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There is a very good reason Bethesda took away not one, not two, but 3 game critics awards for their showing of Fallout 4. It promises to be one of the best games this year. To put that in perspective; it was pretty much announced this year. As in two months ago. At this year’s E3. That never happens. Most games these days make their entire dev cycle in a PR circus up to the point in which they have to postpone or rush the deadline just so they can ship out a mediocre product that ends up getting thumbs down by guys like me. Bethesda studios did it right; they showed up to the PR conference with Fallout 4 near completion, an honest demonstration of the gameplay, and on top of that a finished phone application that promises to become more popular then the game, for reasons we will discuss.

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Since this is my first review in a LONG time, and I am still working on redesigning this site, it might be a good idea to restructure my game reviews in a slightly less obscure format. I will be sticking to the usual 7 word Synopsis, but I feel that this approach needs a little tweaking. Instead of attempting to define what could be a 50 hour experience into 7 words, I will simply write a small paragraph for each section. A paragraph for the good, for the bad, and for the summary. I might revert to my old method when posting on twitter, but that seems to be the only time where the “traditional” format is useful. That, and maybe for those vine reviews I always wanted to do.

Anyway enough chitchat; here is the 7 word synopsis regarding whether or not those E3 awards mean anything.

Here’s my Review of Fallout 4

manNDog

The Good

Let me start off by saying that I love playing this game. Period. I was a big fan of the previous game Fallout 3 and actually enjoyed Fallout:New Vegas despite some of its flaws. I think almost every decision made in the game itself was either necessary or at the very least necessary to make this a top quality game. The graphics look very realistic when your not moving something in a weird way. The controls are responsive, and more attuned to FPS style combat then any other Fallout game to date. Even the command system, while not completely flawless, does offer you a degree of control over companions. The little tutorial videos for the series patented S.P.E.C.I.A.L system look like they were made by a professional animation studio from 1935 . The story, while simplistic, offers a wide variety of options without adding too much complexity, and the sheer depth to character statistics make crafting your character feel like an art form him OR herself.

and speaking of crafting…

BaseballBatnever have I seen the core mechanics of RPG, RTS, and world-building games like Minecraft come together so seamlessly. Not only can you build modifications, not only can you build cities AND run them. Not only can you upgrade machines and augment your massive robot power armor, but you do it in a way that compliments your exploration and RPGing. Rather then being just tacked on, it becomes part of both the story and the game as a whole. You know all that useless junk you end up hoarding in every single Bethesda game (not just Fallout; Skyrim had this issue too) when your looting a cave? That’s all useful now. Everything from the teddy bear to the globe to the broom sticks can be McGuyvered into something as cool as a weapon mod, a power up, a new type of explosive, or even a new house and piece of furniture. All the Homemade stuff that served as mere backdrops for the previous Fallout games that were obviously made from scrap are now yours to build and command. You are no longer just a lone adventurer but an active leader of a community and a builder of your own monuments.

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Do use responsibly

That’s it for the Good. We got a few things for the Bad that you need to watch out for.

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The Bad

I’m not going to talk about how the animations sometimes gets weird when certain objects like items or AI chicken heads move in the wrong spot. I’m not going to talk to you about how there is no tutorial for the V.A.T.S. system that still predominates the combat system. I’m not even going to complain about how you can build everything in Fallout 4 except bullets and ammo; two very important resources in a game with dozens of guns as the primary weapon. Those are all things to watch out for, to be certain, but one thing trumps them all that actually ruins the experience pretty badly if your not careful.

See this screen?

loading

This is free wallpaper that is based off the loading screen. The one where you press start and it loads that awesome game I told you about. I pressed start when beginning this game at around 8:00 am this morning, hoping to get a little more play time before writing this thing.

It’s almost 12:00 at noon as I type these words. IT’s STILL LOADING.

I am not the only one with this problem either. I played this game on the Xbox One, and its supposed to be even worse for the PS4 and PC. Plus there are supposed to be glitches to watch out for, including one where your weapon disappears. I thankfully haven’t run into any problems like these. Worst that happened to me was that there is too much load time and I sometimes saw characters and objects float while on the edge of surfaces. This is pretty normal though.

What isn’t normal is having to wait 4 + hours to not just play for the first time, but continue playing. This is ridiculous. I have tried restarting the app, unplugging the Xbox One, and it still loads like molasses. I will try updating the Xbox One and see if it helps, but a word of caution to the unwary consumer; be prepared to wait.

Okay that’s the brunt of the bad, lets wrap things up.

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The Summary

You might think that playing this game isn’t worth it based off my previous statements. Especially if you never played a Fallout game before. While I can say for sure that veteran Fallout fans will have a much better experience with this game then inexperienced players, the game is worth learning and worth the wait. My advice would be to start the game before heading to work on Friday and then playing it for the rest of the weekend. It takes that much time to load, that much time to master, and you will have fun for hours upon hours.

