Monday, December 28, 2015

Video Games: A Year in Review

I love video games, I wish I had more time to just sit back and enjoy them but my life often takes me away. 2015 has been a great year for gaming for me, and I would just like to talk about some of my experiences this year in gaming. These are not everything I've played this year, just some of my favorites.

Fallout 4 - I have sunk WAY too many hours into this game already, and it just came out in December. I love everything to do with this game, I've made 4 distinct characters already to explore different character builds and ways to explore the game. Another Bethesda classic, the open world style of game play for me never gets old and continues to shine. There have been some great improvements in the game from Fallout 3 (love the physics, improved combat mechanics and cool gun customization's), but also some negative changes I'm none to pleased with (dialog system anyone?). I think the hidden gem of this game is the surprise settlement building mechanics, it's a great start and I hope that the DLC coming soon will expand and improve on the basic system in place.

I rate Fallout at 4 power armor suits  out of 5.

Bloodborne - Dark Souls/Demon Souls never really appealed to me as a gamer, the mechanics are unforgiving most of the time and not conductive to my style of enjoyment. When I heard of Bloodborne I was like "Oh great, another hard ass game I have to be told I should enjoy if I'm a real gamer". It was this review here that changed my mind on the game, I am a sucker for a good story and I love Victorian Horror and Lovecraft Horror styles. Yes the game is grueling and yes the game is very unforgiving at times...but the lore and story of this game have me hooked. If you love good horror, and don't mind some crazy difficult game play, I cannot recommend this game enough.

I rate Bloodborne at 3 gibbering madmen ranting about the Old Ones out of Gralphfil'agi

Destiny: Taken King Edition - I purchased a PS4 just to get Destiny when it first came out in 2014, and I was super disappointed. I'm not the biggest shooter fan, but the story alone attracted me to this gem and I had followed its development for years. The finished product left me underwhelmed at best, and I traded it away and moved onto other games. When the Taken King edition came out (with the original game + all the expansions and DLC to date), my wife purchased it for me because she remembered how much I wanted the game in the past. I have to say...all the changes have been good. The DLC and expansions fill out the game, re-balancing has been nice. The game controls better, and I do have a more enjoyable time with it overall. The story still feels lacking, and I'm still frustrated with the whole Bungee website thing, but as far as a shooter goes it's the most fun I've had this year.

I rate Destiny at  2.5 ammo clips out of 4 randomly generated wooden crates somewhere on the f^&king map.

Until Dawn - Dude, this game rocks. It's a video game that plays like a classic 80's/90's horror film, the butterfly effect/choice system is cool and its some of the tightest acting/writing I've seen in a game to date. There isn't much to the mechanics sadly, it's a very story heavy game so many action-style gamer's may find it boring. But it's the perfect game to play when you have a bunch of friends over and wanna feel involved in the telling of a great horror story.

I rate Until Dawn 4 jump scares out of AHHHHH!

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire - 7/10, too much water. Sorry, I couldn't resist the joke! This is a remake of the Gen 3 Pokemon classic, and its a fantastic upgrade. New look, new Pokemon, new styles, it's just great. If you've ever played Pokemon you know what you're getting, but that hasn't stopped me from putting in hundreds of hours into the game. If you like Pokemon, you should play this.

I rate Pokemon AS at 675 Pokedex entries out of 712.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fiction: Listen

Have you ever stopped and spent a few hours in silence to listen to the sound coming from your house, and I mean really stopped to listen? All houses have those sounds, those creaks and groans as metal and wood settle on foundation or the wind blowing through the gutters that rattle against the dirty window pane. Your feet will crinkle carpet as you step your way into bed, shoes will click against the fake wood linoleum when you walk in the kitchen. Door hinges will softly sigh when new, or creak and whine with age, and the soft hum of the a/c unit as it breathes out to chill your home. Your house has a voice, a life, a unique sound that you can only hear if your very still and quiet.

A friend of mine suggested I try meditation the other day, to relax as well as align myself with my environment in my new house. I don't really believe in much of that new age mumbo-jumbo, but I do understand the value of some peace and quiet. To be honest I had never really ever had it, there's always music or TV playing to distract me. Modern life, right? The price we pay for our advances, that constant hum of electricity and artificially created sounds. I decided to turn everything off, unplug all my electronics and even turn off my modem. I set the A/C to off and made sure everything in my house that could create an artificial sound was off, finding a quiet room far from my kitchen and resting in the center. I sat down on the floor and closed my eyes, focused on my breathing and just...listened. I listened for the sounds in my house.

I heard what I expected at first, the creaking in the wind and the brush of branch on wall. Then I heard a different sound.

The sound still haunts me. I can't be alone in my house anymore without something on, which annoys my roommates but they don't understand. The TV hides the sound, the a/c blasting distracts me, the hum of electricity drowns out any other noise. I can't sleep without music, I can't find peace without something to distract me from the sound I can never unhear. I will never be in my home alone in silence ever again. I can't ever handle that moment. I thought I was the only person to ever hear that sound, to listen to what I should not, but when I looked online I saw I wasn't the only one. Thousands, all around the country, had heard the same sound when alone. All of us are afraid to ever be alone in silence again. What if its in every home, what does that even mean? Why doesn't anyone hear it, anyone listen?

If I was really alone, then how did I hear that sound?

Don't believe me? Sit down in a room away from the kitchen. Turn everything off that might produce a sound, wear comfortable clothing and sit with your eyes closed and listen. LISTEN. Don't even think, clear your mind and just LISTEN. LISTEN.

Hear that?

I did.