Back to the Night Land

Right, so, finally got around to this one.

This is actually a collection of four separate but interconnected stories written because Mr. Wright loved The Night Land.  The author's introduction is, in fact, a loving tribute to the original work, and shows that Hodgson's original had a tremendous impact on a young John C. Wright.  I, on the other hand, wasn't nearly so smitten.  That being said, I think Wright's foray into this world is considerably more accessible.  If nothing else, 21st century aping of 19th century aping of 18th century writing is enough removed that it's actually more readable.

Also, as an aside before I get into the book itself, I just have to say that I really love the cover Castalia House commissioned for this book.  From the look of the Last Redoubt, to the ghostly glow of the Earth Current at the base, to the ghostly Watchers in the background.  Cover artist Jartstar did an amazing job.  I've actually found myself just sort of staring at it.  Ahem, anyway.


Better Late Than Never: Saint's Row IV

Grand Theft What?

Saint's Row 4 is, quite possibly, the most fun I've ever had playing a video game.  Yes, yes, in a world of hyperbole, that's not much of a statement, but this game is to video games what Guardians of the Galaxy was to superhero movies.  It's just ridiculously fun.  Unlike Rockstar, they haven't forgotten why people play video games.

So... how to describe...

Well, after the 3rd Street Saints regained their clout and popularity after Saint's Row the Third, the Boss (you) becomes president of the United States.  No, it doesn't make any damn sense, but this series isn't exactly grounded in reality.  That's just driven home as your press conference is interrupted by an alien invasion.

Yeah, you read that right.  Aliens invade the planet.

This is all just an excuse to put you into a simulation of the world, which allows you to essentially be Neo in the Matrix.  And it's as awesome as it sounds.  The first power you earn is the ability to run super-fast, which pretty much means you'll almost never use cars after that.  And when you get the ability to run up walls, well, that's when the fun really starts.  It's hard to describe just how great it is to be running down the street and then run up the face of a 100 story skyscraper.  And, since it's a simulation, you can jump off the roof and survive the landing.

Words cannot describe how fun this is.  And, sure, there's a "plot" and "goals" and all that other stuff, but the amount of enjoyment to be had just running around town cannot be stressed enough.  This game gives you super powers and lets you run wild.

In some ways, the Saint's Row series was sort of Grand Theft Auto's poor cousin.  It didn't get the press that GTA did and was sort of an also-ran.  But instead of trying for more and more realism like GTA did, Saint's Row decided to focus on fun.  I couldn't get into GTA: San Andreas or 4, and I never even bothered with GTA 5.  But the Saint's Row games are worth the investment and have great replayability.  GTA hasn't had a sense of humor about itself since Vice City, and half of that was just it wallowing in 80s excess.

And, as an aside, SR4 being in a simulation nice sidesteps the moral ambiguity games like this tend to have.  Who cares if you steal a car?  It's not real.  Who cares if you gun someone down?  They don't exist.  It's a computer game inside a computer game.  It's... Saintsception!

The game has plenty of callbacks to the first three games of the series (of which, I've only played three), so there's more to "get" if you've played the whole series, but even without that information, the game is still completely accessible, and ridiculously fun.  And, really, fun is the reason we play video games.  Or it used to be.

And, hell, Keith David voices the vice-president.  Keith David, playing Keith David.  How awesome is that?