Silly, pointless, spoilerific.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
Before I finish uploading more pictures, my initial reactions:
Don’t start playing at late o’clock at night, it is absurdly depressing. Don’t continue playing at early o’clock the next morning, it is sunny but vacant.
It’s a fantastic sequel both in terms of taking what worked and preserving/expanding it, and of making necessary changes; it’s familiar but more refined, and the change in art style keeps the charm while making room for a lot more detail—something which can be said of the whole game, actually.
New NPCs are adorable. I never desired the mayor storyline (as much as the player does end up making every important decision for their city, explicitly stating that makes me feel isolated from the other villagers), but I can live with it and I like the tree.
That so much is locked away at the start of the game is frustrating—it creates a lot of goals but limits player expression; I’m highly invested in the function of avatars, so things like the inability to change my hair color make my skin crawl. (Speaking of which: SEND ME YOUR THICK GLASSES.)
This is my first 3D game for the 3DS, although I’ve demo’d the technology before; I won’t be using it much (it’s very hard to keep both head and DS steady when you have three cats crawling all over you), but it’s easier on the eyes than I expected and actually looks pretty cool.
I like the changes I’ve seen in villager interaction. I’ve also already encountered my first, er, bug? (a villager that said she’d come to my house but was not there at the appointed time, and then asked why I hadn’t been there when I encountered her ten minutes later.) I’m too early in to see if there’s enough variety to help these little algorithm animal people stand out as individuals.
I remain disappointed in the image compression for screenshots, although I love how easy they are to take. The ability to upload them straight from the DS would be super convenient if it weren’t for the frequent communication failures between Tumblr and the browser.
I liked a lot of Microsoft’s E3 press conference; I usually do, because they have good energy and focus, and also put on stage shiny cars which I would really like to touch. But:
Not a single Xbox game had a female protagonist. And when Anita Sarkeesian mentioned it, these were the responses she received.
Unrelatedly, today on Tempest Reach it was “girls on the internet!!!1! pics or it didn’t happen” troll day in TERA, all afternoon long.
I write this because Boy and I are thinking about watching the Sony press conference in just a few minutes, and I feel conflicted. I’m conflicted because when there is a game I know I want to play, especially one I know I’ll have an emotional attachment to, I don’t want to know anything about it until I play it—not because of spoilers but just because it plays with my feelings and emotional energy, and I dislike that. Kingdom Hearts III and Dragon Age III are probably superfantastic, I know and I don’t care, I don’t want to hear about it.
But also conflicted for the same reason that I stopped using GameTrailers this time last year: somehow, every time the video game community gets together to talk loudly about itself and about video games, it makes me want to never have anything to do with the video game community ever again.
My Animal Crossing: New Leaf copy just shipped and will be here Wednesday, and Boy and I are watching the Sony E3 press conference together tomorrow (we watched the Xbox one today) and honestly the idea of Kingdom Hearts III makes me feel a little overwhelmed (that full-body flush of anticipatory feelings) so if you need me I will be ignoring my dashboard for a few days.
I finally finished Metro 2033! My official review:
Title: Metro 2033
Author: Dmitry Glukhovsky
Translator: Natasha Randall
Published: London: Orion, 2010 (2005)
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 451
Review: Two decades after nuclear war destroyed the surface world, life persists underground in the tunnels of Moscow Metro. Artyom leaves his childhood home to journey the metro, bringing warning of a new threat: dangerous, radiation-created telepathic mutants called Dark Ones. Fans of the game will find the book familiar, both in story and mechanics—the book was prime for adaptation, and makes one wonder what other books would make good games. But the book’s Artyom is better fleshed out, an inexperienced and frustrating young man who nonetheless makes for a more personal guide to the metro. Metro 2033 is in many ways his travelogue, a collection of stations visited, people met, philosophies encountered. It’s talky, overlong, and underwritten, but the contents are compelling. The metro is a grim and believable world, lived-in and detailed, suffused with horror and, sometimes unexpectedly, with creativity. In many ways it’s extremely limited—such as the existence of only one named female character, Artyom’s dead mother—and even more often it wants for tighter editing and a narrower purview. Metro 2033 is fatally flawed but its world is worth a visit, and I recommend it with reservation.
The adaptation from book to game is spot-on: game mechanics like bullets as currency and the use of gas masks come straight from the book (this kind of dystopic literature provides natural survival mechanics), and setting and plot are faithfully recreated. This is the only book/game adaptation which which I’m familiar with both iterations (although not much falls into this category in the first place), but it’s such a successful transition that it makes me wonder what other books could do the same. Two things seem key: potential interactivity and—likely, but not necessary—violence as a problem-solving method, since games are by definition interactive and violence is their most common form of interaction.
Should you read Metro 2033 if you’ve played or watched Metro 2033? Eh. If you want to. The book’s world is more detailed and varied, but given the bloated scope of the book that’s not necessarily a good thing. The game does most of what the book does, but the book does it artlessly—it’s talky, repetitive, and Randall’s translation is particularly bland—whereas the game, however flawed, reduces some redundancy and still renders the same dystopic, surreal, haunted world. The book is quieter and more philosophical; the game is more consumable. Arytom is the book’s primary selling point: he’s often annoying but always an existent character, filling the gaping hole in the game(s). Normally I prefer text as a storytelling medium, but Metro 2033 as a novel is far from remarkable—intriguing, yes, but not particularly good; you don’t need to read it to appreciate the Metro world.
Also telling is how much it bothered me that the book had not a single talking, named female character. The game doesn’t, either—Metro: Last Light has one, identifiable by her gender and, unsurprisingly, sexually available to Artyom—but it didn’t bother me nearly as much. This is in part because the games have more women in the background of towns, functioning as flavor text (book Artyom rarely notices women)—but mostly, it’s because I’m even more accustomed to seeing women erased from video games than I am from books, and therefore more tolerant of it. So there’s that.