Rainbow Six Siege

I joked recently that I was Clancy’s bitch, and it really does feel like that. So yes, on top of recently revisiting Ghost Recon Wildlands, and then currently playing The Division, I’ve also started getting into Rainbow Six Siege. My history with the Rainbow games is that I was a huge fan of the two Vegas games — in fact, I considered them to be my favorite FPS games, as I loved the mixing in of tactics in a shooter (instead of straight run and gun). At the time, I was really into Clancy games (the Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter games, and Splinter Cell too), but Vegas, especially the first one, was tops for me. I also loved the “Terrorist Hunt” mode, playing it with friends (in split-screen). So Siege comes out over two years ago, and I didn’t really bite because I didn’t think I’d be into a multiplayer-first Rainbow game. But as we all know, the popularity of the game has grown, and I figured it was about time I dipped my toes back in. What I’ve discovered is a game that still has the fun co-op terrorist hunts, and over the past week I’ve been having a blast playing  the new Oubreak mode, which reminds me so much of Left 4 Dead (another game I loved). I’ve even joined a team at work to play in the studio’s gaming league, and so yeah, I’m having a blast playing this. Interestingly, I think the other aspect I’m attracted to is that all of the operators (the character/class you pick when you play) are basically the equivalent of G.I. Joe characters, and G.I. Joe was my favorite toy as a kid (and the Larry Hama-written comic too, which I still read to this day).

Ghost Recon Wildlands

As I mentioned in my post about The Division, I’ve been going back and finishing games recently, and another title I revisited was Ghost Recon Wildlands. This was a game I really was enjoying when I first played it a year ago upon release, and the only reason I veered off it was because of too many games to play at the time (i.e. the release of the Switch). I kept meaning to go back to finish it, and that’s something I finally did recently. Getting back into it, I was again having a blast — the gameplay reminds me so much of Mercenaries 2, a game I really loved. I only did the easy ending (not killing all of the subordinates), and I think I still want to play more and get the full ending (but my current The Division obsession is preventing me from doing that).

The Division

This is the second time I write about playing The Division. The first time was two years ago, when I picked up the game upon release. At the time, I liked it, but was finding it hard to play solo, and although I did play at least 10 hours or so (maybe more), I ended up stopping after a while, only reaching level 16. Recently, I’ve been in a mood to revisit old games that I haven’t finished, and I decided I’d revisit this and see if it would grab me a bit more. Well, that was about a week or two ago, and I’ve now played well over 60 hours, and I can’t stop. I don’t know what happened this time — maybe it was all of the updates they’ve done over the past two years — but I’m having such a great time playing it now, and even after finishing up all the story missions, I’m still having fun progressing in the end game (currently at “World Tier 2”). I do wish I had some friends still playing this to do more multiplayer with, but I’m managing to do fine by soloing, while using matchmaking occasionally for big missions. I haven’t gone this deep into a game since the first Destiny, and I’m curious to see if I’ll end up beating the time I put into that game. The only thing making me feel slightly bad is that there are still other games I want to go and play (and finish), and this is getting in the way.

Game Boy 008 – Terrace

“Game Boy” is a weekly column in which I write about being a game developer working in Montreal. You’ll find them all under this category, and it starts here.

I’ve now worked at Ubisoft Montréal for just over two years — my first day on the job was February 15, 2016, which is an easy date to remember since it was exactly a year before the release of the game I was hired to work on, For Honor (which released on the heart-filled February 14, 2017).

I quite enjoy working at the studio. After my first year on production, I moved over to a service team, which has also been a great experience — and it gives me a chance to work alongside a great many of our game projects, both in and out of Montreal. But the studio itself is also quite an interesting place to work in. Up until January of this year, I was working in the studio’s “main” building (yes, the studio is so big that it covers a collection of spaces in the Mile End neighborhood), called Peck. In January, our team moved over to one of the floors in a 12-story building on De Gaspé avenue.

One of my favorite things in this new space — apart from the great view we have of the city since we’re on the 12th floor — is the big open area that’s located near the location of my desk (and pictured above). With all those giant tables (and there’s another even larger one that you can’t see, in the foreground, along with a comfy couch and chairs), it’s just perfect for us to play various card games and board games either at lunch time or after work. I run a Magic: The Gathering league inside our team, and so most lunch times we’re using those long tables to play our matches. We also play other card games, as well as board games, like Gloomhaven, which I organize on a mostly weekly schedule. But I’m lucky not just for the nice space we’re afforded to play in, but also for the fact that I have so many colleagues I can convince to play with me — which I guess is not incredibly surprising when you consider that we work at a game studio.

But going back to Peck, the best feature of that 5-story building is the rooftop terrace. It’s open all summer (or rather from late spring to late fall), and on top of being a nice place to go hang out or to eat your lunch outside, the studio often organizes happy hours there — and for some of them, you can even bring a friend or family member along.

The reason I bring this up is because this week it was time for the annual winter happy hour, when they open the terrace for one special drink-up in the cold and snow. This was my third one, and although it was still pleasant — and I downed quite a few mugs of hot cider — I was a bit saddened by the lack of snow this year, although 0 degrees Celsius was definitely more agreeable than the -20 we got last year.

