Sleeping on Immortals

Photo credit: Ubisoft Game Cover Art

One of the presents I got for my birthday was a PS gift card and it took me a minute to figure out what to spend it on. “Why?” you ask. “Do you not have a backlog?” Oh but I do. See, that’s part of the problem. There are lots of games both newer and retro that sound good, but not really great. Yes, I learned my lesson with Days Gone and Biomutant that reviews can’t predict what I’ll really get into. Just because other gamers dislike something doesn’t always mean I won’t enjoy it.

There’s a game that’s been on my “to buy” list for a while and there are lots of reasons it’s languished there. One, since it was released last year, the price on it is still pretty hefty. There are few games I’ll pay full price for, it’s got to be a game that starts me salivating every time I think about it. Immortals Fenyx Rising just wasn’t a drool-worthy title. It’s also Ubisoft…and no, I’m not Ubisoft bashing, but they can be a little hit or miss so I wasn’t gonna pay $60 to find out if they got this one right.

Aside from the price, there were also a lot of other games that I had already purchased that needed playing and some new releases that took precedence, such as Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. So yeah, Immortals just kept being pushed down the list until my birthday came. Eight months after the game’s release, a PS gift card and a sale price aligned: it was time to dive into Fenyx Rising. And my patience did pay off because I got the gold edition for only $40, which leaves me with $10 for RDO or ESO micro-transactions. Yesssss!

Given the reviews which were all over the place and the general lack of discussion about the game in the gamer community, I really didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised when the opening cut scene made me laugh. As I explored further, I discovered the title is a charming good time that can only be described as AC: Odyssey (I mean why would Ubisoft reinvent the wheel?) meets Disney’s Hercules meets Tomb Raider. It just so happens I love all three of those works of art, so f@#k yeah, the game is fun.

“But Cindy,” you say, “IGN only gave the game a 7/10! How can it be fun?” Well, I had just such a discussion with many of my friends on Twitter. As they pointed out, some gamers consider anything less than an eight unplayable. He doesn’t happen to be of that opinion and neither am I. Also, this isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with reviewers on a game score. No, Immortals isn’t GOTY material, but I don’t think it’s quite a seven either. Maybe a 7.5 or 7.75…7.6492? Whatever, point being, regardless of the game’s reviews, it is just plain fun.

Another friend on Twitter pointed out that Immortals released hot on the heels of Assasin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion so it might have been overshadowed by those heavy hitters. Whatever the case, Immortals is a good bit of fun. If you’ve been sleeping on it like I was, seriously, give it a try. Will it change your life? No…no it won’t. Will it it amuse you during a time of financial uncertainty during this ever evolving pandemic. Yes, it most likely will. I suppose that’s my real point. There’s too little joy in the world today to overlook a diamond in the rough that will make you laugh, challenge you and give you the perfect excuse to ignore the outside world.

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, that’s wonderful! If you’d like to support my blog you can do so at https://ko-fi.com/grownupgamergirl or paypal.me/cindyjackalopes. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit!

Who Doesn’t Love a Pirate

Video credit: Assassin’s Creed Black Flag gameplay on PS4

Upon the recommendation of my cowboy and other gamer friends, I finally gave in and purchased Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. Whaaaaa? No, I’ve never played it. I know, I know, but let me explain why.

The other AC games that include naval battles, like Origins and Odyssey, the ship stuff was my least favorite part of the gameplay. It could be just me and my barely average gaming skills, but the aiming and the bracing and the firing, it all felt cumbersome. Definitely not as satisfying as the combat: timing that perfect block to stagger your elite opponent or Sparta kicking a mercenary off a cliff.

