Tag Archives: Geek Baby

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – My Review

I did it, I beat Deus Ex: Mankind Divided before Mass Effect: Andromeda came out! Well, okay… before our preorder copy arrived. It counts! Of course, that means that I’ve plowed straight past Dishonored 2

After making my way through the opening tutorial quest, and some of the initial questing in the Prague hub, I wrote an initial reaction to the game: http://www.comparativegeeks.com/2016/10/18/deus-ex-mankind-divided-first-impressions/ Rather than rehash any of that, I’ll just leave that link!

As to playing the game from there, I have generally been having more trouble finding time to game. When the Geek Baby was young and napping a lot – often on us – there was a good deal of time to game, often with limited alternatives since we had a baby on us. I couldn’t move my arms, but I could use my hands to hold a controller! But with this recent round of games, finding time for single player games – amidst watching shows, life, and the Geek Baby, has been very difficult. Often I was only finding 1-2 sessions in a month, most of those late-night insomnia.

There are two major points I want to make because of how I played the game like that. One is that this game, over time, had a number of huge updates (one up to like 8GB). So with my limited number of sessions, most were eaten up with time to download and install these updates. Were they content? Hotfixes? I don’t know, but it was annoying.

The second point is that, while it took me a long time to beat and I feel like I did quite a bit in the game… it also doesn’t feel like I should be done. I don’t feel like I should be at the end – I’m not sure I should be very close to the end! Did I miss something by playing the game in such a fragmented way?

The game is patterned for a mission off in a location, which with my stealthy playstyle was often quietly and quickly traversed. A lot of it was very instinctual, or perhaps my stealth gaming instincts have improved, but I found myself often picking best routes all on my own. So these big locations went by fairly quickly.

Then the pattern brings you back to the hub, to Prague. There, you have a number of side quests, as well as several steps of main quest, before your next travels. Though the majority of the time in-game was spent on these parts of the game – and the main quest elements in Prague probably took more time than the off-site quests – these elements didn’t feel like they were the big parts of the game. They were diversions, fun, world-building. The meat felt like it should be the location quests.

You spend a decent amount of time here in Golem City, so much so I would have liked to have gone back.

A big comparison I realized to the first game is that, in each of the big quest completions, you had a boss fight. Like you might expect in a video game, but it worked: there was a team of augmented mercenaries you were hunting and fighting, each of them with different skills and abilities, and they provided some of that feeling that was lacking from this game. The feeling of completion as you finished off a quest chain, as you left a location.

Instead, the sequel really just had the one main antagonist, but when fighting him finally at the end, I really felt like he should have been the first of several boss fights in the game. He was the big guy, the muscle, the soldier: not the brains of the operation, just a big footsoldier.

But given what we know of the big bad in the series… and the fact that this is a pre-sequel (after Human Revolution but before the original Deus Ex) means that it was never going to resolve the Illuminati. I was really enjoying having the choice of really treating them as the villain in the game, of working in secret with a hacker group and approaching the game with them in mind constantly. There was even a great point when you can only complete one of two quests (in the Prague hub) and the other can’t be completed; I went with the quest that was aimed against the Illuminati.

I was hoping for more big choice moments like this, but there was really just the one. It was good, but more would have been better. Which is, indeed, my overall statement on the game.

So back to how I played it: it both felt like I put a lot of time into the game (I felt like it was “the game I’m playing right now” for 6 months), but also just that I was only getting warmed up. There were a number of abilities that I never had cause to use. I ended the game sitting on almost 10 Praxis points (used for your skills, from leveling) without a clear plan to use them.

Sure, I could replay the game on New Game+, or on a higher difficulty. Neither of those things give me more content in actual practice, however. There are several “Jensen Stories” of DLC, $12.99 each for a new episode. One is before the game, another is after, and a third appears free (and after the plot) or maybe it came with my preorder. Sinking more money into the game – when I have new games to turn to – isn’t what I’m necessarily looking for either. But I may return to the game later and dive into these DLC, maybe after they’re on sale.

All-in-all, this game felt more like an expansion pack, maybe compare it to Dragon Age: Awakening and the way that it added more than a normal DLC, but less than a full game, to the original Dragon Age. It added a new chapter to the story of Adam Jensen, who is still pursuing the threads he was pulling on in the first game, but isn’t necessarily getting anywhere. You fail to stop a couple of bad things from happening, then stop a final big bad thing from happening. And scene.

Because as a full game, it just doesn’t compare, in my mind, to Human Revolution.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Adult References

One of the shows that we have started watching with the Geek Baby is My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Now first of all this is a very different My Little Pony than I grew up with. At the same time the show is definitely entertaining and something that I can kind of understand why adults would be willing to watch it as well.

One of the best parts about the show are the mostly subtle adult references that the kids don’t get, but definitely reveal some of the geek fandoms of the creators and artists. It is so great when a show can be good for kids and adults at the same time.

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Looking Again at Scribblenauts

In the early days of having smart devices, I used to look at the App store far more often to look for interesting things. In doing so, I grabbed a number of games that – while available in other ways – seemed like a nice addition to my mobile devices. Since then, Katamari DamacyScribblenauts, the early Final Fantasy games, and others have gone largely unused – but I’ve kept them on my devices just in case.