The Disaster Artist

I’ve never watched The Room, but I think I’ve seen enough clips to have a good idea of what the film is about and feels like. I absolutely loved The Disaster Artist. The whole thing is just so ridiculous, and knowing it’s all true (or pretty much true) just makes it that much more fun. And what a great performance by Franco in terms of portraying a “character” like Tommy Wiseau. My favorite scene? The one that comes after the end credits. Pure gold. And I actually kinda wanna watch The Room now.

Mute

I was hoping to like this, I was ready to like this, despite hearing bad things about it upon release. I didn’t like this. This movie just doesn’t work, even though elements of it are neat. I mean, I think the world presented is interesting, but the production values are actually surprisingly low — I think Altered Carbon looks much better, and that’s a TV series, not a movie. Paul Rudd — an actor I generally love in everything — plays a character here who just makes no sense. I don’t understand what the purpose of this movie is. I was a big fan of Duncan Jones’s first two films (Moon, Source Code), and although I never watched all of his Warcraft movie (it just didn’t interest me), I was pretty excited for this, which makes me just that much more disappointed with what I ended up watching.

Game Boy 007 – Bond

“Game Boy” is a weekly column in which I write about being a game developer working in Montreal. You’ll find them all under this category, and it starts here.

One of the things I do at work is produce a weekly newsletter for the team I’m in. It’s something I started doing for the team I joined after leaving For Honor, as part of an effort to improve communication inside the team and to bring everyone closer (you know, team building). After 42 weekly editions (ending it at that number may or may not have something to do with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), I thought I would hang my hat (in part due to a merging of teams, as well as changes to my role and responsibilities), but then I ended up starting a weekly “pirate” newsletter with a colleague (which I actually modelled after a VIC-20 aesthetic), and that seemed to be enjoyed just as much if not more than the old newsletter, and so we converted it to a new proper newsletter for this new team.

I have fun with these (it’s the reason I do it), and me and the two colleagues I do them with come up with themes each week, and they usually revolve around movies. A few weeks ago it was the 7th edition — since I number my newsletter like I number this column, it was in fact the “007” edition, and so you can imagine what we ended up doing with that one (I didn’t really leave my colleagues a choice).

And so this is where it ties into this edition of this column. For the newsletter, we did a bunch of fun Bond-related content, including my top (00)7 list of Bond films, and I wrote a little something about what I believe to be the best and hugely underrated Bond video game.

You ask anyone to name you a Bond game, and they’re likely to name GoldenEye. Whether its aged well or not, there’s no denying it was a groundbreaking game for the time — popularizing multiplayer FPS play on console, and with an insanely fun 4-way split-screen at that. But if you ask me what my favorite Bond game is, it’s James Bond 007: Blood Stone, which was released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 (I played it on the latter).

The studio behind the game was Bizarre Creations, better known for its racing game pedigree (Project Gotham Racing), and so as you can imagine, they injected an incredibly fun driving element to the game — and I’m already a big fan of driving cars in games, even outside of racing games (which probably explains why I like the Grand Theft Auto series so much). But on top of great driving levels, I loved that that they created a 3rd person action game instead of first-person — not only do I tend to prefer 3rd person action games, I’m also happier seeing Bond in action, rather than seeing things from his perspective.

I loved that game immensely, more than any Bond game that has come before or after (yes, even more than GoldenEye), and I do wish they would make another Bond game in that style. (I also think it would be interesting for Telltale to make a Bond game, in their adventure game style.)

Star Wars Battlefront II

Multiplayer and loot boxes aside, what excited me about Battlefront II was that they were including a proper story campaign, and that’s what I wanted to take in. I played through that campaign back in January, and although at first I was a bit disappointed by the relatively quick turn of the main character to the rebel side (I thought that playing as someone on the Empire side felt novel and interesting), I’d say I had a pretty good time playing through it. The combat is what it is — I don’t hate it, but I’m not particularly drawn to it — but I thought they managed to tell an enjoyable story that takes place during that time period, and I also liked the story DLC that was released after that pushed things forward much more in the timeline.

Thumper

Not only have I been wanting to play Thumper for a while (yes, a recurring theme in the posts I’m writing today), but I wanted to play it even more after I watched a GDC talk by one of the creators (a post-mortem on the game’s creation). I figured it was something I’d pick up for Switch, but I ended up getting it on PS4 during a sale instead — as much as I like playing games on the Switch, the fact that I like to experience as many games as possible means I need to be a bit thrifty on my purchases, to maximize what I can justify buying (and I’m already pretty lucky that I can rent most AAA releases from our studio’s gaming library). But yeah, Thumper, fantastic visuals, really cool soundtrack — which is of course important for a rhythm game — and I’m glad I’m playing it. It’s surprising how difficult it can get considering the limited number of interactions you tend to do while playing, but that’s part of the genius of the design. I’m in no hurry to finish it, and enjoy going in every once in a while for a few runs.

Pyre

I love both of Supergiant’s previous games, Bastion and Transistor, and so that alone should have made me want to jump in right away on a new game from them. And although I knew I’d eventually give Pyre a go, the fact that most of the gameplay revolves around a fantasy sport did turn me off a bit — sports video games are definitely not a genre I tend to spend time on. But having played an hour or so, the strong narrative does make it feel like a Supergiant game, and the sports part is enjoyable enough that I want to keep playing. I’m not completely sold on it yet, but enough to want to see how complex things get.