And I have gone through the entire AC backlog in the last eighteen months, but when it came time to play Black Flag, I just swooped around it and went for Rogue. Hey, it’s my gamer journey and I’ll skip titles if I want to. I don’t like AC ship battles…or at least I didn’t think I did. I’m woman enough to admit when I am…umm…less than correct. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Two days ago, I gave into peer pressure and bought the damn game. Of course, I love it. The climbing mechanics remind me of the Ezio titles (loves me some Ezio), but the naval battles, far superior to Odyssey. This leaves me scratching my head. Why change the mechanics for later titles? It’s the same question I had for Ubisoft when they scaled back the fighting mechanics from the super cool Odyssey style to the simplified Valhalla style. Why, Ubisoft…whyyyyyyy??? Sorry…I need a moment…

Okay, I’m back. Turns out, Black Flag is so much more than just a bunch of ships firing on each other. It’s a deep dive into pirate life. And c’mon, who doesn’t love pirates? Look at the success of The Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise (loves me some Captain Jack Sparrow). There’s The Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Vegas. And of course there’s the beloved literary classic from which the hotel takes its name. Hell, my most popular erotic romance series featured a cowboy pirate (hmmm…reminds me of someone else I love. Heyyy, Charles 😏).

So what is it about pirates that are so freaking intoxicating. Well, first of all, the wardrobe is *fabulous*. Scarves, earrings, beads, gold chains, over-the-knee boots, flowing lace up blouses. Pirate fashion is fierce. Then, of course, there’s the swashbuckling swordplay. Who doesn’t feel like a bada$$ duel-wielding Persian scimitars or British cutlasses? Yes, there’s something intoxicating about the trappings of a privateer, but I think it’s something more.

For me, it’s the freedom. Wind in your hair, salt spray from the open ocean, no rules but the ones you make and break for yourself. As I rediscover the liberty to be 100% Cindy, no apologies and no diluting my 80 proof personality, I get it. I spent too many years either denying her existence or shying away from adventure because there *might* be consequences.

Yes, we all have responsibilities and adult things we must do. Like doing the dishes and working an evil day job to pay the bills and making sacrifices for those who depend on us. But part of the human spirit yearns to be free. Rebellion is a natural reaction to bonds that hold us too tightly. It’s easy to dream about a life less ordinary and less restrictive and therefore idealize it. Nothing wrong with that as long as you keep in mind, it is indeed a just a dream.

Edward Kenway’s adventures throughout the game are full of daring, liberty, and bad ideas that turn into good stories. We’ve all had those nights 😉 And did I mention his fabulous wardrobe? I think I did. It’s easy to sink into your gamer chair and imagination for a few (or several) hours that you are not bound by the rules of society.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, games give us the opportunity to live out our fantasies in a safe and controlled way. As the historical founder of the Hashshashin, Hassan-i Sabbah, is credited with saying, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” What that means is, once in a while, it’s oh so healthy to embrace your inner Edward Kenway and find the spot on the map of your soul that reads: here, there be pirates.

Memoirs of a Granny Spy: Watch Dogs Legion

I didn’t wanna play it, but Ubisoft is nothing of not prolific and the Gold Edition of Watch Dogs: Legion is on sale on the PS4 so…yep, I bought it. I gotta say, I love the whole James Bond turned hacker feel of the first mission. I mostly got it to play online with friends. Yeah, I know. I\’m not the most social of gamers, but sometimes it is fun to play as a group. And I\’ve had nothing to do since I found FFVII Remake underwhelming, aside from grinding on Warframe. And that game necramech-blocking me with their railjack exclusive materials is p!ssing me off. Honestly, NO ONE LIKES RAILJACK. Sorry, back to the game at hand.

