Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sea of Thieves

The first thing you see when you drop into the Sea of Thieves isn’t the sea; it’s a table, a grubby, worn, wooden thing in a dingy tavern, dimly lit by candles, the hurdy-gurdy strains of some shanty (or Ride of the Valkyries) warbling in the air. There’s a woman at the bar who’ll offer bits of gossip or refill your tankard (for free - the business model is unclear).

Through the door, out into the too-bright sun, and you’re greeted by shanty lean-to stores and tents - where you’ll pick up Voyages, and (eventually) buy new boots, hats, weapons, tools - all looking like they’ve been cobbled together from the remains of whatever ships washed up here before you did. A short distance away, bobbing on one of the best water simulations you’ve ever seen, is your ship. Part vehicle, part home base, she’s your Falcon, your Serenity, your Black Pearl.

As a great captain once said, what a ship is - is freedom.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Destiny 2

The short version of any Destiny 2 review is this: If you liked Destiny, you’ll like Destiny 2. If not, you probably won’t. Most of the changes are quality of life improvements, leaving the whole thing feeling much more like an expansion than a sequel.

 The one area that’s seen a lot of attention - both from the devs and from press coverage - is the addition of a story, and it’s the story I want to talk about here.

 Destiny set a low bar for game narrative, thanks to most of it famously being hacked out 9 months before launch. To be honest, I’m not sure Destiny 2 has better writing, as much as there’s just a lot more of it; there’s still a lot of cliche and a dearth of subtext (everyone either says exactly what they mean or makes a joke), but the thing that bugged me most about it was the lack of cost.

 Spoilers follow.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ben-Hur (1959)

For a film as old and as famous as Ben-Hur, I was expecting fewer surprises.

It's as long as expected, but for the most part doesn't feel like it, because there's more plot than I thought; it's more subtle and even-handed, politically, than I thought it would be; and it's got a lot more Jesus than I expected, as he shows up periodically to give someone a drink or wander around on a hill in the background, always shot from the back so you can only see his magnificent hair.

He's always accompanied by an organ swell, too, just to make sure you know it's really Him.

Rogue One

I love Star Wars.

The Empire Strikes Back is probably my favourite film of all time. I mean, sure, I was burned by the prequels, I'm not the hugest fan of The Force Awakens, and I think Return of the Jedi is actually more than a little bit rubbish, but I love Star Wars.

I hated Rogue One.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Don't Starve Together

Most of the time I've spent with Don't Starve to date has been vicarious; charming as it is, the Tim Burton aesthetic never quite clicked with me, and the gameplay was just a little too punishing; I prefer my games with a little more direction included, or at least some kind of instruction beyond the title, even if it's as simple as No Man's Sky's "reach the center of the galaxy at some point".

My wife and her sister, however, meshed immediately, so I've spent uncounted hours sitting on the sofa with Winston or Wendy or Woodie tramping around the procedural landscape, offering advice, if not assistance.

But now Don't Starve Together has launched on PlayStation 4, and I'm pitching in to "help".

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

No Man's Sky

I was going to leave it at No Man's Diary, but after a couple of weeks with this, I feel like I've digested it enough to talk about in a more review-y kind of way. No Man's Sky is too big, too different, too weird for any initial gut reaction to be properly accurate.

It struggled to live up to the hype - but then, how could it not? Pitched as the biggest, most ambitious game you've ever heard of, never mind played, No Man's Sky is a functionally infinite universe of planets to explore, mine, trade, and fight among. Gameplay is relatively simple - it's essentially resource and inventory management, with simple combat layered on top - but the "I'll just go over here and..." factor means there's always something on the horizon: an alien outpost, an ancient monolith, another upgrade you're just a few more minerals short of...

Monday, August 22, 2016

No Man's Diary #6

( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 )
Day 7
As I scour my current system for the elusive chrysonite, I find another ship upgrade. It's pretty incremental - only a single inventory slot - but I like the look of it, and manage to scrounge enough materials to get it up and running. I have to fly without a shield for a while, but only fall afoul of pirates once.

I ignore the next crashed ship I find; I'm finding that repairs quickly get expensive and time-consuming, so I think I'll wait for something that's a more dramatic upgrade than a single inventory slot.

Unless it, you know, looks really cool, or something.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hitman episode 4: Bangkok (and Bonus Summer episode)

One town looks very like another when your head's down over your target, brother.
So far, Hitman has taken us to an exclusive fashion show in a Parisian mansion, a secret lab located under an Italian seaside resort, and the Swedish Embassy in Marrakesh, so a hotel seems a little... ordinary? Certainly, it's the first location where an ordinary person could find themselves without being a high-flying international assassin for hire.

But the Himmapan luxury hotel is no ordinary venue; this is, after all, Hitman, and that means plenty of backroom areas rife for exploration and exploitation.

Monday, August 15, 2016

No Man's Diary #5

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 )
Day Five
I've spent the last two systems searching in vain for chrysonite, but haven't seen so much as an atom of the stuff. Salt in the wounds was Sarah practically tripping over the stuff on a planet she found, but I keep looking.

I find a world with huge mountains of gold, and spend an hour mining the stuff to swell my coffers a bit; despite the new ship I got yesterday, I'm still in the market for a bigger ship, but the ones I like the look of all cost between one and two million units. I've currently got less than half a million.

No Man's Diary #4

( 1 | 2 | 3 )
Day Four
As I fly low over the surface of another mostly-dead world, I spot a blob of blue and red standing out from the surrounding brown ground, a plume of smoke billowing out into the thin atmosphere.

I land nearby and sprint/jetpack over the rocks to survey my prize: a crashed starship.