rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy really brought home to me how tired I am of open-world games. I love the Assassin's Creed series, I love Red Dead Redemption, but I think I'm suffering a sort of open-world fatigue; I'm not really getting anywhere with Horizon Zero Dawn, even though it's staggeringly beautiful, because I'm just exhausted by how much there is to do. It felt so good to pick up Lost Legacy and play through a fast-moving game where you're constantly driving things forward.

One of the many reasons I am looking forward intensely to Danganronpa V3's release at the end of the month. Dangan Ronpa games are ALL PLOT, ALL THE TIME and it's great.

I'm feeling more generous towards Final Fantasy XV than I am towards most open-world games at the moment, because that game isn't really about the plot; it's a game about arsing around with your friends. Of course you should waste time on stupid sidequests; wasting time with people you care about is important!

Wait, maybe the problem isn't open-world games; maybe the problem is games where the protagonist is alone. In Lost Legacy, you spend most of the time hanging out with Nadine; in Final Fantasy XV, you've got three pals with you. I just want constant dialogue! And that's just not something you get in, for example, the Assassin's Creed games. (As much as I love Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, I'm sad that it went, 'Twin protagonists! You can choose which one to play! But the other twin doesn't tag along with you, sorry.' I want Evie and Jacob to snipe at each other while I'm running around London!)

...okay, I wrote the above in part because I was dithering on whether to play Infamous: Second Son, as a means of passing the time before Danganronpa V3's release. On the one hand, it had good reviews and my housemate had it, so it would cost me nothing to try it out. On the other, I was so tired of open-world games, and I'd tried the original Infamous once and hated it instantly.

I needn't have worried. I came to love Infamous: Second Son just as instantly as I'd come to hate Infamous. Turns out that this game is all about siblings who don't really get along but love each other nonetheless, i.e. my ultimate weakness. Almost at the very start of the game (twelve minutes into this walkthrough video), there was the perfect cutscene, cramming about six things I love into fifty seconds, after the protagonist Delsin got extremely stigmatised superpowers.

And it's so fun to play! Delsin can run so fast and can jump so high and has assorted zooming-and-hovering skills, so you can fly from building to building! He sometimes gives a little giddy laugh as he shoots up into the sky, and it's really endearing. It does suffer a little from Videogame Morality, where it's morally fine to kill the occasional civilian so long as you make up for it by stopping some drug dealers later, but I'm not taking it too seriously. I'm pretty used to suspending my moral disbelief in videogames.

This game further supports my 'maybe the issue is a lack of company in open worlds rather than open worlds in themselves' theory, because Delsin and his brother occasionally have little sarcastic phone conversations while you're running around the city, and it's great.

I'm only two hours into the game, so it's possible my opinion will change, but they have been a thoroughly enjoyable two hours.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xii: fran glares; tremble with fear! (don't cross me)
Finished Uncharted: The Lost Legacy! It was a great deal of fun, and the scenery continued to be absurdly beautiful all the way through. Spoilers under the cut!

Spoilers for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. )

I just checked the list of trophies for this game. The trophy for taking every possible photograph is called 'Pics or It Didn't Happen'. The trophy for lockpicking every locked crate is called 'Picks or It Didn't Happen'.
rionaleonhart: the last of us: joel and ellie look out at the ruined horizon. (lot of ground to cover)
My first reaction to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy: wow, I'd forgotten how gorgeous the Uncharted games are. This might be the prettiest one yet. There have been so many points where I've just stopped to stare at the scenery for a while.

Early impressions of Lost Legacy below the cut; I'm a couple of hours in. No real spoilers, but some thoughts on characterisation.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy first impressions. )

My favourite part so far: there's a bit where you're in a car, approaching a section with enemies. You can get out of the car and sneak up quietly. Or, as I chose to, you can just plough the car straight into their midst.

Nadine: Not one for subtlety, are you?
Chloe: Not really.
Nadine: Was this really your plan?
Chloe: Sort of. You don't like it?
rionaleonhart: the last of us: joel and ellie look out at the ruined horizon. (lot of ground to cover)
Out-of-Context Theatre:

'To be honest, I'm glad that Google considered my search for "nude Crash Bandicoot" and concluded, "I'm sure she meant new Crash Bandicoot."'

Here is a reaction to some E3 game trailers!

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm: I'm more excited than I would have expected myself to be! I love the shot of Chloe beating up the car in the junkyard. She's a ball of rage and bad coping mechanisms, and it's great. My relationship with Chloe had a bit of a rocky start (she pointed at me and blamed me for her weed! I was slightly outraged!), but by this point I think I can appreciate her for the absolute mess of a person that she is.

I'm glad they're sticking with the soft, sort-of painted visual style of the original.

Are we going to see [unpleasant character] in this prequel? Rachel knew him, but we're playing as Chloe, and, when she first meets him in Life Is Strange, they don't seem to know each other. So I suppose he won't be making an appearance. I, er, probably shouldn't be disappointed by that.

