Tag Archives: Video Game

Mass Effect series review

Mass Effect is a futuristic third-person shooter game that follows the adventures of one heroic Marine (named John or Jane Shepard) and his/her battle against the Reapers that want to eliminate life in the galaxy, for unknown reasons.

The game is well-known and well-liked, especially among Bioware fans; but what sets it apart from other (and arguably better) games made by Bioware is its futuristic setting and the — dare I say it — presence of Shepard’s personality. Many Bioware games don’t give the player character a set personality, instead choosing to leave the personality setting up to the players, but this can lead to a player feeling distanced from their avatars, instead choosing to “bond” with the other characters instead. Continue reading Mass Effect series review

“0x10c” the new game by the creator of “Minecraft”

The creator of the ever popular Minecraft, Notch, chose April Fools day to announce a new game. The game was titled Mars Effect and it promised to be a hardcore science-fiction game, allowing players to experience the joy and terror of flying through space and creating their own computer program. Continue reading “0x10c” the new game by the creator of “Minecraft”

Fallout New Vegas

Screenshot from the game Fallout New Vegas. Photo from Creative Commons.

Fallout New Vegas is the latest addition to the Fallout series. In this new version of the game, players leave the DC area in their wake in favor of the west cost. The game has much of the familiar comedy and wit found in the previous installment. It opens with the main character digging his/her own grave. The game takes place four years after the events in the third game. Players are forced to work with different factions as they make their way in the waste and the city of New Vegas.

Game Play

Game play for Fallout New Vegas will seem very familiar to people who played Fallout 3. That being said, there have been some significant tweaks made to game play. These tweaks change a lot of aspects to game play, so for those just picking up the series, everyone is on level footing.

One of the major tweaks is with the Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System (VATS). The system still works like in the previous installment of the game allowing you to target various parts of an enemy’s body. While activated, VATS not only allows you to target parts of an enemy’s body, but it also stops time allowing you to see the chance of hitting whatever part of the body you are targeting. The major change to the VATS system is it also now enables you to use special attacks. With certain melee weapons this means unlocking special cut scenes that would not normally appear during combat.

The companion system also received a major overhaul. In Fallout 3 to get a companion to do what you wanted in a combat situation could be a tad bit difficult to say the least. The old system required that you talk to your companion and go through several bits of dialog before being able to give them instructions. Now instructions work on a radial menu, meaning you can pop it up and give commands mid battle without having to stop and strike up a casual conversation.

Factions appeared in the previous incarnations of the game, but now they play an even more vital role. To reflect this importance, the developers brought back a system used in previous versions of the game that was cut from Fallout 3. This is the reputation system; the better your reputation with a certain faction, the better they treat you and the more options you get as far as missions and dialog. This also holds true vice versa. Players’ reputations are not effected by their karma; their karma can be horrible, but still have a very good reputation. Karma is a rating of your good and bad deeds and often influences how things in the game happen to players and how normal people view them.

The Good

The game is intense. The wastelands, while not as bad as in the previous game, still provide an unexpected level of challenge. The game has an option to make it more realistic for those who adapt to games extremely quickly or just want more of a challenge. This increases its replay value and while being more difficult, it is far from overbearing. There are still the odd and comedic characters people have come to expect from the Fallout franchise. The addition of guns modeled after real guns has added another level of depth to game play that was not there previously.

The Bad

Graphics could’ve been much better. Even though you know you are playing a new game, you still feel like you are playing Fallout 3 since the graphics aren’t a huge improvement. A lot changed in the game, but it did nothing to make the game play feel less stale. Overall, the game is extremely buggy with glitches appearing all over the place.

Final Thoughts

The game is a solid addition to any video game library. Not necessarily a must have if you are a fan of the series, but it is probably something you should pick up when you get the chance. It has a fun, in-depth cast of characters, but they may be the only thing that is all that different from Fallout 3. Even with new locations, too often I am left feeling like I have seen this or done that before.

Whim Rating 4/5

Fallout 3:The apocolypse has never been so fun

Photo from Creative Commons

Fallout 3 is the latest game in the Fallout franchise returning from a ten year break from the original series and the titles’ rights changing hands. Fallout 3 takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where nations have unleashed their arsenal of nuclear weapons, turning the world into a wasteland. Players are introduced to the world of the vaults initially where your character spends the first part of his life before things go horribly wrong. With the release of Fallout: New Vegas looming soon, it was time this game got the look it deserved. Fallout is one of the most well known action rpg games out there.

Game Play

The game play for Fallout 3 is your standard fare for action rpgs. Though the game has a quirky humor all its own which bleeds through to all aspects of the game, this humor serves to soften some of the darker plot elements as the game takes the occasional twist for the worse.

