Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fallout Journal #2: A Sadistic Change of Heart

a few days ago, i sat down with coffee in hand and perused my wasteland survival guide (i.e. the game book) to read up on Megaton and to find the best way to systematically remove all life from the town. after reviewing the layout, i came up with a pretty good plan.

1) walk up to the bomb and save: this will be the return point in case everything goes sour.

2) disarm the bomb and get the deed to your house. make first parallel save.

3) find Jehricho. make second parallel save before hiring. after hiring, walk outside and cap first person you see. see how Jehricho reacts. if he turns on you, reset to previous save. if not procede to 4)

4) head to each home and inside area and sweep clean of all people.

5) pull out big guns, and rain down fire from the catwalks. watch the bomb, just in case.

6) gloat and revel in your decimation of Megaton.

seems easy enough right? well, the caveat is that when i disarmed the bomb, and got the deed to the house, i needed to outfit my home. the only way i can do that is by paying ass raping prices to Moira (DAMMIT!!). so she proves she is still useful for another day, thus her death is not imminent yet. i spend several trips selling and trading all around the wasteland, getting as many caps as i can to both pay for my housewares, as well as enough to pay for jehricho. once that is done i find jehricho. i pay him, and i begin to outfit him.

allow me to sidebar here for a moment; previous to all of the running around getting caps, and just after finding out Moira (DAMMIT!!!) is going to rake me over the coals for every last cap i have, i went to the arlington library to trade in my 13 pre-war books. now, due to my very evil nature, she refused to even talk to me. so, looking at her and her two brotherhood of steel sentries, i take all three out in a fit of rage. now i'm left with armor i can't use, but can trade, but the stuff is too heavy for me. so, i'll come back for it.

back to the story.

i take jehricho to my superduper mart hideout, fix him up with a few things, then suddenly wonder to myself...can Jehricho use power armor? we head to the arlington library, and i give him the armor. yep, within seconds, he's got the armor on like a champ!

so we head out. i decide to head across the map and drop off some sugar bombs at the subway station where Murray is making ultrajet. a few more caps trade hands, and i decide to head out to vault 92 to get a violin. while traveling, we come across paradise falls, a slaver community.

interesting thing about being evil, apparently paradise falls loves me! they welcome me in with open arms and offer me a business proposition. i get slaves for them for caps. anyone i want.

after rubbing elbows with some real scum of humanity types. i leave paradise falls. then it hits me:

i know where i can get slaves...a whole town...full of potential slaves...

change of plans, Jehricho...change of plans...

Note: Shortly thereafter, Jehricho was cut down by a Deathclaw. his body still remains stuck under a Deathclaw carcass. i think he would've preferred it that way.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Return to the Wasteland: A Fallout 3 journal

For the third time, i've gone back to play Fallout 3. for some reason, this open world, post apocalyptic RPG captivates me every time. it features some of the most beautiful and haunting scenery ever produced for a video game. every time i play it, i find something new or interesting, and with the additional content never before played, i have much to do.

this time through, i'm playing as an evil character, which is surprisingly more difficult for me than it seems. i just can't kill anyone indiscriminately. i first have to weigh how useful this person will be in the future before i just kill them. i learned this the hard way when i was a dick to this kid who wanted me to help him with his irradiated ant problem. i was cruel and opened fire, but after dumping more then a dozen bullets into him, i realized that he wasn't dying (the game forbids the death of children, i didn't know that) and because of my actions, i can't finish his quest and have cheated myself out of valuable xp. lesson learned, i now carefully watch my karma meter to balance both the good and evil karma so i remain at a constant level.

so, as of right now, i've topped level 15, and still have a lot to do. here's a short list.

1) The Super Duper Mart -- i've cleared out the raiders and have made this spot my Base of Operations for the duration of my game. it's secure, has a storeroom for extra things, and a bed to sleep in. unfortunately, My BoO is in the most southern sector of the wasteland, so traveling back and forth is a pain in the ass, even with fast travel. my main goal is to find a sister spot to my BoO and establish it either in the central locale or northern most location.

