My Steam Summer Sale Haul

Steam Sales, man. The twice year game buying binge.

All in all, it was a fun year. My friend and I played a game with the sales, I managed to get a badge (and gave trading cards to others), and bought more games than a (then) unemployed person should. Ah, well, I have a lot to keep me occupied! Here’s the rundown of what I got this sale, and my thoughts.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

I still haven’t finished Brotherhood, whoops. Still, I love the series, and I’m fairly confident that I’ll be pleased with Revelations. Even if it’s only half as good as ACII, I should be happy. Assassin’s Creed III is on the top of my list of games to get at the next sale. It was still a bit too pricey for my tastes this sale, but I know I want to give it a shot, despite it supposedly not being as good as its predecessors.

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

My friend and I had a game; every time a game we voted for won a vote, we had to buy it. I cheated once by not buying a game, but then I had to buy another. Really, this was just so we bought more games. I actually enjoy Chivalry, for what it’s worth. I’m not a big multiplayer gamer, myself; I like story. However, Chivalry’s a fun take on the first person multiplayer action game, and occasionally I’m not half bad at it. I’m mostly bad, though, so we’ll see how much more I play of it.

Civilization 5

See last What I’m Blanking entry. But this is a seriously fun game. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I started it, but I’ve gotten into strategy games now, I guess. This is completely addicting, and I’m very glad I bought this.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

People told me to wait until the new edition came out. However, this game was $3! I still haven’t gotten around to playing that much of it, but I’m really trying for maximum stealth and minimum kill. As someone who’s terrible at stealth games, this is making my game a LOT longer!

Dust: An Elysian Tale

I’ve wanted this game ever since it was an XBox exclusive; I’m SO glad it got ported, and now I got it! The art style’s really nice looking,  the action is fluid and fun, and it’s a really nice game.

Fallout: New Vegas

This is one of those games that I really wanted to pick up during this sale! I really like the post-apocalyptic setting and the gameplay, and it’s a really fun game. To be honest, I find the Fallout games a bit difficult to marathon play, but I know I’ll be coming back to this one.

Final Fantasy VII

This was my punishment for not buying a game. I haven’t tried it yet, but this is one of those classic games I’ve never played. So I’m pretty excited.

Organ Trail

It’s Oregon Trail. But with zombies! Basically, that’s the best description for it. My friend and I both bought it and named characters after each other. The only thing I dislike is the shooting mechanic, but it’s ultimately a fun game that I got for pretty cheap!

Skyrim

Seriously, it’s Skyrim. But I’ve had a lot of fun with this one, as well; see one of my previous What I’m Blanking posts.

Surgeon Simulator

I bought this again because of that bet my friend made. This is frustration: the game. Basically, look up any gameplay vid of it, and you see why. Not sure how much of this I’ll play, but I got it anyways.

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What I’m Blanking #7

Starting a new job is stressful. So I took a week off of this while I started my new thing. It’s not necessarily a huge job (it’s part-time), but it’s nice to be working again.

 

What I’m Playing: Civilization 5

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The Steam Summer sale is over. It’s always a bittersweet feeling, like the days after Christmas. I ended up with a pretty good haul, all things considered, but what I’ve been playing lately is Civilization 5. I bought this mostly on a whim;  I’m not much of a strategy game player. However, I’m completely addicted to Civ 5. I think the thing I like is just the freedom of building up my empire; you can try to be friendly, bloodthirsty, or whatever you want to build yourself up.

The first couple of games I played ruthlessly; I built up huge armies and destroyed all my neighboring civilizations. However, this most recent game I decided to try to get a more cultured, science-minded civilization, and win through that. I made friends with neighboring civilizations, and was excited to start a more peaceful game. Then Napoleon stabbed me in the back, and tried to take over some of my cities. It’s something I should have expected, but nonetheless interesting.

Like I said, I bought this on a whim. However, it might open up my interests to more games. Not that I need to buy more games, but it’s a good thing to broaden my horizons.

What I’m Watching: Pacific Rim

I loved this movie. Before I saw it, my friend was a bit hesitant about recommending it to me, I assume because it’s not necessarily the most cerebral of movies. However, I tend to like movies that are good at what they’re trying to accomplish and set out to do. I went into Pacific Rim wanting robots fighting monsters. And that’s what I got. That’s not to say it was a perfect movie; there are definitely parts that could have been improved. My sister pointed out that it didn’t pass the Bechdel Test, though Mako Mori, being badass, female and a woman of color, ends up bringing the movie up on that front. There could have been more characterization for the characters, as well. Some of the science didn’t cut it. But really, the one thing you should be going into this movie for is a big robot fighting a big monster. And we got that, spectacularly.