Hidden Agenda: something genuinely cool and new from the Until Dawn developers! A multiplayer anyone-can-die decision-based crime thriller, where you all vote on decisions. It seems like a great way to ruin friendships. I'm tempted.

Assassin's Creed: Origins: come on, another male protagonist? Not counting spin-offs and handheld titles, there have been nine main Assassin's Creed games, and the protagonist has been male in eight and a half of them. I was really hoping Ubisoft wouldn't go, 'Okay, you can play as a woman for part of Syndicate, we've eaten our vegetables and now we can get back to dudes.' The setting looks gorgeous, but this game isn't really sparking any excitement in me yet. I'll probably warm up to it, though.

(To be honest, I can't be too grumpy about protagonist gender when all three of the other games in this list focus on two women, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. I'm so happy. You're improving, videogame industry!)

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy: this looks like so much fun! Action! Adventure! Fraught 'I'll save your life, but that doesn't mean we're friends' partnerships! (Between two women! I don't think I've ever seen that before.) I'll miss Nate and Elena and Sully, but, if you'd said, 'Okay, the central trio are off the table, but we'll make a game about any other two Uncharted characters you choose,' I would have asked for Chloe and Nadine. I can't believe this game is actually happening.
rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
Here is a video of Uncharted characters dancing to Boney M's 'Rasputin'. It is the best video on the entire Internet. Rafe never particularly struck me as a character, but he is dancing his heart out, and I can respect that. I've watched this every time I've needed a bit of cheering up this week.

THE BOOKENING TITLE #13: The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle #2)

Apart from ruining the Gray Man's life, the Gray Man's plan had been going exceptionally well.

I got this for Christmas, and I've been reading it in an odd on-and-off way for several months, so it's difficult to say anything particularly intelligent about it; you can't get a good idea of the pacing or of how well the plot holds together if you read a book very slowly. So, in lieu of anything intelligent, here is the urgent e-mail I sent to [ profile] th_esaurus while Ronan and Kavinsky were having their dreamathon:

Are Ronan and Kavinsky going to fuck? If they're not, I'm going to stop reading.

They did not, and I was unimpressed. But the book did seem perhaps to hint at some desire on one or both sides, and that's something!

I'm puzzled by my reaction to Ronan and Kavinsky. Individually, I don't care much about either of them. Together, though, they formed one of the most interesting aspects of this book for me. (Ronan's love for Matthew also helped me care a bit about him.)

I enjoyed the Gray Man. To my concern, I sliiiiightly found myself 'shipping him with Blue on their first meeting. Sorry about that.

Speaking of pairings with Blue: Blue and Gansey had some very sweet moments, and I loved the 'complicated tug' line, but I was mildly disappointed by the 'she accepted that she was in love with Gansey and therefore she wasn't in love with Adam' bit. I don't like love triangles with neat 'oh, actually I'm only in love with one of these guys' resolutions; if you have to have a love triangle, I want it to be a horrible mess where Blue is in love with Adam and Gansey simultaneously, and also Ronan, and Noah, and the Gray Man, and Captain Jack Harkness.

That probably isn't technically a triangle.

Stiefvater's writing style is still my favourite part of these books. If this series had been written by a different person, with the same plot, I suspect it would never really have caught my interest. It's such a lovely, warm, poetic style, but I just find ley lines so dull! The Dream Thieves is at least slightly less leyliney than The Raven Boys, but the tradeoff is that it focuses a lot on Ronan, whereas I'm more interested in Blue, Gansey and Adam.

That said, as mentioned, I was fascinated by Ronan's relationship with Kavinsky. Between Kavinsky and the Gray Man, this book has far more compelling antagonistic figures than The Raven Boys, and I think it's stronger for it.
rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
Embarrassingly, I can't stop listening to 'Theme of King JJ', the song that JJ skates to in Yuri on Ice. At first I just went 'oh, my God, this is the most hilariously arrogant thing I've ever heard, I must listen to it fully to get a better idea of the ridiculous lyrics,' and by now I actually dance along to it while I listen. I LOOK IN THE MIRROR, THE KING LOOKS BACK AT ME. I'M BRAVE ENOUGH TO FIGHT THE ENEMIES.

Then again, I've been nostalgically listening to a lot of Linkin Park lately, so this might actually be an improvement.

(I typed this and then went back to dramatically mouthing along to 'Leave Out All the Rest', whoops. SAVE ME, KING JJ.)

In honour of my terrible taste in music, I've titled this entry with a line that could plausibly come from either 'Theme of King JJ' or a particularly angst-fraught Linkin Park song (it's the former).

I've been replaying Uncharted 4: A Thief's End recently. I like it more than the first Uncharted, but I definitely love the second and third games more, which is a shame; I'd have liked the series to end on a higher note (although most of my issues with A Thief's End are very subjective, so I imagine it was a good ending for many players). I'm going to grump about Sam under the cut, so you may not want to click if you're a Sam fan.