As I said I didn’t want to play it and I definitely didn’t think I’d like it. And I don’t like it…I LOVE IT! No, the story isn’t genius, but it’s a lot of fun. What is brilliant about this game is that you can play as anyone, absolutely any character in the game. What makes this so thrilling is the search for characters that are packed with perks. There’s no skill progression so your operatives abilities at the end of the game are the same as the game’s beginning. Fortunately the game tasks you with building a team of skilled operatives so you are prepared every type of mission.
I do admit I used my spy for 85% of missions. Despite the game being based around “hacking”, nothing beats a good old-fashioned hand cannon with a silencer. My spy also had the physically fit perk which made her very durable for the many, many shootouts: some built in to the story and some due to my inept stealth. In the online version I also managed to snag a hitman with light step. SWEET!
Aside from the characters you earn just by playing the game, there are so many cool individuals just going about their in-game lives. I managed to recruit an uber-hacker with the physically fit perk, fast hack, drone summon and key steal. Very useful operative indeed. Unfortunately the non-lethal weapons in the game are $h!te as the Brits would say. There are however lots of well-armed folk in this futuristic UK. One of my favorite unique weapons was my construction worker\’s nail gun and his heavy wrench for melee definitely got the job done.
While I\’m not always an Ubisoft fan, with their slap and dash style of game production, I will say this game felt much more fully baked than even AC Valhalla, despite the fact that it was much less anticipated. The richness of the world, the variety of gameplay and the solid storyline all made this one of my favorite games of 2020 (even though I didn’t play it until 2021). I mean, seriously, what’s not to like about a badass Granny spy who is a fan of drill tracks and drives a missile-equipped car?
And the drones. Oh the drones! There are so many cool types of drones in this installment of Watch Dogs. While the ones peppering you with buck shot or zapping you with electroshocks are a PIA at first, the betray hack and drone summon abilities make them yet another weapon in your hack-tivist arsenal. And the cargo drones are much more fun the those damn scissor lifts when it comes to reaching high places.
The clothes are a bit hit or miss, but there are some very cool items in the game. Fabrics infused with led lights, holographic accessories and the plethora of mask styles add to slick and stylish feel of dystopian Britain.
So I suppose I’ve gotta say it: Bravo, Ubisoft! I’m eager to see how they develop the online play. So far, it’s almost as fun as the story.

Val-yawn-ah

I\’m not an I told you so kind of gal, but in this case I will say: I DID call it. For those expecting Assassin\’s Creed Valhalla to be magnificent or groundbreaking or even super fun, I say you haven\’t been paying attention. The Assassin\’s Creed franchise hasn\’t been any of those things Since AC2 and that\’s okay. If you go into an Ubisoft game with Ubisoft expectations you won\’t be disappointed…

Except even I was a little disappointed. I really loved AC Odyssey. I couldn\’t wait to whoop some ass…or tap some ass in that game. It seems as though EVERYTHING in Valhalla is one big step backward compared to Odyssey. The combat is clunkier, the quests somehow boring as hell, and there is even LESS of a connection to the whole assassin brotherhood. It\’s as though they wanted to make a Viking RPG but wanted people actually to buy it so they slapped the Assassin\’s Creed brand on it. I\’m about two-thirds of the way through this game and I understand I\’m about to be hit with a whammy that is irreconcilable with previous AC lore. Can\’t wait to see what that is.
As a Viking RPG, it\’s still just okay. It involves a good amount of lore and a basic understanding of historical Scandinavian culture. That being said, the wonky combat alone takes the joy out of raiding monasteries and murdering helpless monks. Actually the game fusses at you if Eivor kills civilian by-standers. W.T.F? Cuz as we all know, Viking raiders were oh so concerned about the rules of engagement when raiding and plundering.
Honestly, I\’ve been struggling to get to the end of the story because the game just lacks the hook. What I want is a game to grab hold of me and not let me go until my family has staged an intervention and my boyfriend is on the verge of leaving me. That is what I want and that is the exact opposite of how I feel when playing AC Valhalla. In fact I willingly stopped playing yesterday because the dishwasher needed loading. Seriously.
All I can say is: Come on, Cyberpunk. Mama needs a hit of that sweet, that nasty, that funky stuff! Please take my hygiene and my interpersonal relationships to an all time low. Help me CD Projekt Red! You\’re my only hope!