It’s like building a shack out of scrap metal, or modifying you Fat Boy to carry more nuclear payloads; all it takes is some time and work.

That’s it for Fallout 4. Next I will be finishing a long overdue coverage of last year’s South Jersey Geekfest, and maybe a special article about a Fallout 4 perk that personally offends me. Hold my calls.

Update

Go figure. I update my Xbox One, and the game loads like a dream. Remember kids; always update your consoles!

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I think 5 months is long enough to start posting again, don’t you? Yeah, thought as much.

Since it’s been so long since I actually posted on here about anything, and I never officially ended this contest, I think it is only fair to give it one more week for those of you just tuning in. For those of you who have been waiting several months, just wait one more week, and don’t cancel that newsletter! I will end the contest by then.

Same rules as before; sign up for the newsletter and you automatically get a chance to win.

U.S. citizens only. Sorry but shipping outside the states was very expensive last time, so I can’t do it again.

Sign up for my newsletter on the right and good luck!

Title says it all. I will be hosting another random giveaway for all my loyal followers and subscribers!

Please subscribe to my newsletter on the right and/or click the “Patronize Me!” button here or up above to donate to my Patreon account. Both supporters and subscribers are eligible to win.

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This Years Prize: $100 Steam Gift Card!

Geekfest

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE BROADCAST LIVE AT GEEKFEST – 9:30AM TO 5:30PM

I really need to stop doing this. I am juggling waaaayyy too much on my plate, and I am sorry I didn’t post until now.

Since this month is almost over, and Retro Month was almost 30 days ago, I am going to only do a brief article on newgrounds.com next. After that, it will be business as usual. Since October is going to be THE month for next gen releases, that probably means a bunch of First Look Articles on all the fun stuff you saw at E3. If you missed that, check out this Article.

Yeah, Once October comes in, almost every game that was showed at E3 or otherwise will be coming onto GameStop Shelves and Steam Store icons like Black Friday madness. I will try my best to review as many titles as I can (in particular, those you got a first look at) but I will be one man acting as legion. Unless I can find some guest bloggers, there is a good chance I will not be able to cover some titles. This is guaranteed to include Wii U and 3DS titles, since I am flat broke and own neither system. Sorry Nintendo fans.

The rest of you have a lot to look forward too. I will be hosting a few booths at one if not two small conventions in New Jersey, and will be able to give live feed.  Don’t Worry; I’ll use a better mic then the crappy one on my Mac this time. I got a turtle beach headset that’ll pretty much cut the mustard. I’ll be sure to test before using this time.

Geekfest

The small conventions I will be attending include a festival being held at a local collectables shop called the Retro Station. I’ll post it once the owner announces it officially. The next one may or may not be another booth at Geekfest. In either case, I will be hosting another giveaway. I haven’t decided what the prize is, but it will be something significantly cheaper then a gaming console. I’m leaning towards either a Steam Gift Card or the latest and greatest game coming out that month.

If you have an idea for a giveaway prize, post in comments please!

Also this month, I will be doing a special lets play for

After that, I will basically be posting a Shopping List for Black Friday. I’ll be reviewing throughout the Fall season, and can pull on some research after October. I’ll be posting a free version on the blog, and might even sell a deluxe version for $0.99 each. We will see.

Also on the agenda; since I am no longer giving away a Playstation 4, I desperately need to change the video on my Patreon page. That means a new video for youtube and the page itself. Stay tuned for that.

Along the way, I will continue experimenting with HTML and CSS, which means that once the holiday rush passes, I will most likely be redesigning this site from scratch. I will see if I can keep the site running up until it’s time to relaunch, but until then its something else to look forward to.

It’s going to be a busy few months, but at the end of it all it’ll be worth it for me and you. Thank you so much for making this site possible.

Until next time.

 

The time has come

A fact’s a fact

It belongs to them

Lets give it back.

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Yes, crappy 80s lyrics for a less then crappy video game, to say the least. Super Mario Bros is the game you had to play if you grew up in the late 80s or the early 90s, you had to play Super Mario Bros. It was essentially the COD 4: Modern Warfare of days gone by. It’s influence never went away, and can best be seen with the indie hits Super Meat Boy and Braid in 2010. If you ask any gamer older then the age of 25 what game helped them become infatuated with all things fun and electronic, they will more then likely cite the little red plumber that could.