Grumbling about Sam. Uncharted 4 spoilers. )

OKAY, COMPLAINING OVER. Here are some great things in Uncharted 4 to balance it out:

- The opening credits are gooooorgeous. You can see them over here. No spoilers for Uncharted 4; they're a beautiful look back at the previous games in the series.

- 'A Normal Life' is possibly my favourite Uncharted chapter ever. I exclaimed aloud in delight multiple times.

- Sometimes, if you put Nate in front of a mirror and zoom in on it, he'll check to make sure nobody's looking and then do finger-guns at himself.

- Nate and Elena have a combat move where Nate lifts Elena up so she can kick the enemy in the face.

- The environments are so, so pretty.

- At one point, you blow up a door with dynamite and Nate goes 'Take that, door!'
rionaleonhart: harry potter: extremely poorly-drawn dumbledore fleeing and yelling NOOOOOOOOO. (NOOOOOOOOO)
Maybe I should watch a Let's Play of Until Dawn, I found myself thinking recently. I've heard it puts a lot of emphasis on choice and consequences, and that's something I'm interested in: how the same videogame can tell different stories on different playthroughs. Let's look some videos up.

And then I remembered that I hate horror, but it was too late. BYE, SLEEP. I tried to stop watching, but then I realised I'd never be able to put this story behind me unless I got some sort of resolution to it, so it looks like I'm locked in until the ending.

(The specific Let's Play I've been watching is this one by the Scary Game Squad, in case any of you are fans of the 'a group of teenagers go to an isolated lodge, HORRIBLE THINGS HAPPEN' brand of horror. If you are not a horror fan, be more sensible than me and steer clear; it contains gore, jumpscares, decapitation, scary chase sequences, scary nothing-happening sequences etc. The commentary's pretty good; it's not grating, for the most part, and they joke around but still take things seriously enough for them to remain scary. They're also endearingly invested in keeping everyone alive. There's one character they all dislike, and they joke a couple of times about leaving her to die, but then she gets into terrible peril and they spend the whole chase sequence yelling encouragement at her. 'Go, baby girl! Go, baby girl!')

I feel you can probably tell a lot about a person by the scenes they choose to rewatch. In Until Dawn, there are a handful of scenes I keep coming back to. One of these scenes is 'Mike and Sam meet each other in the lodge, the first friendly faces they've seen respectively since all hell broke loose'. That's perfectly respectable. I probably 'ship them. Fine.

(I have a feeling that I started 'shipping them before that scene, which is odd, given that I'm, er, not sure they'd interacted on-screen on any previous occasion. I was delighted when they actually met up. I have such low expectations of my pairings. 'It'd be nice if these two could be in the same room at some point.')

To my slight concern, the other scenes I've watched multiple times on assorted different Let's Plays are:

- Mike finds his girlfriend semi-conscious and thinks at first that she's dead.
- Mike gets his fingers caught in a bear trap and has to amputate them with a machete.

Apparently Mike is just one of those characters I want to see suffering physically and emotionally, so I suppose it's good news for me that he's in a horror game. Maybe it's because he looks and acts a bit like Nathan Drake. I love both Mike and Nate, but in a scary way that means I'm happiest when they're bloodied emotional wrecks.

(There's one Let's Play where the player gets Mike's hand caught but really doesn't want to amputate his fingers, so he keeps trying to make Mike prise open the trap instead. On the first two attempts, the trap snaps shut again. The third time, Mike whimpers before he gives it another go. It's great. I'm the worst person in the world.)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy x-2: the sun is rising, yuna looks to the future. (hope is all we have)
I don't want to think about politics right now (I may never forgive my country, but at least my city's all right, I suppose), so instead I'm going to talk about THE BOOKENING, in which I desperately try to read a load of recent genre fiction on the slim chance I get a relevant job interview. There are worse tasks.

THE BOOKENING TITLE #1: This Savage Song, VE Schwab. A world in which violence creates monsters! Crime spawns terrible creatures that will slash you up or drink your blood or eat your soul! And then one of the monsters disguises himself as a human so he can attend school. There's more going on than that, obviously, but I really enjoy how silly the plot sounds when you cut it down.

The first few chapters focus on slowly bringing you into the world, which is interesting, but it really picks up when the monster actually starts school. I hugely enjoyed watching August try to fit in; characters being thrown suddenly into a completely new world is always fun. Colin seemed a potentially fun character, so I'm sad he was barely in this at all. Leo is terrifying. I enjoyed Kate's fury at her own vulnerability, and it was interesting to see August's desire to be a better person collide with her desire to be a worse person.

THE BOOKENING TITLE #2: Divergent, Veronica Roth. I find this a slightly less believable young adult dystopia than the world of The Hunger Games, largely because I'm convinced the Dauntless faction would have died out within a few generations. Why would anyone ever willingly join the faction that demands that you constantly risk your life for no reason? Go and join the faction that picks apples and is nice to people, for goodness' sake. And the Dauntless faction is in the habit of whittling down its recruits and allowing ONLY THE BEST to join, which further reduces its numbers, and then, as mentioned, it makes its members pointlessly risk their lives. This is not the way to maintain a healthy membership, Dauntless.