The lack of focus on characterization unfortunately is one of the things that would prevent this from being a really great, memorable film. If there had been a little more focus on characters and story, it would probably be a lot more memorable. As it stands, I’m not quite sure where this will stand in the test of time, and if it will be a staple like, say, The Matrix is, when I want to watch an action movie. However, it was a really good time in the movie theater, and I’m definitely really glad I saw it.

What I’m Blanking #6

What I’m Playing: Skyrim (oh, and everything because Steam Sale)

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If you aren’t a big video game player and you check out this blog from my Facebook/twitter/tumblr/Idolminded (thank you for recommending me Chiima!), every year there are two huge sales for PC game fans. They’re both on the digital client Steam, which pretty much dominates directly downloading games. There are other great sites out there (Amazon, greenmangaming, GoG, etc.), but Steam has gotten a lot of recognition for its massive sales. While in past sales I’ve bought more games than I might have needed (to be fair, most of those games were around 75% off), this year I’ve been a bit more frugal and just bought Skyrim, the fifth major installment of the Elder Scrolls series.

Here’s the thing: I’ve played bits and pieces of Morrowind and Oblivion, the two previous installments. They were fine, but I never really got into them all that much. Yet I’ve been really enjoying Skyrim a lot. Skyrim’s really popular, but among Elder Scrolls fans, from what I see online, Morrowind  is generally regarded as the best game. The rationale I’ve heard mostly has to do with Skyrim being a bit more accessible whereas Morrowind and Oblivion are a bit more complex.

I can definitely appreciate that, but I definitely prefer Skyrim. Maybe it’s the graphics (Skyrim is a GORGEOUS game), maybe it’s that combat feels a lot improved, maybe things feel a little easier (as opposed to my experience playing Morrowind where I had no idea where I was going most of the time). In terms of difficulty, Skyrim is definitely easier. I’m playing on the default difficulty, and things have been much easier than Oblivion or Morrowind. However, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think playing difficult games can be somewhat overrated. There’s kind of a stigma that exists in the video game community against playing a game on easy, but in my opinion if it  makes the game more fun then you should play however you want to. I know I play Dragon Age: Origins on Easy mode, because all I really care about is playing the story, not the combat.

Still, I’ve really enjoyed Skyrim. I usually prefer more story-focused RPG games, but it’s just fun to ride a horse around this really gorgeous world. I do wish there was more of a story, but I’m having so much fun doing the small quests that I take a long time actually doing the main missions. The weird thing is, while I usually have trouble with open-world games like this, I do find myself making up a narrative more and more. My character, for example, is protective of her horse more than anything else (I really like my horse even though it’s not even that fast).

So yeah, it may be a bit watered-down and simplified. But I guess I have bad taste, because it totally worked for me.

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation and New Girl

I’m dabbling in other things (I’m going to start to watch Orange is the New Black and The Fall on Netflix), but at the end of the day I keep coming back to some of my favorite comedies. I’ve been rewatching Parks and Rec on Hulu (so rewatching the full 5th season), but I had to jump on New Girl because it was just added to Netflix and I haven’t seen every episode of the first season (because I studied abroad and didn’t watch too much American TV that semester).

Parks and Recreation is my favorite show on TV right now. I initially wrote it off because its initial season was less than stellar and I thought it was just a bad Office spin-off. However, after seeing many recommendations I decided to give it a shot. The reason I really love it so much is that it’s a really positive comedy. The characters all have flaws, but at the end of the day the show is about good people who genuinely care about one another (for the most part) and what they do. This can be rare, as comedies get more and more cynical. I like dark comedy as much as anyone, but it’s refreshing to see comedy that has so much heart to it. I can think of three separate episodes where I’ve sobbed happy tears while watching Parks and Rec. All of this was because I really root for Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, and I want her to succeed more than any other TV character. The show is just full of so much warmth and love, that it is the definition of a feel-good show.

That doesn’t stop it from being hilarious; there’s a lot of really great humor in the show. Which is almost more remarkable; that it lets you love all the characters on the show, but still is completely hilarious. This is rare, and something I appreciate.

New Girl is also interesting. I was very excited for the show when it first came out. When I saw it I liked it, but didn’t love it. Then slowly, this past season it’s grown to be one of the funnier network comedies out there. Season 2 grew stronger and stronger, as opposed to season 1 which was funny, but more sporadically so. I think a lot of shows, comedies especially, need a bit of time to find what they’re going to be. So if you wrote off either of these shows based off their first seasons, I’d suggest checking them out again.

What I’m Blanking #5

What I’m Watching: Once Upon a Time

I love OUAT. However, even I have to admit that, overall, season 2 wasn’t quite as successful. That’s not to say that it was a terrible season; just, in my opinion, it wasn’t quite as interesting as season 1 and had more issues. The reason this post is so late is because I was at the CONvergence convention in the Twin Cities. It’s my favorite convention, and I was excited to be on the OUAT panel for the second year in a row. Before I went to the panel, I decided brush up on some of the episodes so I could better talk about the show.

