March 10th, 2007

Books 02

Books and a Game

I continue to bounce back and forth amongst Pratchett's books about the Watch. This time it was Men at Arms, in which Vimes gets married, Carrot becomes a Captain instead of a king, and Angua makes her first appearance. Great fun and a compelling mystery. What more could one want?

Well, one could want to become immersed in that world, which Discworld Noir does a passable job at. Noir is a computer game about the Discworld's first and only private investigator. The wikipedia article on the game claims that "The game's story line is a completely original creation," which is true, if by completely original creation you mean that the creators took the plots of the Maltese Falcon, Farewell My Lovely, and Casablanca, and rolled them around some Lovecraft while lifting lines and/or characters from the Big Sleep, Doctor Who, and To Have and To Have Not (among others). Not to mention all the stuff from Pratchett. It could have been wretched, but it's really a lot of fun watching the hero (Lewton) look for the Tsortese Falchion and a chanteuse named Therma whilst dealing with the arrival of the lover who ran out on him with no explanation all those years ago, and now Sam is playing their song in a cafe in Ankh-Morpork. The gameplay is fair to the player, and the puzzles are in context with the mysteries. It does drag a bit in the fourth (and final) act when most of the characters have left the stage and Lewton is spending most of his time doing library research on the Big Bad, but it finishes strong.

The real fun is seeing the setting and familiar characters. Among others, Nobby, Vimes, Leonard of Quirm, the Patrician, and even Death (in all his CAPITALIZED glory) are on hand. The voice acting is very good. Nobby sounds like Nobby, and Death SOUNDS LIKE DEATH. The voice for the Sidney Greenstreet stand-in (speaking mostly the same dialog) is better then the original. The only voice I was disappointed in was Vimes, who sounded like the guy who played Field Marshall Montgomery in Patton, sort of like Don Adams with a British accent.

After all the Discworld, I read Roger Zelazny's Doorways in the Sand, a book I liked a lot when I first read it back in grad school. It's about a perpetual student whose hobby is climbing things who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a Hitchcockian situation involving a missing artifact, hoodlums, government agents, and aliens who like to disguise themselves as fuzzy animals. The style is interesting. (Well, interesting enough for me to actually notice it.) Each chapter starts with a cliffhanger of sorts, followed by a flashback of how the hero got into the situation, and then switching back to the present to resolve the situation. Lather, rinse, repeat. The ending is a bit contrived (there's a bit of a deus ex machina involved), but I still enjoyed it.