Tagged in: lists

2011: The Games I Have Played

The Grey Warden Kicks Ass

Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Origins. I started with the much reviled second entry into Bioware’s sword and sorcery franchise. When it first came out I made a good faith attempt to play the original, but I failed to get into the game and decided to cut bait after about three hours. Something about the mechanics of the game just didn’t click with me and I had trouble effectively controlling my party. But after playing my way through the sequel, I decided to give Origins another go-round and this time it all made sense. I purchased the Ultimate Edition with all the DLC included so I went dead to the world for a significant portion of the summer while I quested my Grey Warden from one end of Thedas to the other. That was after I lead my dapper rogue through a tumultuous decade of running around Kirkwall and bedding pirate queens in part 2. Although the recycled level in part two did get old, I loved the setting and characters. This whole series has restarted my long dormant love of the fantasy genre. Thanks so much Dragon Age. I thought I was done with barbarians wielding swords…

I am the Night.

Batman: Arkham City. The purest Batman experience is sadly the closest I will ever come to swinging down from a gargoyle and straight up punching a criminal in the face. The open world mechanic worked like a charm and the voice acting was top-notch. The plot was convoluted and some of the action setpieces didn’t quite work out as well as they were intended to, but overall Rocksteady knocked it out of the park with this one.

warhammer 40k space marine cover is for the weak

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Not much to add beyond what I’ve already said, but this game was not without it’s charm and suffered from the inevitable comparisons to

The Passion of the Dom

Gear of War 3. So the saga of Marcus Fenix and his human meat tank bros finally came to an end this year. I have only played the campaigns for the three games in the Gears of War series, and I found the story of an earth-like world rocking from cataclysm after cataclysm strangely compelling. The background story plays out like the hopelessness of early Battlestar Galactica crossed with the macho posturing and general brotasticity of Predator. The gameplay was hectic and the fine folks at Epic Games know how to put together excellent firefights on a massive scale. The third installment tied up most of the loose ends and while the game failed to achieve anything approaching real pathos, the narrative never shied away from taking risks.

Call of Duty: BlackOps. Another game which I have already spoken about at length.

Cyberpunk as Fuck

Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This was easily my most anticipated game of 2011. I absolutely adored the original and its sequel, and I was totally looking forward to immersing myself in the cyberpunk noir future where human augmentation had run amok and tranhumanist philosophy had created a race of nano-enhanced supermen. Human Revolution delivered the goods. The game wasn’t perfect. The boss fights felt tacked on and went against the grain of everything the game’s structure had been pushing toward and the ending(s) left a great deal to be desired but this game had texture, man. There was a grit and a lived-in feeling that permeated every aspect of the game’s world of 2027, from Jensen’s apartment to the neon fever dream that was Hengsha. This game was awesome.

Poet and a Prophet.

Crysis 2. I did not play the first Crysis, so I am unable to assess its merits in contrast to the first version of the game. I can tell you that this version was a better than average shooter whose sci-fi aliens invading New York city narrative was almost done in by some shoddy A.I. and less than thrilling enemy design. I liked the convoluted plot and the gameplay variations that you get from your nanomachine super-suit, like invisibility, invincibility, and speed but the experience never really gelled for me.

Soooo sneaky....

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Another sequel that I dove into the deep end without starting at the dawn of the franchise. This version was the first Assassin’s Creed game I ever played, and I enjoyed the crap out of it. The narrative was gibberish, but the stealth and planning elements to each hit were fun. My main criticism came when I realized that it was nearly impossible to actually die. Ezio’s health regenerates just a little that makes it difficult for even a swarm of Borgia goons to actually kill the player character. The challenge, then, comes from the mission parameters and whether you are able to sneak and stealth your way through your objectives without being seen.

The Courier True Identity Revealed!

