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On the Table
That’s it folks. Time to wrap up 2013, the year in gaming. We have a Game of the Year…unless something really, really special comes along in the next four months. Robinson Crusoe, as far as I’m concerned, is the game of 2013. It’s one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played, and it may very well be the best co-op I’ve ever played. It’s an amazing, rich, detailed design that somehow manages to be a pretty chunky Eurogame but with more specific story material than most games that have followed on from the Talisman/Arkham Horror models. This game reminds me a lot of Agricola- it’s worker placement, you get a random selection of technologies every game, you’ve got to maintain food supply and building material sources, and it has a similar cyclical turn structure but with weather happening instead of seasonal changes.
It’s truly a masterpiece. I usually don’t turnaround game reviews so quickly, but I’ve already played this game more than enough to get a handle on why it’s so good. Its narrative variety and potential for expansion means that it’s going to have longevity. I’ve played it every night since I got it, and multiple times on a few nights. I still want more, and I’ll play it again tonight. The multiplayer is great at any number, the solitaire game is superb. This is definitely one not to be missed. Review at No High Scores, per tradition.
All other games right now are lesser in stature, but there’s still some decent new ones to look at. I finally got through to someone at Iello, they sent over Mythic Battles and Titanium Wars. Mythic Battles looks pretty neat, sort of an advanced take on Manouvre but with some sort of miniatures-y special unit functions. Titanium Wars is odd, I thought it was a deckbuilder but it’s really not. It almost has this kind of Cosmic-like structure where you draw a planet card and decide if you want to send ships to fight over it. It’s really kind of a tableau-builder, you use buildings and production facilties to earn money (PAPER money…tiny little paper money…it’s adorable) to spend on cards from a menu of choices. Might be pretty neat.
Shipping notices from Plaid Hat and AEG…I’m thinking that’s Bioshock Infinite and I’m really, really hoping Trains. So those reviews will be in the pipeline at some point.
But they will not be as good as Robinson Crusoe.
On the Consoles
In a fit of “oh, what the hell” I traded in the Wii U for double credit at Gamestop along with some games, paid off the PS4 and got a 3DSXL…AND a $20 off a used game purchase, with which I bought Kid Icarus: Uprising. AND I got Fire Emblem. Not a bad deal for a console that was barely seeing any on time. I regret not getting to play Wonderful 101 when it comes out next month, but I’ll likely rebuy a Wii U after a price drop or two and when some more games are out for it worth playing. Not too sore about missing Pikmin 3, I really don’t like that style of game.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is fucking amazing. I reviewed it when it came out and liked it a lot, I forgot how good it is. Haven’t started on Fire Emblem yet.
My Metal Gear quest continues…just beat Fatman, I’m trying to stamina kill the bosses. For some reason, it seems easier than lethal means. I’m thinking I might try Snake Eater on the 3DS when I get to it.
I’m also kind of mad for MOBAs right now, and although I really like DOTA2, the one that’s roped me in Solstice Arena on IOS. It’s a Zynga game (sorry) and F2P (really, really sorry) but the paywall is fair and the gameplay is much shorter than most MOBAs- 10-12 minutes instead of 45-60 minutes. It’s simpler overall (3vs3, one lane, no jungling/farming/creeps) and much more accessible…but the kicker to me is that there’s no voice comms, so if you’re like me and do not give a raging shit about talking to people over the internet about a video game, it works out better. I actually paid money to unlock two of the characters because they rotate five free characters and the ones I really like shuffled out. I felt kind of like a sucker, but then I played the game for like two hours straight and felt like I was at least getting my money’s worth out of it.
There’s a more complex one that allows 5 vs 5 matches and has more characters, Heroes of Chaos and Order, but I haven’t played it much. Seems like I’d just go to DOTA2 for that kind of experience.
On the Comics Rack
I didn’t do a lot of comics reading this week, actually…still reading and savoring The Incal, likely jumping back into Irredeemable this week. There’s also a new issue of The Wake out, which I’m really digging although I can tell its inspirational spark was that fake mermaid documentary that Animal Planet ran a year ago or so. It’s a really, really cool story that’s kind of a cross between John Carpenter and James Cameron. I love Sean Murphy’s pencils, too.
On the Screen
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Shut Up and Play the Hits showed up on Netflix. It’s a documentary/concert film documenting LCD Soundsystem’s last show at Madison Square Garden, an 18,000-in-attendance farewell blowout to one of the best bands of this millennium. It’s an interesting story if you’re not familiar, hardly a rock n’ roll one…James Murphy was in his 40s when he started the band (after playing in various punk and indie bands in the 1990s) and his frankness about being older, a complete music nerd, and a “fat guy in a t-shirt doing all the singing” give his songwriting a disarming intimacy and sense of humanity. LCD recorded just three albums and a host of singles before he decided to call it quits. But those three albums are masterworks of postmodern punk/disco/indie/singer-songwriter/techno/electro/synthpop/piano rock/krautrock/post-punk/glam/whatever other awesome genre youc an think of.
The film is really good, capturing the sense of intimacy and humanity in scenes like a bit at the end, the day after the show when he visits a warehouse where all of their equipment is waiting to be sold. There’s an oddly touching moment toward the end of the show where he talks about his mom and brother being there in the front row and how he’s wearing his dad’s watch- not exactly the usual arena rock stage banter. There’s a bit at the end where the band meets up, just like regular folks, at a restaurant and they talk about what they did the night before when they were rock stars.
As for the performances, they’re completely electrifying. It’s a band at the peak of its power, throwing in the towel before they even have a chance to decline. Special guests, like the Arcade Fire, turn up. They do an absolutely scorching (pun intended) cover of Nilsson’s “Jump into the Fire”. I’m so, so glad I got to see them just a couple of months before they quit, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. And seeing this documentary reminded me of how great that show was.
Watching STUPID quantities of The Simpsons. It’s really kind of scary how much of a season you can watch in one sitting while you’re soloing Robinson Crusoe. Quote of the week from the Comic Book Guy- “Excuse me, are you the creator of Hi and Lois? Because you are making me laugh.”
Mostly LCD Soundsystem thanks to that documentary. But I think I’m going to try Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” yet again.
Vacation next week, so you may have to all fend for yourselves unless I get bored and write something anyway.