2.22.2009

Play Time (or, how I learned to stop worrying and hate Mirror's Edge)

An hour was all it took for me to decide that I was utterly uninterested in Mirror's Edge. But I couldn't help but feel that I should keep on playing for at least a few hours before I could authoritatively state that I hated it. Perhaps this is a vestige of my life as a member of the (modern-era) EGM Review Crew, when we took game reviewing so seriously we would never consider forming final opinions on a game until we'd damn near finished it or at least made sure that we'd seen all of what the game had to offer. But really, how long should you have to play a game before you can determine whether or not you like it? The closest analogy I can think of is reading a book, where you often have to give it 50 or 100 pages before you really get a sense of the story, characters, and depth. Writing style is apparent and may be immediately engrossing or off-putting, but the more macro aspects of the book take a while to develop.

With Mirror's Edge, though, I felt pretty immediately and consistently throughout the first level or two that I was basically going to hate almost everything about the game. The world was kinda interesting architecturally, and the cartoony graphics were pretty cool. But I hated the voice actor who played Faith. I hated the story line and the silly tomboy runner who was showing me the ropes in the tutorial. I hated the first-person perspective and not being able to see my character doing all these ostensibly cool parkour moves. I hated the fact that the game made me use my left hand more than my right. I hate the constant insta-death scenarios. I hated how long it took to reload after you died. I hated being chased by "blues" shooting me. I hated that my reflection didn't show up in glossy windows except during the scripted parts. At a certain point very early on (right after Faith kisses her sister goodbye in awkward first-person view and then has to outrun a bunch of cops), I decided that there was absolutely no reason for me to continue playing something I was hating so much.

But still, I can't shake that nagging feeling that I haven't played enough of the game to truly see whether I've made a fair judgment about it. I know quite a lot of people who'll beat games they don't even like, but they too are all former reviewers. I also remember playing a bunch of games during my time as a reviewer where you get used to the controls or the camera and then the game starts to be not so bad (though I've rarely seen games go from seeming bad at the beginning to becoming really good eventually -- only from bad to OK). But since Mirror's Edge was rated fairly high (wasn't it?), I am wondering if I missed the point or something.... Did it get really good a few more levels in?

Unless you enlighten me, we'll never know, because after 2 levels and 30 achievement points, I'm done.

2.01.2009

Layoffs

I probably would have blogged sooner after the inauguration, but that day, moments after Obama was sworn in, I learned of layoffs happening at my company. I was very, very lucky to have been spared, but that was a difficult week in general. It's hard seeing people lose their jobs, even if you don't know them too well. So I was feeling rather uncommunicative for a while afterward.

Life moves on, but these are dark days indeed. Not a weekday passes when you don't hear about another company shedding dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of employees. I don't care how few it is or how justified the expense may be; my heart goes out to those people. I've been unemployed before, and that period goes down as one of the toughest in my life. The money problems might be the most tangible, but losing one's place in one's career and one's sense of immediate purpose are, in my opinion, much more damaging. The good thing about unemployment is that it does end. Some day, some way or another, you're gonna work again. It's too bad it's nigh impossible to enjoy the time off when you have it, but that's just one of those harsh realities of life.

Anyway, today I'm starting to write again, even though I might not have a whole lot to say, and what I have said isn't particularly upbeat. It's a beautiful (albeit a bit ridiculously is-this-global-warming-in-action? hot for a Super Bowl Sunday) day in San Francisco. I just got back from a glorious outing with my family, and now I'm gonna draw the blinds and play some Fallout 3. 'Cause, y'know, I like a little postapocalyptic role-playing with my global warming ;)