Category Archives: books

Reading books and stealth-killing mudcrabs like a true Dovahkiin

Recently, Bethesda put word out about yet another patch to one of their patchy videogames–this time, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim–and usually I just glance these over as all they ever contain are a long list of fixes to buggy quests, many of which I can’t actually recall by name alone. However, something was different this time around, and included in this batch of bug-squashing code was the addition of new kill animations for melee weapons and stylized kill cameras for ranged weapons, such as bows and magic. To that, I say: about…freaking…time.

Being the meshuggenah man-boy that I am, I immediately turned on my Xbox 360, downloaded a patch–note that I said a patch, not the patch–and began traipsing across Skyrim, searching for my first kill. Found some bandits in a cave and shot them all down from afar in single hits…with no cool camera action. And with an Archery skill of like 78 or something. Hmm. What gives? This sense of confusion went on for awhile until I went back to the pooter and realized that the patch was only for PC/Steam, and even then, it wasn’t available yet.


Nonetheless, I was back in the realm of Skyrim, looting, looking, and living. Checking my stats, I noticed that I was four dragon souls away from 20 and…one skill book away from 50. Surely I could find one more measly skill book, and then I remembered a small hideout right near Whiterun that I had discovered while playing the game on Steam the other night. It was guarded by some bandits and a lonely horse, but otherwise, no trouble–and there was definitely a skill book there. Off I went. Tra la la. All was going to plan until a freakin’ FROST DRAGON SHOWED UP AND TRIED TO ICE ME! After cooling off, I looted the hideout and walked away with one more book in my ever-growing bag of shtuff.

Honestly, I don’t need an Achievement to tell the world I’m a reader, but here it is regardless:

Reader (20G): Read 50 Skill Books

Also, the latest patch just went live on PC/Steam, and so again, I headed back on in, dying to see a ranged weapon kill camera in action. And so it happened. Um…I shot at a mudcrab from quite a distance and watched, in slow motion, as it thunked back into the water, an orcish arrow deep within its shell. It was both lame and exciting, and clearly something that should have been implemented from the very start.

And now I wait for the Xbox 360 version to get updated before I go about finishing up some more quests. Heck, I might even get married soon or pick a Civil War side. There are no limits to my wandering.

Game of Thrones: The Game has got me worried

I am not a trusted scholar and saucebox of all things A Song of Ice and Fire. Sure, I love the books immensely, am a big fan of HBO’s take on blood and dragons and heraldy and fine-ass beards, and am a dude that’s attempting to draw just about every character ever named by George R.R. Martin–but I don’t know everything. However, I do know that there’s no place called Riverspring in Westeros. Except, thanks to the forthcoming Game of Thrones: The Game (ugh, what a name), now there is. Here’s how the developers describe it:

Bordering the Riverlands, the interests of this town and surrounding countryside are held in the name of Sarwyck as bannermen to the Lannisters. From their family keep, they have presided over their people for generations, but now unrest begins to grow in wake of the death of the reigning Lord Raynard Sarwyck.

All right. That’s believable enough, given just how many houses, big and small, there are, and the Lannisters do have a lot of support. And Sarwyck is a fine, Martin-esque name, but I got problems with Riverspring. Here’s why. In Fallout: New Vegas, upon emerging from a premature shallow grave, you discover the town of Goodsprings. In Rage, the first true city you come to call home is Wellspring. EverQuest fans might remember a halfling city called Rivervale. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, after stepping out of a cave, so long as you follow the path, the first settlement you unearth is called Riverwood. And in…y’know, I’m just going to list all of these forgettable names in bullet format to really drive home the point:

  • Goodsprings
  • Wellspring
  • Rivervale
  • Riverwood
  • Riverspring

The videogames market is currently inundated with spring places, and yes, pun freakin’ intended. Also, don’t forget about Riverrun, the ancestral stronghold of House Tully. The place that actually matters. But yeah, I get that the devs wanted to A) create a new location to do with whatever they wanted and B) keep it in line with Martin’s naming schematics, but seven hells, they picked the most generic thing ever. I think if I ever make a robust RPG set in a typical fantasy land, the first town I name will be called Good Riverwater Springs. You heard it here first, people.

