So I recently finished up Sleeping Dogs for the XBox. It's a semi-open sandbox world where you run around a Hong Kong analog. You're an undercover cop infiltrating one of the Triads and you have to balance your responsibilities to the law vs. not getting your cover blown. It's trying hard to evoke Hong Kong action flicks and it does a pretty good job.
There is slow-mo bullet time action, but alas, no doves fly up when you do it.
Not that there's a lot of gun play. This is Hong Kong and so you beat the crap out of people. There are also some sweet environmental effects so you can slap a guy with a fish or drop kick them into a telephone booth and then beat them down with the receiver. It's a bit like a cross between Grand Theft Auto and Batman: Arkham City in that you can run around and do everything but the rocket launchers are replaced with martial arts combos.
It was fun and in the summer doldrums I'll take a fun video game but it had a couple of problems.
- While you could enter slow-mo bullet time, I had a lot of trouble getting it to trigger, so I'd go sliding out into the open to get my clock cleaned.
- The driving leans to the realistic end of the spectrum (well, I can leap from car to car and take them over, but it's the driving physics I'm talking about here). The problem is that I want to hit the emergency brake and go sliding around a sharp turn all Tokyo Drift style, but I pop the brake, the car slews to the side and then just stops. It's very hard to slalom through the streets.
- When you're on a mission you get docked Police XP for doing bad things -- killing innocents, stealing, and property damage. Lot of high speed chases in this game and even just driving to a mission checkpoint you can ding a fender or loose barrier and start losing points. The problem is that when you aren't in mission mode, these don't apply so you often forget when you start a new mission and then your police score gets ruined from the outset when you take the fast lane across the island to your next location.
- The dating mini-games are pretty terrible. You go on one date and then never see the girl again.
- There are karaoke mini-games. Ugh.
- The ending is 80% you being a bad-ass but 140% someone else handing you a resolution. You basically beat up a lot of people so someone else can solve your case for you. Bit of a letdown.
I'm mostly quibbling though, like I say it was a great game for mid-August when nothing is out, but once the fall sets in you'll have much better options.* * * * *
On to comic books -- sometimes people will recommend stuff and I'll look at the artwork and go "meh" and never bother. Then I pick it up and it's like "hold up, let me get on the bandwagon!". Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
was like that and now we can add Finder
to that list. The first volume in the Finder Library was on sale for cheap the other day so I picked it up and devoured it. Finder
is a weird mix of sci-fi and fantasy and usually that's the kiss of death for me, but here Carla Speed McNeil does an amazing job of bundling it all together. It seems to be set in the far future where most people live in domed cities made from ancient technologies no one understands but what they do understand lets them live a pretty comfortable life. Almost everyone belongs to a clan of some kind and if you're a member of a clan you tend to strongly resemble others from your clan...which might be a neat trick letting the artist get away with drawing fewer people.
The book mostly revolves around Jaeger Ayers who occupies a pretty low rung on the ladder of society. He's a mixed-clan member of a nomadic clan and he took on the role of a sin-eater within that clan. But first and foremost, he's a Finder -- a scout, a thief, a tracker and general problem-solver. He works with a mix of practical and mystical tools to change things. Hopefully for the better, but even he admits he can't be sure. The bulk of this first collection is about Jaeger trying to resolve the complicated relationships between his former army commander (who went nuts) and his wife and children (who constitute the closest thing to a family Jaeger's ever had). It's a tangled plot that teases itself out in strands here and there until it starts weaving back together into a climax.
I really enjoyed it. I'm still not a huge fan of the artwork, but it's not the worst I've ever seen and the story really makes up for it. So yeah, go grab Finder