I’ve reached the final battle in BioShock Infinite, playing on hard mode. And after a few attempts, it wasn’t a rage quit that led me to give up. I just lost interest.

This is a strange game. I was very excited by it at first. I played through, thought it was amazing and read loads of interpretations online, deep wise people going on and on about this metaphor and that. But… it’s trying to hard to be deep. As Steph said, it thinks it’s more clever than it actually is. Playing it through a second time started to reveal the problems.

For a start, commitment to hard mode, for me, seemed to reveal more flaws than easy mode, when all but the final battle felt immediately doable. It’s easy to be carried along by the wave of excitement.

But it’s not BioShock. It doesn’t get a place in my top five.

In BioShock, everything hung together beautifully. The crazy, all-sides-at-once combat worked because the Splicers mostly only had wrenches to hit you with and were driven quite literally insane by their use of plasmids and tonics. Plasmids and tonics were the core of the world, a world that followed a specific philosophy to its hideous conclusion.

For this game, they took the bones of BioShock, put them in a new city with a new story and a new corrupt philosophy and… it really doesn’t work.

As somebody else has already pointed out, why are vigors there? Fink, their creator, believes in a white supremacist view of the world with a strict hierarchy established by birth and the colour of your skin. Vigors, because they can be used by anybody (unless they can’t, I never saw anybody say you couldn’t take them if you were black for other than cultural reasons), would obviously make gods and sorcerers out of anybody. They belie the philosophy of a natural order set up at birth.

Vigors exist in Columbia because they were in BioShock. No other reason. Because they fit the basic mechanic of what is a “BioShock game”. Not because they match the philosophy and cultural set up of the world.

I’ve also seen some good criticisms of the combat, too. I’m not a fan of FPS by any means, and I’m not great at them. I’ll always prefer a good RPG. If you don’t read the linked article, the idea is that the arrival of the shield in FPS games necessitated a change in combat style. Designers went for all-sides-at-once, high powered enemies, to negate the god-like feel of the shield.

But that’s not why the crazy combat is there in BioShock Infinite. It’s there because it was there in BioShock. The enemies in Columbia are not the crazed Splicers of Rapture, but they behave exactly like them. Except that they’re all heavily armed. They do, admittedly, dodge for cover every now and again, but the rate they run at you, batons raised, even when you fire an RPG at them is a little freakish.

After playing on Hard Mode where, yes, I died all the time, I feel rather dazed. Booker is supposed to just run around the streets of Columbia shooting up the place. Really? Would you honestly get far with nothing but a pistol when these guys have rocket launchers? There really isn’t an explanation for respawning like there was in BioShock, unless you mean every time he dies he pops through a door into a new reality where he’s actually OK. I don’t entirely buy it, especially if Elizabeth isn’t around. (That wouldn’t work as an explanation either, because it costs money to respawn and as far as I know, that’s not how quantum physics works.)

I also feel a little disappointed. While there are the clever moments with the Lutece siblings and the Songbird, combat is this huge hole of “Shoot bullets at stuff!” that feels… well, like they didn’t bother to think about it all that much. It would have been really interesting, and more appropriate, to introduce elements of stealth into the game. Yes, my time with Far Cry 3 is starting to show. Shoot, shoot, shoot, could have been replaced by a degree of having to use a wider selection of skills.

I can understand why those people who said they found Hard Mode easy did so. It’s probably because they’re used to this stuff. They’re better at managing limited and ever dwindling resources. But they aren’t being challenged to find new and interesting ways to cope with an overwhelming situation.

When I came to do the Hand of the Prophet final moments again, I thought back to the ending of BioShock. Having to guide a Little Sister through darkened tunnels while Splicers shrieked on all sides. It had so much more subtlety and finesse, even if you could go and grab another Sister if one of them perished. There was a genuinely chilling feeling about those final moments.

I played BioShock Infinite again for the cheevos, but couldn’t be arsed with the final confrontation. That says a lot. Although I was moved (I cried) the first time around, it turns out it was because I got to relive, for a moment, the thrill of BioShock the original. Yay, Rapture! Actually, all the stuff at the end with the many doors and the lighthouses and all of that? Suddenly veered into the territory of Cryptic Bullshit (yes, I know it’s quantum mechanics, but my god do they over-egg the pudding).