Okay, fine. I have problems with Riverspring and just how little it adds to a world brimming with detail and construction. Moving on, thanks to Greg Noe, a new trailer has hit the Interwebz:

Wow. Look, no one–and I do mean no one–is playing Game of Thrones: The Game for its story. You just can’t outdo or even come close to the story-telling power of GRRM, so don’t bother trying. Instead, give us the goods on the videogaming side. Make it fun to play, fun to swing a sword or dabble in seedy politics or create some kind of unique dialogue tree system, but don’t pretend to be all high and mighty. This trailer tries to sound exciting, but even the narrator sounds bored–and rightly so. I’d rather see how the game will play, whether it will be more like Dragon Age: Origins or Dragon Age II, as that difference is vital. Certainly it won’t be anything original, but if it is closer to DA:O then I’m in. If it’s DAII…well, I’m probably still in as I am a huge fanboy of the source material, but man, it’s just going to be one letdown after the other. Granted, there still seems to be a second storyline to follow based around the Wall and the Night’s Watch. Maybe that tale will be more inspiring.

A release date of May 2012 is being tossed around. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more details before I take the black. Ugh. Between this, that RTS flop from Cyanide Studio, and an upcoming MMORPG, it just doesn’t seem like A Song of Ice and Fire can get the videogame treatment it truly deserves. At this point, I’d be down for something like this.

REVIEW – GameSpite Quarterly 8, the PlayStation Era

The Sony PlayStation was a system that got me through high school and carried its weight during the early college years; it was a system that seemed to be everything anyone could need, with a library certainly bigger than anticipated, and the power to steal hours upon hours away from my life. Many of my favorite titles call home to the 32-bit console that could: Suikoden, Suikoden II, Jumping Flash!, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and so on. It holds a special part of my soul beneath its silver lid, and that’s me being as honest as possible via a blog post. The dang thing means a lot to my growing up, my dealing with problems and friends and loneliness, and it was also a ton of fun to play, to invest in. I even decked it out with special stickers that came with early issues of PSM, a magazine that I subscribed to for a super long time because I enjoyed reading about my new toy and what it might be handling in the future. It’s been some time since I’ve read anything PlayStation-related in print form, too, which is my way of transitioning to the next paragraph.

The latest issue of GameSpite Quarterly, a simultaneous print and online zine by Jeremy Parish and pals, is all about the PlayStation, making it an instant buy for me, and I’m all the happier for it. The book arrived, and I at first couldn’t tell if I’d ordered, y’know, a book or…a brick. At around 435 pages, this is actually a tome, and there’s plenty of content to absorb, which is what I did over several days. It’s got that potpourri feel to it thanks to numerous authors writing varying articles about strikingly different titles and subjects. In the span of a few pages, GS8 goes from talking about how “mature” Sony got with its advertising to coverage of retro games like The Raiden Project and Final Fantasy Anthology. Content flows in a loose chronological order by game release dates, but at times feels a bit of a mish-mash effort; I’d have preferred a section devoted to game reviews and another to musings and features, but that’s just little ol’ me and my need for everything to be ordered and grouped and properly connected.

As previously mentioned, the library for the Sony PlayStation is huge, and it’s no surprise that not every game gets covered in GS8. I’m sure many frog fans are going to be saddened to learn that there are zero words devoted to Frogger 3D and Frogger II: Swampy’s Revenge. And some titles that I actually wanted to read about deeply, such as Star Ocean: The Second Story, Metal Gear Solid, and Chrono Cross, were only given a single paragraph of love. Disappointing, sure. Blockbusters like Final Fantasy VII and Tomb Raider get the expected amount of coverage, and I particularly found myself immersed in Tomm Hulett’s “The 7 Deadly Sins of Xenogears,” a religiously in-depth analytical look at a game I never got to play. For the most part, the majority of the games covered get a small amount of text to go along with a huge, pixelated screenshot. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t (Baby Universe).

Not surprisingly, Parish’s love for quirky and less-loved titles takes the limelight here, with games like The Misadventures of Tron Bonne receiving eight pages of praise. Missed out on that game way-back-when, but it sounds pretty neat and has me only more excited for the forthcoming Mega Man Legends 3. My only other complaints are minor, but a second round of copyediting would have done wonders; as I read, I spotted a number of typos, as well as a lot of inconsistencies (if you’re devoting an entire issue to the PlayStation, you should stick to one spelling of it only). Otherwise, GS8 is so full of content and pages to flip through that the good outweighs the disappointing, and even though the entire book will make its way online over at GameSpite eventually, the printed form is still worth pursuing. Seeing that much content bundled and bound is impressive, and if you were at all a fan of the PlayStation it’s a no-brainer buy. Cracking GS8‘s spine is the easiest way to time-travel back to the good ol’ days of 3D polygons, memory cards, and games built around FMVs.