I covered Far Cry 3 at the tail-end of last year, though you could be forgiven for not remembering, tucked away as it was in that year’s leftovers article. There was a lot to say about how that game managed to house nigh-perfect open world gameplay and then mar it with vaguely racist plot-points that would have felt more at home in a boy’s imperialist adventure story from a hundred and fifty years ago. And talk everyone did, which is why I didn’t really bother engaging in the discussion except to affirm that, yeah, it kind of felt racist.
So I’ll also be brief with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, a sort of do-over that fixes its race relations by omitting them. Does that fix the game? Find out below.
As you may have noticed, our regular programming here at Space-Biff! has slowed from a hopeful cool trickle to a dry faucet in the middle of the harshest windswept desert. Also, you may have deduced from this note’s title that we’re taking some time for ourselves — in part to contemplate whether there’s a meaning behind our short and possibly pointless lives, but mostly just to see some pretty places in Europe. And my original plan to continue updating the site with shorter articles hasn’t panned out — after all, Venice is one hell of a place. Vienna makes two.
If you’re wondering how to while away the hours in our absence… well, I was close to recommending a spate of excellent blogs you could read instead of this one, then figured if you’re missing this site all that much, why go and ruin that for you?
And by the way, the view is fantastic. Five space pennies to whomever can identify the spot I took that picture from.
There’s a special place in my heart for deck-building games — it’s just that it’s a twisty, confusing place.
On the one hand, the basic concept behind deck-building is nothing less than an absolute stroke of genius. On the other, I’m one of those theme guys that can’t help but need a reason for all the sheep-shuffling, card-conscripting, and goblin-ganking that board games regularly task me with. And while it’s a hoot to listen to my Dominion-loving buddy Stephen try to explain away that game’s thematic failures by insisting on a historically plausible kingdom composed of two witches, three markets, and a half-dozen duchies, I remain unconvinced. Although there are exceptions (like Mage Knight, upon which you could read a three-part series and never guess is running on deck-built steam), this is a genre I admire more from a mechanical standpoint than because I’m actually smitten.
Until Core Worlds, that is. Because I’m in love with Core Worlds, and I don’t care who sees us making out in public.
Ever since first playing Battlestar Galactica years ago, the cry of “Cylon!” can often be heard ringing through the burgundy corridors of Château de Thurot. Usually during game night because one of our besties is preparing some horrible machination or another, but it’s not an uncommon shout at other times either. “Will you empty the dishwasher?” Somerset asks me. “Cylon!” I scream back.
The only problem is that we can’t seem to find the time to play Battlestar Galactica anymore. Fantasy Flight’s two-hour playtime estimate doesn’t help, as it’s so conservative it makes the Tea Party look Left. For whatever reason, BSG is just one of those games that always takes a few too many hours to play — so thank goodness for BSG Express from some fine gentleman who goes by the obvious pseudonym of “Evan Derrick.” This version really takes less than an hour to wrap up, and, best of all, you can put it together all by yourself.
It’s easy to read about the ladies and gentlemen of previous times — say, the Regency or Victorian eras — and cluck at just how silly and simple those people were, to care only as far into the future as next Friday’s ball or Jane Warmporridge’s upcoming wedding. To fret so intently over appearances and the ministrations of their servants. To live with such a vast gulf between husbands and wives. It’s so easy to read about those people in those different times and let out a sort of superior chuckle. The easiest thing in the world, really.
So although a few folks have voiced concerns that Ladies & Gentlemen sounds a bit, ahem, sexist, in reality it’s a marvelous tool. For, you see, by the end of the game you’ll understand precisely how much a well-matched dress and hat can matter. Most importantly, this is one of the first board games that has stood out to me as having actually taught me something. And I’m not talking about trivia, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to say Trivial Pursuit is an important game.
Once upon a time there was a cowboy by the name of Mark Klassen, though everybody called him Dr. Handsome. Nobody is sure what Mark did for a living — whether he erected hospitals with his bare hands, or just watched way too much Grey’s Anatomy and ER in between modeling gigs. Really, it’s a hell of a mystery. Whatever the case, Mark decided to design the board game equivalent of those fine television programs, though minus all the chiseled doctors and ravishing nurses hooking up. The result is Quarantine from Mercury Games, and it’s unlike anything you’ve played before.
Meet Anna. She’s the first female character in the Metro series to have a name — other than Nikki the prostitute from the first game. Which means, if you couldn’t guess, today I’m writing about the sexist undertones in Metro: Last Light.
If you thought you’d never see the word “sexist” here on Space-Biff!, you’re not the only one. Since this is a site about the things I like, I don’t often talk much about the things I don’t like. Even my few negative reviews only exist because I really enjoy panning bad games. The thing is though, I really like both games in the Metro series. For the most part, they encourage thoughtful, even considerate, behavior. That’s a rarity in any genre of videogame, let alone in the first-person shooter genre, which one could argue makes its bucks by being the exact opposite of “thoughtful.” In fact, I’d go so far as to label Metro 2033 as one of the most moral games I’ve ever played — which is precisely why the sexism in Last Light bothers me so deeply.
It’s more than a little flattering that my most-received request for Space-Biff! is for my thoughts on Metro: Last Light from 4A Games and Deep Silver (and formerly THQ, rest in peace). This is probably owing to the synopsis I wrote last year, which you should totally read, if only because it makes me feel beautiful on the inside.
My one hangup in delivering an actual review is that, while I’d love to fall back on a tried-and-true critique like “it’s two steps forward and one step back,” the reality is more that Metro: Last Light is dancing the Charleston, with so many steps, leaps, and bounds in every direction, that in the end I can’t be sure which direction it’s moved at all. Which isn’t to say I don’t have thoughts on the proceedings — I’ve got plenty. And you can read them below, in a format that includes only a few minor spoilers.
In last month’s installment of Alone Time, I mentioned that the Lord of the Rings Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games was very possibly the only solo game a fella would ever need. And perhaps you thought to yourself, “What if I don’t want to design decks and buy more quests? Also, I hate hobbits.” If that’s the case, today we’re going to talk about two different editions of another game from FFG. It’s Elder Sign, and it’s much more self-contained, has a lot more dice, and doesn’t have quite as high a barrier to entry. And anyway, what could be more anti-hobbit than H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos?
I finally saw Baz Luhrmann’s riotous take on Fitzgerald’s American classic The Great Gatsby last night, and I must say it was without a doubt the most vivid and energetic thing I’ve seen all year. For the entirety of its running time, I felt as though my eyes and ears were being boarded and pillaged by a raucous band of neon pirates.
However, I have one little suggestion for Baz Luhrmann and everyone involved with the production of this 2013 update on the original classic. You can find it below.