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Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order
2022.01.31

Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order was mouth-full sub-titled titled title. I don’t particularly like this cascading naming convention, but it’s rather common in big franchises. Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Pokemon all suffer from.

So, EA publishing another Star Wars game. The default expectation is TRASH game loop with micro transactions and paid loot. Battlefront 2 and FIFA will not let me lie…

But this one was… really good!

I got it “for free” in Amazon Prime deal. My original intention was to get both “free” shipping and streaming service for a fixed and low monthly fee. But they do give some video games for free too. And they are eventually good games. After activation in the yet-another-game-launcher Origin launcher, I decided to give it a try.

TLDR: it has all the mediocre elements of recent games. But visuals and gameplay hooked me in. I liked it very much.

How to parry in star wars jedi fallen order feature.jpg

Characters

The main protagonist is bland. Another white impetuous generic dude. The amnesia trope was also employed here. The guy, once fully skilled, now have to relearn everything.

The companions, however, are much more varied. They never are very relevant to the plot, nor we participate in their own journeys, but they add a great flavor to the story. Particularly the pilot Greez: funny, warm hearted but scared little creature. And, of course, your droid companion. The villains are good. Some visually memorable like the Ninth Siter. Some are, like Malicos, from those type that appears, brags and dies. Next.

The general assortment of goons are the stars of the show. From low rank troopers, big machines, monsters and fallen Jedis, the list is varied throughout the whole game. They provoke fear and anxiety and relaxation. They generally do not talk or express any particular personality, but all portrait a very specific role.

The appearance of iconic characters is definitively a high point to mention. But not spoilers here.

Fallen order dathomir.jpg

Visuals

No much to add beyond you can see in screenshots and trailers. The game is gorgeous. EA at least have to praised in this regard: despite being bad games, all recent SW games are visually stunning. Squadrons, another Amazon free game that I’m still playing, is also amazing.

Gameplay

The main core loop is great. In the Metrovania style, maps are presented but inaccessible until the player acquire some special ability. It implies that, when acquired, the player must revisit the same areas over and over again. There is a kind of fast travel mechanism, but the travel points are sparse and will still require some time traversing.

The combat is challenging. Being a Jedi presupposes being god-like fighter. The game gives the player enough abilities to make one feel powerful but not overpowered. Even on late levels it’s possible to lose health fighting goons. Health that is important in order to face bosses and harder enemies.

Boss encounter do not change the general gameplay substantially, which is a plus. You fight using the same muscle memory developed until it. There are always the annoying pre-cutscene that will be played over and over if you die a lot on these fights.

Visiting 5 different planets gives the scenery a great variation, even to being particular different regarding the traversal challenges. Ice planet, fire planet, vegetation planet, futurist planet/installation, underground… And all are beautiful to look at.

Star wars jedi fallen order review 9.jpg
Villan

Final

I got it for free, but I would pay for it if necessary. The game is fun, front and foremost. The story is a bit lacking, the protagonist is definitively lacking but when I finished, I even tried to complete some extra objectives to extend the experience.

My Rating: 8
Metacritic: 81
Game List 2021
2021.12.31

Game List 2021

Last year I published a post of my played games but the title was mistakenly name Media List 2020 . It was a games list so this year it was properly named. This year I wrote much less about each individual game, so I dedicated a small space to comment each entry.

By far, the most important game I played was Cyberpunk 2077 . At least, it was supposed to be the most loved and commented game. Whatever, here is a list of games of all games I played this year.

2021-01-13: Totally forgot to include both Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1.