Over time, the games that have been the main-stays for me on my mobile devices have been board and card game adaptations, a growing field of game apps. For travel, especially, being able to bring a number of full-size board games with you on a tablet is pretty fantastic, and compared to their non-digital counterparts, the value is amazing.

Flash forward to recently, and the Geek Baby Toddler. I’ll avoid any long discussion of screen time just to say: there is some. The most common screen time is usually with my phone, and looking through all the photos and videos I’ve taken. Other great apps have included ones for drawing, as the cleanup is easy! However, when looking for something to interact with already on my device, and scrolling through all these board games that aren’t a good choice yet… I went back to some of these older games.

The first one I tried was Katamari Damacy, but that quickly proved to not be a good choice yet. The Geek Toddler is far more interested in pressing buttons and getting feedback from her actions that way. So then I tried Scribblenauts.

Scribblenauts originally came out in 2009 for the DS, and made use of the stylus with that system for gameplay – thus the “scribble.” It is a puzzle game but also a sandbox sort of game. You have an avatar, you’re trying to get the star for the level, and there are various challenges in your way. Then you have the power to draw or write the name of something and have it appear in the game.

Like, anything.

I mean, probably not anything but items from a book or a ball, to an elephant or a dragon, to a lasso or a pair of angel wings… to my personal favorite for any number of challenges, a black hole.

The game is programmed with all sorts of fun interactions, like some animals being aggressive, lots of vehicle riding and rope attaching antics… Cthulhu…

It’s a fun game, and does a decent job if I remember right of leveling up the difficulty as you go. The star can’t be destroyed or you fail, so often you’re left trying to get it out of danger or having to come up with a gentle solution when you can’t just bull-in-a-china-shop your way through. You also have a limited number of items you can have out at one time, so it’s often about both thinking of a way to solve the puzzle and about how to do it without needing too many elements.

If you missed Scribblenauts, there’s a couple of flavors of it now on mobile, as well as in-app purchases, because of course. Because of the stylistic art design and fun gameplay, this game has aged just fine and will I think remain just fine for the foreseeable future.

Which brings me back to opening this game up with the Geek Toddler. The main hub screen is also just a sandbox, with your avatar standing there, and the ability to create things. I have been able to get the Geek Toddler to request things, and to write them in and voila! There’s an elephant!

You can ride the elephant, summon other animals, do all kinds of things. We tried out some of the early levels, as well, and she stayed interested. The early ones are a bit tutorial, with things like creating items to give to working professionals. Then again, something like that sounds a whole lot like a puzzle or book for a young one – what does a doctor use? A fire fighter? These things.

So while yes, I have to read the puzzles and put in most all of the work right now, that’s a starting point. And sharing in the activity on a device is a great way to do it anyway. And over time, there are elements of the game that she’s going to be able to pick up – like manipulating the objects on the screen, brainstorming solutions to the puzzle, and eventually even the reading and the writing (on the iPad it seems to mainly be writing to create the items).

With a toddler in the house, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of levels to a lot of toys – which feels like its own separate discussion for another day! But it’s great to find another thing like this where we can level up her engagement and learning with it over time. I’m looking forward to more Scribblenauts!

Technological Advancement and Star Wars

Lately we’ve been reading a lot of Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader books with the Geek Toddler. She loves them, and they’re great. We’ll probably talk more about them at some point. But there’s one page in particular that made me just stop and think.

Haha, common parent statement, right? And in this case it’s also totally true.

We get to see plenty of big space ship battles in Star Wars Episodes I-III. Lots of different ship types. Which, we know from seeing things like the Rebel Fleet in the later movies, sure, there are lots of different ship types in the Star Wars universe.

However, like the Death Star, the Star Destroyer is a product of the Empire. A product of an authoritarian war machine that only really exists for maybe 20-30 years? Wait, there’s a timeline, hold on…

Okay, so 23 years is how long the Empire is around? And 19 years between episodes III and IV (and Rogue One). In that time they develop and build Star Destroyers and a Death Star. Wow! Both the R&D and the actual manufacture there is impressive, even with the full might of an intergalactic state behind it.

As seen in Rogue One, so major coercion was needed, and I liked the point that was made about how they would develop the weapon sooner or later – just sooner with the help of a genius. That’s still a really tight window, and even if some of that development started before the Senate fell (might have I don’t know), that’s still a whole lot.

But Star Wars lore goes a whole lot further back than that. For one thing, there’s the whole Old Republic, a long time ago even from the standpoint of the films. I imagine there are books and other media in this era, but mainly there have been video games – so the most time-intensive and immersive form of media.

And there’s so much about the society of Star Wars that seems the same between the Old Republic and the movies. The droids, the crime, the relevant races, the Jedi…

I have always been a bit amused by this lack of change, but had not fully thought about how, once the Empire began, there was a massive surge in new technology. Even the Clones seemed like something that had been researched for a long while before finally coming together just in time to have some Clone Wars.

I suppose that the Old Republic is also missing from that canon timeline, sadly. So maybe this isn’t really a problem from a canon standpoint. But it’s sad to set history like that aside as well. What do you think?


Comparative Opinions – Retrospective 2016 – Episode 27

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, hosts David and Holly reflect back on their 2016, and look ahead a bit at their 2017. They expand a bit on their discussions from their “Best Of” lists. They also talk about uncompleted goals and things they are hoping to get to later. Add your thoughts for the year moving forward!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!



Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros