For some reason, I take the time to write out all of these blogs. Most likely it's from intense boredom. This time though it may be because I actually got frustrated and had to stop playing games for a couple hours to cool off. I've been playing Minecraft, and I got to the bottom of a shaft, got blown up by a creeper and knocked into lava, losing my diamond tools and several mine car tracks that I wasted tons of steel on. Took a lot of self control not to just delete the world. Ofcourse now that I'm breaking, it is rather in this world outside of my pc. There's nothing ever on TV, I've read most of the books I bought over the summer, and I just got done watching The Social Network, a great movie, especially in the writing. Last time I updated was way back in ancient times so I'll give the 2-3 people who skim this an update.
I dropped out back last winter and slumped around for a solid part of the last year, doing basically nothing. Maybe not the world's greatest life choice, but whatever, nobody is perfect. This fall I actually did get back into school though, at UC Clermont, in Liberal Arts lol. It's community college for now, but if I get my grades up I might transfer to UC's main campus to work on a Bachelor's. Been doing well so far, though it's hard to compare Mechanical Engineering to community college Liberal Arts in terms of difficulty.
I did get back into reading books, which is something I haven't done in a long time. Most of my entertainment time is spent using the computer, and I began to regret it a bit. So I went out to Border's and bought a whole bunch of books people recommended to me.
I spent the summer reading the first 11 books in The Dresden Files series. Overall I enjoyed them quite a bit. The books definitely got better as they went along, though as a whole, it's pretty easy to sum it up as Harry Potter for adults, with a spoonful of Sherlock Holmes thrown in. I did appreciate the complexity of the main character, Harry Dresden, and the fact that he's not invincible helped a lot. And by not invincible, I mean he gets his ass kicked every book. I think at least once a book he was either stabbed or shot or set on fire. Jim Butcher might as well have called the series "The Wizard Who Takes Bullets Well." Really though I did enjoy them though for some genuine dialogue, snappy narration, and well conceived plots. There are a few things that bugged me however. Mainly the way things are named. Jim Butcher reached deep down into his creative bank, and apparently could only come up with the Never Never as his magic world running parallel to ours. The wizards all answer to the White Council. I mean I'm not asking you delve into imaginary languages J.R.R. Tolkien style, but as someone dabbling in creative writing, these feel like names I could make up in 3 minutes.
The next book I tried was How To Win Friends and Influence People. I've never tried a self help book and I figured it might be a good idea to get into this kind of thing, or at least see what it's about. Honestly though I didn't finish it. Not that it was bad, but I just didn't find it as anything but writing down common sense. Really, people like when I remember their names? No way. Oh people like when I compliment them? I had no idea. There were a couple that were a little more helpful, like never showing someone they are wrong overtly, but overall if felt like things I already implicitly knew. My other big criticism was that most of the examples described were composed for a business setting. It would have been nice to see more situations that were purely social.
I've slowed down since I got back into school, but I did start the Song of Ice and Fire series. I've read the first book and about a third of the second, and so far I love it. It's chock full of a lot of really messed up characters, which really don't seem all that messed up considering that people did a lot of crazy stuff in medieval times. It's pretty damn graphic too. A good bit of incest and violence all with plenty of detail. Some murder and power grabs and other very dark activities. My only concern so far is that I'm finding the second a bit harder to read. It's rather slow compared to the first, which starts of with multiple deaths and lots of development. I could definitely recommend it to anyone that is over 18 and appreciates fantasy that is low on actual fantasy and high on flawed humanity.
As far as games go, I haven't really picked up too many since my last post. Back in July I got Starcraft 2, and right around September, I was pretty much done with it. I liked the campaign and love the custom games, but competitive multiplayer in Starcraft has always bugged me. Mostly because if you want to compete, you have to go about 15 minutes or more with absolutely no down time. Taking a break means you will get steamrolled, hard. At least in first person shooters if you die or nobody is around, you can take a few seconds to catch your breath, and prepare. Starcraft 2 is too fast pace for that kind of thing, but then again if I move back down to a lower level on the ladder, it just isn't challenging at all. My other major concern was that the story was pretty weak and the dialogue was awful. I expect better, considering it's the same company who made starcraft and warcraft 3. The entire story is told with weak cliche's and dialogue straight from about three hundred throw away movies. They also ruined Kerrigan as a villain, and the ending was basically a joke. Blizzard is rich, they should be able to hire something better than a 3rd grader to write stories.
I played a few other games but mostly it was smaller indie games that kept my attention. I tried Penumbra on a recommendation, and honestly I didn't really think it was that scary. It was for a little while but I pretty quickly figured out you can just beat the dogs to death, and then it stopped working on my computer. It was unique though, and a great step towards their next game, Amnesia. I pretty much fell in love with the game as soon as I heard there were no weapons, and you just have to run like a sissy. I haven't tried a lot of the older horror games like the silent hill franchise, but from what I have played Amnesia is easily the scariest game I've played. Some of the puzzles were weird but mechanics of insanity and light, mixed with environments nearly pitch perfect in atmospheric execution, had me loving it all the way through. I don't know if it would be all that great for multiple playthroughs, considering plenty of it is scripted, but the initial run is truly intense.
I did get Vanquish and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood over Christmas. I tried Vanquish first, and I was done with it in two short sessions, with a playtime of maybe 6-7 hours. That's pretty damn short considering it has no multiplayer or co-op, and it's only real replay comes from scoring and difficulties. It got a 9 here but it just felt flawed to me. The core combat was fast and fun, but scenario variety was lacking, most of the weapons were underpowered, the story and dialogue were laughable, only sometimes in a good way, and there was little real depth to the product. All flash and no substance is a good way of describing it.
I liked Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood much more. While not as good as the second, I still thoroughly enjoyed it's setting and gameplay. Most of the same good stuff was there, of course so were most of the flaws. One part I really enjoyed were clearing towers, with a specific target you had to kill before you could scale the tower. Some of them were pretty easy, just run up and shoot the guy. Others took a lot of planning and guard manipulation to get right. I liked the freedom allowed for these scenarios. I was a bit put off by the lack of polish on the game though. Plenty of physics bugs and story bugs. Once during the campaign I turned invisible for a solid period until I restarted the game. I still had lots of fun, and anyone who likes the first 2 will like Brotherhood. The multiplayer was what really kept my attention. I don't think it necessarily has legs, but it's hide and seek method of play is really unique, and exceptional fun for a while.
Also I did try APB but if you ever check out SWM you'd already know that I wrote a lengthy review on how much I hated it. Honestly I've played a lot of games and I could say it was one of the worst I've played. How it got anything above a 3 is beyond me.
If I get bored again someday I might write some reviews some time, though it could be a while. I anticipate most of the titles I want this year are all going to be near the tail end of the year.