Thursday, November 3, 2011
State of the Union
Welcome to November! In my current world of video games, this month is “The Month of Milk and Honey…and Modern Warfare 3”. I spent my annual twenty minutes on the phone yesterday tracking down which media superstore would be offering a midnight launch for ACR in order to fully maximize my available playtime. One very kind gal at the closest Gamestop location to my house sadly informed me that other midnight launches were taking precedent over Assassin's Creed (something something Skyrim, something Call of Duty, blah blah), but reminded me that should I order it from them, I could pick it up first thing on Tuesday morning at 10am. I gently reminded her that a full ten hours lie between midnight and their posted opening time, and the very idea of wasting it sleeping is preposterous. Luckily, I tracked down a Gamestop in mid-town Seattle that assured me they would be open. I was peeved for about six minutes when I learned it would be disc-only, as I was considering acquiring an[other] Ezio figure and a teensy flying machine, but decided that I could [probably] survive without them. I do believe that directly after making this decision I distinctly heard my bank account sigh in relief. So that bit is all set. Twelve days!
I’ve reached the midpoint in Arkham City and am enjoying Batman's mega-urban environment despite the henchman’s new night-vision goggles and seemingly limitless supply of firearms that drive me insane with controller-abusing anger. I heart stealth games that don’t involve ze guns, so my normal ‘hide on gargoyle until BAM! Inverted Takedown’ trick isn’t working as well for me as it did in Arkham Asylum. And maybe it’s premature to say this, considering I have stayed mainly on the narrative track and have only completed a few of the side missions, but I’m not feeling this one as much as I did AA. I’m not ready to say that it’s the open-world setting as opposed to the nestled together environment, but there is an element to that contrast I find a little lacking. Just as AA gave me no reason to stop seeing the world through detective vision, AC gives me little to no reason (so far) to explore the city streets. Until I reach my destination, every bit of game-encouraged exploration I have done has been via rooftop. And sure, the skyline is extra pretty, and travel-by-grappling-hook is oh, so convenient, but there has to be something down below worth seeing...right? It’s possible that I am just pouty because I haven’t seen Poison Ivy or the Scarecrow (...yet?). My current plan for Arkham City is to step off the rails after the bossy fight with Mr. Freeze and start doing ‘other’. I’ll put my fingers in my ears and stop listening to the urgent tone of Oracle's transmissions and ignore the Joker’s phone calls. With reviews as sky high as they are, there must be something I am missing.
Speaking of reviews, this current dialogue on journalism sites concerning reviewer scores vs. commenter opinions is hilarious. On one hand, I can almost see the point of the commenters who love these games like they gave birth to them and want everyone to think they are pretty despite their flaws; but on the other, and more strongly (because largely, the commenters haven't even played the games they are defending), I fall on the side of the reviewers who are paid to give their opinions based on their own likes/dislikes. Journo sites trust these folks to be objective but also come from a particular subjective point of view, and allow them the freedom to express these views and represent the brand. It's why they hired them. Guess what, players? You don’t have to care about any of that! You can still dig in, spend your money and play the shit out of that title you have been looking forward to for days, months, YEARS and that reviewer can have zero impact on your enjoyment! The only time I ever peer into review scores is when I am considering renting something I haven’t heard much about on Gamefly, and then the reviews are largely peer based, not professional. Even if seven of the major gaming journalism sites give ACR a 5/10, I will still play it and one, either think their points are valid based on my own experience, or two, believe that they simply don’t enjoy the same types of games as a 32 year old female named Jessica from Seattle who likes cats, ice cream and Halloween. They could give Modern Warfare 3 a 10/10 and I still won't play it, because taste is subjective. You kids and your uber-protectiveness of personal video game experiences are so funny. If only you had this much enthusiasm about something offline, like planting trees or saving endangered cat species. Bottom line is, no one decides what you play or not play except you. It’s your experience that matters most.
Stop crying. I made you this: