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Gabe / on Wed, Jul 31 2013 at 11:04 am

I’m back!

I’m back home from Australia now and I had an incredible vacation, or should I say holiday? I brought a ton of stuff to manage the long flights, and hotel downtime. I figured I’d toss up a list of what I enjoyed.


Games!

Mario and Luigi: Dream Team
This game is actually already out in the UK and Australia. If you haven’t played any of the other Mario RPG games they really are awesome. The writing tends to be much better than the average mario game and Dream Team is no exception. I’m about ten hours in and I’m loving the story and the dialog. It’s genuinely funny and refreshingly self aware. The gameplay is a mixture of overworld puzzle solving and classic turn based RPG battles. It’s a ton of fun and the way they switch things up in the “dream world” sections really keeps the game fresh. I love it!

Halo Spartan Assault
This is a top down dual stick shooter for Windows 8 set in the Halo universe. Sadly it’s a dual stick shooter that doesn’t support dual sticks as of right now. I’d love it if I could just use my 360 controller. As it stands you can use mouse and keyboard or touch controls. I’m playing it on my Surface Pro and I prefer the mouse and keyboard but on the plane the touch controls were more convenient and worked fine.

They have nailed the setting with awesome visuals and a really solid story hook. It “feels” like Halo and that’s pretty impressive given the style of play. In terms of gameplay it’s a pretty classic dual stick shooter. They do a good job of mixing up the mission types though. Some have you fighting off waves of bad guys while others put you in the seat of classic Halo vehicles. For my part I liked these the most. Driving the little tanks around and blowing shit up was pretty fun.

I don’t think it’s a must play but if you have a Windows 8 device it’s a fun time waster. It was perfect for the plane ride but I can’t see myself sitting at my desk playing it.

Shadowrun Returns
I have to admit I did not play any of the previous Shadowrun games. I picked this up because the setting sounded cool and I was impressed with the Kickstarter success. It feels like playing a tabletop RPG with an awesome GM. I’m only a few hours in but I really love the story and the way it’s delivered. It really feels like you’re playing an adventure with descriptions sounding like the “read this to the players” sections of the adventure book.

Gameplay is turn based tactics on a grid. It has a bit of an X-com vibe in terms of how battles play out. I’m still very early in the game so I can’t say much about how the mechanics really stack up. I’m having fun right now though.

I guess the game is designed to let players build their own adventures and share them. I have to say that sounds awesome. I’m loving the story so far but the idea that I could grab new adventures from a community of game masters sounds awesome.


Books!

Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer
I grabbed this book based on the title which I thought was funny. I’d never read anything from this author before and I fucking loved the book. It’s sci fi with a heavy emphasis on the Sci. I like science fiction that feels like it could really happen in the not too distant future. The book follows the adventures of a private detective on Mars investigating a case involving “transfers”. The hook here is that in the future transferring your consciousness into an immortal nearly indestructible mechanical body is expensive but possible. It explores some of the moral questions about what it means to be alive and what happens when you can make “copies” of people. I really liked it!

Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
I liked it so much in fact that as soon as I was finished I grabbed another of his books! This one mixes religion and science fiction similar to another of my favorite books The Sparrow. What if a super scientifically advanced alien race shows up on earth and says they have proof that God is real? Super fun hook that asks some great questions about what we believe and why we believe it.

Movies!

Oblivion
I watched this on the plane ride home and I thought it was awesome. I had actually decided not to watch it based on the trailers but when you’re on a plane for 15 hours you can’t be too picky. From the trailer I thought it was a pretty standard action Sci-Fi movie. I also felt like the trailer spoiled the movie so I didn’t see any need to watch it. I was totally wrong. This is a cerebral Sci-Fi flick that actually felt a lot like a big budget version of Moon. It’s a really tricky movie with a twist that wasn’t spoiled at all by the trailer in my opinion. I’m really glad I gave it a shot.

Pacific Rim
This movie is just pure teenage fun. I loved it in the same way that teenage me loved movies like American Ninja, Iron Eagle, Bloodsport and old VHS tapes of Ultraman. Simply put, the movie is “rad”.

-Gabe out


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