2) Megaton must die -- this area is a well of good or bad karma waiting to be tapped. now, the first time i played, i nuked the city. cool, but it gets a bit boring, and the person you wish dies the most (Moira) ends up being the only survivor of the nuke. so my intentions this time through are simple: Use Megaton for all available resources, disable the bomb for the colony. then, once i'm given my own home for being the savior for the colony, murder every last resident and claim the town for myself. i'll need to find another doctor to heal radiation and addictions if the need arises.

3) Exploit "items-for-caps" arrangements to the fullest degree -- Meresti needs Blood Packs, Girdershade needs Nuka-Cola Quantum. The library needs Pre-War Books. Some Guy want Fingers or Ears or something. the fact is that all of these pay well, and if you're willing to do the legwork and haul the stuff, you can make some good caps. Girdershade needs only about 30 of the Quantums, so i'm pretty sure i'll liquidate both residents of the small village and take the place, and all the nuka-cola, for myself.

4) weigh the usefulness of others before murdering them -- seems simple enough. i tend to save  wastelanders who have been captured by supermutants. then as the run away, thankful for their newfound freedom, double tap in the back of the head. it's clean, and keeps the evil flowing. caravan traders get a pass now and then, just because i might need them later. store owners depend on situation and if they have backup or not.

5) make alliances when necessary and advantageous; break them when opportunity strikes -- i've had two instances of traveling down the road and coming across a trader who is battling a raider party. if you jump in and assist in killing the raiders, it helps your chances of survival by taking out the raiders a little faster and without incident, and less ammo too. then, once the last raider drops, have the trader meet an untimely demise by "running into" one of your shotgun shells.

6) Be the bigger man (or woman) with bigger guns and better equipment -- There's nothing better when a raider opens fire, then you pull out your near pristine laser rifle and cripple an arm. they run in terror, and gunning them down makes it all the more sweeter. Use Stealth Boys to really get those cheap evil kills.

i'll let you know how well i'm doing on these bullet points of evil. until then...MWAHAHAHA!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Epoch


As you should know by now, i'm a big fan of horror games, and I have a surplus of them in my closet. There are horror games that stand well on their own, while others either come up short in delivering a truly enjoyable and horrifying experience.
With my vast amount of experience on the subject, I can tell you that the best horror rpgs are those that deliver a great experience with a system that is both different and transparent enough to stay out of the way of the horror. With this in mind, I am glad to be able to review Epoch.

I had downloaded two of the free adventures for Epoch a few months back (Fever Pitch and Road Trip)
in the hopes of running them using Dread. However, is I read them, I became interested in the actual Epoch ruleset. I managed to get a copy through the creator of the game, perused the book, and I was happy with what I saw.

Epoch is a system that delivers one shot horror experiences and emulates a cinematic style of play in which the gamemaster and the players share a responsibility for the content of the story. In other words, everyone is equally invested to make an interesting game.

The Content:
First off, the book is over 100 pages, and that was a bit unexpected. A pleasant surprise for sure. The book is divided into three sections, which set aside the rules to play, the rules to run the game, and all of the theory of horror and how to make your own terrifying scenarios.
The book is well written and sets a mood for serious storytelling it sets up the mutual investment in the game, points out the flaws and faults of certain disruptive behaviors at the gaming table, and exercises options and to help remedy these problems. Following these general rules and guidelines help to set the mood and atmosphere for the entire game.

