Game Review – InFAMOUS: Second Son

For lack of anything else to write about it’s time again to talk about the games I play when I’m not writing.

The PlayStation Plus free game of the month on the PS4 is InFAMOUS: Second Son. I was not expecting much but it looked pretty in the trailer so I downloaded it for something to play while I save up for the Dishonored 2 and Just Cause 3 DLCs. I have been pleasantly surprised.

This game has a lot of the stuff I like. There’s genuinely funny and warm dialogue that mostly doesn’t creep into maudlin, overly sentimental or cringeworthy. The voice acting is spot on and features the always entertaining Troy Baker as the player character, Delsin Rowe. Delsin talks to himself a lot so it’s good that they got the casting right. The gameplay is intuitive and the powers are varied enough to keep the grind from getting too repetitive. There’s a large map with quite a lot of freedom in how you deal with missions and when to tackle stuff. Your actions have consequences with a Karma mechanic that unlocks different abilities depending on how you play.

I like the range of characters. Delsin might at first seem like yet another tanned, dark haired, lone wolf male protagonist (and an angsty teenaged one at that) but he’s Native American and he has his big brother tailing along behind him. The women in the game are so far all well rounded people in their own right. The main villain is a mature woman who manages to be an evil, selfish, fascistic arsehole without getting her kit off. The teenaged girl with the purple hair at first appears to be a typical manic pixie dream girl but then turns out to be a deeply troubled person on her own mission of vengeance following the death of the only person who ever loved her (and he wasn’t her boyfriend).

If you have a PS Plus subscription then I recommend it. It’s worth the space on your hard drive and is good enough on it’s own to justify a month’s worth of the subscription. If you don’t have PS Plus and you see it somewhere cheap I still recommend it.

However it is not without it’s flaws. The Karma mechanic seems a bit heavy handed and doesn’t allow for nuanced choices. Your choices are clearly labeled as heroic or villainous and once you pick a path you can’t really veer off it without weakening Delsin. The boss fights feel a bit cheaty – there’s usually a trick to them and the trick isn’t always easy to spot while you’re trying not to get Delsin killed. I’m not enjoying it as much as Dishonored or Just Cause 3 and I’m not as driven to play it as I was with Wolfenstein: The New Order. So keep your expectations low and you’ll enjoy it more.

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I have not been well

For the first time in months I haven’t hit my preferred posting schedule. It’s because I have not been well. Or in the vernacular of my homeland, “Ah’ve been nae weel”.

I’ve had an infected cyst and it’s been super painful. I’m now on antibiotics and almost back to my normal levels of nae weelness.

I’ve been dealing with the pain with a combination of regular painkillers, vaping CBD and playing Just Cause 3 on the PS4. It’s free this month to anyone with a Playstation Plus subscription. This is not exactly a review because I am not a reviewer. It’s just information for anyone else who might need distracting from pain or from the existential horror of life in 2017.

I’m not sure that Just Cause 3 is a good game but it’s certainly a fun one. There’s a lot of violence but so far not much gore. It’s funny but only if your sense of humour is like mine: as black as the earl of Hell’s waistcoat. You do have to hang up some of your critical faculties to enjoy it properly because the protagonist has to be mildly superhuman to pull off most of the stuff he does but his abilities have so far not been adequately explained.

If it’s distraction you’re looking for then this game does it well. It’s pretty to look at, the voice acting is excellent, the in game music is subtle but compelling, and the plot is interesting enough to drive the action but not so much that you don’t want to stop and do the challenges and side quests. There’s a variety of gameplay though there’s not much of a stealth option and I personally find the vehicle controls on the PS4 controller a bit shonky. This is a game that kept me entertained when the pain wouldn’t let me sleep and I had to wait for the antibiotics to work.

Also there’s a David Tennant voice cameo as the person kidnapped by the regime to do the radio announcements.

As I say it’s currently free on Playstation Plus and available cheap in any second hand games emporium. Or on Amazon it’s available for XBox One, PC and PS4. The XBox and PC versions are less than £15 but the the PS4 one is the gold edition and is more than £30.

Writer’s Guilt II: The revenge.

A few days ago I wrote about my feelings of guilt at not working hard enough towards my writing goals. I wrote about how I’d been playing a lot of World of Tanks rather than writing. I said it was fun but it wasn’t taking me anywhere. Turns out I was wrong. It was taking me in the direction of pain.

One of the problems caused by Fibromyalgia is muscle spasms. Sometimes they come on without an obvious cause but they can be triggered by any repetitive activity or maintaining a the same position too long. Apparently when I play World of Tanks I grip the controller too tightly with my right hand (I use the right stick to aim and the right trigger to fire).

As a result my right arm is now, to use a highly technical medical term, fucked. I can’t feel my fingers, my hand is tingling, my forearm feels like it’s on fire and my bicep feels like I’ve been arm wrestling Thor. My typing speed is a quarter what it usually is and I need help to brush my hair and put a bra on.

It’s so bad I’ve had to break out the painkillers. Let me put that statement into perspective. I have a chronic pain condition. That means I’m always in pain. There’s no point medicating the pain all the time because I have to rely on synthetic opioid painkillers and the more you use them the less effective they are. My aim in using them isn’t to kill the pain but to reduce it to a level that isn’t a constant distraction. Thus I don’t bother with pain medication at all unless the pain is consistently worse than standing on a Lego brick.

To summarize: I’m too sore to write, too high to do chores and I can’t distract myself with video games because that would only make the problem worse. I would really like it if my life could stop sucking for a bit.

Writer’s guilt

This week I have not been a good writer. I wasn’t a good writer last week either. I have not been working towards my writing goals. I’ve only done a couple of proper writing sessions. I haven’t queried the existing finished novel. I feel like I’m not going anywhere.

On the other hand I’ve written a few blog posts and played a lot of World of Tanks. I had fun doing both but they don’t really take me anywhere.

I feel guilty about the lack of progress. But I also feel like there’s no point in working towards those goals. What’s the point in querying if rejection is guaranteed and the rejection just makes me depressed? What’s the point in pushing myself to write when no-one else is going to read what I’ve written? If I’m only writing for myself then there’s no hurry.

Is rejection guaranteed? I don’t know if it is but it certainly feels that way. It feels like I’ve already been turned down by the agents most likely to actually want it. If getting a deal is a 1 in 100 chance then I don’t feel like I’m working through the 99. I feel like I’ve already tried the agents that were a 0.5% chance and a 0.3% chance and a 0.1% change and with each new agent I try I’m just adding zeros before the final digit.

It’s hard enough to motivate yourself to face rejection when you know that your chances are slim but when your chance of failure only increases every time you try it does make the whole thing feel kind of pointless.

I try to tell myself that it’s not hopeless. People get agents all the time. Novels get published. Readers buy books. Writers make a living. These are things which happen. There’s no reason they couldn’t happen to me. Well, no reason apart from that it’s me. And when good things happen to me it’s only because life is setting me up for a kick in the teeth.

So I might be feeling guilty but as soon as I’m done here I’m probably going back to shooting at virtual tanks.