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portal 2.

One important part of Roused is that it is in no way timely. Sometimes a post will go up about something that just came out or happened, but much of the time I’ll be writing about stuff as I enjoy it, with no concern for release date. This is the premium example of that fact. Four years later, and I finally got around to playing Portal 2. Maybe I can get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the very last person to play through this game for their first time.

I knew I’d like it, knew that all the fuss was probably well-earned, and it still amazed me with its joyful simplicity.

For those who don’t know the series, Portal and Portal 2 are puzzle games. You have a portal gun that creates two sides of one portal. You need to use that to solve various puzzle rooms to advance the game.

Portal 2 is perfect.

For one, it’s hilarious. Throughout the game you are regaled and tormented by two AI’s and one series of prerecorded voice messages, and the writing for each is delightedly twisted. Not just delightfully twisted, but also delightedly twisted; these writers clearly delighted in being creating these insane AI’s hellbent on testing you to death. Among the three voice actors, one is Stephen Merchant, and another is recent Academy Award winner JK Simmons. The game still would have been amazing without the writing and voice work, but that extra layer makes an amazing game something truly special.

Most importantly, the puzzles are amazingly satisfying. They never get particularly difficult, but they are always enjoyable to solve. It was like zen to me during a week when I really needed some mental peace. The way these game crafters take a few very simple elements to create such variety in their puzzles is really impressive. And the simplicity of the elements makes it so that the puzzles all feel connected; unlike so many games, there are no cheap shots, any challenge is created by fair play and requires intuitive problem solving. Which is what creates such gratifying gameplay.

As I’ve written before about things I took a while to get around to: I don’t really care that I’m late to this party, I’m just glad I got to join it.



e3 is in full effect.

You should watch these even if you aren’t into gaming, if only to see where the wildly popular medium is headed. It continues to grow as a beautiful visual medium.

Ori and the Blind Forest

This game looks so gorgeous, and I wish I’d been in the room for this launch trailer.

ori and the blind forest


The Division

This trailer is satisfyingly cinematic. If it was a movie, I’d go see it.

A third person shooter that utilizes an open online world, meaning your action will pit you against AI and other players, but with a larger scope than just ‘load map, shoot other players, repeat’. This looks like something I could actually get into.

As a bonus, watch a gameplay trailer here that shows the sort of awesome co-op fun to be had.

the division


No Man’s Sky

From the very little I know, this one could be the gamechanger in the next gen story. The beautiful indie [!!] game is entirely open world for exploration, and will continue to grow, leaving a veritable universe to be discovered.



five and five. [five things i’ve been enjoying and five things i hope to enjoy very soon]

I’ve been in the mood to do this again. I’d like to do it as consistently as I used to, but needs must and whatnot. Maybe my schedule will allow it, maybe it won’t.

For my first post back in a while I decided to share five things I’ve been enjoying, along with five things I still really want to try soon.

Five Things I’ve Been Enjoying

1. Kurt Vonnegut. 

vonnegutLoving a writer like Vonnegut is pretty obvious, especially for someone with my particular sensibility. Still, before this year I had only read Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death. As some of you know, this year my goal was to read every Vonnegut novel. I’m through six, and he is everything I’d hoped he would be and more.

I expected the gallows humor, the irony, the cleverness, and the imagination that he is known for. What I didn’t expect was the beautiful tenderness in his writing. Sure, the writing is darkly hilarious and honestly realistic about the world, but for all Vonnegut’s ability to see humans for the absurd beings we really are, he also seemed to love us in spite of it all.

Vonnegut’s work is hopeful, but in an eyes-wide-open way that results in the only hope that’s worth a damn.


2. Justified

Justified Season 4 Gallery Timothy Olyphant

The contemporary western series based on characters created by Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite things of late. I’ve been careful not to start episodes most days because it too often results in binge watching multiple episodes in a row.

I only just finished the second season and it was outstanding. What could easily be a purely formulaic affair is elevated by great camerawork, satisfying and thrilling season-long story arcs, phenomenal acting by recurring players, and two of my very favorite characters on television in Raylan Givens [Timothy Olyphant] and Boyd Crowder [Walton Goggins]. Like Eastwood’s various protagonists, these characters give us those moments of delightful badassery, complete with smart-ass one-liners and love/hate banter.  


3. Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley

I started watching because it was created by Mike Judge and Kumail Nanjiani is in it. I kept watching it because of how great it is.

Relevant, original, hilarious, and smart. This and True Detective are the best examples of why HBO is still in the company of Netflix, et. al. as the future of serial storytelling.

