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DID YOU READ

A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Day 7

A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Day 7 (photo)

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I’m still trying to figure out how to tackle Dust, the second big sector of “RFG.” It’s significantly bigger than Parker, both in terms of land mass and the number of available missions. This expansiveness sits me in front of a problem I often have with open-world games: what to do first?

I try to find a rhythm to games like this, one that lets me stack success onto success building into a crazy rush of power. But there’s always a bit of option paralysis when you need to choose where to start. I doesn’t help that I seem to have chosen a particularly difficult place to start.

It could be a case of overblown ego, but I strutted into the new level and tried to take down a fortified demolition target right away. I kept on getting my ass handed to me and kept on banging my head against that mission. All to no avail. These are the times when it’s most difficult to be a game critic. You ask yourself, “Is it me? Is this a chokepoint in the game designed to make me go back and reach a certain level or acquire a certain weapon before I come back here? Or am I just sucking it really hard today?”

Part of the reason I’m having trouble finding my rhythm is because of one of the worst design clichés in open-world games. It’s when you acquire a new mission at the designated stop on the map, talk to character X who tells you that you need to drive to another location to actually do the mission. If some game designer somewhere could explain the benefits of this wretched mechanic, I’d be grateful.

There’s also a weird tension around designing a game around gleeful environmental destruction that also demands you be safe. A few times now, I’ve been in the midst of ramming a big rig into an EDF smokestack or spraying assault rifle fire into a phalanx of EDF footsoldiers, only to see the Colonist Killed text pop up on my screen. And, because killing a colonist drops morale in a region, these senseless deaths make the work of liberation harder. It’s another control placed on the experience, but one that works in a mechanical and emotional way. Sometimes, it feels like I’m fighting more to save lives than to liberate a planet.

[A Level A Day will be my attempt to give my thumbs more exercise every 24 hours. ALAD will be part diary, part analysis and a smidgen of random observation on games that either slipped through the cracks or might deserve reconsideration. I won’t promise to finish every game but I’ll try to track what I think of as honestly as I can, so you’ll at least know why I’m stopping a particular game.]

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…