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February 2021 Retrospective

If I don't jump directly into this retrospective I am going to spend the entire introduction ranting about chess so let's get started.

The Good

Hades

I finally "beat" Hades in that I escaped Hell for the 10th time and saw the canonical ending of the story. Surprisingly, that feeling of catharsis I got from seeing the credits roll caused me to lose all interest in the game. I didn't realize how invested I was in the story but once I saw the ending I suddenly felt as if I had enough. But I still put 28 hours into the game and loved nearly every minute of it. I said this last month and I'll say it again one last time, Hades is one of those games that everyone should play.

Control Ultimate Edition for PlayStation 5

I debated putting this in the "Honourable Mentions" section but after reflecting on Control Ultimate Edition I realized how much I enjoyed the game.

That being said, it still has all the typical shortcomings of a Remedy Entertainment game. It is another third-person shooter where the enemies are bullet sponges and the controls are finicky. Your supernatural abilities are quite basic and limited by your "energy" (i.e. mana) so you're not executing cool combos between your abilities and your guns. The combat isn't so bad that it reduces your enjoyment but I personally never looked forward to fighting a single enemy. It was always a monotonous roadblock on the way to the good stuff.

And what is that good stuff? The graphics and the story. Control Ultimate Edition looks gorgeous on the PlayStation 5 and I was playing in performance mode so I could guarantee a high frame rate. Even without ray-tracing the world of The Bureau is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It makes me wish I had played this on my PC so I could experience ray tracing but it is a feast for the eyes regardless. The graphics perfectly compliment the eerie and unsettling world Remedy created. Combine that with a well written story and you've got the recipe for a game I can enjoy.

I feel as if Remedy is at a crossroads. They need to decide if they really want to be a third-person shooter or not. Personally I want to see them take a more interactive storytelling approach and make a game like The Walking Dead or Detroit: Become Human. But they could just as easily go the other way and double down on the combat. They are so close to a Devil May Cry or God of War or Ghost Of Tsushima type of game, where you can fluidly combo from one attack to another. This would have made the combat of Control a thousand times more enjoyable rather than just pushing a single button until the enemies health bar goes to zero.

Anyways, Control is a very good game and I think the vast majority of people would enjoy it. Also if you are a wuss like me don't worry there are only two or three jump scares in the entire game. The atmosphere is designed to keep you constantly on edge but you're never surprised by a monster around the corner or anything like that. It's a psychological thriller above all else.

Lost weight

Even though I didn't increase my exercise regime, I did continue to fast and watch my diet which allowed me to maintain all of that weight loss from January. I actually cannot remember the last time I weighed this little. It may have been back when I was in university.

Hopefully March will bring the winter thaw and I can try to get out there and start running at least 5Ks again. I honestly don't think I need to lose any more weight. But an increase in cardio should help me drop some more of that body fat of which there is still plenty to lose.

Purchased a Synology NAS

After years of headaches from running my own file servers I finally decided enough was enough and purchased a Synology NAS. I even wrote about how I decided which NAS to choose with the hopes that it could help someone who was as lost I was.

My DS1821+ and hard drives should be arriving the first week of March. I look forward to writing about the hopefully painless setup procedure in my March retrospective.

3D Printing

I know that I ranted about how much 3D printing in the winter sucked, but putting all of that pain aside, the prints themselves actually turned out quite well. This was the first batch where after I was done printing it really made me wish I knew how to paint. As every miniature came out of the printer I could not help but visualize how awesome they would look completely painted.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CK0BHN_Hxmh

Finale to the Hades: Developing Hell documentary

Toronto Maple Leafs

Hell has frozen over. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the best record in the NHL after 22 games and the second best goal differential. This feels like something I need to record for posterity's sake because there is no way I will believe this when I read it again.

Auston Matthews celebrating a goal

The Bad

Fuck Chess!

I absolutely suck at Chess. I actually seem to be getting worse the more I play.

I started February with a rapid rating of 760 and will end the month at 592. Over that time span I played 46 games where I won ten, drew five, and lost 31. At one point I went on a streak of 23 games without a win that concluded with 17 straight losses. That streak was mercifully broken by a win against someone who had accuracy rating of 5.7 out of 100. Basically it's amazing that they even managed to play chess with an accuracy rating that low.

It has been recommended to me that I spend hours watching YouTube videos on openings and how to checkmate to improve my game. But I will admit, my confidence is so shot and my motivation is so low that I have almost no interest in watching videos. I was under the naive impression that chess would be enjoyable right from the start. That every game would be a learning opportunity and simply by playing I would get better but nothing could be farther from the truth.

I did not realize how similar chess was to competitive video games like Dota 2. I assumed the sheer number of characters and abilities meant that Dota was just one of those games where matchmaking would always be shit. But because chess was so "simple" by comparison the matchmaking would be much better. But it seems to be a problem that is near impossible to solve everywhere. What's funny is that even though I've been getting my ass kicked and wish that I had never started playing chess again, I still want to watch it. Just like how I stopped playing Dota 2 but I can thoroughly enjoy watching professionals play. Watching agadmator break down games has remained enjoyable throughout this entire ordeal.

So what am I going to do going forward? I really have no idea. I've only played 79 rapid games which means I am 286 short of my New Year's resolution. I don't see how I can play those games unless I drastically change something.

