The Backlog: Better Late Than Later edition

Last week's post, which was intended for Friday, had to be re-appropriated by our crack team of internet henchmen at this tardy hour, and even though it's late it's fashionably so. In fact, it's so fashionably late, Tim Gunn would be proud.

He's from Project Runway.

Why do I know that?


Finding myself in the midst of a transition from one line of work to, uh, hopefully something else soon, my schedule has been overbooked and my mind taxed to an extreme. Between the recurring work-related nightmares and their BFF, the unemployment-related nightmare, I haven't exactly been sleeping well. Without meandering too far into the territory of social-network writing, I'm kind of a nervous wreck lately and video games haven't been the best medicine.

Fortunately, I took a four-day vacation up to Seattle to help assuage the unpleasantness of being stuck yet again in job-hunting limbo. I stripped myself of all my usual traveling accoutrements and brought only some clothes, a toothbrush and my iPhone. That essentially limited me to five-minute bursts of gaming, but that sort of time frame is perfect for Words with Friends. While juggling a half-dozen games can be a bit overwhelming, it also means the freedom to play a move at almost any time of day.

By the way, for those keeping score at home: I'm beating Doug 2-1 so far, but it's anyone's guess how Game 4 will end. Best out of five, Bonham?


Last I heard -- and in World of Warcraft terminology -- Doug is spirit-running back to his corpse after being ganked by some high-level homework.


I'm still trying to "catch 'em all" in Pokémon HeartGold. It's a long process. So long in fact that I've played about 24 hours of the game and I haven't even beaten the third gym leader yet. My Togepi needed to be reared into a Togetic through happiness (which in the world of Pokémon consists of grooming and lemonade-drinking) before any badge-snatching could continue.

Splinter Cell: Conviction launched last week, but I wouldn't have known it. I didn't really get to play it until a few days later. Though the game arrived via UPS on its April 13th release day, I was busy custom-modding my Xbox 360's hard drive. By modding I mean I pulled apart the hard drive enclosure, took out the laptop hard drive that was my old 20 gigabyte standby, and began the long process of transferring files off of that and onto my computer. Once that was done, I created a bootdisk thumb drive that ran Windows 98 to allow me to flash my awaiting 120 gigabyte upgrade drive so I could finally transfer over the old files and get rid of the asininely small launch hard drive. I'm so happy I did it, and I owe a lot to the patient help of a friend for walking me through the process. Time taken: six hours. Total cost: $60. I think that's a fair ratio.

Anyway, Splinter Cell. I'm probably halfway through the approximately five-hour campaign now, and it's everything I hoped it would be. The action is satisfying in its frenzy, and the presentation is both smart and unrelentingly cool. Being a Splinter Cell devotee since the first game, I was both anxious and eager to discover how Conviction would turn out. Fortunately, my anxiety seems to have been misplaced. I'll be able to say more once I've finished both the story and co-op modes.

One problem: I miss Hobo Sam from the original concept artwork.