Divergent's Tris felt at points like a copy of Katniss from The Hunger Games to me, and I find it interesting that Kate from This Savage Song didn't, given that all three of them fall into a distinct 'unpersonable female YA protagonist' character type. I suppose Kate's vulnerabilities run closer to the surface, and she's also more actively cruel because she's trying to hide her caring side. Katniss isn't trying to hide that she cares; she's genuinely not very good at caring, although she's not incapable of it, and I get a similar impression from Tris. Deliberate callous action versus unconscious callous inaction.

This was an interesting diversion, but I don't think I'll be picking up the other books in the series. Diversiont.

THE BOOKENING TITLE #3: Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth, Christopher Golden. This was fun! I used to read the official tie-in novels for Doctor Who, and they varied wildly in quality. I was a bit apprehensive about this, but it's clearly been written with a real fondness for the Uncharted games and characters. Nate and Sully sound like themselves! There's vicarious sightseeing! There were even sections where I could see how they would translate to a puzzle sequence in one of the games. Fortunately, there were no sections that would translate to a twenty-minute shootout with four waves of enemies.

I enjoyed getting confirmation that Nate unthinkingly flirts with people out of habit.

My biggest complaint: no Elena. I can understand why Elena wasn't there, given that, you know, the book is set before Nate and Elena meet, but I still missed her. I liked Jada (it would have been nice to see some sort of reference to her in Uncharted 4), but the absence of Elena was heavy on my heart. This was also my problem with Golden Abyss. Stupid Nate, having a life and doing things before he met the best character in the series.

A Song of Ice and Fire is not part of THE BOOKENING (it's actually a large part of the reason I need THE BOOKENING; I've spent most of my leisure reading time recently on this vast series, so I need to catch up on other things), but I've now finished part one of A Storm of Swords, and Jaime and Brienne going through adversity together and slowly learning not to loathe each other is my new favourite thing. Enemies working together almost invariably delights me in fiction, particularly if it results in some sort of grudging fondness or respect. (My other major complaint about The Fourth Labyrinth: it had a touch of this, but not nearly enough!)

Further entries on THE BOOKENING are probably to come! I've just started The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and I'm already enjoying it a lot.

Historical fact of the day: the Duke of Wellington had an enormous nude statue of Napoleon in his house. I'm so happy to know this.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
I completed Uncharted 4 a few days ago!

Notes on Uncharted 4 )

I was pretty unhappy, five days after someone broke into our house by climbing through an open upstairs window at the back, to find myself playing a sequence in Uncharted 4 where Nate breaks into a house by climbing through an open upstairs window at the back. Don't break into people's houses, Nate! It's wrong!
rionaleonhart: friendship is magic: rarity looks horrified. (oh no no no)
I don't often post audience participation entries these days, simply because there's not much of an audience left to participate; Livejournal and Dreamwidth are very quiet places! But I'm fretting about various things at the moment (nothing insurmountable, things are probably going to be fine), and I could do with a distraction, so it's worth a try:

Ask any fictional character you think I might be able to manage a question, and I'll reply in-character as them with an answer (or possibly reply as myself going 'WHAT THE HELL, I CAN'T DO THIS'). Feel free to ask either as yourself or as another character.

You may, if you wish, ask multiple questions (perhaps of multiple characters) or attempt to engage the characters in extended conversation. I've attempted to answer as real people in the past, but I'm specifying fictional characters this time, I'm afraid!

(Alternatively, or in addition: name a canon you know I have at some point enjoyed, and I'll dig up and post an extract from the unfinished fanfiction I've almost certainly got lying around.)

Feel free to comment even if we haven't talked in six years! If you're not sure of my fandoms (I have approximately a billion fandoms), my tag list should give you an idea. Although for some reason I have a 'buffy' tag? Don't ask for Buffy; I've seen about four episodes and you'll be disappointed.

To avoid duplicates on the 'unfinished fanfiction' question, below are links to the different versions of this entry (and the list of fandoms I've thus far posted snippets for in each one):

Livejournal: The Mentalist, My Little Pony, Harry Potter
Dreamwidth: The Last of Us, Uncharted, Top Gear, Assassin's Creed, The World Ends With You, Dangan Ronpa, Ghost Trick, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Prison Break
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
I bought my copy of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood second-hand from GAME. It has a barcode sticker on the manual labelling it 'ASS CREED BROTHERHOOD'.

I really enjoyed the sequence with Desmond and Lucy trying to find a way into the villa at the beginning. Their dynamic is pretty cute. Although I'm predisposed to look favourably upon it, given that Desmond has Nathan Drake's voice actor and Lucy looks a bit like Elena Fisher.

(Their dynamic is not as great as the Nate/Elena dynamic, but what is?)

