Favorite Book: Cryptonomicon
Favorite Movie: Young Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything: Monty Python
At its core, Thomas Was Alone is a platformer and a good one at that. The game follows a group of AIs as they navigate a series of “levels” and “jump” over walls and hazards. Each level is narrated brilliantly by Danny Wallace, and this narration is where nearly every bit of the story originates. The rectangles don’t emote or speak or really do much besides jump with varying levels of success. Somehow, despite the rectangularity of the characters and the general not acting, the story just worked. I found myself rooting for these guys.
I rounded the first corner with my back tires squealing. As I finally eased out of my Tokyo Drift, I slammed into the side of the exotic Italian racer I was in the middle of passing. The track ran between a dry-docked cruise ship and the water. Right as I approached the ship, controlled explosives released the anchors holding it in place. I watched helplessly as it slid ponderously down, trapping me between tons of steel and the unforgiving sea.
There is a small, but loud, community that thinks that Alan Wake is one of the best games of this past console generation. We are right, too. Available on the Xbox 360 and PC, this is the finest psychological horror game I have ever seen. Borrowing heavily from Twin Peaks, Stephen King, and about a dozen other sources, the game tells the story of novelist, Alan Wake, as his vacation to the Pacific Northwest goes horribly wrong. The two things I most want to do right now are tell you every detail of this story and let you experience the story all on your own.
Cyborg Aphrodite IX is caught up in a war between a race of humans that have genetically modified themselves to a huge degree and a race of humans that have maintained their genetic purity but augmented themselves with robotics after the world has all but ended. Only a small band of the planet around the Equator is still habitable, and these two factions squabble and fight over every scrap of land and go to war over imagined slights. After being woken from suspended animation by the genetic guys, Aphrodite joins their ranks.
Michael Avon Oeming’s new comic series, The Victories, is spectacular. The story follows Faustus, one of the heroes on the titular team. Faustus is a conflicted and disturbed hero with well-honed fighting skills and a troubled past, but he is darker and more troubled than most villains that Marvel or DC feature, to say nothing of their heroes. This is an adult version of the standard superhero story.
There are a few things that everybody knows are always true. A Christopher Nolan movie will be imaginative, technically brilliant, and weirdly unemotional and sterile. Nobody will ever make a Die Hard sequel that is as good as the first one. When you walk from point A to point B, you can turn around and walk back from B to A. Antichamber doesn’t add compelling emotions to The Dark Knight or make a great Die Hard sequel, but it breaks geometry in the best way possible. Sometimes, when you walk down a long hallway from point A, you wind up at point A. There are about a dozen hallways and avenues that lead to the same corridor at point B. Basically, Euclid would lose his mind playing this game. (Ha, successful math joke!) (Editor: Not that successful.)
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time is a fun series that has explored the history of one of geekdom’s most iconic heroes. Each issue of the series has featured an adventure by a different incarnation of the Doctor. A mysterious figure has been traveling through time and kidnapping the Doctor’s companions. This has been more of an excuse to skip through the history of the show than a legitimate plot, until now. (I suggest reading the “until now” in your best movie trailer voice. It will make me seem like a more impressive writer if you do.) This issue pulls off the difficult move of transitioning between mostly standalone issues and big, sweeping arc.
The Strain is a vampire story for people who like their monsters to be monsters. Adapted from the novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, the comic follows a pair of CDC agents and a mysterious old man as they try to stop an outbreak of vampires in Manhattan. This comic does a great job of remembering that vampires are to be feared, not desired. They are nearly mindless beasts with ravenous appetites and seem more like a plague than a villain to overcome. There is a villain to be sure, and he is a good and menacing figure, but the real threat still seems like it is the rate of infection.
If you have played a Tomb Raider game before, you are familiar with the character of Lara Croft. Honestly, though, even if you haven’t, you might have played the excellent Uncharted games or seen the incredible Indiana Jones trilogy, which were inspired by and inspiration for Tomb Raider in that order. So, tough-as-nails archeologist/action hero fights bad guys, confronts supernaturalish forces, and rescues artifacts for preservation or profit. What the Tomb Raider reboot does is retell the origins of this character in a very convincing way.
Terrorists have weaponized a time machine, using it to send a nuclear bomb sometime into the future in the middle of Washington, D.C. As a result, the city is now largely abandoned, with the remaining population depending on government aid and food to continue to stay. The city is now home to gangs and junkies, as well as a few honest people who don’t want to leave their homes behind. This is the sort of environment where a man can make a lot of money, and that man is Nate Lawson. Lawson’s business plan is to go into the most dangerous city in the world and retrieve the things that people had to leave behind.