I can’t explain why I’m not all that bothered that DeWitt had to give up his child, that he tried to save her, that he turned out to be Comstock. I think because without knowing all this – despite the hints, despite Comstock’s voice is DeWitt’s by the final few fights – I don’t feel that same emotional connection to the characters. I cried when I knew that it was ME who had given the Little Sisters that opportunity at life. It felt deeply personal, a choice I made that came with a certain cost for my character. I didn’t really have to make any such choice in BioShock Infinite. I made a lot of trifling ones. It’s the one big one that matters.

Don’t get me wrong, BioShock Infinite is a beautiful game, but it didn’t hold up to a second playthrough. I played BioShock 1 three times in the space of two weeks. It still has a pull, a desire to play it again. I regret getting the season pass. In the moment, it’s an amazing game, but… it missed something.

It could have been a game that entirely fitted Columbia’s ethics and morality. It probably would have played very differently. There might not be vigors, or they might only work for certain people. The combat would have been different, or perhaps used other, interesting strategies like stealth, diplomacy or insight (yes, I play those role-playing games with dice, so sue me) rather than felt like it was all happening in 18th century Bedlam. The only time the game felt truly interesting in terms of getting through a section was the asylum. Without resources, timing everything perfectly to avoid the deliciously weird Boys of Silence gave the game experience an edge it utterly lacked elsewhere.

Little things drove me nuts, even on the first playthrough. I must have hyper-sensitive ears. Elizabeth’s boots on the marble floors of various places made me want to nail her feet to the floor. Most of the time, she was bang on and a brilliant character. I was so worried that the whole game would be an extended escort mission, but she was a great companion. It did jar when in the middle of an emotional moment with her ghost of a mother she suddenly handed me some money, though. As I’ve seen remarked, you can forgive it in games like Skyrim, but BioShock games take this stuff so damn seriously. Slipping into helpful assistant mode during an emotional scene? Weird.

Finally, purdy as the game was, on the airship the frame rate collapsed. I played this on a 360, which might explain it. Everything felt jerky and wrong, on both playthroughs. It was partly responsible for my quitting the final battle.

Playing it again, while I think it was stunning and had some fascinating ideas, I don’t think it really took to task the big philosophical dilemmas it presented. It seemed to get lost in its own story, and there was too much there. I think they could have created a beautiful story about a man who gave up his daughter, and maybe given us a strong sense of that loss, without all the faffing about with quantum physics.

End note: I’m getting sick of stories that faff about with quantum physics. Can you tell?

Journey: The white robe

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Journey

In the last couple of days, I’ve played Journey five times.

Five times.

The length of the game is about the length of my strength on a bad day. Perhaps that’s why it’s captured my attention. Perhaps it’s the beautiful soundtrack, the environments. Perhaps it’s because it is soothing in a way that no other game is. Journey is not about the challenge of puzzle-solving, it is about human interaction.

I’m a bit sick of shooting things. Of terror and tension and fear. I get enough of that elsewhere. Journey is the escape. No, Journey is a reminder.

Every time another player appears in my game, and we play together, I’m reminded that in a world that seems to be at its darkest and most corrupt, celebrating selfishness over compassion, people can still be good.

I don’t know who they are, the people I’ve met. I see the list that appears at the end of the game, and I have a commitment to watch the credits all the way through, just to see the list. It feels respectful. I’ve been helped and I’ve helped. And in the middle of a game this evening, I unlocked the Transcendence trophy. I gained a white robe.

When I began playing Journey, I was a small and frightened stranger in red and yellow. While I met many red robed people, those in white robes were always the most helpful. They knew where all the glyphs were, knew to sing to me to give me back power to my scarf. They showed me the secrets of the world.

It wasn’t about the secrets. It was that I was shown them, by a stranger who didn’t have to.

I don’t want to get deep and metaphysical. BioShock Infinite has shovelled that on in spades. Journey is about play. Playing with other people. Not about challenges, or killing people, but about being with somebody else.

About that moment when that person you’ve sung to, helped or been helped by, traversed so many dangers with, is suddenly gone.

I stand on top of the great tower and sing out. The room is suddenly empty. One minute they were there, the next they were gone. I go on alone. I feel what aloneness is. Journey isn’t so much about what you’re doing but what you feel while you’re doing it.

Over the five playthroughs, the landscape of Journey has become home. It feels as familiar as my flat. The white robe isn’t so much an achievement as a responsibility. At least, that’s how it feels. I can remember encountering my first white robed-figure, and how they helped me, so patiently as I battled away trying to get to a certain glyph.

Now, I’m that figure. When I meet other white robes, it feels friendly. Like neighbours, almost. Encountering red-robed people, I try to help. I sing out to them, I try to show them the patience that I encountered.