The skill and statistic system for the game is straightforward. As the game starts, you begin as a baby. After your birth, the character’s father reads players a storybook titled You Are Special. As you flip through the pages in the book, they are really places where you allocate stat points which you have at that point. The stats are important for how they affect your skills; certain skills enable you to pick locks or use certain weapons better than most other people. There are also perks which can also influence game play providing different dialog options that may not normally appear, or giving you bonuses to the stats you have.

The vault-tech assisted targeting system (VATS) is a vital part of the game, allowing players to choose and pick where their character fires and see what the likelihood of them hitting the target is. VATS allows players to switch between enemy after enemy as long as players have enough ammunition to attack them all. VATS can get players out of tight situations as it pauses time allowing you to cycle through and pick off the enemies you have the highest probability of hitting.

Weapons and armor in Fallout 3 are interesting in that it degrades and breaks down as players use it. The more broken down and used an item is, the less effective it ultimately is. Vendors can repair weapons for a price, or if multiples of an item are had it can be cannibalized to repair the other weapon. Users also gain the ability to create their own weapons, allowing them to make weapons that typically have a greater advantage over weapons that are just found while wandering the waste. To make the weapons, players need the proper schematics, such as a work bench and the items required to make the weapon, but it is all worth the effort.

The Bad

There isn’t much to say about the negative aspects of Fallout 3. The game is a polished piece of work with the occasional odd bug here and there and some annoyance in the way the game explains skill usage. Beyond those few issues there really isn’t much to say about it.

The Good

The game is not set in what people would consider the most stunning of settings, but the graphics are solid and are a definite bonus to the game play. The vocals are good, well thought out and match the dialog and tone extremely well. The game skill perks are fun and just enough to keep players engaged when they w0uld sometimes rather be doing something other than the main story quest.

Final Thoughts

For those who haven’t picked up Fallout 3, it is a must get. With the newest game in the franchise just on the horizon there hasn’t been a better time to get into the world of Fallout.

Whim Rating: 4.5/5

More Badass Than A Badass Skag Borderlands

Borderlands opens with a story, about treasure, women, guns, money and all that good stuff. How does one obtain this untold wealth? The hidden vault of alien technology, which is stored somewhere on the planet of Pandora. You get your choice of four characters to play and seek out the treasure that awaits you on Pandora.

Game Play

Borderlands is sort of difficult to explain. At its most basic level it is a first person shooter that incorporates the loot based and mission aspect of a role playing game. At times, though, Borderlands seems as though it could branch off into its own entirely separate genre. The intense fast game play mixes well with the slow moments in the game, though slow moments are far and few between. The graphic style of the game and its cell shading tends to lure players into a false sense of security, only to be moments later attacked by a random enemy. Towns are no safe haven from attack, as your enemies will follow you right into town and continue attacking. This just adds to the fast and sometimes panicked game play, which adds to the experience.

Players get to choose one of four characters to start the game. These characters are each members of a different job class. The classes are Hunter, Siren, Solider, and Berserker each class offers players a different and unique way to play the game. Hunter class specializes in snipers and magnums as such the hunter skill tree reflects that. The Siren class focuses more on increasing the chance of inflicting specialized effects such as corrosion and burn. The Solider is more of an utility class though it does have some specialization with automatic weapons and shotguns. The majority of the Solider’s skill tree is devoted to its special ability. Berserker class is the final and most powerful of the classes available in the game. Its skills focus on both its special ability and increasing the damage it does with explosives.

Along with their built-in specialized focus, each class has a special ability. These abilities are extremely useful in a pinch. The Hunter class’ ability is to call upon Bloodwing, a pet falcon that attacks your enemies from afar. The skill upgrades for this ability increase the amount of damage Bloodwing does or increases the drop rates on weapons and money for an enemy killed by Bloodwing. Sirens have the ability to phase walk. The phase walk ability allows Sirens to turn invisible and sneak up on enemies. When you come out of phase walk an elemental blast is let off creating a radius of damage around your character. The skill tree ties into this ability by decreasing cool-down time between its usage and other odds and ends to tweak this ability. Soldier class’ ability is to throw out a portable automated gun turret. The turret provides cover fire as well as a built-in shield, allowing players to hide behind while their own shields recharge. The skill tree works with the turret ability, giving players the option to have the turret regenerate health or ammo while nearby. Also one branch of the skill tree focuses on making the turret more powerful.

The controls for the game are fairly basic and feel rather natural to pick up. There is a bit of a learning curve but not much of one. The game takes time to make an obvious effort to explain the controls and other information to the player, forcing you read the information by not allowing you to exit out of those information boxes immediately.

Co-op mode truly transforms this game into a different sort of beast. Outside of co-op the game is a rather decent shooter, fun but a bit of a grinder. In co-op mode the game really opens up, allowing players to push the envelope as the game adapts to enemies becoming harder and the drops becoming better. Co-op mode allows for players to try out different tactics to accomplish missions that otherwise would be extremely difficult to manage alone.

