Week 58: The Last of Us: Part II

1st March 2021

This week I completed The Last of Us: Part II. I was playing it in place of watching TV for the past couple of weeks, as it’s got a very strong storyline it was perfect replacement for some TV for a bit.

Spoilers: this post is all about Last of us Part II, it may contain spoliers

So what did I make of the game? I was captivated. Back when I started the original Last of Us I got both bored quickly and thought Ellie was an annoying spoilt brat. I would even mimic her because she sounded so ridiculous. However, by the end of the first season I was totally captivated and totally team Ellie.

The second season totally abused that relationship and at numerous points had me throwing down the controller refusing to put her in danger. The final scenes of the game were completely heart wrenching.

In terms of game play I found the continuous friction between the weapons I was given and the impact of using any of them completely at odds. More often than not I’d start trying to do a scene using the guns I’d been given only to attract too much attention and either run out of ammo quickly or die pretty quickly once everyone came running towards the loud sounds.

I’d then retry the scene only using stealth kills and be able to pile bodies in door frames (they all come to investigate dead bodies so you can wipe loads out without moving) and complete the scenes without using any ammo. It also stopped the frantic fight scenes which left me button mashing (this was also totally game induced as you were supposed to mash the square button to get out of a hold and once you start mashing a button, well you just mash them all).

If I was to rate my least favourite to favourite enemies to stumble on walking around a dark corner it’d probably be:

  1. Stalkers - they were impossible to see to shoot at from a distance and just didn’t die in hand to hand combat
  2. Dogs - shoot with a silenced pistol before they see you or accept you’re going to die again
  3. Seraphites - they were too well organised, I ended up running through most of those scenes
  4. Everyone else - really even bloaters weren’t that bad, a couple of shotgun rounds and they died, and at least they let you know where they were.

Overall a really enjoyable game, and would play again, I may have started just to see what having all my guns in the beginning of the game would be like. Ohh and the boat sex scene caught me completely off guard! I wasn’t expecting that after we cut away in the Library basement and came back afterwards.

Week 59: Slow news

22nd February 2021

Bit of a slow news week this week. Beyond playing more The Last of Us 2 and going to work very little else happened. The highlight was being able to be outside without a coat on this weekend, which was a thrill considering last weekend it didn’t get above 0ºC.

I’m very ready for this lockdown to be eased to make it legal to sit outside with friends.

I was reminded this week of this amusing post imagining if founders treated investors like early employees.

Week 58: 3D Printer

15th February 2021

After completing The Last of Us last week, this week I started The Last of Us 2. It’s really interesting to see the progress that 7 years has given the franchise. The advances in rendering and human motion is particularly impressive, but also the exploration seems more immersive than before. In version 2 the budget for the voice actors also seem massively increased, I don’t think the characters have stopped nattering since I started. Even when it’s just one character alone fighting they are giving themselves a pep talk encouraging them through the scene, it’s cute, you’ve got this Ellie!

Playing The Last of Us has been a great distraction from the other two main hobbies of lockdown:

  1. Watching TV, and
  2. Trying not to buy things I don’t need, and probably won’t use.

There was a point on Friday for example when I found out I could get a new 3D printer delivered next day for £125. I’ve never had anything custom 3D printed, but at that price it seemed like a hobby that I should take up! Thankfully I managed to resist and don’t have a 3D printer turning up, but it was very close.

In terms of TV this week I watched:

Week 57: Sunday watching

8th February 2021

This week I managed to complete The Last of Us. After a slow start I got quite into it towards the end. I particularly enjoyed causing the scenes to not make sense given how I walked into them. For example ensuring there were no enemies left then calmly walking through a door, but have the voice over exclaim how quickly we needed to block a door to stop them chasing us and how close it was.

We also finished Snowfall season 3 this week. Apart from the weird alternative universe in the final episode it was great. Hopefully when season 4 starts showing in America later this month it will also be available here.

On of the things we try and do is to watch some easy watching TV on a Sunday evening before bed. For weeks we were watching an episode of The Crown a week. It’s fun to break up the season like in the old days, and also a great way to let our brains know it’s work in the morning.

We ran out of The Crown a couple of weeks ago, but luckily Blow Away season 2 is now on Netflix. The episodes are only 30 minutes and they skip 90% of the usual talent show fluff which makes it really watchable and very low stress. No one dies blowing glass.

Week 56: Diggers

1st February 2021

For January I’ve been doing a Veganuary inspired month. I’ve not been a strict vegan, there was definitely some illegal milk chocolate and other illicit items I neglected to check the ingredients of. But I didn’t eat any meat, or cook with any eggs or dairy.

It’s been a nice little adventure of finding new recipes and ingredients. My favourite from the month has to be this vegan haggis. We had it on Burns Night and the flavours have been swimming around my mouth ever since. I think I’ll have to cook another one in a couple of weeks.

This week YouTube recommended me this digger video which has Chris using his big digger to rescue a smaller digger that’s buried itself while digging a pond bed. I was captivated watching him move dirt around, one digger scoop at a time. I’ve since watched a number of his other videos, including relaying a pipe someone laid backwards and fixing a pond someone cheaped out on. It’s the perfect slow TV, just a man doing his job filming bits and shoving it on YouTube. No fancy lighting or fast cuts, no “click the bell to get notified”, just a camera mounted in his cab watching him work. I’m here for it.

