Unknown Road

Happy Weekend TAY!

I hope everyone has something awesome planned this weekend with people you love. Depending on your views, last week was one of the worst weeks in modern U.S. politics. In comparison, that means this weekend should feel extra good (shhhh...just go with me on the logic, you’ll feel better). At the very least, I can finally peel my eyeballs off of political commentary for a while. That was an exhausting 18 months and the U.S.A. is just getting started on their uncertain journey. There are some very nice houses on my street for sale up here in Canada, just saying.

I’m still battling with my sickness. JJG3 told me last week that this flu might hold on forever and it most certainly feels like that is the case. Today I am finally starting to feel like I can be separated from a Kleenex box for over ten minutes.

I did find the energy to game some last week and knocked off quite a bit of stuff.

Photo courtesy of C3D49

I finished the main game in Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. I’m glad to know it still holds a place in my list of all-time favourite open-world games. I can’t recommend it enough for those who like a great mob story with exhilarating gameplay.

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I also managed to polish off all the DLC that came packed with the Definitive Edition. These were new experiences for me. As much as I love certain games, I seem to have some psychological barriers to playing DLC. Not that I don’t want to play more of the games that I love. I suppose it is that I fear the DLC will be an unnecessary addition and will end up watering down the impact of the core game. As you’ll see below, my fears of DLC are somewhat justified.

The best of the DLC is the Zodiac Tournament. This was the second single-player DLC that was released and it is the only mission-based DLC that is integrated into the main game. Paying homage to Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon, this tournament based DLC has a passable storyline and the 70’s kung-fu vibe is great fun. Where the DLC shines is in the combat. Sleeping Dogs core combat, which is so pleasurable to begin with, is made even more exciting by adding environmental challenges and limitations to the player. These changes make for the most exciting fights in Sleeping Dogs. If you haven’t played this DLC, I’d highly recommend reinstalling Sleeping Dogs just to play the Zodiac Tournament.

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The other two DLC offerings are less exciting and really dilute the Sleeping Dogs experience instead of enhancing it.

Nightmare In North Point, the first of the story-based DLC, had me chomping at the bit to get at it. This paranormal story involves triad members escaping hell accompanied by demons and jangshi (Chinese vampires/zombies). As someone who basically lives Halloween every day and has a game room adorned with skulls and monsters, this DLC seemed like a no-brainer given how much I love Sleeping Dogs.

Except, Nightmare In North Point ends up feeling like just a darker palette swap that bored me to tears. Dull missions and flat storylines with no heart behind the ideas. It is a shame, you can see small glimmers of the intended potential here and there. The idea of past triad members coming back from hell, some of whom show regret for their past transgressions when they were alive, could have made for interesting philosophical narratives. Instead, we get a weak story with repetitive encounters. The only saving grace is that the DLC is extremely short, so at least the suffering is over quickly.

The final story-based DLC is the Year of the Snake. Taking place after the events in the main game, the story here sees Wei Shen taken from the undercover life to a more mundane police existence. That is of course until terrorists threaten to disrupt the New Year celebrations by blowing up the city. This DLC is alright, but does not add to the experience of the main game and ultimately feels unnecessary. Some of the missions are interesting and there are some new concepts, but in general it just feels like more Sleeping Dogs’ gameplay without the great story backing it up. You could skip this DLC and not miss out on anything, but if you need more Sleeping Dogs it almost fills that void.

After Sleeping Dogs, I felt the call of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. I adored Wolfenstein: The New Order and was saving The Old Blood as a wonderful treat when I needed a pick me up (which I do). I’m absolutely loving the game so far.

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Other than some minor issues with the stealth (enemies don’t react when they find their comrades dead), The Old Blood is the definition of what I love in a game experience. Machine Games (ex-Starbreeze geniuses) really seem to make games that align with me aesthetically and mechanically. It doesn’t hurt that the idTech 5 engine is one of my favourite engines to play on and I love that it allows me to tweak so many of the visual aspects. It is still a pig when it comes to the power it wants and I look forward to that future hardware that will allow me to max out the anti-aliasing, but as it plays now it is a visual feast.

I am looking forward to more of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood this weekend, but I have a busy weekend getting ready to adopt a pair of rats for my son’s first pet. We have a new giant cage for them, but there is lots of other prep needed before we can bring them home. I owned a rat in university and it was a great pet, I’m excited to watch my son care for them.

So, what are you playing this weekend?