I mainly enjoyed that sequence, of course, because of this:

Desmond: You know, when I last came here...
Lucy: When Ezio came here.
Desmond: Yeah, I meant Ezio.


According to the e-mails between Rebecca and Lucy, Desmond has been screaming in his sleep. More of that as well.

(I kept thinking I was hearing whispering during the first few missions, and at one point, when I was in Eagle Vision, I could almost swear I heard a muffled sinister laugh. But I can't say with certainty that I didn't imagine those things. I'm all for Desmond slowly losing his mind, game, but you're starting to make me feel like I'm losing mine.)

If you, like me, have some level of affection for Homestuck but have been largely ignoring the officially endorsed series of fancomics Paradox Space, I want to let you know that 'Summerteen Romance' is well worth checking out! It is a comic about Karkat Vantas's 'coming-of-age romantic dramedy screenplay', as read by Dave Strider, and it is exactly as terrible-stroke-priceless as that description implies.

The dynamic between Dave and Karkat is a lot of fun; they're both such little shits, but in completely different ways. Dave has a carefully constructed 'arsehole' persona; Karkat has a short temper and an incredibly fragile ego, so it's very easy to make him explode with rage, and (of course) Dave delights in doing so. But there's still a fondness between them, deep down. You don't show your screenplay to someone whose opinion you don't care about, after all.
rionaleonhart: harry potter: extremely poorly-drawn dumbledore fleeing and yelling NOOOOOOOOO. (NOOOOOOOOO)
Started Assassin's Creed II!

Desmond has suddenly developed a personality! This is a bit disconcerting. It's especially disconcerting because the personality he's developed is specifically the personality of Nathan Drake from the Uncharted games. I thought a couple of times during Assassin's Creed that Desmond's voice sounded familiar, but it didn't really click that it was Nolan North until he started reeling off Nateisms. Don't say things Nate would say in Nate's voice in a game with Uncharted-esque climbing everywhere! How am I supposed to know what I'm playing?

A thousand thumbs up to the concept of the Bleeding Effect. I'm fascinated by the idea that people who use the Animus extensively start to take on a little too much of the person they're 'being'. Evidently Desmond's been using it on the side to relive the memories of Nathan Drake.

(Sudden thought: was it weird for Desmond to live through Ezio's night with Cristina at the beginning of the game?)

I was a bit uneasy with Assassin's Creed II at first. I missed Altaïr, and I didn't seem able to jump so far, and all the little changes bothered me. The interface was different! Synchronisation didn't recover over time! (This is terrible because it means I'm less willing to take risks, making parkour slightly less fluid and fun. My approach in the first game was STRAIGHT UP ONTO THE ROOFTOPS, HURTLE ALL OVER THE CITY, WHO CARES IF YOU OCCASIONALLY MISJUDGE A JUMP AND PLOUGH FACE-FIRST INTO THE STREET.) Lucy suddenly looked like a real person instead of a robot with laser eyes! (I realise that this isn't technically a bad thing, but somehow Lucy's creepy eyes had become an integral part of her character for me.)

But then I accepted a challenge to a race, and I sprinted over the rooftops of Florence as the sun slowly set and gorgeous music played in the background, and it was all so beautiful I could have cried.

The race took me five attempts. I didn't even care.

Assassin's Creed II is a better game than the first; you can see that a mile off. (Another unusual thing about videogames as a medium, to continue with the theme from my last entry: sequels are typically expected to be better than the original, as developers become more familiar with the latest hardware and learn what works and what doesn't. Also, of course, if a game was successful enough to get a sequel, the sequel is likely to have a higher budget.) The missions are more varied, the cutscenes more interesting. The soundtrack! The setting! Half the time, I get distracted from climbing by how magnificent the architecture is.

I still miss Altaïr, though. He doesn't interest me that much as a character, and yet somehow I ended up becoming weirdly fond of him.

I have yet to get a strong impression of Ezio, but it amuses me that he'll both beat up unfaithful men and accept requests to deliver love letters to married women. He's a complicated young man.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
Community has been cancelled, and I am immensely distressed. This is the first time a cancellation has really hit me. The British shows I watch generally end on their own terms; the American shows I watch generally go on and on until I lose interest. Community's cancellation particularly stings because it was so close to ending on its own terms. They only wanted six seasons! Why would you cut them off after five?

Still, I suppose I'll always have the first season. I love the later seasons as well, but the first season of Community is as close to perfect as I think it's possible for a series of television to be. There are later episodes that stand out as better than anything in the first season ('Remedial Chaos Theory'!), but as a complete experience I can't think of any series of television that beats it. Which is an impressive achievement, especially considering my dislike of Pierce. If I want to feel closure for Community, I suppose I just have to rewatch the first season and pretend it ends at the finale.

(Subtext: everyone watch the first season of Community. And the rest, if you like, but definitely at least the first season. And then write Jeff/everyone fanfiction for me.)

