If you’re among the ones of readers I have for this blog, you may have noticed I took last week off. After a long, sleep deprived weekend in Austin for the Austin Film Festival and Conference, I needed a break. It was nice to not worry about what I was going to post on here for a few days, even if I was sick the whole time. I’m still sick, by the way.
Moving forward, I’m going to be putting a little less time into blogging and more into my creative writing. Posts here are still going to be (fairly) regular, but they’re not going to be daily. I’m thinking it’ll be in the two to three times a week range, but I’m not promising anything.
That’s not quite true. I am promising I’ll be posting some bits and pieces of whatever creative work I end up doing, and I’ll be posting any short stories I write in their entirety for the foreseeable future.
That’s enough housekeeping. Let’s get to the entertainment I’ve been spending my time with.
Super Mario Odyssey
My wife and I started Super Mario Odyssey yesterday, and it’s safe to say we both fell in love with the game almost instantly. It’s pure joy from the start, kicking off with a whimsically dark story only Nintendo could pull off and quickly transitioning to some of the best, most engaging, most fun gameplay I’ve ever experienced. Odyssey feels good to play, and it looks great. Its level design is incredible so far, and I’m sure it’s only going to get better as we get deeper into the game.
Next stop: New Donk City.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
From the beginning, I felt like Shadow of War was missing something. It didn’t have the same impact Shadow of Mordor did in 2014, and I’m now fairly certain I only latched onto that game the way I did because of my nonexistent expectations for it. Shadow of Mordor soared above those expectations and set the bar. Shadow of War hasn’t been able to reach it.
The combat is still a blast, and the presence of new powers and abilities has made the game consistently interesting, if nothing else. Technical issues abound, though, from glacial frame rates to unplayed audio to frozen loading screens. The game’s story didn’t impress me, landing on the wrong side of racism without ever really saying anything about it. The structure left me wanting too, with the bulk of its campaign made up of what would side quests in any other game that kind of linked together to form a narrative.
Despite all these issues, I’ve still had a lot of fun with Shadow of War. Its world is interesting (it’s based on Tolkien, so of course it is), and the Nemesis System has created plenty of memorable moments that the game’s narrative failed to. The game’s final act, known as The Shadow Wars, is doing its best to nullify any of that fun, though. It’s repetitive, dull, and simply not engaging. I still feel obligated to slog through the rest of it to see the game to its proper end, but it’s never a good sign when I’m trying to finish a game out of obligation rather than fun or intrigue.
I saw Thor: Ragnarok this weekend. I didn’t love it.
There’s a lot of fun crammed into its 130 minutes, but none of it really did much for me. I enjoyed it in a “Hey, I liked that Marvel movie” kind of way, but nothing more. 17 movies in, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and its signature comedic approach to blockbuster action, just isn’t getting it done anymore. The tone is consistent across the majority of the movies, which is the big problem for me. I want each of the entries in this universe to feel like a truly unique part of a bigger whole, and a lot of them just don’t at this point.
I liked Thor: Ragnarok. I wish I loved it.
I knew this was going to happen, but I still haven’t watched season two of Stranger Things. I wasn’t able to dive into it right away, and now it’s getting lost in everything else that’s out there. I want to finish up Shadow of War so I can jump right into Horizon Zero Dawn‘s DLC, The Frozen Wilds, which releases tomorrow. And of course there’s more Super Mario Odyssey to be played.
That’s more than enough to keep me busy right there, but I also have a handful of cheap/free digital rentals expiring soon that require attention. There’s simply too much out there to enjoy, but that’s not a “problem” I’m going to complain about.
What have you been watching and playing lately? Let me know in the comments.