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Old 11-07-2008, 08:45 PM
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Default Lord Martok's Videogame reviews...

Hi, all,

As a service to fellow video game fans, I will post reviews of video games that I have played recently that I think are worthy of review.

Here's how my system works:


I list the relevant game data. NAME, DEVELOPER/PUBLISHER, SYSTEMS, NUMBER OF PLAYERS, and RATING and CONTENT.

Then, to the meat of the review:

My ratings system:

Graphics: How does the game look? Does it have framerate problems? Does it look emersive enough?

Sound: SOUND FX, Music, Voice Acting, Sound System Quality

Control: Do you catch onto the controls so that if feels like a natural extension of your actions? Or does it take your character 5 seconds to respond to a button press?

Story: Does the story seem well written for a video game? Do the characters make you relate to them? Or is it just a hash out designed to give the game some weak background?

Endorphin Factor: Can one have fun with this game? Does it have little elements that make you laugh, or jump out of your seat when you do something incredible?

Frustration Factor: This score works differently. What are the save points like? Are they too far between, so that if you lose a mission you have to start all over again? Does whatever normally frustrates you in a game appear here? The higher the number, the lesser frustration factor you have with how the game plays?

Scoring system: Scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst, and 5 being the best. 3 is an average rating.
Average: Total of all factors, and divide by 6 (rounding up if necessary).

GAMES IT COULD BE COMPARED TO: What games are similar enough? Are there any real good games that this one could fall into company with? Are there better games than this? What game would this blow away?

DETAILS: Give the little details of the game that explain why you scored things the way you did.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: I will cover each of the game's content descriptors with a sentence or two, to give you an idea of the intensity of the descriptor in question. This oughtta come in most handy for parents who might be considering buying a game for their kids, if their young'n's are begging for this title. This is something I've not seen even professional reviewers do, so I feel kinda pioneering in this regard.

BOTTOM LINE: Is it a must have? A casual buy? A good rental? Or a good, expensive coaster for your coffee?


I hope folks will enjoy the reviews and find them informative.

Respectfully,
Me
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Old 11-07-2008, 08:47 PM
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As an inaugural review, here's one for Fallout 3.

VIDEOGAME: FALLOUT 3
DEVELOPER: BETHESDA STUDIOS
PUBLISHER: BETHESDA
SYSTEMS: XBOX 360 (reviewed version), PLAYSTATION 3, and PC
RATING: M (MATURE for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs)

Graphics: 5/5
Sound: 5/5
Control: 5/5
Story: 5/5
Endorphin Factor: 5/5
Frustration Factor: 5/5

Scoring system:
Average: 5/5

GAMES IT COULD BE COMPARED TO: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, BIOSHOCK

DETAILS: I never played the first two Fallout games, and honestly have no inclination to because they are apparently top-down viewed, 2D RPGs. However, upon reading several preview reports for this game, I knew I had to have this, especially having heard that it was being developed and published by Bethesda, creators of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The deal was sealed when I heard that this game was basically "Oblivion with guns"....and playing through this magnificent title, that pretty much sums it up, sans magic use and fantasy realmed environs.

Instead, the setting is in the 23rd century, in a post apocalyptic wasteland on Earth, 200 years after a nuclear war between the US and China. Instead of demons, there are Super Mutants (the result of a failed scientific military super soldier experimental program), Feral Ghouls (humans who did not adapt well to nuclear mutation), Centaurs (not the mythical beasts resembling bipedal bulls, but grossly deformed humans with tentacle-like tongues that can hurl radioactive emesis at you, and can lash out at you causing damage), vicious mutant dogs, Mirelurks, Qua Yuais (mutated black bears), radroaches, bloatflies, and of course, surviving humans.

Please keep in mind that as I write this review, I am FAR from finishing this title, but have delved deep enough into it to get a qualified opinion out of just how this game plays...and all I can really do is just gush and go ga-ga over how awesome Fallout 3 truly is.