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So what was it about the first Super Mario Bros. game for the NES that not only made the console a success, but the resurrection of console gaming successful as well? Many things. For one, it pioneered just about every kind of commonplace trick in the game development handbook; teaching the player though design, multiple paths to the same goal, secret levels, warp zones, power-ups, coin collecting, and even the common boss battle all started with Super Mario Bros. It didn’t just save the game industry; it made it what it is today, and will continue to spread its influence on games, gamers, and game makers as a whole. If you want to design video games, I would say it’s just about paramount to get some hands on time with this game. If you have a Wii, try to find it on the virtual console in the Wii Store. If you don’t have any of the nintendo systems, get on Ebay. Or better yet, look up the Nintendo website or watch videos like this one. Good sources on the material at hand.

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I will be reviewing this game like any other; complete with the Good, the Bad, and the Summary. Like all my retro reviews, this will be more about what the game did then wheather or not you should buy it. If you are reading this article wondering if you should buy Super Mario Bros, I will save you time and effort by saying this; go buy the game, and don’t tell any of your gamer friends you were unsure. They will smack you upside the head for your perceived ignorance. Just buy it. It’s worth it. Here are a few reasons why, in the form of a review.

To be clear; Super Mario Bros for the NES is a…

Very Fun

 

Somewhat Punishing

 

Genre Defining Platformer

Again, click on any line for more details. In case you were wondering, this format did work well for me and I might just climb out of obscurity yet.

Next week, we delve into another classic, but Unlike Super Mario Bros, you might not be immediately familar with it unless your a die hard Zelda fan. That’s right; next review is…

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It’s July, and for a gamer that means three things.

  1. Less and less excuses to stay inside and play games.
  2. Less and less holidays for gamers to give or receive new games.
  3. Less and less and even less reasons for publishers to release brand spanking new games to retailers.

These are the ingredients to the ever dreaded summer draught that plagues the industry annually like a migrating flock of money eating locus. True, the vast majority of gamers are no longer teenagers and children, but until the big players in the current industry mold adjust their business models to compensate for that, most of the big budget games aren’t going to be released until at least October. That includes the vast majority of the titles I showed you on my E3 bulliten are in that pile, and on top of that, the last PS4 contest I ran left my wallet bone dry. So here I am – no games to buy and no money to buy them with. At least not from the triple A world. That’s why I’m going to do something different this summer; Today, on the first day of July, I will begin what I like to call Retro Month. From now on, every July, I will be unearthing games that have been out for a while and reviewing them based on both their historical merits, and how they stack up to today’s standards. August, meanwhile, will from now on be Indie Month. The theme there will be nothing but reviews of Indie titles; games that have a low budget, come from a small, obscure team, and/or can be found on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstaion Store, Steam, or App store exclusively. I might even be able to get an interview with an Indie dev with insights on how to break into the industry. This way, I can save my earnings by playing games I already own and then buying games for cheap quickly and swiftly.

Let Retro Month…Begin!

 

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If the title of this article and the big picture wasn’t enough of a hint, we are going to review a certain kind of system for you today. It’s the system that resurrected the game industry from what was then certain extinction. The crash of the 80s was a kiss of death for companies like Atari, Colecovision, and the likes of which you will never hear of because they died before they went public. To this day, they are unearthing the remains of E.T. for Atari, a game so bad that they literally took all the unsold copies and buried them in the desert. Such stories are not only common then but are common in the now, and history would repeat itself had the people who changed it for the better not become the kings of the new world.

For you see, after the games market collapsed, mainstream america and it’s media declared video games a dead fad. A reasonable estimate at the time, since fads that come and go have pretty much illustrated both the latter half of the 70s and the early 80s (Pet Rock, anyone?). It was the general consensus of just about every pundit on 1984 prime time that the video game fad had come and gone and the world was ready to move on to more important things, like computers. The fact that computers usually had interactive games on them was rarely discussed. What was normally discussed was the booming economy of Japan and the corporate powerhouses whose imported goods were quickly flooding the US markets. Products that came from the land of the rising sun were quickly starting to outnumber American made products, and no more was this apparent then the arcade. Among them, a great and ambitious game called Donkey Kong was king of the pizzeria, and was making a killing for the toy company that made it. You may have heard of that company; they call themselves Nintendo these days.

To make a long history lesson short, the designer of the game Shigeru Myamoto wanted to try something ambitious, CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi (died fairly recently) went along with it, and one extremely clever Market campaign and 60 million sales later, the game business was back and made Nintendo it’s king.

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This little system that could is what started it all; the Nintendo Entertainment System. NES for short. For many of you, it was probably your first real taste of what video gaming is all about. Join the club, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t mind the crowd. My professor for video game design Ryan Morrison said it best when he described us as the Nintendo generation. Like generation X, we proud ourselves on being different and often define ourselves by our entertainment choices. We also tend to have our views shaped by the technologies that made our generation possible, and which continue to affect our world. The ballads of Super Mario, Metroid, and Zelda have repeated themselves throughout the ages, and they all had their first adventures on our TV with this little cartridge machine.