Certain moments stay with me:

The first white figure, who helped me so much to find the treasures hidden in the landscape of Journey, and showed such patience.

The first time I traversed Snow with another person. We met on the mountain, I saw them attacked by a beast and went to help. My heart broke to see this total stranger flung into the air like a rag. We collapsed in the snow together before the Apotheosis.

The moment I reached the summit, after the triumphant Sky flight, and saw that my partner, whom I’d thought lost a few seconds ago, had waited for me.

How, after surviving the last of the flying monsters, we sang to each other in jubilation at having survived as we made our way through a great ravine.

The first time I played, I completed alone. Nothing quite evoked isolated struggle as I climbed that mountain, slowly freezing, each step harder to take.

The first time I finished the game with a partner. The simple act of singing together as we walked into the light.

The very long time I spent helping somebody get a glyph they couldn’t reach. They kept giving up, and I kept singing them back. We kept missing each other’s notes, and flopping back to earth. We did a lot of singing when we finally reached it.

The first time I showed somebody else how to get through the snow with the monsters circling overhead. In my head, we held hands as we cowered, waiting for the light to pass over us.

The celebratory feel of Sky after the death of Snow.

Journey isn’t for everybody. You have to play it through in one sitting, at least. You can’t dip in and out. You can’t expect the risk/reward of other games. You can’t expect the same puzzle challenges.

It is a game you must feel vulnerable to appreciate. I see people use the term “beaten”, as in “I beat this game in under two hours”. I don’t think this game is about “beating”. It’s not about conquering, it’s not about mastery. It’s about experiencing.

Journey: There are no words

Posted: April 2, 2013 in Journey

It began on a soft dune of sand. This was the game I had been longing to play since I’d read about it last year. Here I sat, with a funky controller on its last legs, and a borrowed PS3. Here I sat, on a dune of sand, wondering what would happen next. This game is magical, I’d read. This game is beyond gaming, I’d heard. I wanted to know for myself.

I’ve only had the game for a day and already played it through twice. Each journey covers the same physical landscape, ends in the same way. Every time, the story of the ancient, fallen civilisation is retold. It takes little more than two hours or so to play. All you can do is press one button to sing, another to fly, and the analogue sticks to move about.┬áThe puzzles are simple, the challenges easy to master.

Journey is about being.

I knew what would happen: that I would encounter people, who looked just like my little in-game avatar, and I wouldn’t know who they were. All I’d know was that they were humans, out there somewhere in the world. And that unlike other games, we weren’t here to fight each other or some unknown enemy, but simply to travel.

I crossed the sand, skimming down the dunes, singing to the fluttering scraps of paper that give you the energy to fly. I found ruins amongst the dunes. I learnt a little of the history of this once-great place. Where are the people, I wondered? Perhaps I am alone.

At a confluence of bridges, I met my first stranger. They sat on a rock, and for a while, did not respond to me. Finally, we worked through this little section, turning the paper into magnificent red bridges and crossing onward. Somewhere further on, he or she got ahead of me, and we parted.

My first journey was mostly solitary. Players better than me hurried on ahead, lost patience as I fought with my controls. I wanted to say, “I’m new here! My controller is nearly broken!” but of course, all I could do was sing. People came into my world and then we parted. I climbed the mountain in the snow alone. I saw the end alone.

My second journey was quite different. Bobbing along through familiar territory, I found company. She wore cream, not red. I don’t know why I thought it was a she – it reveals something about how I thought of these strangers, whether male or female based on how they behaved – but that’s how I thought of her. She tumbled into my world and led me a long way. She showed me secrets I’d not yet found. She sang to me to give me the lift to reach high places I couldn’t alone.

She led me through the dark tunnels to avoid the floating monsters that could destroy us. She sang to me very little – only to locate me or to say, “Here, look at this, you want to see this.” Or “Here, here’s a power up.”

And then, suddenly, she was gone. I stood alone atop a great tower, and I felt more alone than I’ve felt in a long time. I sang out, but my voice was too small in this space. I will not forget her. I journeyed on alone.

As I was climbing the first section of the mountain, I saw another traveller. I sang out, and he sang back, but he was far ahead of me. I pottered on ahead, and came to a section where again, we were threatened by the floating beast. I saw, as I hurried forward, as it attacked the stranger. I sang out, meaning “Are you OK?” then hid to avoid detection.

When I had the chance, I went looking, but couldn’t find him. It was only when the monster attacked him again, I could see him. I hurried over and sang to him to warm him. I sang around him, and then led him to a ruin to hide under. We cowered together, in the snow, in these tiny shelters, as the beast floated past over our heads.