The way this game trains you is very organic. You are born. (The only other game I've seen where you witness your own birth and growing up stage is playing as the Alien in Alien Vs Predator 2 for the PC.) During the birth sequence, you choose your character's name, and his/her physical appearance for the future. Then, you play at varying stages of your life, as a toddler, a preteen, a young teenager, and finally a grown man or woman of 19. It is through here that you formally shape your character. Adjusting your initial attributes, known as S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck). Each of these attributes governs specific skill sets, and Luck is an overall booster for success in just about everything you do. You are given your own "Pip-Boy" which is your game's status tracker, inventory manager, quest tracker, and map...oh, and it's handy dandy as a radio and flashlight too. You also learn the game's controls, how to fight and shoot, and eventually determine your first skill set. You also are assigned, or can choose your first "perk" which has an effect on given skills and abilities. I don't want to spoil too much about how this character creation process fully works. You just have to see it to believe it. I created a female character which I named Maxine (you know....Mad Maxine? )

TO BE CONTINUED....yeah...this is a lengthy review...
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Old 11-07-2008, 08:49 PM
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...to continue....

After your developmental years, (which is probably about an hour's worth of game time), the main story begins. Your father, voiced by Liam Neeson, has left Vault 101, (one of many fortresslike, underground fallout shelters that have sustained mankind since the nuclear war 2 centuries before) and as a result has caused an upheaval which endangers your very life. You must escape the vault, gathering what supplies you can along the way, and step out into the open wastes.

It is here that you kinda end up holding your breath for a moment as you emerge onto the vast, sprawling landscape. There seems to be nothing but miles and miles of miles and miles, as the scorched Earth reveals itself to you. Just like in Oblivion, you can barely fathom just how immense this landscape truly is. This game, whilst futuristic, has a very retro motif to it (much like BioShock, another great fps/RPG hybrid). Clothing you may stumble upon (outside of armor) is reminiscent of 1930's/1950's styles.

Here are the many similarities this game shares with Oblivion.
1. It's graphically gorgeous, and probably even moreso.
2. Audio ambience and interaction is superb. (Just listen to this game in Dolby 5.1 or better!)
3. Gameplay mechanics and controls are about the same.
A. You can hotkey up to 8 items (be they weapons or aids) on your D-pad.
B. The "select" button allows your character to wait on the spot for up to 24 hours (you can select from 1 to 24 hours).
C. Sleeping allows you to regenerate and heal wounds and crippling injuries sustained in battle, or whatever hazards you happen upon in the Wasteland (except for radiation contamination).
D. Eventually you will gain a place to actually call home where you can stow your excess gear, rest and heal yourself, and set up shop to repair your weapons, and concoct necessary chems.
E. As you travel the massive Wasteland, you will happen upon locations (and there are tons of locations) that will be recorded into your Pip-Boy's World Map, and after recording them, you can fast travel to that location as long as you are outside in the wastes, and not beset or stalked by enemies, or are overencumbered with supplies and junk.
F. In your travels, you will not only encounter hostiles, but people you can actually help, and traveling and stationary merchants with whom you can barter with bottlecaps. (That's right, the in-game currency are bottlecaps from soda bottles...from the ever popular "Nuka-Cola" brand.)
G. Just like Oblivion, you will find many objects that are either useful, very valuable, or just flat out junk. (But this time, the junk can actually serve a purpose in the game-- details later.)
H. Sidequests are plentiful.
I. Character advancement occurs with the acquisition of enough XP (that's Experience Points to you RPG newcomers).
And believe me, with all the perks, skills, and attributes you have to choose from, and the limited amount of XP you are doled at the time, you will agonize over just what you wish to enhance.


There are other similarities that I'm sure I'm either overlooking, or will end up mentioning as I think of them in this review, but for now, let's just say that if the above isn't enough to entice you into getting this game simply because you may have loved Oblivion, or simply just didn't sound intriguing enough yet...well...let's delve into the game's more unique qualities.

