video games


video games July 17th, 2014 by HMTKSteve

The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us

A few days ago TellTale Games released the fifth and final chapter in their Wolf Among Us series. A few days after that I put the time in to complete that final chapter. Here are my thoughts.

Overall I did enjoy the series. Previously to playing the game I had heard of but never read the Fables comic from which the game is based upon. Now I find myself wanting to read the comics to fully explore the universe that exists surrounding these characters.

As befits the episodic style of the game the five chapters of the game were released over time and spaced about two months apart. The time gap was just about right to keep my interest in the story and the fact that The Walking Dead Season Two release schedule fell inbetween also helped.

Each chapter did follow the same basic formula. You take on the role of Bigby Wolf (Big Bad Wolf) who is the local sheriff in Fabletown. When the game begins most people think of you as the bad guy even though you carry a badge. It turns out that the people are right to think of you this way because the government of Fabletown has become a bit corrupt over time.

Each chapter begins in location A and you explore a location and then move on to the next. The only exception is that you will eventually run into a situation where you need to visit two locations at the same time and the one you pick to visit first will have more evidence waiting for you than the one you go to second. That is the only real lasting choice you can make in each episode.

Now you have the option to play Bibgy as either a good cop or a bad cop and one thing I did not like is that no matter how hard you try to play Bigby as a good cop no one ever seems to notice. Bigby could run into a burning building to rescue a litter of kittens and the townsfolk would still not let him pet one.

Another point to consider is the way your choices impact the later chapters, for the most part they don't in any meaningful way. I also think there may be a bug because I often copied my save file to go back and find the fables I missed yet when playing the next chapter the game referenced things I did in the cleanup playthrough and not my actual save file.

The game is enjoyable and a good way to kill an afternoon. If you can pick it up at a 50% discount it is worth it.

video games January 4th, 2014 by HMTKSteve

Unless you have been living under a rock you have to be aware of the awesomeness that is Telltale Games Walking Dead series. Season one ran five episodes with a bonus DLC episode named 400 Days. 400 Days was connected to the main story in minor ways and some of your choices in the main story did have an impact on the DLC. Nothing earth shattering but the nods were there.

Season two was just released in December of 2013 and picked up a short time after the end of season one. We were greeted by a few familiar faces and then... Well, let's just say things get interesting.

While season one had the player take the part of Lee Everett in his quest to help the orphaned girl Clementine survive the new world and possibly help to find her parents season two puts us in Clementine's shoes. It is a very different experience from season one in that Clem is not the physically strong character that Lee was. Also, as a child, the adults in the story tend to treat you very differently than they did Lee.

I played through season one several times. I often joke with my friends about how tired I am of playing through the early episodes because I kept getting them for free everywhere! Yes, I have played chapters one and two multiple times on PS3, xBox360 and PC. My only problem with the PC version is that I was impacted by the same game glitch that ignored all of the choices I made in episode one and instead gave me a bunch of random (?) choices that ruined my relationship with Kenny to the point that in the final chapter he tore me a new one and stayed behind with the boat! Which was kind of good because him staying behind added some content to my playthrough of 400 Days.

All in all I greatly enjoyed season one of the game. The only low point in the story was chapter two and that may just be a personal bias because that is also the one chapter that I hated playing multiple times. The first episode of season two was also very good on the whole but I did not enjoy one of the battle scenes because you had to use the items in the room in a certain exact order and the final item was always off screen for me until someone told me about it. So, yeah... I had to fight that one battle multiple times with increasing frustration because I thought I was doing everything correct.

video games July 13th, 2011 by HMTKSteve

A few weeks back I wrote a post about gaming without achievements. Specifically I discussed a game that came out on the PS3 before the PS3 offered trophies. More recently I have been playing games on Steam. Games that have achievements when played on the Xbox 360 but lack them on Steam.

Those who know me know that I love the Fallout series of games. If I could only ever play one franchise of games it would more than likely be the Fallout series. As a point of fact I have owned several copies of Fallout 3 (PC/Xbox360/Xbox360 On Demand/PS3) and two copies of New Vegas (Xbox360/PC). In case you can't guess I'm playing Fallout 3 on the PC.

When I first played through the game I made a conscious effort to grab all the achievements I could. Those karma based ones? I specifically created save points so that I could either steal or donate stuff to get my karma to the proper level before leveling up to insure I earned all three achievements at the same time. Looking back on this I realize that my initial play throughs made me a sort of slave to the chievo.

One of the reasons I picked up the PC version off of Steam was because I wanted to enjoy all of the user created mods that exist for the game. That and Steam had the GOTY edition on sale for dirt cheap!