We passed on, and travelled together through a narrow ravine. We were so joyous we sang to each other constantly, as you might if you had found a stranger on a dangerous road and saved one another from death. Together we trudged up the mountain side. Together we fell, consumed by the cold. And together, we rose up, and flew on into the joyous final moments again.

Before the end, we lost each other. But I will never forget going back for him, showing him how to hide. And I will never forget singing as we ran through the ravine.

This is what makes Journey such an incredible game. It isn’t the game that happens on the screen that matters, so much as what happens to you with these strangers. The worst they can do is ignore you. But nothing compares to having somebody reach out for you, to go out of the way for you, to show you magic and secrets. Except when, in the snow, you see a stranger hurt and turn back to help them.

I will stop gushing about BioShock Infinite eventually. Today, I managed to get through that hardcore final battle and saw the end. It was worth it. I suppose, without giving away spoilers, I should detail how I got through that last little bit.

A sniper rifle, an RPG, moving away from the core and directing the deck battle to the far end. That was how I did it. Blind luck, too. It took two attempts, today. When I look back, I think I got emotional because the rest of the game was so doable. And I wanted to see the ending. If it hadn’t been for that, I’d have finished on Thursday. It’s a quick game to play.

I won’t spoil the ending, but if you loved BioShock, you’ll love it. I can see why some people are complaining about it, but I found it powerful and convincing. Ken Levine clearly likes water as a metaphor, and in particular, its power to give and take life.

And now? Well, obviously I decided to try out Hard Mode.

Once you’ve played through once, you can play on something called 1999 Mode (named for the year the studio released System Shock 2). I didn’t want to do that. But I was curious to see whether I’d be completely pummelled in Hard Mode.

I don’t think anybody who really loves games like Far Cry 3 will find Hard Mode difficult. I die more often (I don’t think I really died more than a few times the first time around). The combat still doesn’t get to the point where it’s so hard you forget there’s a story. I have to think more carefully about what I’m doing, and I pay more attention to my guidebook, but I’m not totally overwhelmed.

I haven’t got to the final battle yet, though.

But what about 1999 Mode? Would I play it through like that? It’s apparently for gamers who don’t quit when they fail. I don’t quit, but I do get very grumpy and write a lot of angry tweets. I have no idea yet whether I’d be the kind of person who’d suit 1999 Mode. My persistence gene is probably going to put me through another couple of weeks of punishment, I’m sure.

Anyway, this is a fantastic game. It won’t take long to play, and if you are absolutely wedded to open world games, you won’t like it. But it is beautiful, emotional, always engaging. I can’t wait to finish it all over again.

BioShock Infinite is an amazing game. It’s beautiful, let’s start with that. The characters have a similar, steampunkish quality reminiscent of Dishonored, but still true to the BioShock aesthetic.

At first, the blinding sunlight belies the sick underbelly of the city of Columbia. But once you’ve seen the first racist reveal, you know what’s coming. It’s not just eugenics and racial hegemony; the philosophy of Fink piles on theories of human nature that will make you nauseous (of course, if you live in the UK, you’ll recognise them as the rhetoric of our current government).

It wasn’t long before things began to feel familiar. The feel might be Edwardian rather than art deco, but the atmosphere remains reminiscent of the origin. Each new location is successively creepier. The insane asylum, in particular, features characters that sent a chill down my spine.

The story has all the complexity and interest of the original, too. For a long time, it felt like I was playing the first game in a different setting. Vigors replace plasmids, but everything else is very much the same.

My only problem remains the final fight. It’s a bit of a surprise after the fight up through the rest of the massive airship. Everything else was doable until that point. I keep failing at it. Not on the scale of the Sibrand Assassination. That remains unbested as Longest Most Awful Gaming Moment Ever (five hours, in total, of pure pain).

Having played it through several times, all I can hope is that gradually, I’ll get better to the point where I can handle the fight.

It isn’t the game. I’ll be clear about that. I’ve seen people complain that the boss fight is terrible, and it is very tough. But it comes down to my own limitations. Most of them involve having an anxiety disorder, and that my hands shake.

To get through the boss fight, you’ll need to start with the sniper rifle, which you can find on the left hand side of the deck after you jump out of the front of the bridge (they’re stacked against the wall, as are some shotguns and RPGs around that area). The sniper rifle does one hit kills. After finding the sniper rifle, I could get through the first couple of waves without too much difficulty. Except that my shaking hands tend to press the right buttons. This is how severely an already-anxious brain can affect your ability to do stuff.