While I'm talking about individual seasons: I was a bit nervous about getting up to the fourth season, because the Internet seems to unanimously loathe it, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised. It does have some weak episodes ('Alternative History of the German Invasion' is the low point), and of course every weak episode is a particular shame when the season is much shorter than the ones preceding it, but I still enjoyed it a lot. In particular, I really like 'Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations' and 'Intro to Knots', and 'Basic Human Anatomy' is a ridiculous delight from start to finish.

Seriously, why would you cancel a show that is so great even in what's generally considered its weakest series? I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU, NBC. I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU AT ALL.

I haven't seen the fifth season yet, so I still have that to look forward to, at least. And maybe some other broadcaster will pick it up? Please pick it up, some other broadcaster.

In the meantime, I'd quite like to write more Community fanfiction, but sadly I seem to be out of ideas. I've written Jeff/everyone, I've written Jeff/himself, and apparently that's all my mind is going to allow. I will 'ship Jeff/Annie until the world ends, but I can't really motivate myself to write for pairings when scads of fanfiction exist for them already. I'd expect myself to be considering a Pokémon or Silent Hill crossover by now, but for some reason I'm not feeling the spark of inspiration for either. Hmm.

Right. I don't imagine an entry consisting solely of sobbing over Community is going to be terribly interesting, so let's see what else I can offer.

You know what's amazing? The hilariously dramatic Sonic Underground opening sequence. That's what's amazing. I think I saw it maybe once when I was a child, but it's always stayed with me. BIDE YOUR TIME, LIE IN WAIT.

Also amazing: someone on the Internet has made a deeply weird number of fanvids pairing Nathan Drake of Uncharted with Ratchet of Ratchet and Clank. Even one Nate/Ratchet video would be a weird number, but this person has made more than ten. Here is the playlist of videos, every one of which made me laugh until my throat hurt. If you're intimidated by the full playlist, here is just one of the videos, which is a mere fourteen seconds long but manages to pack in plenty of emotion. (The music's quite loud, so you might want to make sure your volume's not up too high before clicking.)
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: jane grins at you, evidently having just come up with a plan lisbon will hate. (let's go)
I doubt anyone remembers this, but I am working my way through a self-imposed challenge ('write a ficlet for each letter of the alphabet, each concerning two characters whose names begin with that letter') at a hilariously glacial pace. Previous instalments are here and here. I was joking when I said I'd have these finished in 2015; now I'm starting to wonder whether that prediction might have been a bit too optimistic.

Here are five more ficlets! I've only actually managed four more letters, but it's five ficlets because for some reason I wrote two for J. Fandoms represented are Uncharted, Tangled, Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XIII, Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Free!, The Mentalist, Red Dead Redemption and Community.

Same-letter alphabet ficsnippets: E, F, H, J and, er, J. )

According to the emerging pattern, I'll probably be posting the next instalment a year from now. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these!
rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
I actually managed to write that 'forty-year-old Sully and fifteen-year-old Nate team up with Joel and Ellie' fic! This is in the slightly weird position of having been written just before Left Behind came out and posted just after, so I can assure you there are absolutely no Left Behind spoilers in here. I don't know whether I've done the concept justice, because I don't know whether anyone can do the concept justice, but I hope you enjoy this.

Title: Eden Ablaze
Fandom: The Last of Us/Uncharted
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 7,500
Summary: Joel and Ellie run into Sully and Nate, another man-and-kid duo heading west. Nothing lasts long in this world, but maybe for now there's room for a kind of friendship.
Warnings: Spoilers up to the end of summer in The Last of Us.

Eden Ablaze )
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)

Happy Valentine's Day! Or 'happy Left Behind release day', more pertinently. Having played through the entirety of Left Behind in two sittings, I can say with confidence that anyone who's played The Last of Us needs to get their hands on it immediately if not sooner.

Naughty Dog have put out a set of adorable-stroke-slightly-messed-up Valentine's Day illustrations for Jak and Daxter, Uncharted and The Last of Us (warning: that link contains big The Last of Us spoilers, and playing The Last of Us unspoiled is highly, highly recommended). They're all pretty delightful, but the above Nate-and-Sully one is my favourite. I love Nate's devious little face.

Beneath the cut, I talk about Left Behind. If you have not yet played Left Behind (or watched it, if you're [ profile] futuresoon), you are not allowed to read this. There are also spoilers for the main game of The Last of Us.

Spoilers for The Last of Us: Left Behind. )

I think by this point, considering Jak and Daxter and Uncharted and The Last of Us and those ridiculous Valentine's illustrations, Naughty Dog has firmly established itself in my heart as my all-time favourite videogame developer. I will follow you to the ends of the earth, guys, or at least to the PS4.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
Uncharted 3 is tonally and thematically quite a weird game, compared to its predecessors. The first Uncharted is very much 'Whee! Treasure! Explosions! Adventure! Fighting bad guys!' The second game is similar in feel, but with some darkness beginning to creep in around the edges; we begin to see that innocent people can get caught up and hurt in the wake of the destruction that follows Nathan Drake around. And then the theme of the entire third game is 'Nate, what the hell are you doing? You need to reassess your life before your stupid hobby gets everyone you love killed.'