Finished

  • 3 out of 10 Season 1 ( 7 ): the self mocking humor is funny, but the gameplay is monotonous.
  • Abzu ( 6 ): Underwater abstract exploration. Due the short length, it was ok.
  • Battlefield 1 ( 9 ): the best in the series. The split stories, all good, allowed to explore multiple game plays.
  • Battlefield 4 ( 6 ): really bad. The invincible hero trope to the last moment. Cinematic after cinematic.
  • Control ( 7 ): it was in my wish list for quite some time, then Epic gave it for free. However, I must admit it was a bit off for me. The weird story was never fulfilling, the levels and flow was a bit repetitive. My impression that Jesse, the protagonist, was at the same time omniscient and suffering an amnesia. The Dr Casper Darling (played by Matthew Porretta) was a fun character though.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 ( 7 ) I enjoyed quite a lot. Finished every single quest. Still, expectations were higher.
  • Gunpoint ( 8 ): quick, easy, and charming puzzle-platformer.
  • Hyper Light Drifter ( 5 ): loved by many. Not me. Hard and confusing, despite beautiful. I gave up.
  • Imperialism 2 ( 8 ): finally played to the end the other day. The clunky old graphics and controls get a bit in the way.
  • Little Nightmares ( 7 )Little Nightmares ( 8 ) (as watcher): I’ve made my wife to play this, a bit every night. Despite the lack of gamer’s finger coordination, she did fine and loved it. We will definitively play the second installment eventually.
  • Offworld Trading Company ( 7 )(campaign mode): the campaign mode lacks the openness and do not add a great story to compensate.
  • Quadrilateral Cowboy ( 7 ): this very quarky game about hacking and programming. Very experimental, both for visual and gameplay.
  • Tell Me Why ( 8 ): my wife played this game with me. She loved the theme but she really sucks with the camera controls. We talked about the themes and storylines for weeks. I decided to be by her side to help her play the amazing Life is Strange, because she was liking the game but associated it with the mental gymnastics to just make the character walk.
  • Tharsis ( 6 ): a survival digital board game. We have to manage action points, mitigate bad dice rolls and survive for about 5 turns. Short and agonizing.
  • Watch Dogs 2 ( 8 ): after playing a couple of Ubisoft open world games lately (1 FarCry’s, 2 Assassin’s Creeds’ just the last 2 years), I was expecting the same generic main protagonist and blend story. But I was genuinely liked this entry. Marcus is a likable dude and despite the exaggerated characterization of hackers, it had several storylines right.

Not finished yet (for a reason or another)

Most of them I barely started. Just to check the general flow or if it was working at all. Some It’s WIP. Few are collecting dust.

  • 3 out of 10 Season 2 ( 7 ): the same of the first season. Funny and awkward. About to finish.
  • A Plague Tale Innocence ( 8 ): beautiful production. Played just first couple levels.
  • Assassin’s Creed 3: It’s a big cut scene with some on-rails gameplay. Hated so far. :(
  • Astrologaster ( 8 ): indie small game. Crazy humor. I liked it very much so far.
  • Blair Witch ( 7 ): did not care much of the lore, but it’s a nice horror game.
  • Black Mesa ( 8 ): the official/non-official Half Life 1 remake. The original one I did not play at the time. This remake is really good!
  • Crying Suns ( 7 ): very similar to FTL, with a delightful story and context. My current run is in the Chapter 4 and about to finally finish.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club: not my style, but I heard so much good things about it that I’m intrigued.
  • Ghostrunner: 3D puzzle game action game. Think about 3D Super Meat Boy.
  • GRIS: beautiful first level.
  • Heaven s Vault: highly anticipated game, played a bit and liked the story so far. As far I can tell, there is space for multiple runthroughs to explore all possible branches (not sure if I would do it).
  • Just Cause 4: repetitive like it’s predecessor. But it was crashing too many times. Hardly coming back.
  • Observation ( 7 ): excellent storytelling, despite the clunky controls.
  • Overcooked 2 ( 8 ): my family loved it and I’m trying to play the campaign with my wife
  • Snake Pass ( 5 ): 3D puzzle game, installed to play with my nephews, but it’s controllers and specially the camera, are too clunky and annoying.
  • Supraland ( 8 ): from nowhere, this game is surprisingly hard and much longer than I anticipated. Still, I’m loving the sarcastic tone and the bucket load of jokes.
  • Sherlock Holmes - Crimes and Punishments: the best game in the series. 4 cases with somewhat similar mechanics and styles. Just one to go.
  • The Stillness of the Wind: installed.
  • Unravel Two ( 8 ): still to finish with my wife. She struggle to use the joystick, but this game is quite forgiving, due the slow pace. The light story allows infrequent plays.
  • Wilmot s Warehouse: it works. It’s all that I can tell so far.
  • XII: installed, played 2 levels. Very unique style but old controls.

