God, this is such a mess, and there are two books that I need to read before EACH of the books on the far right.
Taking tonight off
…like, I can’t even come up with a clever headline for this post, that’s how zonked my brain is right now. I’ve managed to put some work together for tomorrow and get my grading done and that’s all I’ve got left at the moment, so it’s time to move to official laying-about type behavior.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, y’all.
In which Sturr Wurrs
I did manage to pick up the new TV yesterday– while it was clear at 1:00 that I was going to be there at least an hour if I intended to have anyone bring me my purchase, when I went back at 7 I had a blueshirt knocking politely on my car window before I’d even managed to open the email with the magic yellow “I’m here” button on it, and dude had my TV in my car and me on my way within three minutes of pulling into the spot, which was pretty sweet.
And then I got home and needed to watch a movie to see some 4K goodness, and thought hell, I haven’t seen Rise of Skywalker since it was in theaters. You may remember my review, which was 10,000 words long. I am happy to announce that this is the first Star Wars movie in a long time that I felt was better on a second view, because a few of the things that didn’t make sense to me on the first viewing were cleared up on the second, and oh also I missed the most powerful moment in the entire damn movie.
I somehow missed it when Ben Solo tries to say “I love you” to his father during their scene together on not-Endor, and he’s not able to say it, and Han’s response is “I know.”
And in a trilogy that is absolutely infested with callbacks to the original trilogy, that is how the fuck you do a callback, and it knocked me flat on my ass rewatching it, because how the hell did I miss that? Did I die during the movie or something? What the shit happened?
Also, I am more convinced than ever that the reason Leia waits until Ben’s death to disappear is that it is actually her life force keeping him alive after the lightsaber battle on not-Endor, and when he finally dies, having spent what energy they both have left to bring Rey back, she finally goes as well, and Rey has both of them living on in her, and that’s fucking beautiful too.
So, yeah. The most annoying thing about the movie remains its utter lack of concern about distance and time, particularly for anyone who is offscreen, but that’s really only one thing, and you can either roll with it or you can’t, and I’ve decided to roll with it. Lando and Jannah’s scene on Base Planet is still creepy, too.
We also watched the latest episode of The Mandalorian yesterday, a show that probably deserves another entire full piece devoted to it, and while I’m not going to really jump into it because spoilers, and you deserve to see this episode without interference, I will say this: I am not angry about anything that happens in this episode, and in fact I’m quite a bit more excited about future developments on the show than I was before watching it.
I even rewatched the first half of Solo today. Apparently it’s Star Wars season around here right now.
#REVIEW: The Surge 2 (PS4)
The PS5 hasn’t made an appearance yet, and I did a test drive by Best Buy earlier to see if it was reasonable to get the new TV brought out, and it … was not. I might take another shot at it after dinner, but I’ll probably just wait until tomorrow at this point. I did put The Surge 2 to bed last night, and it has the distinction of almost certainly being the last game I’ll beat on my PS4, since the PS5’s backwards compatibility is pretty universal so there won’t be a need to pull this console out of mothballs if I decide I want to go back to something.
Short version: 8/10, solid but occasionally garbagey. The Surge 2 takes the Soulslike tradition of losing resources on death, mild RPG elements, and punishing difficulty and sets it in a cyberpunk/nanotech future sort of world. As basically everything I play nowadays is a Soulslike of some sort (and the first game that graces the PS5 is going to be the Demon’s Souls remake) this was more or less right up my alley.
Strengths: weapon and armor variety is awesome, and the armor pieces in particular are interesting; each set has six pieces (two arms, two legs, body and head) and they can be mixed and matched, and each set also has a bonus if you’re wearing three pieces of it and a bigger bonus if you’re wearing six pieces, and the bonuses are different between sets– so you find yourself wearing three pieces of one set and three of another a lot. Weapons are varied enough that I never kept one for very long, although I definitely found myself gravitating toward the spear- and staff-class weapons by the end of the game, which both had good range and were fast. Nothing really looks like anything else, though, which is great.
The combat in general was one of the game’s strengths, although there’s a directional block mechanism built in that I never really got the hang of, and timing on blocks in particular felt sluggish a lot of the time. That may just be me, though as timed-parry mechanisms almost always give me fits, but I swear a lot of the time I’d hit block and my dude just wouldn’t. Sometimes that was due to being out of stamina, but by the end of the game my stamina pool was so huge that that was rarely an issue and I still had a hell of a time with timings.
The story is … fine. I never played The Surge and I never got the impression that I needed to; the sequel is completely standalone.