It feels like the Uncharted series got a bit older and began to question its own existence. I wonder whether the fact that the third game was in development at the same time as The Last of Us had anything to do with it.

So I find it very difficult to imagine the Uncharted game that's supposedly in development for the PS4. Will it follow Uncharted 3 chronologically? Can you follow a game with the main theme of 'Nate, you have to stop going off and getting yourself shot at by millions of dudes for the vague possibility of treasure' with a game in which Nate goes off and gets himself shot at by millions of dudes for the vague possibility of treasure? Probably not. So will it be a prequel? Will it be about someone other than Nate?

I hope it's not about some random new treasure hunter with no connection to Nate at all. Unless it's, say, alternate-universe treasure hunter Ellie from The Last of Us. I'd be able to live with that.

I suppose Naughty Dog will probably end up surprising me, whatever they do. They do like to surprise. Uncharted 3, the third title in their ridiculous explody action game series, has a startlingly emotionally complex story. Jak II: Renegade, the sequel to gentle platformer Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, is basically Grand Theft Auto. I'm expecting the rhythm action sequel to The Last of Us any day now.

I've been watching a playthrough of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, incidentally, in the absence of a Vita. Nate's amazing pep talk to his companion when they're climbing around on ancient masonry: 'It's like the playground! Except if you fall here, you'll probably die.'

(Also pretty great: 'There's no such thing as an easy charcoal rubbing. You rub too hard, you tear the paper! You can get charcoal dust in your eye!')

In The Last of Us replay news: I love that Joel picks up Savage Starlight comics for Ellie. (He said 'I bet Ellie would like this' the last time I picked one up, and it was so fond.) Space is possibly the most precious thing in their post-apocalyptic world; you only have room to carry seven rifle rounds, for goodness' sake. But Joel will pick up these comics whenever he finds them, purely for the sake of giving Ellie a fleeting moment of enjoyment. I think that's a really charming detail.

(For charming detail appreciation purposes, let's ignore the fact that, despite limited space for supplies and weapons, Joel perplexingly seems capable of carrying every scrap of paper and Firefly pendant he comes across.)
rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
A few days ago, I glanced out of the window and saw a man on the roof of the building opposite and for an instant was genuinely terrified because I thought he was a sniper.

It's possible I've been playing too much Uncharted.

Rewatching Tangled in the middle of an Uncharted replay is a slightly bizarre experience, because Flynn Rider is basically Nathan Drake (although Flynn has the somewhat contradictory qualities of being slightly less moral and slightly less murderous).

Flynn's relationship with Rapunzel is even cuter than I remembered it. That's another thing he has in common with Nate, come to think of it: they're each one half of a pairing I 'ship, even though those pairings contradict my usual tastes by being both canon and surprisingly functional.

Works of fanfiction I almost certainly shouldn't write: Nathan Drake is the one to escort Rapunzel from her tower. Possibly the reason I shouldn't write this is 'it'd just be Tangled'.

Having finished my replay of the Uncharted series, I began replaying The Last of Us and immediately discovered that going straight from one to the other is a terrible idea. In Uncharted, the 'stealth kill' button and the 'punch' button are the same button; Nate will go for stealth if the enemy hasn't noticed him yet. In The Last of Us, you have to grab someone with a different button before you can perform a stealth kill. This, as you can probably imagine, has resulted more than once in Joel very very carefully sneaking up on someone and then PUNCHING HIM LOUDLY IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD.

(The other problem with going straight from Uncharted to The Last of Us: I'm very aware of my moral obligation to write fanfiction in which forty-year-old Sully and fifteen-year-old Nate team up with Joel and Ellie, but I'm not sure I'd be able to do the concept justice.)

I played The Last of Us on Easy on my first run-through, but this time I thought I'd be daring and edge it up to Normal. It's interesting that Normal forces you to play in a completely different way, particularly around Clickers. On Easy, you can push Clickers off you if you have a shiv, so being spotted by one isn't the end of the world; if there's only one Clicker around, you can usually get away with brute-forcing your way through. On Normal, getting grabbed by a Clicker is an instant kill (unless you take a million drugs), so stealth becomes really important.

(Bill's footsteps when you're sneaking through the graveyard full of Clickers are the most hilarious thing, incidentally. You're sneaking through as quietly as possible because you're dead if your clothes so much as rustle, and Bill's running around you in circles going THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD.)

I also didn't use the bow at all on my first playthrough. THE BOW IS INCREDIBLE. IT'S THE BEST WEAPON BY FAR.

The thing that has not changed on this playthrough is how wonderful Ellie is. She brings so much charm to the bleak world of the game. 'Left Behind', the prequel DLC in which I believe you get to play as her, is coming out in about a fortnight. I'm simultaneously excited and terrified.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
If you've played The Last of Us and you haven't yet watched this video of the motion capture for an alternative ending, you absolutely must. I found it very moving.