Not finished yet (still from previous years)

Yet, there are some games that I did not quit definitively, but they are still to be played (therefor, not yet rated). A few are event still installed.

  • Baba Is You ( 7 ): played some levels. To the second or third “world”, if I remember. SUPER clever.
  • Bad North ( 7 ): nice but I still have to give it more time to shine.
  • Detention ( 7 ): I was far in this indie horror game. I think I formatted the HD and lost the saved game.
  • Else Heart Break: it’s working. It’s all that I know
  • Everspace ( 6 ): FTL in 3D. You command a ship that have to fight, explore and trade point to point, in a similar fashion of the famous indie game. I liked, but did not loved. Probably I am not continue to play.
  • Far Lone Sails ( 5 ): I liked the concept but I felt lacking.
  • GRID 2 ( 7 ): played A LOT. top tier racing games. Beautiful, despite the age.
  • Hand of Fate 2: I liked the first game, despite the flaws. This second installment is more complete in every level. I shall play it. I’ve read the developer closed doors.
  • Kentucky Route Zero: this acclaimed game I was super excited to try.
  • Shadow Tactics ( 8 ): I really liked the thinking of this game. It’s definitively one that I will try to complete sooner than later.
  • SOMA ( 6 ): I haven’t gave it time to blossom, but I was not utterly involved either.
  • Subnautica ( 7 ): it took me time to understand the whole open concept. But a saved save was lost and I’m not in that mood to retry it.
  • Sunless Sea ( 6 ). The procedurally generated world is amazing, but this was not my cup of tea. Probably I am not continue to play.
  • Superhot Mind Control Delete ( 7 ): played several levels already, yet to finish.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: loved the book. I barely started the game, so maybe it should not be here.
  • The Quiet Sleep ( 8 ): in this weird indie game, you play the internal mind of a trouble guy during 3 scenarios.
  • War of Mine ( 8 ): I’m far in my third play through, but still to see the game credits.
  • Witness ( 7 ): quite adorable. Some puzzles are difficult and make you feel smart. Yet, the lack of pressure makes it a eternal secondary game. It’s also difficult to put it in a “continuous play” category, because you need to know at what point are you.

Continuous playing

I play them eventually. Most of them, strategy games.

  • A Total War Saga TROY ( 8 ): One of the Epic Store exclusives (for a time), it impressed me. I’m about to finish my first campaign, playing the Amazons.
  • Cities Skylines ( 8 ): After my friend mentioned that he was lost hours and hours designing his hometown, I reinstalled it and started to lose hours and hours too.
  • Democracy 3 ( 8 ): always in Vogue.
  • Hidden Folks ( 7 ): success with small kids and non-gamers alike
  • RimWorld ( 8 ): MUCH more complex than Prison Architect, offered a great variety of procedural content. I did not finished a single play through, but it’s really special.
  • Rome Total War ( 8 ): I played a lot last year. But it’s a quite long game. Once I finish it once, I might close it once and for all. The Troy is heavier, but ultimately better in every aspect.
  • Scythe: the award-winning board game that I still have to give a beginning to end match.
  • Stelaris ( 7 ): slow paced super broad space strategy. The sense of exploration is still amazing
  • Surviving Mars ( 7 ): loved board game that I played a couple of matches solo. Did not click to me, but I will still give it another try.
  • Ticket to Ride ( 9 ): played online with family and friends. Always a success.
  • Wingspan: immediate success with my family and friends. Special mention to my 6 years old nephew comment: “It’s the best game I ever played”. He was assisted and played quite well.

Next games in my radar

Finally, here a list of games that I already have in my collection that I plan to play in the next months.

  • Hitman: I’ve never finished Contracts, but just because I was obsessed for being perfect. I hope to play more relaxed this one.
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: hope to be better then the 3.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: liked the first title, Deus Ex Human Revolution. I hope to like this one too.
  • We Are There Together: I bought to play with my wife using family feature on Steam (she shares all my games). HOWEVER, it is not included in the Play Together, so I am required to buy twice. :/ Trying to convince another soul to play with me.
  • Heavy Rain: I will play this critically acclaimed story-driven games from Quantic Dream with my wife.
  • Beyond Two Souls: another story to play accompanied.
Movie List 2021
2021.12.31

Movie List 2021

Just a list of movies that I’ve seen this pandemic year.