Less good: boss fights are challenging but repetitive, the game was buggy (I don’t remember the last time I had a game hard crash to the desktop, and this game did it six times) and level design was kinda samey and I had a hell of a time finding my way around. They did a good job of different levels wrapping around and connecting to each other in lots of places, with lots of shortcuts and secret passages and such, but the game’s color palette and overall look just didn’t really vary all that much from place to place, and there’s an event partway through the game that rips up the old map and throws it away, and after spending as much time as I had exploring and trying to figure out where everything was, having all that knowledge stripped away from me was really annoying. The trophies also seemed sort of buggy, and I’m convinced that I earned one of them that never popped for me at all.
The game also does a sort of cool thing after the credits roll where it shows you a bunch of stats that compare you to how other players did, both in terms of how many deaths and playtime in levels and to bosses. This was neat but I’d rather have had access to it in the game. There’s also a new piece at the beginning of New Game + where you pay through something that happened offscreen in the first playthrough, which was kind of neat.
This has been out for a while (every game I review has been out for a while) but if it slipped your radar and you are into this kind of game, it’s worth checking out.
In which Black Friday came early
I am officially twenty percent more of a capitalist than I was two days ago, apparently. Wal-Mart is clearly the way to go lately if you want to land a PS5, if only because they’re advertising when each batch of systems is going to go live so that you can be in front of your computer to hit reload and hope you get lucky.
And, well, I got lucky, and I hit reload at the right time, and I don’t actually physically have my PS5 yet but I can pick it up at the store (by which I mean “have them bring it to my car”) sometime between two and six days from now, and honestly I suspect it’ll be on the earlier range of that.
That’s not what increased my capitalist rating, though. What increased my capitalist rating is that I went and fucked around and now I’m picking up (by which I mean “have them bring it to my car”) a new fucking TV tomorrow to go with my new PS5. We didn’t need a new TV by any reasonable definition of that term, but the PS5 can output 4K graphics and our current, several-years-old TV cannot receive them. So.
Now, before ordering this TV, I tried to dig into TV reviews for a while to figure out what sort of TV I was interested in and what price ranges were like (and, honestly, 43″ 4K TVs are so much cheaper than I thought they would be that this is not really a major financial hit) and after a bit of reading and a bit of comparing I realized that TV reviews and car reviews are the exact same thing and I needed to stop reading them.
What do I mean by that?
I drive a Kia Soul. Two cars before my current Kia Soul was a two-door Toyota Yaris, and I need you to understand that I loved my Yaris (I traded it in when I moved out of Chicago and had a child, at which point a two-door car was not nearly as practical an idea as it had been) and I love my Kia. I plan to keep my current car until my son is old enough to drive, give it to him, and whatever car I purchase to replace it very well might be another Kia.
If you read car-people reviews of the Kia Soul, you will come away thinking that it is a garbage car, barely fit to convey one to work, because car people review cars for a living and they have standards that simply push them out of the realm of relevance to the regular car owner, who may well go decades in between cars and for whom anything that is new and up-to-date is going to feel like an enormous improvement.
And TVs are the same thing. Most people do not replace their television sets all that often, and there is simply no way that a 43″ TV at a price range that I’m willing to consider (I ended up spending $279; I could have been convinced to go as high as $500 if I’d felt the advantages warranted it, and I’m not convinced) can compare with the type of wall-dominating, four-figure monstrosities that these guys are used to. I got all worried about viewing angles before I realized that my wife and I sit maybe fifteen degrees separated from each other when watching TV and if it’s an issue we can literally pivot the screen, and it’s not going to be an issue. 43″ is the biggest screen I can get without radically reconfiguring our living room, and it’s plenty big enough. I didn’t even consider a larger size.
(Why a Vizio? The other two TVs in the house are Vizios. I’ve been perfectly happy with both, the price was right, and good user reviews. Good enough.)
Because no matter what TV I get, my standards are going to be “make my PS5 graphics look as good as they can, and don’t feel like a downgrade in any way,” and it’s gonna, and it won’t, and even if it ends up being crappy compared to other 4K TVs I don’t have any others lying around to compare it to.
User reviews appear to be pretty damn solid, especially figuring in the “people are fucking idiots” factor– that guy who literally reviewed this TV at 3/5 stars because it didn’t fit on his console (I’m not joking) is not, in fact, entitled to his own opinion, because his opinion is dumb. Good user reviews are really all I need here. So long as I can avoid the soap opera effect, which drives me batshit insane, we’re all good.
So, yeah. I spent money at Wal-Mart, and they’re the devil, and I spent money on Black Friday sales, which makes me an asshole, particularly this year, and I’m actually going to go to Best Buy tomorrow, even if I don’t plan on getting out of my car and I’m going to go in the afternoon when crowds should be minimal, so obviously I’m a failure as a person on a number of levels. But, man, is the remake of that game I’ve already played and beaten going to look great!
Finally, and in accordance with our most ancient traditions, Happy Thanksgiving.