Monthly Archives: October 2010

S.P.E.C.I.A.L: Fallout New Vegas!

Can’t talk: Fallout: New Vegas.

Okay… I’ll take a few minutes from skulking around the Mojave Wasteland to give a few thoughts on the game.

First: this is more than a re-skinning of Fallout 3. There is a new skill: survival; and this new skill highlights the main difference in the feel of the game. Fallout 3 you were in a city. Yes, a broken battered city but it had an urban feel. This game is much more rural, even though there is more infrastructure.

In Fallout 3, when you picked up clutter, it really was clutter. You could sell it or find someone who would give you caps for the clutter in some sort of side quest, but it was mostly worthless stuff. In this game any piece of junk you find can be converted into something better. That something better might be simple “Gecko on a Stick” but there is that scavenger feel. I pick up something and I really don’t want to get rid of it. Resources are so scarce that everything has a value and everything can be used.

The other difference is in you faction alliances. In Fallout 3, your Karma determined how people reacted to you. In this game, people are more out for their own interests. I don’t care if you are the devil incarnate: if you are saving *my* town from other baddies, you are fine by me. Again, this brings a more complicated feel to the game. More “everyone is out for themselves.”

As for my character, I decided to go with a more Role Play feel as opposed to a min.max. In other words I am playing what feels right, not what makes logical sense. Truthfully, I think games are becoming so complex, playing a true min/max character is becoming more and more difficult. In order to really make the optimal character, you have to plan so far out ahead, choose perks that compliment each other without knowing how they work and so on that it seems like WAY too much work.

But anyway: my character is a bit of a 98lb weakling. High Agility (9), Intelligence (8), and Luck (7). Perception is at a 6, Strength, Endurance, Charisma are at a 4. Initial perks: Guns, Sneak, Repair. This girl is gonna sneak up and get ya before you even know I’m there. Or so the thinking goes. As for perks I took the Wild Wasteland, which is basically a bunch of easter eggs. Why not have fun with the game, right? This is also a Vegas game: so you NEED to have Luck and silly things are supposed to happen. I also took Intensive Training (for another SPECIAL point), Small Frame: the one that boosts agility but makes it easier to loose limbs, and Swift Learner.

I am interested in the Survivalist skill. I think it’s going to be very useful, but I didn’t initially tag it as one of my main 3.

How are you fining the game so far? What build did you go with and what are your initial impressions?

Need a Helping Hand: Accessability

Gaming with newborn makes me wish more developers emulated Dragon Quest VIII. Not because it’s a very well done turn based RPG, although it is that. Not for its adorable art direction, which it has. But for its control system.

One sleepy baby (12lbs of deadweight) who seems to only sleep on Mom, means I am somewhat sleep deprived and confined to a chair. And I like gaming. But I also like (need?) sips of coffee and you know, holding onto that newborn thingie. Dragon’s Quest VIII allowed me the option of playing the regular way, or one handed.

One handed. I could drink a cuppa and game. At the same time. Brilliant. I suppose you could say I was indulging both “addictions” at the same time.

My reason for loving an accessible game is, granted, a bit silly. There are others who for whatever reason, lack mobility in their hands or fingers making gaming itself a difficult task. Yet, a company found a way to make a turn based RPG a bit more accessible for more gamers.

So if it is so easy, why don’t more people create accessible games?

Accessibility Means Different Things For Different People

My daughter was sick last week, and so I decided to get her something that would lend itself to hours on the couch resting. Nintendogs. I looked up how to play the game: stylus and voice commands. OK should be good for a kid who doesn’t game using a controller. Perfect, right?

Nope.

Little did I realize that in order to get past the tutorial “level” you had to teach the dog his name by saying his name into the mic many times over in the exact same way at the correct time. Impossible for a) a three year old and b) a SICK three year old. I did it for her (WAGS! WAGS! WAGS! over and over again) then I had to do the same thing with the “sit” command. And this is how you teach your new dog old tricks; a pretty big part of the game was locked for my daughter.

So for a person with limited mobility, this is perfect. For someone with difficulties with speech this is horrible. And that’s the difficulty… accessibility means different things for different people.

Why Should I Care?

When I was chatting about this idea with my husband, he said to watch it. People’s eye glaze over when you talk accessibility, no matter how noble the cause. As I mentioned, accessibility can mean so many different things, and there seems to be a limited pay back for the amount of effort required. I really do pity developers sometimes. They need to make a game that is awesome in so many different ways, produce it on time and on budget and then we throw something like this at them. It’s no fair.

 So rather than talking about how it’s the right thing to do, or how choice in how we play is good for gaming, I will give people a really good reason to care.

You are getting old.

If it hasn’t happened yet, it soon will. You will hurt yourself sleeping. You will get up from a chair going “ARGggg!” You will get arthritis, and need bifocals. The whole bit.

And you may also suffer injury in your time. It may not be a life changing event, but it could happen. My Mother can’t console game. She cut herself on a sharp tin can lid and sliced through tendons in her thumb. Cant move her thumb well, therefore can’t console game. Could happen to you and right now you have no options other than moving to PC gaming.

The Good News

The good news it I am not that smart.

You better believe that there are people who are thinking of this stuff; how the changing demographic will change everything, including gaming. They will create it and make grand amounts of money off of it. It’s already starting to happen, we have already seen Nintendo bring out the Nintendo DS XL which has a much bigger screen for us decrepit old bats. Everyone is doing motion control which is good for those with limited fine motor skills. Kinect has a voice control option. So it’s starting.

Now if someone could come pour me a cup of coffee, that would be awesome.