  1. Be Kind Rewind
  2. Best in Show
  3. Borat
  4. Borat Subsequent Movie
  5. Bridesmaids
  6. Coming 2 America
  7. Cruela
  8. Don’t Look Up
  9. Enola Holmes
  10. I Care a Log
  11. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
  12. Incendies
  13. Judas and the Black Messiah
  14. Lady and the Tramp
  15. Last Knights
  16. Live Twice, Love Once
  17. Mank
  18. Minari
  19. News of the World
  20. Okja
  21. Radioactive
  22. Roma
  23. Shadow
  24. Sound of Metal
  25. Sound of Silence
  26. The Chamber
  27. The Dig
  28. The Father
  29. The Informer
  30. The King
  31. The Midnight Sky
  32. The Trial of the Chicago 7
  33. Us
  34. Wasp Network
  35. White Tiger

Documentary

  1. American Factory
  2. Honeyland

Animations

  1. A Cat in Paris
  2. Luca
  3. Soul
  4. Your name

Shows

  1. Loki (S1)
  2. Mandalorian (S1, S2)
  3. Morning Show (S1)
  4. Queen’s Gambit (S1)
  5. Ted Lasso (S1 S2)
  6. The Spy (S1)
  7. This is Us (S1)
  8. Tiger King (S1)
Rating Badge
2021.09.24

Rating Badge

As a programmer and businessman, I try to organize the world. So, I created a unified Ratings page consolidating all reviews that I did. Games, boardgames, books, movies and TV shows.

A few of them I wrote a full blog post. But most I did not. That was driving me crazy. I often mention the same games/movies on multiple posts. When it happens to a piece of art that I did not previously reviewed, I felt a pressure to do so. I even might do so, but now it’s not required anymore. Now the non-reviewed-but-rated are properly acknowledged. And I shall have the consistence.

I’m going to scan, in the next days, all previous blog posts to cross reference, but the main step was done.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Also, in a similar vain the previous post, Rating Art , I decided to give my ratings a more visual appeal. For now, beside the numeric 0-10 rating, it will show the according number of stars.

Watch Dogs 2
2021.09.13

Watch Dogs 2

Quite a surprise. After playing several Ubisoft open world games lately, I was expecting another result of a generic and repetitive side quest generator with a superficial storyline over it.

I was a bit reluctant to start WD2. I read that the original title was over promised and under delivered. The second one flew of my radar at the time. Recently I got it thru Epic free game initiative. Then I read some reviews and comments from the launch time and there was good ones. So I decided to check it out. Not without flaws, I enjoyed the time, the story and gameplay.

Likable Protagonist

Far Cry 3 presented the very iconic and infinite memerable villain Vaas Montenegro. However, Ubisoft writing team struggles to create memorable protagonists. I cannot name a single great protagonist in the Far Cry and most Assassin’s Creed’s (old and new entries) are plain boring. AC3’s Ezio Salvatore da Firenze is the top of mind. AS Odyssey’s Kassandra was nice, despite being put a split role with her unnecessary male version Alexios.

The player spend hours living a life of another person that she/he cares so little. It’s sad, really.

Watch dogs 2 marcus.jpg

Marcus Holloway is a new entry on the likable protagonist list. Optimist, clever and light hearted. His motivations seems reasonable and believable. However, there is a cognitive dissonance playing Marcus as a armed gangster, shooting on police and mob armies. From start to finish, all cutscenes present him, as well the other members of the DedSec crew, as non-violent watch dogs. People that fight to preserve individual liberties and respect life and diversity. Using machine guns to kill everybody on site feels wrong. I tried to play as much as possible as the way I understood the character: low profile, clever hacker.

For the rest of the crew, it’s a mixed bag. The only one that will definitively stick in my mind is the masked engineer Wrench. Horatio, the guy that works on Goog… Nudle, becomes relevant. The rest is the rest.

For villains and NPCs, none worth mention. In fact, the main villain, Dušan, is both idiot and annoying.