Week 55: Humps

25th January 2021

Highlight of this week was getting a lunchtime cycle with Alex. I’d proved to myself last year that I was able to get out and back at my desk in a two hour window. So by shifting my day 30 minutes at each end I’m able to do a normal day but also get a bike ride in the middle. Winning.

I’ve started playing The Last of Us as a way to absorb lockdown time. I’m really not a gamer and haven’t played much beyond Wii Golf in the past 15 years. As was always the case though, I’m particularly enjoying using the sniper rifle to pick the baddies off from a distance… slowly… methodically… callously. It’s much more gentle than the frantic button mashing of hand to hand combat. I’m yet to work out how to tell if the scene I’m in is a fighting scene or an exploring scene, so I’m often walking around empty houses very gingerly checking round every corner.

We’ve been watching more Snowfall on iPlayer this week and are most the way through the second season now. It took me quite a while to get into the show as to start with I thought all the characters were dumb and should all just die. I’m getting quite into it now, but still think more of them should be dead already.

The council put a note through the our front door explaining that they were going to add some “vertical traffic calming interventions” to the end of the road. It’s taken me longer than I’d like to admit to realise they were saying they are putting in humps.

Week 54: Age-based recommendations

18th January 2021

The most eventful thing that happened this week was probably when I was following a recipe which instructed me to fry some mustard and cumin seeds. I was unaware that together this would make quite an explosive combination. For a couple of minutes there were herbs flying around the kitchen as the mustard seeds exploded. In hindsight it seems like a cruel prank the recipe author was playing, but it definitely added some excitement to the proceedings.

Earlier this week when browsing Amazon looking for something to keep me entertained during this lockdown Amazon asked me to “Enter your child’s birthdate for age-based recommendations”. I found it pretty creepy that they wanted a full date rather than just an age. But reassuring that the algos are bad enough that they believe my shopping trends imply that I’ve got a child. In hindsight I should have put my birthdate in to see what age-based recommendations they might have for me.

The only other notable thing this week is that at work I built and shipped a new homepage. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we had before and better reflects what we do.

Week 53: Tinted windows

11th January 2021

On Wednesday morning I was reading this article on the FT which talks of Neomi Bennett who refused to leave her car when a stranger tried to open the door as she thought she was being robbed.

She was dragged from the car, handcuffed and held overnight before being charged and convicted of obstructing a police officer. The search had been instigated, Ms Bennett was told, because the tint on her car windows was too dark.

How was this ever appropriate? How does anyone go from legally sitting in a car to spending a night in custody? The answer is unsettlingly: being in a car whilst black. Neomi is also far from alone from being accused and harassed for that crime.

The day ended watching a mob of white supremacists walk carefree into the Capitol building. Watching that play out and the apparent lack of security had me incensed. Even Joe Biden was able to see the difference to the Black Lives Matter protests.

I have spent the following days though, wondering how many more points like this we will need to get the general population realise their own white privilege. How long before we can admit security services are racist, and work to counter that. Back here in the UK the PSNI were even forced to apologise just before Christmas because of their institutionalised racism. Though depressingly even that report tried to claim it was “not based on race or ethnicity”.

1 in 20 people in some areas of London now have Covid-19 yet they are still having to throw Covid deniers photographing empty corridors out of hospitals. I despair.

Sorry for the news heavy week notes, it’s just somewhat consumed my week.

Week 52: One innie

4th January 2021

Happy New Year! This also marks a full year of writing weeknotes. Part of me feels this would be a good time to hang up my metaphorical pen, a year feels like a good block of time. The other part of me is quite enjoying sitting down and trying to write something coherent on a regular cadence. So the weeknotes will continue until moral improves.

This week I’ve been getting increasingly jealous of photos of people in snow. One of the real downsides of living in Zone 2 is the lack of snow. I’m not planning on moving out of London, if this pandemic has made me realise anything it’s how much I love living in London, but it would be nice to wake up to a proper blanket of snow covering everything.

This week we did a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. They’ve become a bit of a Christmas tradition that started a couple of years ago when we listened to Michelle Obama’s Becoming while completing a puzzle. I love the almost mindful state you can get in while hunting around for a bit with one innie and three outie edges, one that’s got some grey on it the other two are blue.

I really enjoyed watching The Forty-Year-Old Version on Netflix this week. Watching a modern black and white film was really confusing for my little head, but it fitted the style of movie pretty well. Though why she didn’t take my advice I was shouting at the TV I’ll never know.

Week 51: Christmas?

28th December 2020

Merry Christmas!

Twice this week I spent the day out on my bicycle hand delivering Christmas cards. Before we were placed in Tier 4 we had planned to spend more days out delivering Christmas cheer to friends around the capital. With the global pandemic ramping up though we decided to curtail the adventure.

As we were celebrating Christmas day by ourselves we decided to have a mostly vegan Christmas dinner (apart from the plate of pigs in blankets… and the double cream on the Christmas pudding). We made a nut roast, roasted a large quantity of vegetables, candid some yams (which are actually just sweet potatoes if you’re American). It was nice to try something different.

One of our friends also gifted us a couple of minimum viable crackers, just the cracker snap. In many ways I much preferred them to normal crackers, no plastic toys, no excess cardboard waste, and a much louder bang given it didn’t have a cardboard suppressor.

We’ve also watched quite a bit of TV this week. Some of the highlights were:

More posts can be found in the archives.