SUMMER SALE DATES LEAKED! Oh look, a deal on PSN! Best Buy is having a sale, half off!

These are just some of the things that go through my mind on a weekly basis. When I can’t play games, I aggressively pursue acquiring them as cheaply as possible. To what end? I have no time to play them, so who knows. WE REQUIRE MORE MINERALS.

Friday, 8:14 am – Gavin

There’s probably a ton of psychology that goes into the acquisition of games, or probably any material good.  Purchasing is a measure of control and power over our lives.  We may not have much say in how a lot of our lives unfold, but the voluntary acquisition of material goods is something we have total control over, and so it makes us feel good to do that.

I’ve spoken at length about busting my backl0g and winnowing down the list of games I have to play.  As with most gamers our age, I have the means to acquire games pretty much at will, so I don’t need to wait until I have nothing new to play in order to get a game.  I’ve tried to take a reasonable approach to buying games, but every now and then, I get caught up in a wave of irrational game purchases (not Irrational game purchases, though Bioshock Infinite is still one of the best of 2013).

I recently bought an Xbox One, which came with Rise of the Tomb Raider and Watch Dogs.  I couldn’t play ROTTR without playing OG 2013 Tomb Raider, so that was the first game I bought.  After that, I dove into Watch Dogs, which I’ve almost finished – I’m on the last mission.  So, I have ROTTR installed on the hard drive, ready to go.  But I also bought The Witcher 3 during the Xbox spring sale.  And with a trial of Xbox Live Gold, I picked up a free copy of The Wolf Among Us.  And during last winter’s Steam sale, I picked up Her Story and Life Is Strange, neither of which I’ve touched.

I’d like to rationalize it by saying that it’s less about wanting to play the game and more about wanting to reward the developer, because as much as I’m convinced they’re good games (people adored Life is Strange, and Polygon listed Her Story as their GOTY 2015), I just struggle to get the urge to play them.  I’m really champing at the bit to play both The Witcher 3 and ROTTR, so I suspect that one of those will be next after Watch Dogs.

Realistically, I should just start buying games the day that I will start playing them.  That’s really the only way for me to control game spending.  Not that I’m outrageous at it or anything – I’m not picking up Humble Bundles or Publisher Bundles from Steam or spending hours on GOG or Origin or Uplay or whatever.  But, the fact that I have a backlog at all suggests that I have spent money when I don’t need to.

To that end, as mentioned above, I’m on the final mission of Watch Dogs.  I struggled a bit to get into it – the main character is unlikeable and the world feels empty and generally devoid of life, which is absurd considering the scale of the map.  There are regions in the City, but everything starts to run together after a (short) while.  There are tons of optional missions to do in the main world, but they’re all very same-y.  Stop a convoy from escaping, take out a gang leader in their hideout, or drive a vehicle from one place to another.  There are at least 15 of each of those, and yeah, there really isn’t much variety in them.  The gang leader missions were by far the best because that’s what brought the map down to a micro level.  Here, you proceeded on foot and got to intimately know a few square blocks of city.  In the convoy and racing missions, you’re just driving around too quickly to care.

The story is quite ridiculous as well.  It’s so inane and ludicrous, but it also takes itself way too seriously, which is a recipe for disappointment.  The side characters are interesting enough, and there are some really fun missions, but considering that everything revolves around an unlikeable jerk, and the story involving him is bland revenge-porn, it’s really something that you can miss.

The enjoyment comes from the gameplay itself, the cinematic elements, and little else.  Manipulating the environment to advance through a mission or to escape a police chase is consistently enjoyable.  The gunplay is generally competent but not exceptional, but the game clearly isn’t designed as a pure shooter, so getting into a shootout is never as fun as doing whatever it takes to avoid a shootout – it takes a lot of inspiration from Splinter Cell that way.

Cinematically, there are fabulous scenes in the game, mostly involving shootouts.  Two scenes stand out – a shootout against some gangsters with C.R.E.A.M. by the Wu-Tang Clan playing in the background, and a shootout against a local militia with Jesus Built My Hotrod by Ministry playing in the background.  These both captured the attitude and emotions of their respective story tie-ins quite well, even if the latter scene got a little too ridiculous, even for a game where you can detonate steam pipes with your telephone.

All in all, I’m glad that I didn’t pay $60 for this, let alone $80.  It was a free title and I definitely got my money’s worth.  I enjoyed it to the point that I will be positive about the sequel that Ubisoft is about to announce, but I will be cautious enough not to buy it at first glance.

Wednesday, 9:37 am – Ricky

I woke up this morning and realized I hadn’t made a post for the week, so here it is. And my, what a post it is.

I’ve been playing a bunch of Uncharted 4, which has been just stellar, and Stellaris, which has been just unchart. I’ll probably play some more over the next couple weeks and share thoughts on both games then.