References

The hacker theme is presented as the usual Hollywood cliché. Type furiously into the notebook and any bank account in the world is yours!

However, the overall universe are set using are several references of popular culture. Movies, music and video games are often mentioned by characters. Some are more obscure, but most of the time these references are more common sense. For those that know them, they are quite fun. For those that do not, is exotic flavor.

Some references are less subtle: There is a search engine and maps company called Nudle. A rocket launcher Galilei commanded by a millionaire much like SpaceX. I linked the main villain company Blume as Microsoft, but it’s my own thing.

Watch Dogs 2 does not take the story and theme too serious. There is even a good dose of self mockery of being a hacker/programmer. It’s not a like FarCry’s Blood Dragon over-the-topness. WD2 translate complex problems into smaller bites to make it more accessible and fun to a broad audience.

![golden gate.jpg](golden gate.jpg)

Gameplay

As I said before, it is possible to be Rambo and shoot everybody. Like GTA, you will attract police attention and will die, respawn and try again. But I totally feel that is not the way it’s meant to be played™. Harder, but more satisfying, is avoiding direct conflict and using gadgets and powers to sneak. The same could be said to old Assassin’s Creed games (the new ones embrace the direct combat as pillars).

The hacking abilities are more useful for small interventions, like distracting guards, then creating mayhem. Hacking citizens’ phones in the streets is a fun for 10 minutes, than becomes quite useless. Event robbing their bank accounts, money in general, becomes irrelevant mid-game, after upgrading Marcus’ drones.

Most puzzles are repetitive, but fun mini game.

At the end, the core mechanics are solid. Open world games tend to be repetitive, but WD2 scrambles the same basic mechanics offering variety.

Watch dogs 2 4.webp

My Rating: 8
Metacritic: 75
Rating Art
2021.09.03

Rating Art

Rating things is a real art. Specially if we are rating art. Not much thought is put on it; eventually things start to get complicated and ambiguous.

Time

Also cultural references also change. What was good 100 years ago might simply be unacceptable nowadays. There are plenty of movies, sculptures, paintings and songs that portrait racism, misogyny or prejudice that were normal at the time. It’s complicate to reevaluate them using our modern mental framework.

Also, our own taste changing with time. Things that were cool when we were young might embarrassing years later. #cringe

Technology

Some technological improvements make it change our quality perspective. A silent or black-and-white movie, a radio quality song recording, an Atari Pong. But today, it’s hard sell to have such limitation in a modern piece of art.

Sometimes, these technological changes make plainly impossible to appreciate the art later on. For video games it’s particularly affected, since the medium in which it is consumed is part of the experience. Virtual Boy headaches during hours and hours of playtime were part of the nostalgia, but how to compare with a modern XR game if the hardware itself is hard to find and make it work?

Single Fixed Scale

Finally, we have to reduce all the rich details into a numeric scale.

I prefer an infinite positive scale, that always grows with new titles, would be better. So Pong would never be in the same league as a modern AAA 3D adventure story-driven game. But at the same time, one could honestly appreciate an old movie almost the same as flashy new one.

So having a single fixed scale, from 1-5, 0-10, percentage, or even the super weird American F-A concept, is a easier way to deal things. Almost everyone uses this in some shape or form.

My take

There are much to discuss.

At least for now, I’m going to simplify a bit my ratings. I use a 0-10 scale, with .5 decimals. There is no need for these decimal point. An 0-10 scale is enough to separate good from bad. Numerically, 9.4 is better then 9.3. But in practice, it most convey the information that is an amazing game/movie/book, not that one is better then the other. The details I expect to point are a qualitative analysis in each review.

Also, using half-points in practice doubles the range. It’s in fact a 20 point scale. No need for such granularity.

Updating all these past ratings with decimal points, rounding them up or down, depending each case.

One might notice that I’ve never used the 1-3 ratings and barely used bellow 6. It’s not a problem with the scale per se. It’s more about the selection process that occur before consuming a game or movie. I try to focus on award winning, previously mentioned and commented by someone else before. I might eventually rethink this scale to englobe all bellow threshold in a single category and focus on the above threshold scale.

