Chasing Perfection

Happy Weekend TAY!

After a somewhat stressful week, I find myself with a weekend and little to do. Sure, I’ve got a pile of outdoor chores still to complete and my kid has a math test on Monday, but I don’t have anything pressing. Good thing too, as I’ve injured my neck and shoulder. I did that by not checking the settings on my inversion table (those things that hang you upside-down by your feet for spinal decompression) and finding myself not being able to return to the upright position. I eventually forced my way up using my arms to grip the sides of the machine and awkwardly yanking myself up. In the process, I pulled several muscles in my shoulder and neck. I’m hoping the injury will heal quickly, I’ve just started back into my exercise routine after my back troubles. Sucks being old and healing slowly.

Even though it was a hectic week, I did find some free time and it was mostly put towards Prey (2017). I’ve now finished the game and I’m happy to add it to my list of the best games I’ve ever played.

The upper echelon of my favourite games consists of Alien: Isolation, System Shock 2, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, Bioshock, and Condemned: Criminal Origins. Anyone who has played these games knows that they share more than a passing similarity. First person perspective with melee combat, non-linear exploration, dark and moody...I could go on, but I think you can see my taste in games.

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Prey can easily join these incredible games. It does some things better than the above list but also falls short in some areas.

The best thing about Prey is the level design and exploration. I think it might be without peer in the level of detail to the areas and the astounding amount of ways you can move through these spaces. I kept finding new nooks and crannies every time I revisited the sections of the station. By the end of the game, there were areas I was never able to reach, doors I never found a way to open, and side-missions I never completed. It wasn’t for lack of trying either. I presume I missed something or didn’t have some special skill to unlock these areas. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!

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How many games do you finish all the missions with little thought or difficulty? It is a testament to the amazing game design of Prey that I couldn’t solve it all.

Prey does have some issues; no game is perfect. The enemy AI can be a little iffy at times and you can exploit these quirks to your benefit. That said, the game is extremely well balanced and offered a challenge on the Nightmare difficulty that many other recent games failed to deliver.

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My biggest beef with Prey was the ending. Prey is so well designed and executed for the majority of the playtime, I’m a little unsure what happened with the end. Perhaps the devs ran out of time and their vision came out a little underdone? The end sequence is visually impressive but fell completely flat in terms of fun. Possibly it was that Prey sets such a high bar for 50 hours that the end couldn’t hope to live up to the expectations.

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Whatever is the case, the end of Prey sort of sucks. Still, those other 50 hours were pure gold and I can’t recommend Prey enough, especially if my other favourite games are near and dear to your heart.

After Prey, I’ll need some time to decompress. I was going to finally jump into The Witcher 3, but my expectations for that game are extremely high and I don’t think I could properly appreciate The Witcher 3 right after having my mind blown by Prey.

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So, what am I playing now? Owlboy. Any games coming after my relationship with Prey risk being on the rebound, but Owlboy is cool so far. Stylistically it grates on me, but the gameplay is generally fun. Owlboy feels like the genetics of The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, The Lost Vikings, and Ecco The Dolphin . So far I prefer Ecco which has a better atmosphere and is more satisfying to control, but the puzzles in Owlboy seem to be the main attraction.

I also played the tutorial campaign of Age Of Wonders 3 last week to learn the basics. My friend and I want something new to play by email and need to mix up our decade of sending daily turns of Civilization. Age Of Wonders 3 seems neat and somewhat like a more advanced Heroes of Might and Magic. HoMM was my wife’s jam (even to this day), but I’ve never played it for whatever reason (probably because I saw SO much of it with my wife’s obsession). It will be interesting to see how Age Of Wonders 3 works via email.

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And finally last week, my wife and I finished off Uncharted 3. It was better and crappier than I remember and falls apart quite badly at the end in both story and gameplay. With that done, my wife and I were eager to see Uncharted 4. We are only early in the game but it looks great so far. I’m not loving the Metal-Gear-Solid-length of cutscenes, but the gameplay is tight and the visuals are incredible.

I’m hoping my wife and I will be able to play more of Uncharted 4 this weekend amidst the kid’s math problems. I’m thankful I still have a firm grasp of the math my kid is doing...I’m very afraid of high school calculus.

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So, what are you playing this weekend?