What with the dissertation and other various and sundry responsibilities, I’ve dialed back my gaming somewhat. There have been three games that I have been playing, so here are some quick notes on them:

— The Witcher Enhanced Edition (PC). The Witcher is an RPG, but it’s an action RPG like Skyrim or Fallout. The publisher is Polish, so there’s some East European themes in the game. The quest design is really good; there’s your standard “kill this bad guy” and “get me this stuff,” but also some really lovely and complex ones. One lengthy quest has you try to figure out who is leading a particular gang of unsavory sorts. There’s a clear answer, but it takes you a while to figure it out. The “right” answer isn’t always obvious, because it’s a game with shades of grey rather than white and black morality. Your choices matter. The graphics are slightly dated, and the combat is a little too D&D for an action RPG. In other words, your ability to defend is based on invisible die rolls, which are shown in animations. There’s not a whole lot of skill involved in combat. Still, it’s been a good one so far (Steam says 19 hours), and I do recommend it. Looking forward to the sequel, which I already own, once I finish this one.

— WWE 2k16 (PS4). I love wrestling and I love video games. That said, I have occasionally found this series frustrating. There have been plenty of bugs in games past, WWE Universe mode (which creates an unending series of shows to play through) gets dull unless you really like winning, and there was very little challenge 99% of the time. The new version offers some great changes, including the MyCareer mode, where you take a single wrestler through a career in WWE, hoping to end up in the Hall of Fame. You get better as you go, and you will lose plenty of matches early on in your career. I miss the somewhat random story modes from previous games (like Candice Michelle gets a magic wand and attacks the Undertaker for some reason!), but the 2K showcase goes through Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career, which is enjoyable. Hit detection is great, the game feels heavier (which it should) when you are beating someone down, and I like the star ratings that tell you how exciting your match was. There is one downside: the god awful, nonsensical submission system. You can lose a match very easily even with no damage because of the way it works. It needs serious rebalancing; the latest patch has done nothing for it yet, but perhaps it will in the future.

— Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4). Assassin’s Creed in Victorian London is amazing. No bugs (so far), no crashes, very stable. There are two main characters, twins, a male and female, which is a first for the series. Sometimes you switch back and forth, sometimes you don’t. Carriage races suck, but then again, I loathe most types of racing. Really enjoyable so far, even if the story is taking a little too long in my opinion. It’s not clear what the overall objective is yet, but then again, I’ve got some other fish to fry. Combat is really good, more Batman-esque than ever.

I’ve got a bunch of other games I haven’t started yet. I did finish Grim Fandango not too long ago (which is very highly recommended). I’ve also got the final chapter of Starcraft II preordered, which comes out next week.


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