While looking through the list of mods I felt a little bit overwhelmed. There are so many, how do I choose which ones to install and then how do I deal with conflicts? In order to answer those questions I had to ask myself another question, “What do I want to get out of this game?” The answer was clear.

As much as I enjoyed New Vegas, once I earned all of the achievements I had zero desire to play it again. Even after picking up a copy on Steam and adding some mods I just did not feel the urge to play it again. The DC Wasteland, on the other hand, has always drawn me back in. I also have to say that I greatly enjoyed the new crafting system and hardcore game mode from New Vegas.

I ended up downloading a mod that adds those two great things to the DC Wasteland. While browsing I also found a mod that adds new music to GnR's playlist as well as a few cosmetic mods that add little touches to the desolate wastes of DC.

Adding hardcore mode to the first game changed a lot of things for me. While I used to run around with more ammo than the entire DC chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel I now found myself being far more selective in what I carried. With many weapons and armors having been rebalanced I found myself experimenting more with what I used in combat. Pistols that used to be less than useless now had some value to me. Armors that I used to carry to sell I now dropped on the ground.

Food merchants now had a purpose. If I did not eat often enough I would suffer from hunger pains. Same with water. That guy in front of Megaton who asks for purified water? He's not getting mine now because I can't drink that irradiated crap either!

The largest change in my play style came not from the mods I installed but from the lack of achievements in the game. While before I would slog through Moria's long quest I now realized that having someone who can repair my stuff was more important than helping her create her book. Yes, I crushed her dreams of writing a book and in so doing her repair skill increased.

While my initial play through of the game (all those years ago) was governed by my desire to get achievements I now found myself liberated. I know it sounds funny but even after getting all of them and starting a new game on my Xbox 360 I never truly felt free in the game. In the back of my mind those chievo's were always lurking.

It's not just Fallout 3 either. The other night I was playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 with some friends. We were in Vietnam and we were talking about the silver and gold star weapon achievements. One of my friends checked his stats and realized that he only needed a few more kills with some of the weapons to garner those achievement points.

Once he switched off his usual guns he became very unhappy. It became a horrible chore for him and he started having less and less fun as the game went on. We were all glad once he switched back to his favorite weapons.

I had the same problem when I went for the Spec Act chieveos in that game. I suck at kill streaks. Too many times I walk into a group just as the rest of a squad is spawning and manage to die after killing three or four guys. So getting the kill streak awards needed for those chieveos was a serious pain for me. I eventually got them but it took me a lot longer than it took my friends.

I guess my point is that while achievements can extend the life of some games they can also make a game less fun if you feel the need to get them all or if you let those achievements dictate how you play them game.

video games April 24th, 2011 by HMTKSteve

PSN Fail

If you are part of the minority of PS3 console owners in the world you are undoubtedly aware of the recent problems with Sony's PlayStation Network. If not then let me briefly state that it has been down for four days.

PSN is Sony's version of Xbox Live. While the service is free for all they also offer a paid version which gives you discounts, advance access to betas and a few other things. You can get everything Xbox Live has to offer for free with PSN so most folks don't pony up the $50 a year for it. Some folks do, I'm one of them.

Why do I pay $50 a year for a service that already does everything I'm paying Microsoft $50 a year for? Hulu Plus.

The only way to get Hulu Plus on my TV(in an easy to use manner) is via my PS3. I could connect my computer to my TV but why go through all that effort? I'd rather pay for the ease of use factor.

Before I go on let me also remind the viewer that not only do I have to pay Sony for the privilege of having Hulu Plus on my TV but I also have to pay Hulu for this privilege. So right now I'm paying two parties to run a third party application on my PS3. It's about to get good...

One might think, that since I'm paying Hulu directly for this service that I could still watch Hulu on my PS3 (or Netflix for that matter) but one would be wrong. When I try to access Hulu Plus or Netflix I get an error because both applications require me to be logged into my PSN account to function. Yeah...

So, while many gamers are fuming mad over their inability to ply the new Mortal Combat game online I'm fuming mad because I can't watch either Hulu Plus or Netflix on my PS3. So, when Sony starts issuing refunds for the service being down what will they do for those of us who:

  1. Pay for the service
  2. Pay for additional services outside of Sony that are being blocked due to Sony's PSN being down.

I'm guessing they might offer me a free month of service and possibly offer everyone else a free trial of PSN Plus (the paid service) but what about my third party media apps? Eh, Huh? And why do these apps need me to be logged into my PSN account when I have to log into these apps with the third party account as well?

video games April 21st, 2011 by HMTKSteve

playing-without-achievements

This past week I took the time to play through the PlayStation 3 launch title Resistance: Fall of Man. While I've had the game for a few months I didn't play it that much once I realized it came out before Sony added Trophies (Achievements) to their games.