Fallout: New Vegas. This one almost didn’t make the list because I couldn’t make it to completion. After around thirty hours of roaming the wastes with my trusty supermutant companion helping out survivors of the last great war and personally assassinating Caesar this broken, buggy, unfinished game went crashed on me and I was unable to load any of my save games. I enjoyed the experience before it came to a crashing halt, but I didn’t have the patience at the time to retrace my steps in the game so I stopped playing. I plan on buying the ultimate edition later this year, which will include all the downloadable content and hopefully a stable version of the game itself. I will give that version another try, but I am worried because war never changes.

Oh, Wheatley, you lovable scamp.

Portal 2. Easily the funniest and most well-constructed game of last year, Portal 2 was short, sweet, and to the point. It was funny and I don’t have a single bad thing to say about it.

The Semantic Drift Game of the Year: I played some excellent games this past year. Skyrim kicks so much ass, but I am still neck deep in the Stormcloak rebellion and I don’t want it to end ever. Since I haven’t completed the game and will be slaying dragons for at least the first few months of 2012, the game is exempt. That leaves Batman: Arkham City as the greatest game of 2011.

Even More of Me

In a move that is sure to do wonders for my productivity here at Semantic Drift, I have decided to join the team over at Legal Geekery. You’ll never see a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, if by “scum and villainy” you mean “law students and writing” and by “wretched hive” you mean “awesome blog”. I’ll be inflicting my more law-related writing on the unsuspecting public over there. That should free up more of my headspace here to talk about what I ate for breakfast and which movie I saw over the weekend. Lucky you!

Anyway, my first post over there is a listing of the Most Evil Lawyers from film and television. When I found out that maybe people don’t like lawyers and there were unflattering portrayals of them in pop culture, I was shocked, shocked I say!

Go check it out.

Ten Things I Hate About Australia (In No Particular Order)

1. Beer Does Not Come in Pints.
The Pint unarguably is the proper and correct serving size. It’s impossible to feel cool ordering a schooner and having a tiny little girly glass.

2. Assigned Seats in Movie Theaters.
I can see no earthly reason for this, aside from pissing me off by slowing down the lines.

3. Book Prices are Ridiculously Jacked-up.
Prices in general seem high even for a San Franciscan, but books seem disproportionately pricey. The latest fluctuations of the dollar and Australian dollar have helped somewhat, but this poor reader is still out of luck. First stop when I get stateside: Powell’s.

4. High Hippie Density.
Maybe its something to do with the prevalence of surfers and backpackers who populate Bondi, but it seems like there are quite a few unnecessarily dreadlocked individuals. I can barely walk down the street some days without wanting to retch a little from the patchouli stink.

5. Coffee is more complex than it needs to be.

6. High Douchebag Density.
This is actually a much bigger problem than the hippies. I see alot of bling and hat-tilts in the male population. Others have written more extensively on the geopolitical ramifications of this topic, to which I have to add only: Amen, brother.

7. High Deadly Animal Density.
Sydney is an urban area, and encroachments from angry mother nature are rae. But I can never forget about all the thousands of animals and plants out there who are plotting my death.

8. They Only Speak English in the Loosest Sense of the Word.
Australia’s unique linguistic heritage has created a hodge-podge of unlikely names and words that just sound weird to my American ears. Coupled with a racial incliniation to shorten/infantilize every word they come across, it can become inscrutable. For example: breakfast is often “shortened” to breakie. But you’ll notice that they both have the same number of syllables (2) and are therefore the same length. Same for “football/footy” An Australian friend introduced himself as “John, but you can call me John-Oh for short.” He lengthened his name for short.

9. Disappointing Scarcity of Kangaroos.
Despite having signs like this:
dsc02483There weren’t that many kangaroos hopping around. I expected the people to ride them to work in the morning and store their valuables in the safety of their pouches. Imagine my dismay when I learned that not only was this not true, they don’t box or rap either. And upon my return to the United States and the inevitable debriefing of my family and friends I find that they tend to be more disappointed with the things I didn’t see (Kangaroos and the Outback) than the awesome things I did see.

10. It’s Too Big and Too Beautiful.
And I had to leave it.