You need to make sure you aim down the sight, and take out all of the first guys. Of course, at the same time you need to make sure you get anybody who gets onto the deck behind you, and then make sure you pause long enough to direct the Songbird to the right gunships and airships.

There are two waves of Patriots to deal with as well. I’ve been using Undertow on them, although if I don’t get that right, they end up right in front of me. I’m as likely to suddenly set a bunch of crows on them as I am to get the effect I want. However, I can manage the first wave of Patriots. It’s the second lot who really get to me, because by then I’m also having to devote vital seconds to just pressing the X button and hoping that this time, it’ll register and the Songbird will go where I want.

Yes, I do know shooting the Patriots in the back is a good move. It still takes ages to take them down, and by then, at the second wave, I’ll have two guys with rocket launchers standing right in front of the core, firing rockets straight into it. That’s usually when things fall apart.

Although a lot of people have done it all by staying on the deck of the ship, I’ve been tempted to try going onto the gunships and getting rid of minor targets quickly so I can focus on the big ones.

Of course, all this is theoretical. Generally, I find that I’m trying so hard to accommodate my own physical limitations, that I can’t try anything clever. So far, all I know is that the sniper rifle is a smart move. I just have to keep trying, whenever I have the energy, and hope that luck is on my side once, just once, so I can finish the game. It’s either that, or get somebody else to do that bit for me.

I wanted to write my first post about BioShock and say how amazing it was. Say how much I loved it, what a glorious roller coaster ride. And it is an amazing game.

But I don’t seem to be able to finish it.

It’s not for emotional reasons. If it were for emotional reasons, that would be fine. This is for reasons of being completely bombarded with enemies and not knowing how to deal with it, when just a couple of those enemies are so hard to kill they take me out first.

I can’t seem to make any progress with the last fight at all.

Aside from at first being confused and overwhelmed by the whole situation, I found that no matter what I did, I got stuck. I ran out of ammo. I ran out of health. I died, over and over. I got trapped in a loop where I died, came back with a tiny amount of health, and died again straight away.

I’m frustrated by the game’s insistence on throwing up tutorials in the middle of the screen to explain things to me, then demanding that I press the same key to do several different things. I can only pick one of those things to do. I have nanoseconds to make a decision. But I don’t. The game makes it for me. I don’t die. I just reach a point where I can’t work out how to get through.

I’m not good at moments like this, and I know I’m not. I’m not a huge fan of the final boss fight being a fight with ALL THE THINGS ALL AT ONCE.

(I think this was the problem with the final fight in Mass Effect 3, or so I’ve been told. I quit on ME1 because it just didn’t hold my interest at all.)

I’m not entirely sure what to do with this. I’m a little annoyed, too, that a story so beautifully crafted could go for a final fight with so little… grace.

It doesn’t help that after a week playing Far Cry 3, I feel slightly traumatised by combat. Clearly, I don’t fall into the category of people who fall madly in love with simulated violence. It feels like something I have to get through to experience the rest of the world, and live the story.

BioShock 1 I remember differently. I remember a smooth ride. I don’t think I died even once. I also loved the end fight and the final appearance of the Little Sisters to help me. I didn’t feel like the game suddenly wanted to crank up the aggro just because it’s the last fight, so it has to be a big one.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I manage the first bit OK, depending. For some reason, I can’t always get the Songbird to take out the first of those ships. If I can’t target it (and for some reason, sometimes I can’t), then it’s all over very quickly. If I can, then I can use the Murder of Crows to deal with the first wave of guys who land on the deck.

I go and get the RPG, because that helps me take things out. I realised if I left the vital core of the ship, it would all be over too soon, so I try to stay close to it. If I can use possession on one of the Patriots, then I don’t do too badly for that bit. Then, of course, I’m faced with two Patriots, several guys with guns, and two guys with rocket launchers who can reach me, but I can’t reach them.

Usually, by this time I’ve run out of ammo. By now, I’m also being attacked by rockets from the two nearest airships. If I land the Songbird on the deck of my ship, he’s useless. He just screams and takes off again. I can’t seem to direct him at the others because I have to get within a certain distance. Usually, at the same time as I’m asked to direct the Songbird to a ship (which I have to find), I’m also being informed that I have no ammo left, that Elizabeth wants to give me more ammo, that my health is low, that I can use vigors for certain things, that I need to get behind cover to restore my shield, that I can use the same key for everything else in order to get a tear to open, and that if I want to kill Patriots I should hit them from behind (something I’ve never found especially easy to do).