Why Am I Following the Crazy B!t¢h with a Necklace Made of Ears?

Okay, maybe it\’s cuz I just finished The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan that I question Takkar\’s choice at the beginning of FAR CRY PRIMAL, but honestly I think it\’s just common sense NOT to follow a lady with a necklace made of human ears. Then again, I am playing yet another Ubisoft game so common sense doesn\’t really apply.

Given yet another postponing of Cyberpunk 2077\’s release date, I\’m looking for games to feed my addiction. Loved PROTOTYPE 2, but it only took a day and a half to finish. Liked INFAMOUS: SECOND SON until the third time I had to fight that freaking concrete lady, but still the game took a day to almost beat. And MAN OF MEDAN took less than a day to burn through.
So, yeah…I find myself tagging along after some crazy b!tch with a human ear necklace. What\’s a gal to do when she\’s nothing else to play? I don\’t plan on getting WATCH DOGS LEGION unless the BF says it\’s totally worth it and November 10th is almost two weeks away. Not to mention WDL and ASSASSIN\’S CREED VALHALLA are both (say it with me) Ubisoft titles. Say what you will about Ubisoft, they are nothing if not prolific.

You Had Me at Ezio

I\’ve been playing the Ezio Collection– again a bundle on sale through PlayStation. Let me just say that Ezio got me like, \”Alexios who?\” Sorry my swarthy Greek half-nekkid babydoll, there\’s a new sheriff in town. Well, technically an older one because if you go by the Assassin\’s Creed games release dates then Ezio came first. Then again if you go by historical era in which the characters lived then Alexios is much, MUCH older. No worries, nothing a little Viagra can\’t fix.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. Anyhoo, Ezio is the baddest ass in a long line of badasses. Though the game mechanics feel weird since I\’ve been playing the AC franchise backward, the stories, the world-building and the player-engagement feels a lot richer. More simmered and well spiced, like a rich, meaty stew.
Speaking of rich and meaty, I gotta say it once more: Ezio is a lovely hunk of man flesh and never once do we see anything bared more than a little upper chest and collar bone. Gotta love the very Renaissance male plunging neck line.
Okay, okay, focus, Foxx. I really liked AC2, I thoroughly enjoyed AC: Brotherhood and AC: Revelations is nothing short of…well, a revelation. The amped up action and legion of assassins you can train to master level give this game the ass-kicking, murderous potential one wants from a game with the word ASSASSIN in the title.
All that being true, I still don\’t really care about the central storyline which is what all these games lack. It\’s hard to connect with any of the main characters in any of the ASSASSIN\’S CREED games. As Game-vember approaches I hope with all my heart VALHALLA proves an improvement in this aspect. 

A Far Cry from Far Cry 3

I killed my way through all three Far Cry games in the insanity bundle: that\’s FC3, FC4, and FC5. My basic take on this franchise? Ubisoft did what Ubisoft does. They took a brilliant concept and then cheapened it by trying to milk every penny out of the brand that they could by churning out new games in the franchise as fast as they could. While I appreciate that Ubisoft doesn\’t make fans of ASSASSIN\’S CREED, RAINBOW SIX, WATCH DOGS, or FAR CRY 3 wait the better part of a decade for new installments of these games, the subsequent games feel half-baked, the deeper one gets into each franchise.

That being said, other than lacking the brilliance of FC3, I did have a great deal of fun murdering my way through all the made-up landscapes of these games. And as Ubisoft also tends to do, the weapons upgrades and cosmetic loot makes it worth slogging through the uncohesiveness of FC5.
I will admit I\’m very much looking forward FAR CRY 6. One, because I\’m a gaming addict and I much prefer story games to online gaming. And two, because I\’m a huge Giancarlo Esposito fan and he comes across as badass as ever in the FC6 trailer.
Plus there\’s WATCH DOGS: LEGION in a couple weeks to look forward to and ASSASSIN\’S CREED VALHALLA in early November. Looks like it\’s going to be an Ubisoft holiday season. Hey, like I\’ve said in the past, the one thing Ubisoft does well is provide their players with content. They may not be the Heisenberg blue meth of gaming companies, but they keep their junkies well supplied, even if it\’s more often than not trailer-trash cloudy AF titles their cranking out.