This way I tend to consume only reasonably good products and, therefore, only set reasonably good ratings! Good for me, if you ask.

Pandemic (The Game)
2021.09.02

Pandemic (The Game)

Since I started to follow the rising popularity of board games, 15 years ago, one game the games that was recurrently recommended is Pandemic , designed by Matt Leacock. When I finally had the chance to buy a game from US, it was one of the 4 games I’ve got.

At the prestigious BoardGameGeek’s top ranked games , Pandemic figured in the top 10 games for quite some time. Now the Legacy version is currently in the top 3.

Tgtg ho17 zm7101.jpg

The main attractive at the time is the idea of a cooperative game. All players fight against the game itself. On video games its common, but was kinda a novelty for tabletop games. It plays well with 2 to 5 people and you can even play with children, because it’s all information is open so you can help the decisions for each player. Also because of been cooperative, it’s very easy to teach other people, because you can teach and repeat the rules while playing.

The let’s Save the World from a Pandemic theme was already fun, but now it has a almost historical and technical value to it. The game popularity spawned several expansions, spin offs and the most successful Legacy series, the campaign story-drive version.

T b8z ghm xw48p2 qjyf rr j4 s 970 80.jpg.webp

It’s my most played board game to date. For a reason.

My Rating: 10
Books From 2021 (So Far)
2021.08.15

Books From 2021 (So Far)

I continue to read (listen in fact) almost every day for the past years. It’s in my daily routine when I walk the dogs. It’s a very different proposition from laying down and dedicate some time to read them. I have a urge of a secondary task when I am performing a no-brainer routine, just as.. walking the dogs. Otherwise, I just feel wasting my time my just walking and no thinking.

This is the list of this year’s books that I ingested. Later I present a list of books from the previous years that did not mention before. These lists are -definitively- not comprehensive ones. Since I’m not updating my GoodReads personal records nor writing about them in this blog, they are just the ones I remembered. Eventually I might edit this post in case I remember other entries.

  • Remote ( 10 ): I’ve read this book few years back and I’m planning to do a annual reading of this book, along with the other Jason Fried books. They are mind opener, very opinative and thought provoking. Yet so elegant and simple. It points advantages and disadvantages of remote working, some misconceptions and prejudices. During the radical change of life during the pandemic, it was still valid (it was published in 2013)
  • Foundation ( 10 ): a SCI-FI classic that was always in my “want to read” list. Since I’ve heard that it’s going to become a TV Show from Amazon Prime , it climbed up to the top of my next books. And it did not disappointed. A superb novel that deals with the idea of a guy that can forsee the future and plan each step to change it.
  • Parable of the Sower ( 9 ): a 5 stars recommendation from The Wertzone , it was amazing and rich as I was told. The next book, Parable of the Talents ( 8 ), also recommended , will be read soon.
  • Torto Arado ( 7 ): this Brazilian first time author conquered most of national and international Portuguese awards. Tells a story of two girls from the almost deserted region in Brazil, fighting against poverty, misogyny and happiness.
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century ( 8 ): another hit from the same author of Sapiens, focusing on some pressing issues of the contemporary times, like genetics, robotics and artificial intelligence.
  • Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution ( 8 ): the same vein of the previous book, analyzing global issues, from the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. I think I liked more than 21 Lessons
  • The Final Empire Mistborn 1: in a universe that magic spells can be casted by consuming metals, Sanderson starts the sprawling saga with a epic heist.
  • Letters From An Astrophysicist ( 7 ): Tyson is a well known scientist and his polite, yet firm, way to respond questions in TV shows is also presented in this collection of letters received by fans ans not-fans alike. He talks a little bit of everything: science methods, physics, astrophysics and, but also about astrology and religion.
  • Project Hail Mary ( 7 ): The Martian was a mega hit. As a movie adaptation, it was the most [viewed and profitable project][https://screenrant.com/highest-lowest-grossing-ridley-scott-movies-according-to-box-office-mojo/] from the acclaimed direction Ridley Scott, which includes Gladiator, Blade Runner and Alien. It takes the same Weir’ nerdy writing style, again with a very lonely protagonist and the rollercoaster plot. This time, I have big doubts that a film adaptation would be a similar success, due the complex narrative and scope.
  • Foundation and Empire ( 6 ): the second book have two different stories and is less interesting due the lack of the main characters from the first book. Of corse, it takes places centuries after the first book’ events. The new characters are all nice, but the Hari Seldon previsions becomes both too mystical and precise to my taste.
  • The Miracle Morning ( 4 ): I heard about it while listening the Jeff Goins podcast interviewing the author. He mentioned coming to Brazil to advertise his new book and discovering a huge fan base. So why not try. I found a very obnoxious self-help book about waking up early, do some exercises, meditate and suddenly one would become 999% more productive.