I think the one thing I loved about season 1 is that it was a pretty easy structure. There was the Enchanted Forest (Fairytale land) and Storybrooke (our world), and each episode dealt with parallel stories that happened in the past in fairytale land, and what was going on now in Storybrooke. Emma was the reluctant hero, brought in by her son Henry, but still didn’t believe in magic until the end. Not everything was perfect, but it had some really great stories, and I absolutely adored the character exploration, seeing the flawed Mary Margaret and David Nolan in comparison to Snow White and Prince Charming. Season 1 did a really great thing, in my opinion, which was breaking the curse before it became laughable, but things became more complicated. The fairytale characters remembered who they were, characters traveled to fairytale land and back, more characters were introduced, more worlds were introduced. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily,  but the show became a bit muddled and didn’t focus enough on the original series regulars. However, I did love Mulan and Aurora and I sincerely hope they come back for season 3.

That said, while I have a lot of issues with the show I manage to still love it. This is such a female-dominated show, with far more competent female characters than you’d usually see on a show like this. The female characters tend to outnumber the males, at least in terms of presence, and it deals a lot with mother-daughter relationships. The show is also just a lot of fun; while it takes itself seriously enough so that not everything’s a joke, it recognizes that there’s a lot of camp to the show, which makes it fun.

OUAT is cheesy fun that I love to watch. Despite my issues with it I’m glad to be a fan, and I’m excited to see what happens next year.

What I’m Playing: Fallout 3

Still playing DA:O, don’t you worry, but decided to play Fallout 3. I was unable to play it on my last computer, and while I’m still having issues (it’s crashing a lot), I thought I’d give this a shot. I know it’s different from the first two Fallout games, but to be honest I don’t really care all that much. I’m planning on picking up New Vegas in the steam sale this summer, so hopefully I’ll enjoy that.

While my playthrough of Fallout 3 isn’t quite as story focused as I normally like, it’s been a really interesting experience. I started off the game planning on doing a playthrough as non-violently as possible. I know this is more possible in New Vegas, but this prospect excited me. I upgraded my skills pertaining to conversation, bartering, lockpicking and sneaking. However, despite these specialties, I wanted to do a fairly morally good playthrough as well. Early on, I realized how tough a non-violent game would be. Certain enemies attacked no matter what, and my sneaking wasn’t that good yet. However, the most telling part came a bit later. One of the interesting things about the game is just how tough it can be. Finding stimpacks, which restores health, is difficult, and resources are scarce. In my travels, I came across a trader. I sold him things, he sold me things back. I wanted to buy a gun, but sadly I didn’t have enough. I walked away. Soon after, the trader was attacked by an enemy, and while I managed to defeat the enemy, the trader had died. One of the game mechanics is being able to loot dead bodies for their possesions. I wondered if this was possible with him. Sure enough, I was able to get the gun.

While my playthrough has hardly been ruthless since, and there have been plenty of times I’ve held my fire, I realized that more than anything I was doing that because it was easier, and I was more likely to survive. My game narrative switched from being morally good to just survival. I can’t say this is my favorite game yet, but I’ve been enjoying how my thought process has changed during the playthrough I’m on.

(Also Liam Neeson is your dad, which is pretty great)

What I’m Reading: Captain Marvel

At CONvergence, I had a really fun time because I cosplayed as one of my favorite comics characters (I was Kate Bishop from the cover of Hawkeye #9), and I got a couple of people who recognized me. However, while I was pleased with any conversation around Hawkeye, I finally got around to reading more of the current series of Captain Marvel, featuring Carol Danvers. And I’m very glad I did.

Probably my biggest complaint with the Marvel cinematic universe right now is the lack of a Captain Marvel movie in the works. Carol Danvers is fantastic. I’ve become a fairly big fan of female superheroes in the Marvel universe, and Captain Marvel  has done a great job of writing a strong female character, who is currently not the female counterpart of another superhero. Yes, I know that there was another Captain Marvel, but right now Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers. Which is a really amazing thing. This isn’t to slight other female superheroes; I love Kate Bishop, and I’ve heard great things about Jennifer Walters (AKA She-Hulk). However, I’m very impressed that Carol Danvers is so badass and a superhero of her own.

So far, I’ve been really liking this run of Captain Marvel. I’ve been reading what’s on Marvel’s Unlimited service, and the time travel story is so far an interesting one. It also features a support team of many more strong ladies, which is much appreciated by me.

The comics industry isn’t perfect. I’d love more female superheroes, more minority representation, etc. However, this is becoming better. I encourage everyone who can to start buying or reading Captain Marvel comics. They’re really good, and I hope that the audience can show that Carol Danvers is more than welcome.