Another Arrow in my Quiver: Adding a New Genre to the Repetoire

I envy most other hard core gamers; they seem to be able to devour games at an alarming rate. If our gaming lives were an evening out for dinner, most other hardcore gamers would be at a Vegas all you can eat buffet, their plates piled high with all sorts of tasty goodness. My dinner would be at a fancy restaurant where your plate is big, but empty. Each bite is to be savoured and enjoyed to its fullest.

My new boyfriend: Stealth Action Games

While I do like the way I game, slowly, methodically: I wish I had the time and skill to enjoy all that gaming has to offer.

Since I am a slow gamer, I must budget my time, rather than my cash in order to make the most of my gaming. Historically, I have narrowed my focus: RPGs only. In fact, in my earliest gaming career, my perceived lack of skill meant i only felt comfortable with turn based RPGs.

When God of War came out, everyone said that it was a must play: for gameplay (fine, whatever… I didn’t “do” action games) but for the visuals and the art (okay… now I’m listening). I got it, played it and lo and behold. I even finished it on “normal”. almost. I jacked it down to easy for the final boss.  Hey, I’m in this to enjoy myself. Hours of frustration is not enjoying myself.

Point being I am open to new gaming types other than RPGs; they just really have to capture my attention.

So, I played Batman: Arkham Asylum when it came out: it looked cool and a buddy of mine kept going on about the voice acting. Then Splinter Cell: Conviction trailers and hype made me go “wow.” Got it, loved the Last Known Position and Mark and /execute mechanics. Multiplayer is fun too!

Then I was chatting with another buddy of mine. We were talking about games I could pick up, when he said “Dude, I left Assassin’s Creed 2 in the bag with your PS2,  along with the box set of Farscape.”

Everyone needs friends like that.

And so, I finally started AC2. Damn but this is my kind of game. I don’t need to fight directly if I don’t want to. I can take my time, in fact I am encouraged to do so. There are hidden “thingies” to find. A city to explore. I think about this game when I am not playing it. In short: hurray! A new franchise to know and love!

Wait a minute: Batman: AA, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Assassin’s Creed 2… I am a stealth action fan!? Who knew? How is this possible?

Well… Let’s think. In every RPG I tend to take a stealth character first: Infiltrator in Mass Effect, Thief types in Elder Scrolls. Fallout 3 I created a stealth based, headshot master. So maybe this makes sense after all.

I sometimes wonder if my love of stealth characters is because I fear an all out brawl. Afraid that my lack of skill is going to show and I won’t be able to finish the game. If that’s the case: I should get over it. I have been able to finish games with a non-stealth character on a second playthrough. In fact in Mass Effect I took the opposite of a stealth character and didn’t lose anyone on the suicide mission. I was running into too much trouble in Oblivion as a stealth character, so I creater an all out brawler so that I could sirvive long enough to get used to the game, then I switched back to my stealth character. I wonder if one day I will turn into a straight up action fan.

Now that I am new to the genre of stealth action, can you lads and lasses direct me to some gems I am missing? I have much to explore… after I finish Assassin’s Creed 2 of course…

The Dark Game Connected to the… Lighter Game…

Light and Colourful vs...

Mix one newborn and one sick preschooler and anyone’s fancy is going to turn to escapism. And so that is how I found myself at EB Games preordering Fable 3 and Fallout New Vegas. (I also got Nintendogs for little sickie. More on that in another post)

I started up my old Fallout 3 game in preparation for this next iteration of the franchise. I am in the middle of the Point Lookout DLC, so far so good. And when I say so good, I actually mean “so oppressive and freaky.” Fallout (in case you live  under a gaming rock) takes place in an alternate future, where 1950s aesthetic mixes with postapocalyptic dystopia. The main game takes place in Washington D.C. and its immediate surroundings. Point Lookout is DLC that is situated in Maryland.

And is it creepy. Stereotypical country yokels are mutated and murderous. Everything is in an ugly shade of grey and brown. There is no colour in this game. Not one tree. Not one piece of colourful attire. All is covered in nuclear ash.  It’s not just oppressive. It’s also downright freaky. In this DLC there is a hallucination scene that gave me the screaming heebie jeebies.

Make you want to go hug your children

The first time I played Fallout 3 it was much the same feeling. I have talked about the mature nature of this game before. It’s downright Mature for all the right reasons. It’s the stuff that a small kid won’t understand and a bigger kid will get nightmares. After I felt like I needed a cleansing.

Hence Fable 2.

Fable 2 is also an RPG that is mature. Expect this mature is a different type of mature. The violence isn’t nearly as over the top, the humour in Fable isn’t as cutting and sharp. In fact, Fable 2 is mature, but I would say that Fable is perfect for teens.

Where Fallout lacks colour: Fable is saturated in it. Fallout you are alone, Fable you have your dog and are never alone. Fallout you can enslave people, and there are corpses of long dead children. Fable you can do a dance for children to make them adore you. Even when you are evil in Fable: you don’t feel THAT evil. In Fallout when you are good, you still do what needs to get done to survive. And it ususally isn’t that nice.

After playing Fallout, I needed something lighter. I needed Fable.

Ever have this experience? One game made you crave another type of game?

Coming to you via iPhone – Friday Open Thread

Motherhood is busy work, and while I have been able to do some gaming, I have not been keeping up with gaming news. Anything announced this week that caught your fancy?

I finished Lair of the Shadow Broker on ME2. Loved it, especially the reward. The shadow broker’s power is subtle and the reward ikeeps in line with this.

Brilliant.

I also changed the look of the site. Teell me what you think.

Other than that, post away. This is your thread!