All Quiet on the Uncertain Front

October 21, 2008 at 4:17 (Rants, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’ve just unhinged enough that I could well have staged the last few weeks of silence to engineer a situation in which I could finally use that title for a post.

In other, incalculably less significant news, I’m back to let you all know what to expect over the next few weeks, point vainly at a few things in the meantime and hope to the heavens someone out there makes an indistinct enough noise that I can justify miscontruing it as approval.

Last order of business first, then.  This was an absolute bastard to write.  I can’t honestly say I’m much of a Wario fan (is anyone?), but the week tricked me into thinking it might be quiet, so I took on a review of something I don’t feel entirely confident about even and ended up in the strangest of positions, which is to say having a kind of an out-of-body experience during which I played through the entirety of The Shake Dimension.  Maybe that’s not so strange, really; I’ve auto-piloted through some outright awful games, movies, experiences even.  What is, is that I had nothing to say about it thereafter.  Absolutely fuck all.  For want of inspiration or any more constructive kind of criticism, I decided to accuse Wario’s latest developers of selling their souls to Satan.  Sadly, my admittedly rather wise editor stole a rape joke from my review.  The presumption!

Still, for all that, for the fact that I drove the best kind of company away to focus on not scoring a perfectly acceptable game low because it wasn’t for me, the review reads well; I’m happy with it.  It’s why I still love doing this, even when it starts to resemble a real job.  I like to know how shit works.  Particularly how my shit works.  I know I’m endangering the subconscious magic; I know, on some level, that I’d be better off not knowing, but I can’t help the curiosity.  When something makes me feel a certain way, I’m fascinated by the how: how to replicate the experience, how to make it meaningful, ultimately.  Probably that’s backwards logic, but this once (One time! Twenny dolla!) I won’t second-guess myself.  Art well made, though, stories well told, I believe these things… as soulless and calculated as they often are, these things can change you.  A good movie with a great friend is as significant an experience, I think, as a conversation you never thought you’d be lucky enough to have or a long night of the knives you’ll always remember.  Do I really believe that?  I think so.  Maybe I’m stretching.

In any case, this reviewing business.  You read a book, you play a game, any old thing really, and you come away with feelings, sure – strong feelings or not, though, they’re abstract things, hard to put your finger on.  I loved The Dark Knight unreservedly but when it came to why, without having had the chance to really think, I may have said something about the silly bat-sonar in order to seem my usual objective self.  Hell with it though: the bat-sonar was fine by me.  Wait, no – I have to put Batman thoughts out of my head.  Your pecless kevlar chestpiece won’t seduce me, Batman!

All this rambling no doubt deserves an incredibly insightful punchline, which, curiously, I find myself lacking.  All I’m trying to say is that the act of reviewing, of writing, of reporting – as objective as it likes to think it is, it’s everything but.  Taking the abstract feelings and impressions you come away from a good bit of entertainment with and attempting to put them into words and stories people you’ll never meet will take their cues from is a fool’s game, in the end.  It’s important to me, obviously, and to a lot of a otherwise perfectly sane people too, but it’s a kind of madness nonetheless.  Compulsive criticism, you might say.  Maybe it tastes like Cider vinegar; rank by all accounts but if you drink enough and manage through the acid bath in your intestinal tract you might get a little tipsy, and tipsy feels like a direct line to truth.  Which is why drunks are profound.

And you got your punchline after all.  I hope you’re happy; I feel like I’ve been excavated.

Anyway, there’s more to this update than a tangent.  In spite of appearances, I’ve been a busy little writer bee after all.  The word count for this review of STALKER Clear Sky is through the roof, which I suppose is what happens when you spend the better part of a month immersed in a plainly crazed Ukranian developer’s twisted depiction of the exclusion zone around post-meltdown Chernobyl.  In the interests of truthfulness and the precious trust we share, internet – you and I – I feel like a bit of a negative nanny scoring it the same as bloody Wario Land, but this game, however incredible it might otherwise be, however terrifying and atmospheric and immersive it absolutely is, is broken.  I sincerely hope GSC Game World patch it up over the next few months, but it just shouldn’t have come out until someone, anyone had tested it.  Fie on you, GSC Game World – brilliant mad bastards, but short, unfortunately, one QA department.

Right.  This post is in overtime already and I’m calling it.  Next up, a belated Not a Real Review of Juno, followed by somethings about The Midnight Meat Train and The End of Mr Y.

 And for those of you who boldly clicked where no-one has clicked before, the real reason for the downtime: after years – nay, decades – of procrastination, I’m finally writing it.  Why yes, I do mean the novel.

From my fingertips to the internet’s ears.  Tell no-one!

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1 Comment

  1. Dead_By_Dawn said,

    *gasp* The novel?! *faints through shock yet someone manages to click submit beforehand*

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