The Good

The game developers half way through production decided to go back and change their graphics. This usually spells disaster for a game. That is not the case with borderlands. Developers displeased with how they had strayed from the concept art went back to the original style and it was a great choice. The art for the game has a definite graphic novel feel that is only enhanced by the choice to use cell shading. In the process, they created one of the more visually stunning games of the year, while it does not have photo-realistic graphics it doesn’t need it. The game’s current almost cartoon-like graphics fit amazingly well with the story, not taking away from game play at all.

Dialogue in the game is amazingly funny. In co-op mode characters will talk to each other, often times complaining if you take too much time to heal or shouting out warnings. Some of the bandits will shout phrases such as, “I’ll make you sorry you ever came here,” usually as they are being shredded to pieces with machine gun fire. It’s not what one would call the most in-depth dialogue, and in truth it does little to add to the overall story, but it is still a rather amusing plus.

The Bad

Weapons. It doesn’t seem that the game can even be mentioned without talking about its massive amount of weapons. For many people this was a major selling point for the game and it was what was pushed the hardest, but while there are plenty of different weapons there isn’t much variety in actual design. The majority of the weapons look similar, just having different status effects or colors. So for those who were looking forward to seeing millions of different styles of gun, this a definite downside.

Bugs. The game on its release is and was one of the buggiest games. There are plenty of bugs which are exploited to the benefit of the players and just as many that are extremely detrimental to the players. Co-op mode, truly the shinning gem of this game, suffers the worst of the bugs. There are occasions where players lose their skill points upon logging out of the game. Gearbox is currently working on a solution.

Final Thoughts

Borderlands is an example of what games can be. It is very much a rejection of the more and more realistic games. The cartoonish art style and the comical interchanges between yourself and the other people of Pandora both build an interesting web that keeps you trapped within this game. It is among one of the most addictive and entrancing games of the 2009 year. It is a game I would definitely suggest to those who savor and enjoy co-op play, as this is when the game shines its brightest. While the game falls somewhat short in its variety of weapon designs there are still plenty of weapons, many of which will have you giggling like a madman as you watch them destroy your enemies. You have to love a game that labels the strongest of the normal enemies as badass. It is a definite must-have.

Whim Rating 4.5

Check out the intense trailer:

Game Play

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video from outside source.

Ghostbusters: the Video Game; still the ones to call

This latest addition to the Ghostbusters franchise is Ghostbusters: the Video Game. In it you play as a rookie on the Ghostbusters squad. Each member of the squad is voiced by the original characters. The game’s story is written by the original writers of “Ghostbusters”. The events that take place in the game do so two years after the second movie. The game begins with your first mission, which starts at the Sedgewick Hotel where you face off against an old foe of the Ghostbusters, Slimer. From there on it quickly becomes apparent that something is going on in New York City as more and more ghosts begin to appear and Peck tries to shut down the Ghostbusters once more.

Game Play

It is easy to see how people would expect for the game play to get extremely repetitive and boring, the majority of the game being spent catching ghosts and forcing them into traps or destroying them alltogether. The game manages to avoid that problem by the introduction of various types of ghosts who do different things and are affected by different weapons. For instance: one of the new weapons in the Ghostbusters’ arsenal is the slime blower/tether. The blower portion of this weapon is used to save people who are being possessed while the tether is used to solve a number of puzzles throughout the game. The slime blower/tether is just one example of the various new weapons and devices added to the game. Another new device is the PKE meter. When used in conjunction with the Para-goggles, it allows you to view and find paranormal activity that would otherwise be undetectable. The game itself is basically set up as a first person shooter with various quirks of its own. Instead of having a side bar to display health it can be found on your proton pack, along with any signs that your pack may be overheating. Overheating is solved simply by venting the pack. It’s like a much quicker form of reloading for a first person shooter. You will be surprised at just how long the game’s simple but extremely fun concept will have you glued to your controller as you work to discover why the ghost world appears to be fusing with our own.

The Good

The voice acting for the game is just amazing. This has a lot to do with the fact that the old cast returned to voice the characters, giving the game a very movie-like feel as you progress in the story. The characters’ interactions felt very natural and for the most part were extremely funny. The game makes plenty of references to the movies, sometimes using the same dialog while other times having past ghosts return to fight the Ghostbusters once more. The game play is among best: simple and fluid without many flaws. The computer generated cut scenes were nothing less than amazing. The amount of detail put into the game was beyond impressive.

The Bad

The main problem I have with this game is a mechanical one. While the computer generated cut scenes were beyond amazing, at times the ones built around the games storyline were less than great, even pixelated. There are parts in the game where Bill Murray doesn’t quite live up to the acting he put into the movies, but it is only a minor distraction from the game.

Final Opinion

This game is a must have for any hardcore “Ghostbusters” fan. It stays true to the characters and true to the series. More often than not the comedy in the exchanges between the characters will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. Even if you are not a huge “Ghostbusters” fan, the game is solid and extremely fun to play.

My Rating: 4/5