The Ruleset. The scenario is set up in phases. There is a introduction section of a game in which the general problems and tone of the scenario. The remainder of the game is split into Tension Phases and Challenge Phases. Each Tension Phase allows the characters to have “screen time” and deal with the circumstances of the scenario. As the Tension Phase reaches a crescendo, the Challenge Round begins. A Challenge Round consists of some struggle or obstacle that can become a life-threatening situation. These situations can be either physical or psychological in nature, and it is up to the characters to attempt to overcome these challenges by playing one of four cards that the players use throughout the game. There are four cards in general: three of them are mental/physical injury cards that range from slight, to moderate, to severe. There is also the dreaded Zero/Hero card, which can either help out another character, or allows the character to “throw someone under the bus” in an attempt to save themselves.

Each time a card is played, it is discarded from the hand. If you have no cards to play, and it comes to a challenge round, you are dead/insane. Knowing that a game of Epoch is at least five Tension/Challenge phases long, someone will die.

So how do you avoid premature death? Well, at the end of every challenge phase, once all cards are played, there is a secret ballot for who the “audience” thinks is the most interesting character of that “scene”. Whoever is voted the most interesting is allowed to return any card from the discard pile back into their hand. Those who were not voted most interesting are given a Flashback Token to use in the next phase to help out their character.

The key thing to remember about this game is the mutual investment of both player and gamemaster, because even if a player is eliminated, they are still at the table and participate in the voting as an audience member.

The gamemaster has to do a little paperwork, keeping track of the horror track, which gauges how the game will end. There are three options: Total Victory, Hollow Victory, and Defeat. These are obtained by how many key points of the scenario were discovered.

Wrap up: Epoch is a horror game that will test your role playing skills and your mental capacities. It is serious roleplaying in which it is imperative to be invested in both your character and the story. It will make you uncomfortable at times and force you to make the hard decisions. In the end, it delivers what it promises. You will get a unique horror experience that you will remember, and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

Thanks to Dale Elvy for supplying Epoch for this review. Follow Epoch news at

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Resistance 3

Review: Resistance 3

note: this review contains spoilers over the whole trilogy of games. If you haven't played it yet, and are going to at some point. Don't read further.

You have been warned.

Initial Take Before Playing: So this is the end. The final battle between the humans and the Chimera. This should be an all out war. We're taking our planet back and sticking our big military boot up the chimera's asses (do they have asses?) and sending them home crying to Chimera Mom. WOO!!!

Initial Take After Playing: WTF was THAT? It looked like the french resistance came in and threw up all over the place. Where was the epic battles I expected?

The Story Setup: the story so far gets recapped during installation:
We see Capelli (R3's main protaganist) shoot Hale after succumbing to the Chimera Virus. The we find that the body has been returned to SRPA (Army's Special anti chimera unit) and an antibody to the virus is created with Hale's blood. Those who are affected and given the antibody and are once again fully human. Capelli is Dishonorably Discharged. Those who are given their lives back are told to live life to the fullest while they can. Capelli gets married and has a son.
We fast forward four years. Where Capelli and his family are living in an underground colony with a ragtag bunch of freedom fighters. They defend their small town in Oklahoma as best as they can, occasionally fighting moving groups of chimera who get too close to the town. During one of these raids, an old friend shows up looking for Capelli; good old Dr. Malikov, who certainly hasn't given up on the planet just yet. He tells Capelli that there is a chance to shut down the main tower in New York, but he'll need Capelli to protect him on the way. A reluctant agreement is reached.
Now, the two of them travel and end up in trouble everywhere they go. They travel by boat up the Mississippi and get into trouble. They meet up with another resistance force in St Louis, led by Charlie, which gets them into more trouble. They try to fly to New York, but get attacked and land in Mt Pleasant Pennsylvania and get into trouble. Again more freedom fighter groups and that causes more trouble. They get on a train but end up in Graterford. PA and get into a lot of trouble with a penal colony (this is the part where Malikov is killed). Finally. Capelli makes it to New York. Alone and desperate Capelli marches on the tower, fails to make it, and is rescued by Charlie and his plane.
Now, the two men formulate a plan to take out the tower by crashing a large terraformer hovering in the sky into the tower. They fly up there, cut power, overload the terraformer, and crash it. Without getting into greater specifics and some really lame physics. The loss of the tower screw up everything for the chimera and the crisis is adverted.
We leave the game with Capelli getting back home via plane.

