Last year Matt and I had an absolute blast at SWAP.com’s pre-PAX video game swap party and met some great folks too. The concept is simple, bring a video game with you to the event (any platform wil do), and walk away another game for zero dollars! The swap party is an awesome way to pick up a title you may have missed otherwise, AND meet like minded gamers and industry folk.
Despite having a significant amount of time off, the holidays can be quite a stressful time with all of the traveling, shopping, and family interaction (your mileage may vary on the last one). For the lucky ones that will truly have time to themselves over the next couple of weeks, this is also a great time to catch up on your nerd quotient. Most television shows are on hiatus, theres a lull in video game releases, and plenty of sales out there to entice your credit card to jump out of your wallet. Time to hit your nerd media hard, and get started on some new stuff too.
Here’s what I’ll be catching up on this holiday vacation. Put your plans and recommendations in the comments. And remember, this a Spoiler Free Zone.
The Walking Dead: I’m not a zombie guy, but just on personal recommendations and buzz alone I want to jump right into this. The first season is available on Amazon VOD in HD, and the first episode is free, to boot.
Battlestar Galactica: It’s hard to admit that I wasn’t on board with this from the beginning. I’m primarily a video game guy, and don’t leave a lot of room for television. Unfortunately, this was one of the shows that fell through the cracks. Fortunately, this series became available on blu-ray through Netflix within the past year. It gets better. BSG is now available on Instant Watch, with PS3 supporting HD streaming and 5.1 surround via Dolby Digital Plus technology.
Recommendations: Sanctuary, Persons Unknown, Fringe, and Caprica (R.I.P.)
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood: In the process of trying to 100% all of the memories, I started to realize that I stopped “playing” the game. I put this one down for a while, and have come back with a new focus on enjoying the story, the excellent visuals, and all of the creative ways I can eliminate my foes. In a recent commercial there’s a clip of Ezio jumping off of a horse to a beam, swinging, then killing a dude on a horse that was following; is that entire move actually in-game? If so, I want to go to there.
Fable III: Not quite a crowd favorite anymore, I’m still a fan of the series. Peter Molyneux’s experiments with social interaction and decision making in gaming are entertaining. And, although the Kinect support rumored for this game never came to pass, I still feel compelled to see this series through to the end. I mean, I’ve got Fable II save data and all, might as well make the most of it and have fun with this one.
Metro 2033 (PC): File this under, “PC games still look amazing”. I picked this one up as part of a Steam promotion / sweepstakes. After a couple of chapters I still don’t quite have a feel for the gameplay, but there appears to be aspects of stealth combat, ammo management, and gear selection / customization; sort of a thinking-person’s-FPS. The simplest way to put it (although possibly not the most accurate) would be if Fallout were linear, and more FPS than RPG. Either way, let this be a reminder that PC graphics can still melt your face.
Recommendations: Alan Wake, RDR: Undead Zombie Nightmare, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space (get ready for sequels!)
Jeff Bridges: Right. Not a movie title, but you know what I’m talking about. Is there anything that he’s not in right now? I heard he has a cameo in Yogi Bear (not really). Tron might just be worth a trip to the theater to see it in 3D, and True Grit ain’t looking too bad either.
Black Swan: “Hello, this is Natalie Portman, I’m in a psychological thriller with Mila Kunis.” Me: Let me stop you right there. Sold.
Recommendations: Inception, HP 7: Part 1, Scott Pilgrim, and Shutter Island.
Books and Comics
Clearly not my forte, so I’ll defer to the masses here, but I’d like to finally get around to starting Ender’s Game. Also, a nice hardcover compilation of the Star Wars: Dark Empire comic series was recently released. It’s a strong recommendation for fans of the earlier EU novels, post-ROTJ. Finally, time is running out to plow through the Harry Potter series in anticipation of the final film next summer. It’s a fast read, and you’ll enjoy the films more for doing it.
So, what’s on your radar this holiday season? There’s a lot of stuff out there, both old and new. Like me, you’re just going to have to pick your battles.