Darkness was growing for the entire month, not only because of autumn. For me, this ment going back to working from home, more isolation and dark mood. On the other hand, this may be a good moment to go back to my humble blog.
A few months ago, I became regular at a certain subreddit and it seems that I’ve become a Patient Gamer too. Now, I mostly stay away from new games, especially since my gaming rig needs several upgrades. Instead, I prefer to play honourable classics I’ve never touched before.
Usually, I pick a title to match the autumn gloom outside. For example, I finally heeded the Call of Pripyat which has been waiting in my GOG library for almost three years. Very quickly, I realised that I needed exactly this kind of experience, the Chernobyl darkness in all shades of grey, Russian voice acting with the dreaded Polish lektor (search it for your own responsibility) and the unique atmosphere of post-Soviet active pessimism I loved so much in the Metro series. The fight for survival in the marshes and bogs of Pripyat can be really satisfying when you finally drop the unhealthy ambition and overuse the quicksave button.
When it’s raining outside and our reality increasingly looks like a crossover between the noir and cyberpunk genres, it’s time to wear that trenchcoat and fedora again. Good Old Games surprises me again with Blade Runner on sale. I played it more than ten years ago, I recall enjoying it much… and that’s it, other memories are really blurry. It means that I didn’t think it was a masterpiece, but after playing for just a few years I don’t have much to complain about. Sure, it was obviously supposed to be cinema experience so the outdated visuals are a problem, just like the simplified mechanics and interface, but I’d still recommend the game to everyone who liked the original movie and similar aesthetics. The soundtrack is worth your time even without playing, thanks to the good old Frank Klepacki.
Let’s have more of the same. Just a week ago I bought LA Noire.
Here’s another cinematic game made by Rockstar which I kept ignoring for unknown reasons, just like the third installment of Max Payne series. I’ve always liked stories about bitter private eyes and already as a teenager I loved Chandler’s books, but I’ve never watched any film adaptations of his works. Funnily enough, my very first approach to the genre was an urban fantasy parody written by Mike Resnick, Stalking the Unicorn.
Now I’ve come to regret my lack of knowledge, because after finishing a few investigations I have the feeling that I can’t enjoy the game properly. Well, at least I find the visual aesthetics and atmosphere familiar. Everything, from Hollywood-style titles and the soundtrack to conversations and relationships between characters tells that the game is an almost perfect pastiche. Unlike forgettable interactive movies released in the 90s, like The Dame Was Loaded, it’s a creative application of Grand Theft Auto engine and mechanics in an adventure game. There are car chases and shootouts, sure, but more often you search the apartments of suspects and victims, examine crime scenes or pay friendly visits to the local morgue. And then there’s the key feature: interrogations. Now I understand why so many people were amazed by the way the game handles face expressions and even so many years later the end effect isn’t grotesque, as I feared before.
I didn’t expect that I would like the main protagonist this much. Meet Cole Phelps, a rookie detective, war hero, and the incarnation of the ideal 50s male, treated as a celebrity cop. Sadly, his personality somehow reminds me of that one nerdy kid nobody liked at school, but I feel like he’s going to change. At the current stage, I’ve just switched from catching petty criminals to a crime affair in the Hollywood circles and it’s already clear that Phelps is entering the concrete jungle and won’t leave unharmed.
My longstanding total New Vegas playthrough isn’t finished yet, to nobody’s surprise. My Second Courier was supposed to join either House or the NCR, but I surprised myself and suddenly felt the urge to conquer the Dam for Caesar again. This time, I managed to immerse myself into a fanatic legionary and sly frumentarius sneaking deep behind enemy lies and there was much dark joy in it. More importantly, I finally managed to finish two parts of the excellent New Vegas Bounties mod. There’s an additional pleasure here, finishing one bounty after another and watching the creator becoming better at writing and bold, surprising the player with his original ideas and creativity, but also his constantly improving writing style. Who don’t game mods get their own remakes, anyway? Just imagine if we had the Bounties as a separate game with a new engine, more voice actors and better graphics or location design. It could be better that the original New Vegas DLCs.
All right, I’ve already mentioned that I stay away from new releases, but it’s not entirely true. I still keep coming back to The New Order, a total modification for Hearts of Iron IV.
I’ve been struggling with it since the full release, playing week-long sessions, quitting, and then coming back. I’m a bit frustrated with managing huge armies or game-crippling bugs, it’s discouraging to run out of new events after playing a major faction for ten years (but the devs are already making the sequel), but I can’t stop playing The Last Days of Europe anyway. There’s too much fun with its solid writing which takes the events from the large-scale map to the human, sometimes even too human level. And then, there’s the simple fun of an average gamer: painting the map, winning political intrigue, and creating world superpowers against all odds. If anyone decided that Paradox big strategy games are not for him, I’d advise to have a closer look at the TNO mod. In some sense, it’s a wholly new experience.
So much about the past month. November was to bring us a real earthquake, Cyberpunk 2077 finally released. No surprises here, it got delayed again, but it doesn’t bother me anyway. I wouldn’t buy it right now, because I’m obviously reluctant to spend cash on trivial things like upgrading my PC. So I’ll just stay in my little corner and play older titles, but also follow the development of the New Order. The leaks from the devs tell us that the next update will involve Orwell’s 1984 happening in Black Africa and the Butcher of Prague introducing Germany to National Socialism 2.0. All grim and dark, really matching the times we live in.