It’s been a while! Life gets in the way sometimes, so I haven’t been able to fire off my blazing takes for nearly two months. For this edition of Punished Notes, I’m doing a big ol’ lightning round just to get out all of my thoughts since the last Punished Notes. In this edition, I’ll cover some of my views on Red Dead Redemption 2, Halo 2, and The Game Awards. Plus, a little sendoff to a nerd icon who left us this week.
SUPER LIGHTNING ROUND!!!!!!
-I’ll be doing a deep dive on Red Dead Redemption 2 sometime soon, but I’ll say this for now: despite all the chatter about what the game does differently and how it aims to completely change how we experience open worlds, I’ve been somewhat surprised at how similar it is to other Rockstar games. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that it reminds me a lot of the original Red Dead Redemption and I guess it’s weird that I thought at any time that Rockstar would actually change things that much. Still, as much as I’m enjoying the experience, I don’t think it’s quite as much of a game changer as some would have you believe.
-I recently replayed the first three Halo games, and I’m absolutely baffled by how well they’ve aged gameplay-wise. Obviously, the visuals from the first two don’t dazzle quite the way they did many years ago (Halo 2: Anniversary Edition, however, is stunning), but the controls, physics engine, level design, enemy AI, and weapon variety blow most modern shooters out of the water. In a genre that’s constantly refining its mechanics and making major leaps, the fact that the original Halo games remain just as excellent as when they first launched is nothing short of a wonder.
-The seasons mechanic in Forza Horizon 4 is exactly the kind of change the series needed. It forces the player to learn a variety of different driving styles and consistently keeps things interesting, which is a welcome addition to a game where what you do in the first hour is the same as what you do in the 30th.
-On that note, FH4 is easily a top ten game of the year and I don’t want to hear from anyone that Microsoft doesn’t churn out any good exclusives.
-I haven’t had time to play the Abyss update for No Man’s Sky or the Forsaken Shores update for Sea of Thieves, and given that I’m not even halfway through RDR2 and have Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the horizon, I fear I might have time for them at all.
–Into the Breach is a great game and I’m objectively terrible at it. I plan on playing it on Easy for the foreseeable future and I’m not ashamed of that fact.
-Somehow, I think I’ve spent more time playing Dr. Mario on the Switch than any other game this year.
–The Messenger is an excellent action platformer with smooth controls, awesome music, and a lot of cool ideas. It’s a shame, however, that its ending is so weird and lackluster. The pacing of the overall game is generally uneven, but I was especially underwhelmed by the title’s final moments.
-A lot of big games have come out this year for the PS4, but the only one that makes me actually want to buy the console is Tetris Effect.
-I understand the discontent surrounding the announcement of Diablo Immortal, but people seriously need to chill. That guy who asked Blizzard if it was a late April Fools’ Joke? He’s a jerk, and nobody should praise him for “owning” anyone. He just embarrassed himself and reinforced the negative view so many people have of gamers and gaming culture. Also, I’m sure the mobile Diablo game is going to be fine.
-On the subject of gamer disappointment, I’m still annoyed that Nintendo hasn’t made a new F-Zero game in over a decade. Get on it, people!
-The Game Awards are stupid and ridiculous and I can’t believe anybody takes that shit seriously. Here are a few of my grievances:
- Why the hell are the nominees announced before the year is over? Would Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Battlefield V be eligible for next year’s show, even though they didn’t come out in 2019?
- While it’s nice to see an excellent indie game like Celeste nominated for Game of the Year alongside big-budget projects like God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2, why have a separate Best Independent Game category if indies can make it to the top five games of the year? Celeste, by this logic, pretty much has to win Best Independent Game, right?
- There’s a Games for Impact category. What exactly does “impact” mean here? Is this supposed to suggest that, say, God of War is fundamentally less artistic than certain indie games?
- Best eSports Game is also a remarkably dumb category, since none of the nominees came out this year. It typically takes years before a multiplayer game becomes an actual eSport, so the Game Awards will be consistently giving out trophies to games that came out years ago.
- Favorite Moment of 2017 is some masturbatory nonsense. They might as well rename the category Hey Remember We Did This Shit Last Year And It Was “Lit” As You Kids Say?
I’m 100% in favor of kitschy fan service events for video games. I love E3 and all its corporate nonsense. I love reading Best Games of the Year lists on Kotaku, Polygon, Waypoint, and Game Informer almost exclusively so I can disagree with what they say. I just hope we can get to a point as gamers where we question whether something like The Game Awards could ever properly reward the best creators in the industry.
-When I was five years old, my parents told me that they were going to buy me my very first “big boy” bed and that I got to select which themed bedspread I wanted. I chose a full Spider-Man set that included a body pillow. I no longer have the sheets and blanket, but I still have that body pillow in my room today, in part to remind myself that I was always a nerd, and that was okay.
RIP Stan Lee.