Spider-Man PS4 first impressions

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… because, sure, let’s mention Spider-Man in every single post this week.  I’m not a geek or anything, no.

I’m … fifteen percent, I think, into the new Spider-Man game; enough to have a solid early idea of what the game’s about but not far enough that my opinions have to be taken all that seriously just yet.  But what the hell; I don’t really wanna talk about my job or politics, I can’t talk about my current Sekret Projekt other than that I have one and I’m not gabbing about it, and nothing especially funny has happened yesterday so I may as well gabble about video games.

And here’s the thing, so far: this game right now seems to be at its strongest when it’s a webbing around New York simulator; moving anywhere is a simply ridiculous amount of fun, to the point where I’m frequently ignoring crimes and activities in favor of just seeing what the most ridiculous way I can get from point A to point B is.  The combat is okay so far; the balletic, combo-heavy style that these guys pioneered with the wildly overrated Arkham Asylum series works a lot better with Spider-Man than it ever did with Batman, so combat looks really good and fits the character.  That said, the first big boss fight with Kingpin is utterly ridiculous and basically involves endlessly beating on a damage sponge with no health bar over and over until the game decides to trigger a cutscene and move on to the next part where you endlessly do the same two moves on a damage sponge.  I really hope all the boss fights aren’t like this; they’re gonna get tedious really fast, and also Kingpin just isn’t that strong.  Kingpin is not a “throw you through three walls and bash you through the floor” character, guys.  He fights Daredevil.  This version of the character fights like he could go toe-to-toe with the Hulk or Thor, which is just stupid.

Also: I keep accidentally doing terrible, not-Spider-Man sorts of things to people.  Spider-Man is one of those “doesn’t kill” good guys, right?  Which is kind of a problem, because I have a bad habit of doing air combos on bad guys and punching them off the sides of buildings.  Very tall buildings.  Where I can only assume they fall to their deaths, because there’s no “web them and save them” animation happening after I do that.

I once accidentally threw a car door at a civilian, which was, if nothing else, kinda mean.  I didn’t mean to!  I swear!

This game also has a case of Call of Duty syndrome.  And, okay, it’s a stupid thing to complain about, I know, because video game, but New York is not been and never has been quite this crime-ridden.  I mean, holy crap guys, it’s a wonder anyone lives here.

(What’s Call of Duty syndrome?  Play Call of Duty on the highest difficulty level.  You will die.  You will die over and over and over and over and over and over again and you will only eventually be successful by virtue of the fact that you can come back to life after you die.  I am then forced to conclude that Call of Duty is harder to survive than actual war, because no one can survive Call of Duty on Legendary and lots of people survive wars.  Members of my family have!  I’m only alive because my grandfather survived World War II!)

But, again:  webbing around is fun.  And I’m gripey about some other aspects of the game but they keep adding new fun ways for me to beat people up and we’ll see how things go as the game continues.  I also (and this may mitigate my annoyance with the Kingpin fight) am kind of enjoying some of their alterations to the “standard” Marvel canon– Peter is working with Otto Octavius, who isn’t Dr. Octopus yet, and Mary Jane Watson (who is adorable) works for the Daily Planet.  J. Jonah Jameson appears to be some sort of right-wing podcaster or radio host now, which I can work with, I suppose.

The boy loves it, by the way.  It’s the first PS4 game I’ve let him play, so he’s relying a bit too much on handing me the controller, but he’s having a blast with the web-slinging.

More to come later, assuming I don’t get distracted by Dark Souls II and play that instead.

In which I need you to share my excitement

$Okay.  I need y’all either to actually be comics fans or at least be willing to pretend to be on my behalf for this post.  You can do that, right?  Yes?  Good.

Miles Morales, in the seven years since he was first introduced, has become one of my favorite comic book characters.  He’s up there with Iron Man, the Hulk, and Superman at this point.  And when Brian Michael Bendis left Marvel and Miles didn’t immediately have a new series on the docket, I was genuinely worried.  There was talk that the character was going to be renamed or reimagined; there was an especially gross rumor going around, one that was so bad that I actually wasn’t able to just dismiss it out of hand, that the character would be joining SHIELD and would henceforth be known as “Spy-D,” which would have meant I needed to go out and set things on fire, and that no court would have convicted me, because setting things on fire is a reasonable reaction to Marvel deciding that Miles Morales isn’t Spider-Man anymore and he has to be “Spy-D” now.