My screen is now clogged up with information and I have no idea what holding down the “X” button will achieve, because I’ve been told it will do five different things.

If the X button produces more ammo, I’ve probably lost a ton more health and another attack has hit the core. If I leave the core to get ammo, I come back to find two guys with their own RPGs hammering it full of exploding rockets. I’ve had no time, in all of this, to direct the Songbird, so I’m also being hit by more rockets from the airships. I have no idea where the Songbird is, and in the time I need to look around to see the command on screen that will allow me to call it for aid, the core has taken more damage, and I’ve taken more damage, and more enemies have appeared. I can’t tell where I’m supposed to look because the answer seems to be “EVERYWHERE! NOW!!”

At the same time as this, Elizabeth yells various things at me and the one thing I want to do is smack her in the ass and tell her to pick up her own smegging rocket launcher and deal with the attacks HERSELF. She wants liberation? She can fight for it herself.

While I get frustrated at the time, what I feel thinking about this is sadness. I love the rest of the game. I play on easy because the rest of my life is nightmare mode. Most of the time, if a game does this to me, I think “Fucking game, this is stupid.” But right now, I just feel stunned. It’s not as though any of the fights come close to this. It’s not as though the game has in any way prepared me for a sudden upleveling in the difficulty. Everything else was quite doable.

If it was one boss, or one boss with a few foes, I’d feel OK about it, but this makes me feel like walking away, and waiting for the first Let’s Plays to appear. We all have skills in certain areas, and mine don’t lie in battles like this. I’m not angry at the game, I’m just sad I don’t have it in me to do the last fight.

It is done. My goal for today’s play on Far Cry 3 island of nightmares was to clear all the outposts on the south island. First of all, I had to get all the radio towers. That was a feat in itself.

On the north island, the pirates were chaotic and you could outdrive them to get where you were going. No such luck on the south island. Road blocks everywhere, and everybody capable of calling in reinforcements but me. In the end, I took to the bushes, and made my way across the island on foot. I simply couldn’t risk driving anywhere.

That did mean I was constantly at risk of falling down things, or running into deadly animals. However, I had plenty of animal repellent with me, so my time spent dashing through the undergrowth was peaceful, unmolested by beasts with big teeth.

The towers themselves involved plenty of falling down. My enemies worked out that I was going for the towers, so they blockaded them. Somehow, I made it through. By this time, I worked out that any method of killing that wasn’t silent would bring down a ton of firepower on my head, so I focused on getting my takedowns perfect and my stealth polished.

Still, the last outpost was a real smegger. I’d watched somebody calmly sniping off his enemies and they never found him. They never called in reinforcements. I have no idea why this doesn’t happen for other gamers, but does for me. On one attempt, I had two helicopters over my head but ran out of rockets for my launcher and had to let myself die so I could restart.

Finally, I discovered they had a komodo dragon caged up in there. The memo about some kid taking over outposts was getting around, but not the one about not keeping animals penned up. I owe a great debt to the tigers, cassowaries, lizards, rabid dogs and leopards who’ve died fighting to get rid of extraneous people from those outposts. Thanks to releasing the komodo dragon, I managed to whittle down the staff until I only had a few left. And then a car drove up and piled in to help. At least I’d dealt with the alarms.

I suspect I will forever twitch whenever I hear the sound of a car driving past, now.

So… it took a day to clear 14 outposts and climb 6 radio towers. Was I having fun? I’m not sure. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the effort, the struggle, is rewarded in the end if it’s more difficult. I’m not sure. I’m just relieved it’s over. Could I have been doing something better with my time? Hell yes. I’m just the kind of person who doesn’t quit on things (except Alan Wake, but even I have limits).

All I keep thinking is “I don’t EVER have to do that again. Thank FUCK.”

I think the story is more interesting, apart from the stupid drug trip boss fights. It’s more interesting being Indiana Jones than Rambo, after all. And it does get a bit much, sometimes. As the Prodigy says, I’m always outnumbered, never outgunned.

Much of the background game is now done. The various side missions seem to involve collecting things for people from places and going back again, over and over. Then there are all the relics to collect. All 120 of them. And the letters. 20 of them. I’ve got all the memory cards (20) because that comes along with clearing the outposts. Ubisoft like their collectioneering.

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll work through the rest of the story. Depending on how many times I have to do each mission. It feels like a hard slog at the moment, something to be endured rather than enjoyed. I hope now I can get back to the story bits, it’ll improve.