For some reason the lack of a constant stream of gratifying trophies held me back from enjoying this game. In some ways I find the lack of achievements is what keeps me away from my Wii (can't be the game selection, right?) Resistance: Fall of Man does have an in-game award system that is like a trophy system but it is hidden in the extra content area of the game and the points awarded are used to unlock bonus content such as concept drawings.

The awards are standard FPS style awards; Kill Y enemies within X seconds, Kill Y enemies with one grenade blast, etc... As you play the game a small line of text will pop-up on screen to let you know you completed one of these challenges but none of the challenges are story-based.

What I found, as I played through the game, is that a part of me had been using story-based awards to gauge how far into the game I had progressed. As I would see the number of unearned story awards dwindle I would feel closer to the end of the game. In a way I was ignoring the pacing of the game itself and using meta knowledge to track my progress.

Because this game lacked story-based awards I found myself constantly wondering if the next chapter would be the last. Couple this with the way the game adds opening and closing monologues to each chapter I never knew the game was over until the final credits ran. Not knowing what else might happen I watched all of those credits roll by and was rewarded with a final scene from the game. A final scene that had me thinking that there might be another chapter!

After playing through the game and taking some time to digest the experience I have to say that while achievements and trophies can prolong the game play of a game, story-based awards can ruin a game.

Some developers try to alleviate this problem by making story-based awards secret in nature but it only takes a few minutes of looking online to find out what those secret awards are and now all of your dramatic pacing elements have become redundant for a large swath of the gaming public. These awards act as built-in spoilers for your creation.

If it were up to me I would see story-based awards sent to the great round file in the corner office. The only ones I would like to see remain are those based on difficulty and game completion. Give me an award for beating the game and give me another for beating it based on a difficulty setting or only using a limited selection of gear (Dead Space is known for this with one award for only using the Plasma Cutter and another for beating the game on the hardest difficulty setting.)

Image from halolz.com

video games September 3rd, 2010 by HMTKSteve
Dead Rising 2L Case Zero

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is an Xbox 360 exclusive demo/prologue for the soon to be released Dead Rising 2. The game includes 12 achievements (worth 200 points), progression to level five, carrying forward of loot found, and sells for 400 MS points. There is also a free version that does not allow for the carrying forward of items acquired.

Case Zero is set three years before the events of Dead Rising 2. You play as Chuck Greene, a man who is travelling to Fortune City with his daughter Katey when tragedy strikes. While gassing up his truck at the Silver Creek gas station it gets stolen along with Katey's supply of Zombrex (a drug that prevents the onset of zombification and must be administered every 12 hours.) It is up to you to find Zombrex for Katey and a way out of Silver City.

Much like its predecessor Dead Rising and the forthcoming Dead Rising 2 you only have a short amount of time to complete the game before time runs out. In the previous game you had three days, here you only have a matter of hours. If Katey does not get her next dose of Zombrex between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM she dies. If that were not enough the military will quarantine the town at 9:00 PM, also resulting in a loss as they take the infected child into custody.

What do you have to do in this 12 hours period? At the bare minimum you have to find a source of Zombrex and a way out of town. As it just so happens once you find the Zombrex for Katey you also find a busted motorcycle. Being the motocross madman that you are it's a simple matter for Chuck to rebuild the bike. The hard part? Finding the parts.

The bike parts are scattered all over town. Some can be picked up in the street while others require interacting with survivors. What would Dead Rising be without survivors? Especially survivors who can't fight their way out a paper bag or always walk right where you are swinging your spiked bat?

Survivors

There are 12 survivors in Silver Creek, not all of them will leave (or want to be saved) but all of them will be encountered during the game.

Not counting Katey the first survivor you will meet is Dick, he runs the pawnshop. After you rescue him you will be able to purchase some of the combo weapons as well as some information on where to find the bike parts that are scattered around town.

The rest of the survivors do not appear right away but instead appear to either be triggered by time of day or some other action. Regardless you will want to find and rescue them as they are worth points and, well, it's the nice thing to do!

Bike Parts

Even the master motor cross man Chuck needs more than a single tire and a frame to ride out of Silver Creek. There are five pieces to the bike that must be located before you can build it and leave town. Only two of these parts are found on the street. The rest require money or items to acquire.

Once all of the items are found Chuck will build the bike. Don't count on leaving town just yet, Chuck will not leave until after Katey gets her Zombrex. Did I mention taking Zombrex too soon after the previous dose is lethal? Don't expect to leave town until after 7:00 PM.