Worse Than Death

SPOILER ALERT: There are FAR CRY 3 and GHOST OF TSUSHIMA spoilers ahead!

Okay so the consensus online seems to be that the \”good\” ending is to save your friends and reject Citra. I\’m assuming this is because if you go with Citra you get the very Shakespearean wrap up of everyone dying including Jason. Everyone that is except Citra who now is supposedly carrying Jason\’s child though usually it takes more than a couple rounds to impregnate your partner, but let\’s go with that supposition for the sake of playing these two choices out.
On the surface saving your friends seems like the right thing. As humans we are hardwired to protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. But let\’s take a look at who Jason saved:
Liza – a shallow wannabe actress who is trying to mold Jason into who she wants him to be.
Oliver – a dilitant stoner who seems so unaffected by what\’s happened he reeks of sociopathy.
Daisy – who took all of five seconds to get over the loss of her boyfriend Grant and who is really more Liza\’s friend than Jason\’s.
Keith – poor Keith seems kinda sweet but he\’s been raped and tortured so much by the time Jason rescues him there\’s no way he\’s ever going to be whole again.
And then there\’s Riley. To be honest, Riley is the only character worth saving at this point. He\’s the only reason I chose \”save friends\” instead of going with Citra. He\’s the only one who seems to harbor genuine concern for Jason and the only one who\’s got a shot a rebounding. And yes, that includes Jason. 
Jason has gone way too far off the deep end. But let\’s say he does somehow find a way to lead a normal life after all this murder and mayhem. Nothing will ever compare with the power and excitement he wielded as Snow White. He will spend the rest of his life reliving that glory and trying to recreate that feeling. In the \”normal world\” he will fail miserably and most likely die of liver cirrhosis or a drug overdose, an embittered man, a ghost of his glorious warrior self.
We hear that there are worse things than death all the time but I don\’t think we often stop to consider how true this platitude is. It\’s just like the consensus for the GHOST OF TSUSHIMA. Most gamers, at least American ones suckled at the teet of Hollywood\’s fetish for happily-ever-afters assume sparing your uncle is the \”good ending\”. However, if you have even a superficial understanding of Japanese culture and particularly that of the Samurai, you know it is far kinder to slay your uncle than allow him to live with the shame and dishonor if losing a duel to The Ghost. I mean he\’d most likely commit seppuku anyway. Might as well save him the trouble.
But that is the fun of games like FAR CRY 3 and THE GHOST OF TSUSHIMA. They allow us to shed our run of the mill morality, our fear of dying and to step outside what we can and should do so we can entertain outrageous and appalling choices. It\’s good for us to shake up. Sometimes it\’s good not to be ourselves.

Definition of Insanity

Yes, I\’m playing Far Cry 3 today as the first of PlayStation\’s Insanity bundle. Aptly named since we all know–even Vaas– that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over expecting a different result.