From previous years but not yet mentioned (and worth mention)

  • It Doesn t Have to Be Crazy at Work: Like Remote, it’s worth to re read periodically.
  • The Name of the Wind ( 10 ): Kvothe’s early stories are fascinating. The universe blends Harry Potter with Lord of the Ring, with a very likable cast of characters.
  • The Hate U Give ( 8 ): read years before the Black Lives Matter movement, is still a valid story about racism and police brutality. I’m yet to see the movie adaptation.
  • On Writing A Memoir of the Craft
  • Judas Unchained ( 8 ): the second book, just after the events of Pandora’s Star. Breath holding.
  • How To Write 50000 Words In 30 Days and survive to tell your story: dogmatic but can serve as a powerful inspiration.
  • Artemis ( 7 ): first Mars, now the Moon. The this sci-fi story is well grounded in science and the protagonist is tenacious
  • The Wise Man s Fear: the The Name of the Wind’s protagonist transformed from a poor underdog in the first movie to a almighty demigod. There are basically no impossible obstacles that are solved a couple later.

For more books, you can check my online read list on GoodReads.

Cyberpunk 2077
2021.03.10

Cyberpunk 2077

When you read this post you probably already know: Cyberpunk 2077 hype did not paid off. However, I would like to explore some personal insights.

Cyberpunk 2077 6.jpg

Me-Character and My Character

As a Role Playing Game, you are being someone else. A player might spend an whole hour tweaking the characters appearance, hair, weight, eye lashes. Then calmly considering to spent the scarce points each attribute. One is not creating himself/herself, but a different being. Maybe a projection or simply experimenting unique approaches.

Than the game starts.

You barely see yourself in the screen.

Shooters are much easier to do in first person. CDPR said they opted for the first person approach as part of the vision that the player should feel he is actually there. They even removed some features of the game because it was not working well in a first person.

But as I said before, since one spent so much love creating the character, it would be a wiser decision if one would see it more often. A third person would be a better decision. It was more valuable to see the custom V fighting than was seeing Geralt’s.

The result is that I have never really connected to the character that I personally created.

Also, there is a second take on character creation that is very unique to Cyberpunk 2077 universe: augmentations and down-the-line customizations. A game advertized as being open regarding your physical appearance, I was noted by many the lack of visual modification during the game. Not even changing the hair style, present in a much less relevant The Witcher 3, was absent.

Clothing functions as both technical improvements and fashion. The game could embrace the idea the each piece of clothing could have any game element or bonus. It would encourage players to find their own style instead keep mixing weird styles just to get specific bonuses.

Cyberpunk 2077 2.jpg

Bugs and Cars

The game was plagued by technical issues. There are hundreds os videos in Youtube with hilarious situations. CDPR had to reimburse several players and it was removed by Playstation Store days after the release, due the impossible state!

I personally had no crashes but a ton of buggy behaviors. Citizens reactions, random explosions, enemies misbehavior. In some critical emotional moments, a bug can spoil the fun. I finished the game trying to do ALL the achievements. But one was impossible to achieve due a bug in a side mission.

Then cars… The Witcher’s horse, Roach, was a delicious surprise and set the benchmark to address rideable in video games.Just before launch, Geoff Keighley (one of the few people that tasted it at the time) said driving was super satisfying. The cars felt so bad. Driving was a burden. Felt like balloons, weightless. Bikes even worse.

I was hopping to drive like a vagabond, exploring each inch of the city. But instead I was using the tele transportation all the time.