Weapons

If you played the original Dead rising than you remember that everything is a weapon in Dead Rising, Case Zero takes that notion and goes a step beyond. Not only is everything a weapon but some items can be combined into combo-weapons.

Some of these combo-weapons can be acquired right away (Spiked Bat - baseball bat + box of nails) while others require some serious searching before their parts become available. Each combo-weapon also has a corresponding combo card (or scratch card). The combo cards allow for strong attacks (hold the X button) while the scratch cards do not. Most of the weapons in Case Zero only operate as scratch cards.

In my experience the Spiked Bat was the most useful of all of the combo-weapons. Even though the Boomstick is very deadly (when used against you) with only a scratch card the thing sucks. Even the Paddle Saw sucks compared to a single chainsaw in your hands.

    Combo-Weapons

  1. Air Horn - Traffic Cone + Spray Paint
  2. Beer Hat - Beer + Hard Hat
  3. Boomstick - Shotgun + Pitchfork
  4. Drill Bucket - Drill + Bucket
  5. Electric Rake - Leaf Rake + Car Battery
  6. I.E.D - Propane tank + Box of Nails
  7. Molotov - Newspaper + Whiskey
  8. Paddle Saw - Chain saw + Paddle
  9. Spiked Bat - Baseball bat + Box of Nails

The Drill Bucket is one of the worst combo-weapons in the game. Not because it sucks as a weapon but because it can only be used against one zombie at a time. In a game with the massive amounts of zombies that this game has such a weapon is simply a waste.

Also, guns suck in this game. Except for the shotgun. That is an awesome gun!

Zombies

Yup, there be zombies in this game, loads of them. While the original only allowed for about 800 to be onscreen at one time this one (or at least DR2) allows for 7,000+ to be onscreen at one time! Let me tell you from personal experience that it is true.

Zombies are everywhere. As soon as you start mowing them down more show up. It is impossible to clear an outside location of zombies. Indoors (with the doors closed) yes, outside, no!

Conclusion

At 400 MS points (or free) this is an excellent opportunity for gamers to get a taste of the Dead Rising system. Players will need to go through the game a few times just to find where everything is let alone actually beat the game.

There are some issues with the AI on the survivors (I'm swinging a sword over here!) but nothing that is too terrible if you pay attention. There is also a minor issue with the sheer number of zombies present in this tiny town! There's more zombies than you can shake a chainsaw at!

From start to finish it takes about three hours to play through the entire story if you know where everything is, which you will not know unless you read online FAQs or otherwise spoil the story for yourself. I spent about eight plus hours playing this before I acquired all of the achievements. Take that for what it is worth.

video games May 12th, 2010 by HMTKSteve
Fallout New Vegas

Long time readers know that I am a huge fan of the Fallout universe. From it's inception on the PC all the way to its recent appearance on the Xbox360 and PS3. Yup, I love this game!

I was stoked this morning to read that a collectors edition of the Falout New Vegas game had been announced.

Features:
♠ Seven “Lucky 7” poker chips, each designed to represent chips from the major casinos found on the New Vegas strip and throughout the Mojave Wasteland.

♠ A fully customized Fallout: New Vegas deck of cards. Each card in the pack has been uniquely illustrated to depict characters and factions found within the game. Use the cards to play poker, blackjack or Caravan, an original card game that was created by Obsidian especially for New Vegas.

♠ A recreation of the game’s highly coveted “Lucky 38” platinum chip.

♠ A hardcover graphic novel “All Roads” that tells the story of some of the characters and events that lead up to Fallout: New Vegas. “All Roads” was written by Chris Avellone, the game’s creative director, and created in conjunction with Dark Horse Comics.

♠ ‘The Making of Fallout: New Vegas’ DVD. This documentary DVD will contain exclusive video content, including interviews with the developers in which they take you from concept to creation and discuss topics such as story, setting, legacy of the Fallout franchise and more.

North American players can preorder this directly from Gamestop: Fallout: New Vegas Collector's Edition

PS: Preorder ships 10-1-2010!!!

video games May 11th, 2010 by HMTKSteve

For the past few days a friend and I have been trying to take down the ultimate boss monster in Borderlands: Crawmerax.

This gigantic craw wurm is the baddest boss in the game and fights at level 64 while the players are capped at level 61. He is surrounded by level 61 craw wurms and craw maggots that will tear you to shreds! One swipe from the giant beast is often enough to leave you fighting for your life.

How did I beat this bad boss? Well, I cheated.

See, there is a glitch area in the boss encounter that causes the big guy to freeze in place and roar. Not only does it freeze him but it also freezes all the lesser craw critters as well. Check the video o see how it is done.

PS: After you defeat him make sure a friend is around to join your game because he drops more loot than one player can carry!

Happy hunting!

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