Saladin Ahmed just announced on Twitter that he’s writing the new Miles Morales book.  Which is called “Miles Morales: Spider-Man.”

One of my favorite fucking writers is writing an ongoing series about one of my favorite fucking characters.

It was already a good day, guys.  I was gonna come home and write a post about how I spent all day today and most of yesterday interacting with nice kids and it was something I really needed and I was in general happy and in a good place.  And that’s before I got this awesome fucking news.

 

It’s gonna have to be a music video Wednesday

…because I was at work an hour earlier than usual today, and then had a two-hour meeting after work, and then came home and ate dinner and now somehow it’s 9 PM.

Your Song of Wednesday, therefore, is …

Hmm…

(I’m in the mood for something very chill.  Despite the lyrics, I think this counts.)

Real post of some sort tomorrow, I promise.

ETA:  Why not, one more:

#Review: MJ-12: ENDGAME, by Michael J. Martinez

510yHfinWeL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_The usual set of disclaimers before I review any Michael J. Martinez book:  I’ve reviewed nearly everything he’s written on this blog somewhere, and not only did he thank me by name in the afterword of one of his earlier books, my review of MJ-12: Shadows is actually excerpted inside MJ-12: Endgame.  On top of that, he was nice enough to provide a book blurb for Tales: The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 3which I have featured right on the front cover.  I’ve never met the guy but if I ever do he’s gonna get a hug and there’s nothing he can do about it.

(Well, okay, there probably is.  But I’m hoping the police don’t get involved.)

Now, that said: I bought this book all by myself with my own money on purpose and there is no universe where I’m gonna write a fake positive review just to curry favor.  If I hadn’t liked it, I’d just never mention reading it on the site.

We good?  Okay.

One way or another it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I really liked this book.  MJ-12: ENDGAME is the third and final book in the MJ-12 trilogy, an alternative history book about CIA spies with superhuman powers (called Variants in this series) during the Cold War.  As usual, the premise all by itself earns the book a read for me, and this particular novel begins with the death of Stalin in 1952 and basically covers the CIA’s machinations to make sure that the head of Stalin’s secret police, Lavrentiy Beria (go ahead, click the link, I’d only barely heard of him too,) doesn’t end up in charge of the USSR.

Only, minor twist: Beria is a Variant, and can sorta shoot flames out of his hands, and he’s also in control of the Soviet Union’s still-very-much-a-secret Variant program.  MJ-12: Shadows sent me to Wikipedia to check up on stuff after I read it.  Endgame had me doing research damn near immediately, because I wanted to make sure the minimal stuff I remember from the couple of books about Stalin I’ve read was mostly accurate.

So you can read Endgame on a bunch of levels.  If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy it because the Cold War is interesting enough on its own and the Soviet Union immediately post-Stalin was, uh, a bit more volatile than most of the time.  If you like spy novels, you’ll get a great old-school spycraft novel, only with people with superhuman abilities instead of James Bond-style fancy gadgets.  And if you like superheroes, well, you won’t exactly get superheroes per se– these folks are spies, with all the moral gray areas that implies, and some of them make some, uh, rather cold decisions over the course of the book– but the range of powers Martinez’ characters have and the various drawbacks and limitations of those powers are fascinating.  There’s a great balancing act going on in this book– there are a lot of characters, and while the book does a decent act of standing on its own I’d strongly recommend reading the first two first, because there are so many moving pieces, such as an entire subplot going on involving the Korean War.  The end result is an elegantly-written, complex novel that still manages to clock in at just barely over 300 pages.  There’s not a wasted page anywhere in this book, guys; it’s that well-done.

My only complaint?  I want more, and while Martinez doesn’t exactly tie the universe up with a bow on it the ending makes it clear that while there is definitely space for future books in this universe they will take place in an entirely different status quo.  That said, this series is radically different in tone and genre from the Daedalus series, Mike’s previous trilogy, and I genuinely can’t wait to see what he’s got coming next.

All available stars; would read again; you should go read now.