I've been pretty busy these last few weeks, while at the same time trying my best to take some time off.
Apparently, time off is a good thing. Time off is necessary. We released The Maleficent Seven at the start of the year, and we're gearing up to the release of Last Stand of Dead Men in EXACTLY one month's time. That's two books out in the same year, one written straight after the other, not to mention one or two other short stories for various things yet to be announced. So I've pretty much been working nonstop since November of 2012. Wow. When I say it like that, I suddenly start to feel very tired...
I'm still waiting to hear back from Harper Collins on things like the back cover reveal, and possibly putting up a sample chapter or two. I also need to pick a date for a VERY informal reader get-together in Dublin over the next few weeks. When I said I'd do this back in April I had no idea I'd be so busy, so hopefully I'll still be able to fit it in. Oh, and in a matter of days I'll be posting the tour schedule for LSODM, which will be kicking off at the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 25th- where copies of the new book WILL be on sale.
I normally HATE early releases, but seeing as how it's only a difference of four days PLUS the fact that the Edinburgh audience never reveal spoilers, I don't mind this at all.
Er... I think I've strayed from the point of this Blog entry... what was it again?
Yes! Time off! That's it!
So, I haven't ACTUALLY been able to take any time off, but then I've never been one for taking holidays. However, I have managed to watch a few movies in the evenings, and watch a few TV shows to relax, and to play a few video games. And THAT is the point of this Blog entry.
Over the past few months, I've played two very good games. Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider. I've talked about these games in an earlier post. Of the two, I preferred Tomb Raider. It just felt more visceral. The gameplay was excellent, the atmosphere was amazing, and the tension was nerve-shredding. But apart from all that, it was the character work that stood out. Tiny emotions flickering across Lara Croft's face, paired with such wonderful voice acting, meant that I really cared about her. I liked her, and I didn't want anything bad to happen to her. In contrast to the gritty, naturalistic world of Tomb Raider, Bioshock was hugely imaginative fun with great gameplay, stunning visuals, and a great supporting character. The best supporting character in video games, I reckoned.
And then came The Last Of Us.
The Last Of Us is survival horror. 20 years after the outbreak of a fungal virus that latches onto a person's mind and drives them insane, the world is in ruins. Survivors gather in quarantined cities. Life is miserable. Life is cheap. Death is quick, cruel, and common. But outside the walls of the cities, it's even worse. That's where the Infected roam.
(A fungal virus sounds pretty laughable, right? Type 'Cordyceps' in to any search engine. Read up on what it does to ants. Now imagine what it'd do to people.)
You control Joel, a man in his 50s who has to escort Ellie, a 14 year old girl, across America. They go from city to town to suburb to countryside to mountains, and not only do they have to avoid the Infected, they have to avoid most of the other survivors as well. Because these are NOT nice people.
This is a game that combines the best elements of both Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite. The world is grim and gritty but so, so beautiful. Lush greenery spills up from cracked cement. The sky is a million shades of orange at dusk. But the action is brutal. And the supporting character is astonishing.
Play this game for a few hours and you'll start to really care about Joel and Ellie. Play it for a few hours more and you'll find yourself terrified. You'll hear the clicking of the Infected around you as you crouch in the darkness, and you'll freeze in fear. Why? Because you want to keep Ellie safe. That's ALL you'll care about.
This is one of the best games I've ever played. Is it the most fun? No, that'd probably go to one of the Uncharted games, just for sheer entertainment. But this is definitely the scariest, the most tense, and the most involving. It sucks you in and it doesn't let you go. This is a masterpiece of gaming that will be used as a benchmark for all games that come after, and as a piece of storytelling it succeeds where so many other stories fail.
It's brilliant. If you're over 18, then ready yourself, and go play it.