Also, the eureka moment in the series finale is probably my favorite ever, but I won’t explain why and spoil anything.


4. Seattle Sounders

obaThe trick with sports is that your team is going to have a season that ends in defeat significantly more often than in victory. Being a sports fan, even a relatively realistic and rational sports fan like myself, is often a painful affair.

Thus, the Sounders could break my heart sooner rather than later.

Right now, though, it sure is fun to be a Sounders fan! In the 15 games before the break they are literally running away with the entire league. Hopefully after the World Cup break the boys in Rave Green will get right back to providing a non-stop highlight reel.


5. Last Week Tonight


The first two or three episodes were good. Certainly good enough to keep me coming back. Yet, as the show hit its stride it became downright brilliant. The writing is improving every week, and Oliver continues to get his legs doing a job he’s done before but never in this context.

At this rate, Last Week Tonight, a show that in its initial episode looked to be merely clever and funny, will become one of the more important weekly events on television. John Oliver’s rants smack of a special kind of truth-telling this world needs a shit-ton more of.


Five Things I Hope to Enjoy Soon

1. Child of Light


A video game that follows a young girl who finds herself unable to awaken in her real world, but is instead trapped in a dark world where the sun, moon and stars have been stolen by the Queen of the Night.

From what I’ve read, which isn’t much because I don’t want everything spoiled for me, the game uses the fairy tale structure to engage deeper themes of sadness, isolation, connection, and hope. So, basically, the description you’d give if you were trying to catch me hook, line, and sinker.


2. The Edge of Tomorrow

edge-of-tomorrow-movie-trailerSo far this weekend, people aren’t going to see this. However, I hope that before the week is out I can be one of the few who have bought a ticket. The premise looks exciting and fresh, Tom Cruise continues to make entertaining movies even if he is apparently a psycho IRL, and critical reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

Oh yeah, and Emily Blunt.


3. Her

imgresI’ve already seen it, but it becomes available as a Netflix mailer on Tuesday and I can’t wait to enjoy it again. So far, Her is my favorite of the films I’ve seen this year.

I am still baffled that one of the storytellers I cherish the most for his insight, tenderness, and honesty helped create Jackass. Oh, Spike Jonze, you beautiful enigma.


4. Chef

images-1I’ll actually be seeing this later today, so, WIN!

It’s good to see Favs writing something smaller again. Did I mention some friends and I used to watch Swingers once a week in freshman and sophomore years of college? Occasionally we would take breaks and watch Made once a week instead.

Plus, the cast looks fantastic. I really wish there were more Bobby Cannavale performances in the world.


5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

51tpIK8K+tLTechnically, I’ve already started enjoying this because I’m 50 pages in. I hope to have time to enjoy the other 650something pages later this week, because so far it seems to be exactly the kind of book I want to be reading right now.

Lynch’s first novel, and the first book in the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series (which is up to three books thus far), is apparently a well-written crime caper in a beautifully realized fantasy setting. So far, I agree with the consensus assessment that the book is awesome. I can’t wait to get back to it!


borderlands 2.


You know what’s awesome? Borderlands 2, that’s what.

The sequel was released last September, and has won 50something editorial awards across the gaming world since. The affectionate term for the sub-genre of the game is ‘shoot and loot’, a sub-genre of the first-person shooter where you go explore various maps, shoot lots of foes, and then loot vanquished villains and treasure chests to find fun new items to aid you continuing to do more of the same.

What sets B2 apart from other ‘shoot and loot’ games, and other games in general, is that it is just so perfectly entertaining. I actually hadn’t had any desire to play video games for some time before I got addicted to this little beauty. Dissociation: Engage!


So, to do your shootings and lootings, you get to choose one of four different character classes, each with unique strengths that suit the various gaming styles people tend to have in these sorts of game. I play as the Siren (the lone female character), just as I did in the original Borderlands. In any game I play where I can choose to be a spell-caster of sorts (whether magical spells in fantasy worlds, or energy manipulation in sci-fi games), that is what I choose to be, and that is what the Siren is. She can lift enemies into the air, immobilizing them while you continue to blast away with your plethora of guns. It’s supremely satisfying.

PandoraAnyway, the story is basically a space-western, set on the fictional world of Pandora, a backwoods planet populated by rednecks and hillbillies. You are a vault hunter, searching for an invaluable treasure that will not only lead to potential fame and fortune, but can save the world of Pandora from the villainous Handsome Jack. Jack is also looking for a vault, in the hopes of taking control of a power that would be best kept out of the hands of a douche-bag like Handsome Jack (although he’s a hilariously awesome bad guy). Anyway, the aforementioned rednecks and hillbillies who populate Pandora either try to kill you, or send you on mutually beneficial quests (or in some delightful cases, both). The game is chock-full of pop-culture references, entertaining characters, and droll humor. It’s really, really fun.