My Take on the Story: WHAT!? We know that Hale had to die. I can even respect that Capelli had to be discharged, but couldn't they do that AFTER THE WAR? Speaking of war, WHERE WAS IT? Did we become Switzerland and just give up? We got the flu shot, went home, and pretended that life goes on? By giving Capelli and the others the antibody, we took away our only advantage. They soldiers were stable, just as long as they didn't go off their inhibitor shots, like Hale did.
Four years later? FOUR YEARS LATER? Who was asleep at the wheel on this one? We just let the Chimera walk all over us? We certainly weren't winning at the end of R2, but we weren't losing either. It was a stalemate at best. Yeah they had better tech, but our SRPA guys were kicking some ass (again, do they have asses?) and putting the hurt on the chimera every chance they could. I can only assume that everything was wiped out. (maybe I missed that part) but not without a fight.
The fact that Capelli had to jump through every hoop he could just to get to New York was irritating. The game feels more like a post apocalyptic game like Fallout rather than Resistance. I was really expecting something more large scale.

New Stuff in the Third Installment: Guns get upgrades the more you use them. There are new guns like the cryogun, the atomizer, and the mutator. New Chimera are introduced, such as the Brawler, the Widowmaker, The Longlegs. Grims have shrunk, but now there are two types. Capelli's healing factor is gone and needs health packs to survive. 5 types of Grenades now.

My Take on the New Stuff: I hate having new enemies to attack in a third installment. I know time has passed since the last installment (FOUR YEARS? REALLY?) and they can justify evolution with new feral Chimera. Still a bit lame. Longlegs are basically grasshoppers and actually blow up much like a grasshopper or locust would. Brawlers are big ape creatures. Surprised that there are no Chimera Dogs at this point.
The idea of guns getting xp for use and upgrading is cool, but what about the main character. He seemed drab and lifeless at times. There was nothing to really make him stand out. Being a former member of SRPA, he should've been better.
They took the Grims, (arguably the most scary creatures to fight in one and two) and shrunk them down to man size. Why? 7 foot tall freaks are great to shoot and with their speed and numbers, and they ruined them. Bad move.

Graphics/Look/Tech: questionably the best graphics out of the three, though it is designed to be gritty looking. Serious lag issues with animations and sounds. Locations are cool but reminiscent of other games. Some mapping issues with weapons.

My Take on G/L/T: when I blow up a grim with a shotgun. I expect to hear the report right away, now two seconds after the fact. That was horrible. Graphics are glitchy in some spots. There's a part when Capelli is unscrewing the top of a cap on a bottle, and the fingers and the cap unscrewing are going at different times.
It feels like stuff was glued together from other games to make a big one. We took Ravenholm from Half-Life 2 and put it in Pennsylvania. We took the train scenes from Uncharted 2 and threw them in. The Prison sections feel like someone took Manhunt and smashed it with Batman Arkham Asylum. Why don't I go play those games?

The Final Wrap-up: the assault on New York was probably the most irritating thing in the game. To go through that, with a snail like pace. Then die for stupid reasons. Over and over again. Then find out that you can't get in. thanks for a waste of time.
The ending is the worst. No real dialogue what-so-ever. There's an overlay of dialogue from a radio. No words are spoken between Capelli or his family as he makes his way home. No toughing good bye from Charlie either, or at least a “Thanks for helping me save the planet” before he flies off nonchalantly. I saw a better ending in Turning Point and that ending was crappy!

At the end of the day, Resistance 3 fails to deliver. It's wrap up is weak, and for a franchise that launched a platform such as the PS3 to end like that, I say good riddance. Its a shame, but its all too common now, that a franchise fails to live up to its fullest potential.