I won’t lie to you; unearthing this thing from my mother’s basement was a blast from the past. Games I fondly remember playing over and over again in the days of yore resonated within my mind as I search through each cartridge. I had it hooked up to my room fairly easily, and it took a lot of patience just to get the thing working. Not surprising, since the game is almost as old as I am. For the record, I turned 27 this year, and I started playing this thing when I was two years old. As Gabe from Penny-Arcade once said, this system is old enough to drink.

God, that was a long introduction. Is everyone still with us? Good. Lets begin the review then.

Real quick though; this isn’t about the quality of the system. Period. For it’s generation, this machine was a revolution in gaming. The review is more for what that revolution was, and how it might affect you if you get the same nostalgia bug that bit me and decide to unearth your own. Enjoy.

 

Beautifully Simple

 

Often Unreliable

 

Gaming History Piece

 

That’s it. If your wondering where the rest of the review is, know that this time I’m trying something different. I have a seperate article linked to each line of words on the Seven Word Synopsis, and all you need to do is click on one to see a better description of what I mean. If the hits come off this thing pretty well, I will model all my reviews after it.

Next review will be about the game that made this system a legend. That’s right; a retro review of

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I was wondering when this would happen. Seems inevitable; new consoles come out, new games come out for it. Plus, since Call of Duty is considered the game among games by publishers, it’s no surprise that Activision would launch one for next gen. Given the rising emphasis on future tech in the franchise itself, it’s even less surprising that they named it what they did and have it take place in the future. To top off this move by Activision’s PR machine, we have Kevin Spacey as… Some business guy who might wanna become a dictator? Whatever. He’s obviously going to be the “bad guy”. In a game that isn’t particularly good at making memorable bad guys.

Yeah.

Kevin Spacey

Cynicism aside, this does look like it will at least be another festival for the eyes. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has next generation graphics that shine like diamonds on the surface of every object. The special effects flare up like sparks of nova on the sun. And the animations, even on the face, look not only detailed but are rendered both realistic and expressive. Somewhat. Kevin Spacey seems to be the core of this games star power, and will more then likely get the lions share of the acting. While his body movements are fluid enough, his face seems to be stuck in one place, at least in the trailer above. The E3 trailer that debuted  recently suggests better animations for the face of the soldiers; a good thing, since even with Kevin Spacey as star, we will most likely see a lot more high tech soldiers then him. Speaking of which…

Soldier

One thing that actually does have me at least a little excited is the new weaponry they introduce in the game. They are making it even more high-tech then before, since this takes place in the year 2054. They seem to take a hint from the GI Joe movies nobody loves so much and gives the marines of 2054 mechanical exoskeletons that make them stronger. A little gimmicky, but it serves the purpose of simplifying melee and allows you to manipulate the environment more. They already ripped out car doors to use as a shield and kick open doors that are barred. I’d like to see what that kind of strength can do to a person’s head-or a robot’s arm. Confirmed is a battery powered rifle with infinite ammo; assuming you don’t overheat it. Also confirmed are grenade that can change their function with a push of a button. Such functions include the classic frag grenade, a thermal image device that shows the position of every enemy in bright neon, and a neat concept called a smart grenade, which basically makes the grenade rocket propelled and home in on a nearby target. That could be useful for throwing around corners. You also get boosters, which are like a limited jet pack that soften your fall. This will probably annoy veteran gamers, but my favorite feature showed thus far would probably be the shield drone. Apparently, you can link yourself somehow to  drone, and control it as you move around. The shield drone moves right in front of you, blocking enemy fire, highlighting targets, and even lowers it defenses when you aim your weapon, so you can fire back when you have the shield on. Definitely a better option then the old riot shield of yore.

Heavy Gunner

It’s not confirmed completely what the main story is, but from viewing the source website, it is strongly implied that it has heavily to do with private military corporations, or PMCs. Call of Duty wouldn’t be the first game to do this, as Metal Gear Solid 4 comments heavily on their usage and was published more then half a decade ago. I would bet good money that the scene with Kevin Spacey is at the headquarters of a major mercenary corporation, and the backstory has something to do with his character’s company becoming a national threat in some way. How remains to be seen exactly, but I bet most of the guys shot up in the E3 demo were mercenaries of a rival corporation.

High Tech

IN closing, this looks to be a fun game for the average adrenaline junkie, mediocre for the narratively inclined, and another staple of the COD franchise to all parties involved. I could get into detail about how it recycles the Michael Bay zeitgeist of american white guys saving the day from something scary and different for the umpteenth time, but that is another article for another time.