Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gamer's Book Review: Standing Alone



I don't know about you, but I find that my gaming almost always drives my reading.  That is, when a game ignites a spark of enthusiasm for a particular topic, I almost always find myself reading a book that is related to the game's subject matter in some fashion, be it fiction or non-fiction.   This is a powerful symbiosis, so powerful in fact that I notice that when my gaming roster becomes bare, my reading drops off precipitously as well.  Likewise, when I am powerfully invested in my latest pixelated love affair, my reading skyrockets in sympathy to my gaming. I guess this shouldn't be a surprise to me as it was gaming that made me into a book lover from the get-go.  That's right: despite all the yahoos out there projecting all their worst fears onto video games, the truth is that video games can powerfully stir the imagination in the same fashion as a book...which is why a lot of gamers are naturally drawn to reading.  Heck, but for my unexpected love affair with an old SSI 8-bit wargame called Reforger '88, I never would have taken an interest in military history.  Later on, Chris Crawford's 16-bit classic Balance of Power caused me to develop a burning interest in geopolitics.  It is no small thing to say that those two games directly led to me eventually pursuing two degrees in political science.  In short, gaming introduced me to history and politics, and caused me to become a voracious reader of both topics...all at the age of 13.  Those evil video games....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Far Cry 3: Come for the Beaches, Stay for the Monkey Business



[This was an unexpected trip.  After reading some rave reviews about Ubisoft Montreal's Far Cry 3, and getting some enthusiastic recommendations from fellow gamers, I decided to give the game a try - I mean,  what else is there to play as we suffer through yet another post-Christmas lull?  Sheesh!  Anyway, I went into this game with low expectations because 1) the previous entries to the franchise never interested me in the least, and 2) the description for Far Cry 3 didn't interest me in the least.   I prefer fantastic settings as a gamer, be it alien planets like Borderland's Pandora, or a realm of medieval fantasy as in Skyrim, so the idea of traipsing around a contemporary tropical island as a 20-something spoilt brat, one who runs afoul of white slavers no less, isn't exactly on my top 10 list for game settings. 

But perhaps that is where the magic came in....


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Borderlands: The Other Stalker



[Sorry for disappearing again.  Christmas, New Years, a PC crash, a PC upgrade, and some good ol' fashioned sickness all conspired to cause a pause in this blog.  Well, that stuff, and the post-Christmas gaming drought which seems to be a common occurrence for the past few years - I mean, how do you write about gaming when there are no worthwhile games out there?  Anyway, here's to 2013 being an active year for this blog and for PC gaming!  

Seeing how Borderlands 2 is now out, I decided to revisit the original and finally complete the campaign before moving on to the sequel.  Here are my thoughts after doing so.]



Wow, a rarity to report: I actually finished another SP campaign, this time from the original Borderlands!  As I mentioned elsewhere, I rarely finish game campaigns because I just hardly ever find the stories to be all that interesting. Generally, I just indulge myself with the game until I get bored with it. Then I either delete it from my HDD or just move on to the inevitable sequel, knowing full well that I probably didn't miss much story-wise, and the follow-on title is going to fill me in on the details anyway.

But I just couldn't do that with Borderlands. Even though the sequel - and two DLCS! - is already out there for the taking, I just could not leave this campaign unfinished. I just found the whole experience too engrossing. But why? As I powered my way through a second fresh start, I realized just why I so enjoy this game: you see, Borderlands is the other Stalker.