Happy? Index 1.30

My view of the second quarter of 2012.

A tough last few months that has seen my working life turn into an absolute grinding bore. Luckily I have been entertained elsewhere;

  • Sites in my reader: No real change. One site added to my feed reader – Arbitrary Genius – welcome back Bex!
  • Magazine subscriptions: No change. Plenty of catching up to do here.
  • Movies watched: 19. The Avengers and Prometheus both viewed at the cinema and both impressed but for different reasons. I’m using Letterboxd – now in open beta – to record all my movie watching and if anyone needs an invite then I still have a few spare.
  • Comic books: Finished volume 7 of The Walking Dead which seemed to spend the time building up to the confrontation at the end. Both volume 6 and 7 have been above average reads. The prison setting seems to have stifled the group and how they are becoming a little too comfortable is clear. The mantra should be that there’s no safe haven no mater where you look. I do have volume 8 waiting for me and the first volume of American Vampire in the post. I’m also planning a visit to GOSH! Comics very soon, as I haven’t seen the Soho store yet. From there I’ll be looking to sort out my subs but can imagine I’ll be going graphic novel only from here on in.
  • Books read: zilch.
  • Music: No further gigs to talk of but a couple of CD purchases worth mentioning. A new Smashing Pumpkins album – Oceania – and the Silversun Pickups with their best so far with Neck of the Woods. Compared with the last few years this must be the most CDs I’ve paid for and enjoyed. I hope the trend continues throughout 2012.
  • TV: The second season of The Walking Dead started slowly but picks up well towards the excellently devised 7th episode of the season, Pretty Much Dead Already. Although themes are similar between the TV show and comic book, I’m trying hard not to compare the two. One is based on the other but what will be interesting is if they begin to take queues from each other.
  • Gaming: Completed the second episode of The Walking Dead – Starved for Help. Excellent again from Telltale Games and although it doesn’t fulfil all my gaming desire, it’s the only game I’ve really been hooked into. Both Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3 remain unfinished and underplayed. I can’t see myself pre-ordering many big AAA titles this year. Firstly the factor of cost puts me off but also how disappointed I have been with a number of major titles of late. Max Payne 3 hasn’t helped dissuade me from this view either.
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Moral compass

My thoughts on the second episode of Telltale Games The Walking Dead – you can read my original thoughts of the first episode here.

Who’d have thought that a relatively small game – and not a major gaming franchise – would give me so much fun, emotion and moral dilemmas. What has been a surprise is how well the game makes you – as Lee – become protective of his ward, Clementine. It’s a fascinating development which I really hope carries on through the rest of the episodes. What is a clever element – keep an eye out for it as it’s highlighted right at the end of the second episode – is how Lee looks to Clementine for moral guidance. I like that a game story is allowing an ‘adult’ be guided by a ‘child’ – a nice flip to the usual stereotype.

Like anything I spend my time on be it film, book or game, it has to engage. There are many experiences that I could talk of that are well produced BUT ultimately haven’t engaged me. I’d rather a flawed experience that engages than a masterpiece that leaves me cold.

Cosy catastrophe

I’d cheer the apocalypse. If it was to come there’d be no point ignoring or denying it. Of course that only makes sense if I managed to survive when the four horseman show. Couldn’t be a nuclear survivor. No, that would just be too grim an existence.  I’m more a Walking Dead refugee than a Fallout 3 scavenger. Zombies keep you on your toes where as nuclear fallout would surely try to remove them from existence.

I’ve often put together a mental survival kit, items that are sure to be needed in post-apocalypse life. I wouldn’t waste time carrying my family photo albums around with me, even if it did leave a clue to those looking to whether I’d survived. I’d want light and practical over bulk and sentimental. If I held firm and based my activities from home, taking a turn from I am Legend, then that wouldn’t be an issue.

These thoughts haven’t come about just because I’ve now watched the first season of The Walking Dead. No, there’s always been that frill of survival after a meltdown of society within me. Living outside the norms that govern away almost our time sure has a romantic appeal to someone who appreciates good and bad science fiction. But it’s also the freedom this scenario allows, to explore and look at the world differently, that warms my heart when done to near perfection in books, movies, videogames or TV.

Brain scramble

What follows are my thoughts about The Walking Dead – A New Day XBLA title that I completed this weekend. I promise to keep spoilers to a minimum.

It’s very rare that I sit through a new game in only one or two sittings. Time restraints always mean I take my time completing the campaign of any game. Strangely enough I had made a mental decision to pass on purchasing Telltale’s The Walking Dead – A New Day. I have only played one other Telltale game – CSI: Deadly Intent – and that was enough to put me of trying another one of their titles. But then I heard positive tones from a few people on Twitter (that I respect) detailing how nicely Telltale had produced The Walking Dead – A New Day. It got me thinking and before I knew what I was doing, I took a risk and purchased the first episode.

The Walking Dead – A New Day held me for 5 hours of gameplay. I was impressed how the game essentially has borrowed what has worked in other games but contained those ideas in its adventure game setting. The characterisation also surprised me. There’s some great depth on show and the pacing of the story was just how I wanted the experience to be; measured but dramatic. The action is in keeping with the rest of The Walking Dead franchise and I’m so glad it’s not a L4D or Dead Island clone.

From the experience of this first episode, I think I’ll be happy to try the following four. Must see how my decisions affect Lee and Clementine later in the game.

Readstoration

Back in the reading mix this last week. I picked up the 6th volume of the collected The Walking Dead comic and gorged that in one sitting. Added to it I have the 2nd volume of Chew comic book – I read the first volume last year which was excellent. I’d recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour and a pulse.

I’m still hanging in there with The Host. I love the humanity in the book and how well it has been entwined in a sci-fi setting. Much like how Ridley Scott filmed Alien and Blade Runner. I can sense where The Host is leading me but it has its hooks in me enough that the journey to the finish feels natural and fresh.

Maybe today I should be writing about far more topical subject – see Record Store Day – that I also have some thoughts about? Well that’s possibly a side-step that I will pull in for next week. I’m a little tied up, this weekend, with some writing prep that could lead into a very nice writing gig. A gig that could indeed be music related but more on that if or when it happens.

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