product. This has not deterred me before, since I found buying Minecraft to be a positive purchase overall.
I have to confess, though. I was not expecting much from it, and not because it was clearly marked as an early access beta. Not that I was expecting bugs from it, simply because I wondered how in depth it could be. Was it purely a Minecraft style game with a different camera perspective? There is something to be said for moderate expectations going into something new.
While working through my backlog of games I am also playing some recent titles as well. I figure it is best to stagger these in the hopes of keeping the blog relevant to current gaming instead of being totally retro.* I played the demo of Spec Ops: The Line some time back, soon after release, and was impressed with the feel of it. In my opinion this merited a closer look, so here it is.
* Note, not all went as planned here and… yeah this game is now last year’s news and I am way behind again… but you can see my intentions were pure so I will keep this ill-fated line in none the less…
So here I am, finally able to write for my blog again and having also fixed the issues with transfer to my new Gmail address. Of course, for now the blog looks near the same as before and nothing much will have changed but… hey, we’re back! And we are back with just cause, too. Or should I say Just Cause 2… yeah ok I won’t pull too many of those jokes, I promise. They have been done to death already so let me just get into the meat of things. I have a huge backlog so this calls for some speed blogging.
So, Just Cause 2… let me just say first of all that this is a game I had resolved not to play initially. Pre-release I saw trailers and gameplay review podcasts about Just Cause 2 showing some of the gameplay features and, while clearly looking awesome on many levels I found some of the gameplay mechanics to be a little off. Namely the infinite parachute and grapple hook combo. Maybe I was too hard on the game and pre-judging it without giving it a chance? I often thought this but was content to let the game slide by anyway. Then Steam comes along with their awesome summer sale deals and put up the usual publisher packs, set fire to my credit card and dumped a load of games into my library before running off into the night. This is a process I like to call the Game Glomp, and no one does it better than Steam.
Well, what can I say. It has been a long time since I did a blog here. My personal life got messy, my priorities shifted and my attention was on many other things.
I have been planning to relaunch this blog at some point in the future and I am getting closer to that date, however I am in the process of cleaning up my google stuff, and google’s crazy system is not co-operating.
So, having been a huge fan (understatement if there ever was one) of Batman: Arkham Asylum, I was waiting with baited breath for Batman: Arkham City, delivered by Rocksteady Studios. I don’t normally pre-order games at the store or even online via D2D distribution methods, but for this one I was willing to make an exception. Arkham Asylum was, without a doubt, one of the most satisfying purchases on the XBox I have made to date and needed a good kicking to pull if off its podium. Since we are talking Batman here, I think we can all agree that the only thing capable of pulling Batman off a high and hard-to-reach vantage point is another Batman.
… Surely not… but if you insist.
Yes, lately I have been making all endeavours to lose some weight and I am doing quite well there. I have picked up my old gym membership card and spent time on cardio there, changed my diet and now invested in some basic home fitness equipment as well as digging out the old dumbbells from my parent’s loft.
I also remembered how I have a Wii with a Wii Fit board and also a Kinect for my XBox that I have neglected somewhat. I was not entirely impressed with the Wii Fit so it has gone to a better home. But the Kinect was promising, at least as far as I had used it with the provided Kinect Adventures game as well as the Kinect Sports game I got at the same time. You do feel a workout as you use it, and I loaded it back up to supplement my efforts at the regular gym. Does the Kinect have the potential to replace gym membership for the masses? Well.. keep that question in mind as you read on. I will answer it in the end. This blog will focus more on an individual game instead of the Kinect platform as a whole, but this is a question I was asking myself as I utilised my new purchase.
So, around the time I was half way through Space Marine and drafting my blog, a few days after release in fact, I ran back to the shops to collect my pre-order of Gears of War 3. The third (well, duh) in the series by Epic Games, Gears of War 3 has been a pleasure for me to play over the evolution of the series.
Anyone that knows me knows that I like a game with a story, and one that is told well regardless of how preposterous it might be in substance. This should be evident from my review of Mass Effect 2, where I praise the writing and story telling of the game in general. Gears of War as a series has story depth in spades, digging.. a very deep hole…. you get the idea.
Ongoing ProjectsFerum Republic: Chapter 1.2
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