Ontario's COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout

While The numbers for Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination rollout improved in February, we are unfortunately still far below where we need to be.

About 2.5% of Ontario adults are completely vaccinated (meaning two doses). But by the end of March it is only physically possible to have around 450,000 vaccinated which is just short of 4% of the adult population.

We have been hitting new records for daily doses administered this last week but unfortunately we still need to 5X those numbers to have any possibility of vaccinating everyone by the end of summer. A positive sign is that we're almost administering the vaccines as fast as we are receiving them. You can visualize this on the COVID-19 Tracker Canada website.

Fingers crossed that as we see a boost in vaccine deliveries in March, we can quickly approach the minimum of 120,000 doses a day that we need to be providing.

Destruction AllStars

I had high hopes for Destruction AllStars but even as a free game I still paid too much for it because my time is not yet worthless. I cannot believe this game was originally planned to be a $70 USD PlayStation 5 launch day release. Even after delaying it three months and making it free they somehow still fucked up the onboarding. It was quite amazing how bored I was in the only hour I played it. I spent more time driving in circles than actually crashing into cars.

Infamous Second Son

Speaking of free games that wasted my time, I also played an hour of Infamous Second Son. Unlike Destruction Allstars which was just boring, Infamous Second Son managed to make me hate the main character and his abilities in just under 60 minutes. It's hard to fathom how games like this get made. I've read more about the game and apparently the combat and story change drastically when you get to Seattle but why the hell do I need to waste a couple of hours of my life to get there?

This is why I am hesitant to play other Sucker Punch Productions games like Ghost of Tsushima. I hear great things but I know that Sucker Punch can't help but fill their games with random cruft that wastes my time.

Honourable Mentions

The Wheel of Time

I managed to finish both the second (The Great Hunt) and the third (The Dragon Reborn) books in The Wheel of Time. The second book was OK but the ending was quite rote and the characters continued to make the dumbest possible decisions they could. The third book felt like some strange joke because it was essentially the exact same story as the second. Sure the characters visited new places and interacted with new people but the beginning, middle, and end had the exact same plot points.

I do still enjoy the world of The Wheel of Time but I do not understand why this series gets the praise it does. It reads like an unoriginal Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Adding "Dark" to the beginning of any noun to make it evil is the stupidest thing ever but Robert Jordan does not shy away from it. Dark One, Darkfriends, Darkhounds. Also I shit you not, there is a placed called the Mountains of Dhoom. To me this is the same level of worldbuilding I've seen in solid amateur writings like Shamus Young's Twenty Sided Tale.

When you compare The Wheel of Time to Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere it is easy to see why he is considered the master at worldbuilding. Every book in The Stormlight Archive answers some of your questions but always poses more. You're not upset because you got some fulfilment and now have more dragons to chase. In The Wheel of Time I feel as if I am in this constant state of confusion. I've read three books, over 2000 pages, and I still really don't understand what is going on. I think I understand some of the "rules" of the world but there is this constant hint that I actually know nothing but it is continually being dragged out.

Supposedly the next three books in the series are where The Wheel of Time truly comes into its own so I will give them a shot. But after that I am really going to force myself to answer the question "am I enjoying this?" and if the answer is no then stop. I don't need to force myself to read 14 bad books just to prove a point.

Persona 5 Strikers

I'll be honest, I'm only playing Persona 5 Strikers because it is a Persona game. I had absolutely no interest in the combat and only bought it because I wanted more Persona 5.

It is every bit a musou game as you would expect. You mow down hundreds of enemies and sometimes slightly harder or boss enemies show up and you need to wail on them a for a little bit longer than usual. The best thing I can say about the combat is that it has only frustrated me maybe 30% of the time.

But the story is what I am here for and it basically is Persona 5 DLC. Everything outside of the combat essentially plays like Persona 5. Sure Confidants don't exist but you have something called Bonds. You can buy weapons and travel to the Velvet Room to power up your Persona. Amazingly all the expected aspects of the series are here. I was prepared for this to be a musou game with a splash of Persona but they did not half ass this.

I cannot say if I am going to finish it because the combat does draw out longer than I would like. But every time I start getting bored I'm kicked back to the story and reminded as to why Persona 5 was my Game of the Year (twice).

Ratchet & Clank 2016

The 2016 Ratchet & Clank game is included in the PlayStation Plus Collection so I figured I'd give it a shot in the lead up to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It is a perfectly competent shooter platformer. It was the sort of mindless fun you need every once in a while where you can just sit down and mow through enemies without a care in the world. I'm sure Sony was hoping that giving this game away for free would increase interest in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart but unfortunately it had the opposite effect for me. I can't imagine I am going to have a shortage of games to play come June and it's gonna be tough for Rift Apart to make it to the top of my list.

Review February Goals

March Goals

Sadly it seems like Toronto is going to be under lockdown for all of March. Even if we get to move into the "red" zone it's really not going to change much. We still can't visit any friends or family because we'll immediately be over the indoor gathering limit. Maybe some stores or restaurants will be able to open for more in-person transactions but Elsie and I won't be partaking in any of that. So let's set some goals for another month trapped inside where all we can do is hate ourself.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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