Operation Infinite Bullet Points

24 Mar

Here’s what’s been going on recently, set to a montage of Mass Effect 2 shots:

– Mass Effect 2! It was a game that was played. Articulating everything that’s great about it would be both useless so long after release, and outright impossible given this self-inflicted one-paragraph format. Short version: it’s gorgeous, exciting, funny and charming, and my only regret after finishing it was I hadn’t played the original Mass Effect first. For the unfamiliar, any major decisions your character made during the course of ME1 have an effect in the sequel – characters you killed don’t show up, for example, but will if you spared their lives. The problem is, if you don’t import a ME1 save, the game picks the decisions for you. Evidently, the game is a dick. Checking the wiki horrified me at some of the things my own Shepard had supposedly done: murdering a problematic teammate, leaving the multi-racial, galaxy-ruling Council to be slaughtered, then replacing them with a humans-only Council led by an utter asshole. I clearly didn’t care about spoilers for the original if I was playing the sequel, so why couldn’t they have given me a quick overview of each choice’s context at the start and then let me pick what I’d have done?

– I’m clawing my way through Flat Earth News. This is a big deal for me – I’m awful with books, especially books that are more than an inch thick. In my Diet Coke-marinated brain reading a book feels like the sort of events that’s sufficiently undeserving of note to be doable in under a couple of hours, like baking a cake or sweeping. The crushing sense of failure that envelopes my self like a brick cardigan when an hour has passed and I’m barely down forty pages is, at best, offputting. Regardless I’m enjoying FEN. It’s easily the wittiest, deftly written criticism of certain journalistic practices I’ve seen* – scathing but constructive and bile-free. I’m only one chapter in so I don’t know if it’ll teach me how to suck less as a journalist, but if I can basically avoid being a lazy idiot I’ll have nailed the lesson of this first part down.

Seeing something like this is actually one of the most satisfying moments in the game.

* Although, to be fair, what I’ve seen is mostly incensed Facebook statuses.

– More Foo Fighters goodness in the form of Rope. It’s as straightforward as rock music can really get, but it’s that colossal riff, holding a wailing guitar solo on its mighty shoulders, is what elevates it to greatness. Sadly, most Foos albums tend to bunch all their best songs at the beginning of each album then let it gradually run out of steam. Echoes, Silence, blah blah etc. seemed to move away from this – I’m extremely anxious for the follow-up, due next month, to see if it does away completely.

I don't know what Miranda's aiming at either.

Cold Stream first impressions: it’s got a lot of trees.

So many, in fact, that it never really feels like each stage is visually distinct from the last one – it’s all just rivers and abandoned cars, and so the direction you’re meant to be heading in isn’t always immediately apparent. With forty sprinting zombies in the mix, the implications are unpleasant. In its quieter moments it’s very pretty, especially for a beta, though it seems I miraculously avoided some technical issues currently relieving themselves on the bonfires of some chums – massive frame rate fluctuations on usually powerful PCs apparently causing the most headaches. Besides the peckish Infected. Here’s hoping they can deliver a more robust campaign experience with the final release.

– Supposedly, this year’s Reading and Leeds festivals will be the last time Muse will play certain material from 2001’s Origin of Symmetry and prior. As little as I mind…really? Plug In Baby scores the most intense singing/jumping/arm waving reactions short of Time is Running Out, and is still one of only two songs I can think of where the audience will literally sing the guitar lines. Bliss, meanwhile, is nothing short of incredible live, and Feeling Good has been played at every gig since 1767 BC. So, I’m sceptical. It could be that the ‘rarities’ from this era – Citizen Erased, Sunburn, Space Dementia – will be permanently shelved while they keep the big ones in commission. Either way, OoS and Showbiz (1999) tend to contribute 4-5 songs of each setlist – an insignificant percentage that can be easily filled by new material, or even rarities from the newer stuff. Where the fuck is MK Ultra, Bellamy? City of Delusion, Howard? You ‘eard. My mourning period for Muse’s breakthrough album might be brief, though mostly because I can visit its friendly spirit in Windows Media Player whenever I choose, without the ticket, travel or booking fees.

It's Jayne! In lycra!

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