I\’ve been on an Ubisoft kick lately. I finally finished WATCH DOGS 2 in preparation for WATCH DOGS: LEGION coming October 29th. So yeah, I\’ve been repeating the same formula over and over. The testament to my sanity is, however, I do not expect a different outcome. Ubisoft is the McDonald\’s of video games, no more no less. Approaching yet another of their churned out franchises expecting nothing more than a quick hit of violence, mayhem, buggy mechanics, and ambitious concepts that aren\’t quite fully baked, I\’m not at all disappointed with the Far Cry franchise thus far.
That being said, I still have 2 more games in the series to get through and if reviews are anything to go on, I\’ve started with the cream of the crop. It goes from GOTY Far Cry 3 to a tepid 7 on IGN for Far Cry 5. Far Cry 4 lands somewhere in the middle. So it might be that I\’ve signed up for a downward spiral, but hey, it\’s still something to keep me busy and out trouble so the games will have served their primary purpose regardless of overall quality.
SPOILER and side note: Anyone else find it suss that Jason was tripping balls when he supposedly killed Vaas? I\’m of the school of though that if you didn\’t see the body and have actual verification of death then the villain isn\’t dead. And it seems Citra is merely brainwashing Jason with drugs and pussy, but to what end? My guess is to rid her island of Hoyt. We shall see.

To Ubisoft or CD Projekt Red, That Is the Question

With my craving for a new fix thoroughly ignited by The Last of Us Part 2, the delay of Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin\’s Creed: Syndicate being my methadone of choice thanks to a mid year sale by Sony, I\’m deep in thought about the world of gaming as I navigate Jacob and Evie through the buroughs of Victorian England.

The debate raging in my brain was sparked by Rin as I groused about the wonky character mechanics in ACS. He said, \”That\’s Ubisoft for you. They put out buggy games. But the mechanics got better once they copied the Witcher 3.\”
In my limited experience, this assertion is true. Ubisoft does put out buggy games. However it is also true that Ubisoft produces some of the most successful and widely played gaming franchises. Assassin\’s Creed and the Tom Clancy games spring to mind immediately and there are many others titles as well. And for the most part, they put out these buggy games on time.
It\’s also true that there is a vast difference in the smoothness of gameplay between Assassin\’s Creed Syndicate and Assassin\’s Creed Odyssey. And what lends Rin\’s observation credence is I happened to play The Witcher 3 right before Assassin\’s Creed: Odyssey. It was easy to note the similarities in the two titles, it was also easy to choose which was the superior game. Sorry, Alexios. You know I love ya, babe, but there\’s just something about Geralt. Mmm mmm mmm…Gerrrrralt.
What makes Rin\’s off-handed remark intriguing is the fact that Ubisoft and CD Projekt Red are set for a showdown this November. The delay of Cyberpunk 2077 drops it right into the holiday release window with Assassin\’s Creed: Valhalla.
Both games are brutes when it comes to content and both games will be visually stunning. That much you can see from the teasers and trailers that have already been released. But which game will emerge victorious? Well, marketing budgets aside, I think it will come down to gamer taste.
I\’m fortunate enough not to have to choose between the two. I have the means to get both games so you best believe this holiday season will be Cyberpunk-Vahalla menage with Foxx in the middle! But let\’s say my budget was limited or it were divinely imposed that I make Sophie\’s Choice. Were that the case, I would pick Cyberpunk 2077. Here\’s why:
The Assassin\’s Creed games are much like buying pizza from a nationwide pizza chain. It\’s quick, easy, you know the brand, you know the level of quality you\’ll get, and you\’ve eaten from that chain for years and you like it well enough. It will fill you up, satisfy the hunger, make you smile and nod and say, \”Damn, that was good.\”
Cyberpunk 2077 on the other hand is that handcrafted, chef d\’oeuvre of a meal you splurged on because you heard amazing things about the chef at this tiny little local place. The experience will be unique, beautifully crafted and quite possibly burned into your memory forever. Unfortunately with that comes the fact that the chef, being an artist, may announce that the white truffle risotto is not on the menu tonight because the truffles they received were subpar. Okay, I took that metaphor way too far. But you get the drift. 
I\’d go so far as to say the gaming industry needs both types of companies to thrive: one pushing the envelope and trying new ways to make the experience meaningful and the other taking those innovations and making them marketable. For the only industry left in the tech world (hell, the world in general) that can pull of waiting half a decade or more for a sequel or even a new title, the only way to keep fans engaged is to walk that fine line of art and capitalism.