If you have even a moderate interest in video games, you should try to get your hands on a copy and give it a whirl.

Here’s a trailer for the game I once shared a long time ago. If you can watch it without at least a small part of you wanting to check it out… well then you don’t deserve to have nice things, and we’ll just keep playing without you! If you already play on PS3, send me your game info, my friend J and I could always use some more firepower as we burn Pandora to the ground… you know… to save it from Handsome Jack.

borderlands 2


dishonored. [gaming.]

Thanks to Dead Island, everyone learned the hard way that a video game can have a brilliant trailer and be a terrible game. In all fairness, I never actually played Dead Island, but by literally all accounts, the game was a shade short of mediocre at best.

Still, this trailer has me pretty excited about the upcoming Dishonored. In it, your are a supernatural assassin hellbent on revenge. No gameplay trailers yet, but the debut trailer looks like Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock had a baby, and it grew up in a steampunk wonderland.

So far, they have my attention.



five previously neglected things.

Five things I should have blogged about much, much earlier, but haven’t yet.

1. Assassin’s Creed III

Early reports are that they are finally reinventing the game, instead of just releasing the same game three times with different names. It’s odd that this trailer sort of gives the impression that the Colonies are the good guys and the British are the bad guys, but an interview I saw with a developer said that a big reason they went with a Native American Assassin is because it’s not a game about Brits vs. Americans, it always has to be a game about Assassins vs. Templars.

I really hope this game is good.


2. Borderlands 2

Secondofly, another game. This one’s for Josué. This game is undoubtedly going to be lots of fun. Undoubtedly.


3. 21 Jump Street

I wanted one thing, and one thing only, when we went to this movie: to laugh loudly and often. Wish granted.



4. Being Elmo

As inspiring as it gets. A wonderful film.


5. Lilith by George MacDonald

One of the best “fairy stories” I’ve ever read. It’s certainly dense at times, but each page crackles with wisdom and insight. The book is a spiritual treasure trove.



mass effect 3. [things i’m thankful for #30]

This makes ME3 something I’m doubly thankful for, in that I previously posted that I was thankful there were only 17 days left until the release. As long as things continue to go well, there will be a third ME3 post on its way in the future. There have been some complaints out in the world of ‘gamers’ about the game, which I am willfully choosing not to look into, so that I can experience the game fresh. For the most part, I don’t take gamer complaints very seriously anyway. Gamers are infamous for being remarkably abusive, over tiny details, toward the people who pour their lives into making the things that gamers love… games. However, that is best left for another post. Suffice it to say that, for now, I’m not taking the complaints too seriously.

I’m not as far into the game as I would like to be. That’s a good thing. I have been good about keeping myself away from turning it on, knowing that it will suck me in once I do. The game had its slow, awkward moments getting started, but once things got rolling it got really good, really fast. While strong sales will probably be enough to bring forth a Mass Effect 4, this was designed as a trilogy, making ME3 the end of the story arch.

The end could be woefully terrible, but so far it has been genuinely satisfying as a closing chapter in the story. For those who know nothing about the series, the game forces the player to make decisions throughout the game, and those decisions not only have repercussions later in the same game, but your save data carries over from previous games so that Mass Effect 3 begins somewhat differently for everyone who played the first two games. The decisions I made in ME1 and 2 are coming home to roost in ways that I never could have predicted. At times, having done the right thing in the earlier games is making for really tough decisions in this game. I already saw the eradication of an entire species because of a call my Commander Shepherd had to make.

As a video game, there will still always be parts of the story that are overly simplistic, and the romance is really unsatisfying and silly. However, with that being said, so far, the story has been smart, coherent, and engaging on a character level. As would be expected in a story about the impending doom of the entire Milky Way, not everyone is going to make it out alive. No matter what decisions you make, some characters are still going to die. I’m not going to lie, even though it is just a video game, I’ve had a hard time making some of the decisions I’ve had to make so far, wondering what the implications might be for my favorite characters as a result.

Not only is Mass Effect 3 worth a playthrough, but the first two games hold up fairly well, so it would even be worth checking out the first two if you haven’t. At least play Mass Effect 2. Good times.

I’ll report back once I beat the game to let you all know what I think after all is said and done. As always, without spoilers, unless otherwise noted.