It's very strange to go back to the Uncharted games after playing The Last of Us. The games share many elements, but they're utterly different in tone. In The Last of Us, killing people makes sense given the context and the character you're playing, and it's treated as brutal and horrific but unavoidable to survive. In the Uncharted games, you're loveable, good-hearted treasure hunter Nathan Drake and the fact that you kill thousands of mercenaries is cheerfully ignored.

(It's also bizarre that picking up twenty bullets at a time is a common occurrence in Uncharted. In The Last of Us, it's Christmas if you manage to find three.)

I suppose 'ha ha, Nate is such a charming dork, TIME TO KILL ANOTHER HUNDRED MERCENARIES' is the problem with trying to tell stories in a videogame. I'm a fierce believer in the narrative potential of games, but games do typically require some sort of gameplay, and sometimes that gameplay is at odds with the story being told. In lighthearted games like the Uncharted series, I suppose you sort of have to ignore the ridiculous amounts of murder you end up committing; it'll completely undermine the way the characters are presented if you think about it for too long. ALL THIS SHOOTING IS A METAPHOR FOR TRAVERSING TRICKY TERRAIN.

This is something that occasionally bothers me in Final Fantasy games, too; most of the games involve human enemies, usually soldiers of some sort, and it rarely seems appropriate for the characters to cut them down without a qualm. It's always a bit odd to think, Hang on, Snow Villiers seems like a really nice guy, but I just made him punch someone to death.

I'm sure there's a term for this clash between gameplay and tone/story/characterisation. Hang on while I look it up. Ludonarrative dissonance! That's it. Uncharted is ludonarratively dissonancing all over the place.

It's a tricky problem to solve. Not every game in which you fight people can be The Last of Us; The Last of Us is a wonderful game, but I wouldn't be able to cope with that level of bleakness in everything. So I suppose for the moment I'll just accept the fact that loveable treasure hunter Nathan Drake can punch some guys on a train to death and then quip, 'All right, boys, just needed to punch your tickets,' and I'll laugh and say 'Nate, you dork' rather than 'Oh, my God, what's wrong with you?'

After writing the above, I went off and finished my replay of Uncharted 2. I had forgotten how much I love the ending of that game! Nate/Elena continues to be one of my favourite pairings of all time, and their interactions continue to make me make absurd chirping noises. I also really like the friendship that develops between Elena and Chloe; I remember I worried when they first met that their dynamic would be rooted solely in romantic jealousy, so I was surprised and delighted that they ended up getting along extremely well as co-founders of the 'Nathan Drake Ruined Our Lives' club.


(I had also forgotten how hot it is when Nate is stumbling around in the Himalayas, slowly bleeding to death. I'm an awful, awful person.)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
More of The Last of Us! I'm in the school, I think.

I've started saying 'Ellie?' aloud when I'm not sure where Ellie's got to. Ellie, of course, cannot hear me because she is a videogame character, but I can't stop myself. I just want to keep an eye on her.

There was a terrible bit where she opened a gate and then waited by it and wouldn't follow me until I went through it. I went to investigate a building first and she just stayed back there by the gate where I couldn't make sure she was safe! I got so nervous!

(Later, I watched [ profile] th_esaurus play through the same part. Turns out that Ellie goes into the house with you if you haven't opened the gate first, and then there's a weird blowing noise and OH NO, IS IT A ZOMBIE? NO, IT'S JUST ELLIE TRYING TO TEACH HERSELF TO WHISTLE AT THE WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT, bless her. I was quite sorry to have missed it.)

I had to smile when Ellie started humming to herself while we were wandering around. The first time she really captured my heart was probably when we went into the museum; Tess stayed on high alert, clutching her gun, but Ellie went around looking at all the displays. I forgot about searching for supplies and just watched her for a while. Her curiosity is incredibly endearing.

I love it when AI companions in games are a real pleasure and comfort to have around. Companions like Ellie and Tess, like Elena in Uncharted, like your horse in Red Dead Redemption (levels of emotional attachment may vary, I suppose; there are probably people who'll just grab the most convenient horse and don't really have one they think of as 'theirs', but I loved my horse). You sometimes have to protect your companions in The Last of Us (whereas in Uncharted I'm fairly certain your allies can't be harmed in shootouts), but they never feel like a burden.

(Speaking of protecting your companions: in Uncharted, you simply can't crouch in the same place as a partner. In The Last of Us, if you and Ellie hide against the same wall, Joel will try to sort of shield her with his body. It is the loveliest thing.)

The SA Let's Play forum paywall has come down, if any Dangan Ronpa readers on my flist haven't yet snapped and bought an account! Here's the ongoing translation of the second game (and here's the completed translation of the first, if anyone new wants to dive in). Both threads have links to all the actual updates in the first post, so you don't have to read the discussion between updates; reading the discussion is, in fact, strongly discouraged. I have found recent developments very distressing.