Monday Musings

It’s Monday morning (at time of writing) and my mind is in a bit of an entanglement.

Firstly, AJ Green is hurt. The report says “some games” which is about as vague as the chances I give the Bengals of beating the Saints, without him. Apparently, he hurt it in the last game before the bye, whenever he got up grabbing at his toe. Some reports say that, after the game, AJ mentioned stubbing it and he’ll be fine. Then he was seen at PBS in a walking boot. Now they’re saying multiple games will be missed. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots and see that Tyler Boyd will be Andy Dalton’s number one target for the Saints game, the Ravens game, and maybe beyond that. In a league where the slimmest of margins separate wildcard teams from teams who finish 7-9, losing AJ really blurs that line for Cincinnati.

The Reds are being linked to a number of different free agents, and it’s got me excited. Sure, I looked at season tickets and realized peons like me aren’t meant to afford that regality (plus, different ticket apps make it cheaper and easier to go to the games I want, anyway) and the Opening Day tickets available on websites start at $150, right now, as the “market” preys on overenthusiastic instant-gratification junkies. That being said, I’m all in on Redsfest coming at the end of November and will probably type up a few words on it, too. I’d love to meet Dallas Keuchel, or Patrick Corbin, or even Nathan Eovaldi, but we’ll see. The powers that be for the oldest professional base-ball franchise have said they’ll break the bank. But whether it’s a bigger crack in the piggy bank or a full blown shattered oinker, remains to be seen.

I plan on writing more about this next thought, so I’ll be brief, but college basketball is back, baby, and this fool just got cable. Hope my wife is ready to hear lots squeaking sneakers and swishing nets!

UC football is back ranked in the Top-25 with a pair of games against good Florida football teams (USF and UCF). That being said, they get the lesser of two Florida’s at home, this Saturday, in a game I think they have a much better shot at winning than I did in August. Then comes the monster that is UCF. 21-straight wins (maybe 22 by next week) will face off against the Luke Fickell reclamation project. Coach Fick has built the Cats into bonafide football players in just a year and a half, and may be the next name to be plucked from Clifton to a big time job. Nobody, including me, saw the success he’s had this year as possible, and yet here we are. We could be talking about a 10-win Bearcats football side, come December, and that is magnificent.

I’m still on about Bohemian Rhapsody. What a film. Been listening to Queen all weekend.

Also, playing Red Dead 2 any chance I get. It’s so simple and yet so fantastic. Much like many a good Western flick. One of the latest “missions,” or maybe stories is a better term for them, that I completed was one where your character gets drunk, but has to keep his other drunk friend out of trouble, and then run from Johnny-Law. Rockstar just knows how to make an entertaining video game.

Right, well, back to Monday, I suppose.

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Cowboys and Video Games

So this is mostly a sports blog for the wonderful city of Cincinnati, but every now and then I dabble in non-sports related topics. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the game of the year, hands down.

I’m no video game expert, I’ll be the first to say. In fact, I’ve realized lately that I’m at the age that, even if I was good at pwning noobs, I’m not sure too many people are lining up to pat me on the back. So I play for the mere enjoyment of the game. I don’t try to beat something quickly, I don’t try to climb the online leaderboards, I just play to have fun. Red Dead Redemption 2 (heretofore referred to as RDR2) is a heck of a lot of fun, and in a mostly laidback way.

Fans of western movies should own it yesterday. The story starts off that you are a badass named Arthur who is a member of this gang that completed a big score at the cost of topping the wanted lists of every law enforcement agency and bounty hunters in the west. In response, they’ve tucked tail and run north, into the Dakotas, and are hiding in some snow covered mountains. Your job, quickly, becomes to help rebuild the gang’s reputation, while also building your own.

Just as in the first game, you can choose to do good, do bad, or be a bit of a neutral. Something that has been added, though, that I love is the system they developed of creating a bond with your horse. The more you bond with your horse, the better it becomes and the more it helps you out.

Another thing that is vastly improved from the first game is the hunting system. There are legendary animals that you have to track, find clues as to where they are, and then, somehow, find a way to kill. When you do manage to kill the legendary animal, or any animal, for that matter, you can then use all of the things you collect from skinning that animal to craft items that improve your gameplay. You still gain food, like in the first, but RDR2 has added something to the gameplay that makes it essential.

In RDR2, you have to remember survival. It’s not like other games where you get into a gun fight, run and hide, and replenish health and stamina. In this game, you must focus on what food, drink, and “tonics” you have on you to replenish the necessary skills to go on. I really enjoy the nuances of this game, and have barely advanced in the story, for focusing on the nuances.

The antagonist of the game is actually group. The easy explanation is: any gang that isn’t your own. It’s not as if you have to do something to antagonize a rival gang member. Your character is already well established within his own gang (as the backstory says Arthur has been in the gang for more than 20 years) so when you just see a rival gang member, they’re already aggressively postured against you. This adds an interesting wrinkle when you explore the vast gameplay area that Rockstar Games created, because you don’t know exactly where you will run into baddies.

I just started playing this game, and will probably write a bit more about it, but I know it’s one of my favorite games, ever, and may rise to the top. I’ll keep you posted.