The pace that the fixes were coming were also much desirable. I finished the game in 3 months, but a small number of patches were released back them. CDPR always had a top-in-industry attitude regarding enhancing their games after release, but this time I believe they are subpar.

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Story

At the very beginning, you have to choose the background story. There are 3 possible starting conditions. And the first act considers this choice important, pointing to it frequently.

Then it becomes irrelevant. The mid game is a generic Ubisoft open world game or GTA. V is in a brink of dying, but the open world nature let her have romantic relationships, racing, and helping other people that, frankly, could wait until you solve your most important issue.

While not very original “there is a dude inside your head”, their take is quite unique e grounded. However, CDPR opted to use other very boring tropes like “I died but I’m too special so I reborn”. No need to put a bullet in V’s head to wake her up in the next scene.

The mid-game is a “ensemble a killer team” theme. It was nice but the team and the final mission is less like Ocean’s Eleven and more The Avengers: group a team of 3 guys and storm into the castle. A good point is the insertion of several recurring characters in side-missions. From love-affairs, super AI or ex-cops, the player start to care about them after some time.

The final orchestrated act was also lacking due a single biggest factor, imho: there are no good villains. A good villain have to be seeing, tasted, and feared often. If you show Adam Smasher only once, 50 hours late you could not care less about him. The other Arasaka family members the same.

Think about great movie and video game villains. They have a considerable amount of screen time so the viewer have the chance to witness his evil intentions. Darth Vader, Joker, Glados, LeChuck, Ganon, Bowser.

A very good aspect of the story is the cultural references and jokes. More than once I was caught laughing out loud with some of them.

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Conclusion

As one of the first games I have ever pre-ordered, I must say that knew what was coming. If I waited for some reviews first…

Cyberpunk 2077 is a ambitious project and several parts of it show it. However, despite the strong beginning, it becomes a generic open world game with amazing graphics.

I finished the game, and most of the achievements. 100+ hours on it. Yet, I fell disappointed. I event might get back to it in a couple of months or years, with extra content and several enhancements.

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My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 86
Media List 2020
2020.12.09

Media List 2020

2020 might compete in the Most Pivotal Year in History Award, but it had its fair share of surprises. I had the time to attack start to finish several games. I reused the commute time to play. Below is the list that I compiled using the new GOG Galaxy app, that tracks games even from other stores.

The list of movies I’m going to skip this time, since it would not fit into a single post.

Games

  • Assassin s Creed Odyssey: I loved this game, setting and its protagonist Cassandra
  • Dishonored : unique story, gameplay and visuals
  • Hellblade Senua s Sacrifice superb visuals and premise
  • Half-Life 2 : amazing game, even today
  • Prey ( 8 ): these guys from Arkane Studios also know how to write and make all characters relevant
  • Observer: super weird setting that caught my attention
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider ( 7 ): messy story, despite the good gameplay loop
  • Dishonored Death of the Outsider ( 7 ): while it have the same not the same
  • Farcry 3 Blood Dragon ( 7 ): hahaha some over the top jokes
  • Virginia ( 7 ): lovely story
  • A Way Out ( 7 ): I player with my girlfriend, together
  • Frostpunk ( 7 ): I tend not to like rougelike or crazy-difficult, but this one surprised me
  • Shadow Warrior 2 ( 7 ): hahaha some over the top jokes (again)
  • The Council ep 1: amazing premise and the first episode is nice. I heard that the other episodes are not great
  • Tacoma ( 7 ): passive, calm and nice story
  • Ape Out ( 7 ) die and repeat
  • Assassin s Creed Origins: beautiful but boring and another AC messing story
  • Framed: interesting premise
  • Metro 2033 (Redux) : the amount of DeusExMachina moments is off the charts. the same for best friend companions that dies in the very next scene.
  • The Red Strings Club ( 6 ): weird
  • Bioshock Infinite : I really did not like the story and not the gameplay
  • Realpolitiks ( 5 ) interesting take on politics and economics simulation
  • Farcry 5 ( 5 ) beautiful but boring and another FC forgetting story

Finished in 2018-2020 (before pandemic)

Not finished yet (for a reason or another)

Continuous playing

In preparation of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 !!!

BRUNO MASSA