, on March 23, 2012

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is poorly written (to be fair it has been translated), but the novel is chock-full of timeless themes and ideas.

Mass Effect 3

, , on March 17, 2012

Unfortunately, Mass Effect 3 is not too great. The major draw of the series, its Universe, has slowly been shriveling game after game, becoming more simplistic, tedious, and rigid over time. Even so, there are some awesome moments in the trilogy finale ranging from the badass to the hilarious, but overall the Universe has taken a backseat to greed and deadlines. The actual third person shooter gameplay that binds this cinematic experience together is as repetitive as ever. The ending is an incongruous, incomplete mess. On the plus side, the memes are thriving.

Dear Esther

, , , , on March 10, 2012

Dear Esther is a short game in which the player walks around an island and experiences a story. As far the prior description goes, the island is beautiful, the atmosphere is thick with emotive music and sound effects, and the level design is polished to the degree of ocean glass. The narrative is unimpressive.
I took a bunch of screenshots, several of which are contained after the break.

The Fault in Our Stars

, on February 5, 2012

Great and serious and intelligent book that deserves rereading! Complaints! Sometimes it beats you over the head and tries too hard when presenting ideas. Kind of takes one of those books (like The Bell Jar) where the character is meandering around sharing their thoughts and experiences, but injecting it with more plot and more directed and purposeful narration. I really enjoy these types of books, particularly when they involve daily life and a dallop of existentialism, but I’m still looking for the “perfect” one. There are the kiddie type books, this one included, which include more coherence and obviousness, and then there are the classic type books which are usually too rambling, less coherent, and more limited in scope (realistic).
My other gripe about the book is it seems like Green really could write this perfect story that I mentioned above (he kind of teases this with the book/author within the book, but there he parodies the idea and takes it to an extreme for other purposes), but he likes to place himself in the young adult genre, and enjoys playing that up and trying to connect with the age group, which is at times cheesy and feels forced. Maybe Green lacks the actual life experience to make this “perfect story” happen; in such a story the author and their book are especially closely related. Anyway, he does a great job!
I mention The Fault in Our Stars deserves rereading because there is quite a lot going on, much more than Green’s other books, and there are plenty of good ideas to sit and think about. There are several metaphors within the story to explore, particularly that of Van Houten. The book takes a while to get into, past the typical love story type stuff, but once there it does well. The treatment of the ideas is good, although I disagree with Green’s stance on a lot of them. The characters in this book are not extremely realistic, and the plot is mildly contrived, but that is more than okay.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

, , on November 12, 2011

It feels like not so long ago Twilight Princess was released, and now, 5 years later, Skyward Sword will be available on November 20th. Today, for the first time in a couple of years, I drove to Gamestop to buy a Wii MotionPlus (the last one in stock, heads up) in preparation. The game itself is very sadly practically ruined by lack of 1080p support, but the music and artwork are beautiful, the motion controlled gameplay is undoubtedly the best of its kind, and the mood created is suitably epic, touching, windy, and free.
Playing for 9 more hours, I’m not going to continue any longer. The first hour was apparently the most, and only, enjoyable part of the game– it goes entirely downhill after you venture to the Surface, so downhill that it isn’t even worth playing. I don’t feel bothered to list all of the gameplay (unresponsive controls, overresponsive enemies), design (everything is a dungeon, surprisingly easy to get lost), graphic style (ugly and washed out), and narrative (almost nonexistent, hardly any interaction with hardly any characters) shortcomings, but the result is that the game is not at all fun or interesting to play. A crushing disappointment.
Tevis Thompson has written an essay on Saving Zelda.

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