One of the most unique aspects of this combat system is V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Auto Targeting System) which allows you to target specific limbs, or even the weapons/equipment of your opponent(s). The more you advance your melee and ranged combat skills, the better percentages you have of hitting your opponents' specific locations at varying ranges. When the V.A.T.S. HUD comes up, you will get a view of your opponent, their visible limbs, and the percentage chance you have to hit each limb or weapon. And the percentages are extremely logical, based on their relative position to your POV, and whether or not those limbs are behind cover, or facing away from you. How many times you can use V.A.T.S. in a combat situation depends on the number of Action Points you have. AP restores quickly over time, so V.A.T.S. is a potential constant in your battles. Each V.A.T.S. targetting action takes up so many AP, depending on difficulty to hit, and range to target, and weapon type. Essentially, you could target a single opponent's head (or other limbs, or weapons) multiple times, or you can select as many different limbs as your AP allows, or you can target multiple hostiles' limbs/weapons. This really makes the combat unique and rather fulfilling. The game pauses as you select your opponent's areas to be traumatized, and then, when you commit to your combat action, you are treated to a slo-mo cinematic of just how successful (or doom-laden) your action(s) are. Occasionally, you don't always see what happens because the camera angles can be so random during this moment, but when you can see what happens if you succeed is usually pretty gratifying, depending on the weapon type you use.

Of course, this game is also a first person shooter in addition to being a first person RPG, so there is lots of fast paced combat to be had. V.A.T.S. just helps you to pare down your enemies more efficiently when you choose to employ it. And believe me, you'll be using V.A.T.S. with great frequency. However, even if you don't employ vats, you can still target your enemies limbs/weapons/head in furious real-time FPS combat, and if your weapons skills are advanced enough, you can cripple/kill them just as quickly without the V.A.T.S. system.

Different weapon types have varying effects. Kinetic, explosive, energy, and melee. Those weapons are grouped into Small Guns (pistols, submachine guns), Melee (swords, lead pipes, ball bats, fisticuffs, etc), and Big Guns (miniguns, Gatling Lasers, Missile launchers, Fat Man...oh yes, you get to play with miniaturized nuclear weaponry in this game). Of course, there are many more weapons than I just listed above...I just wanted to get your attention with these. You can actually sever enemy/explode/ or render to ash enemy limbs/heads depending on your weapon type. It's very gratifying, especially with use of V.A.T.S. to see just exactly what you did to your enemy when you score a successful hit. I don't wanna spoil specifics. Again, this is just something you'll have to behold to believe. (Ain't I evil?! )

Also, be sure to raid everything that's raidable, from garbage cans/dumpsters, to lockers, to footlockers, safes, Nuka-Cola machines, refrigerators, ammo boxes, metal boxes, "gore sacks", and of course, corpses, etc. Something that proves very handy (and that Oblivion was lacking) is the fact that if you stumble upon a container which has no contents, the container description will say [EMPTY] before you even open it, so you don't have to waste a couple of seconds perusing its lack of content. Also, just like in Oblivion, if something is ill-advised to pick up (i.e. stealing), the text will display in red. If you're stealing from good folk, you will lose Karma (which is a way of gauging your character's disposition.) And if you're caught, you could have to deal with the local constabulary, or worse, the native grrs and arghs who will likely be out to kill you.

When using aids to heal/restore your character, keep the following in mind. Just about all foods/drinks are mildly irradiated with a point or two of "rads". Only purified water contains no radiation. Stimpaks, and certain other aids are also clean. Water found in the open is also irradiated. If you are swimming in it, you may take 1 to 2 rads per second of exposure. If you actually drink the water, it'll improve your character's physical health, but will also greatly increase radiation contamination by up to 20 rads/second if you are not protected with appropriate gear. Radiation poisoning can have adverse effects on your character, but so far, I've not encountered any problems yet. I usually am able to decontaminate in a timely fashion with the appropriate medical assistance.

....one more page folks.....sheesh....this is a highly detailed game...
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Old 11-07-2008, 08:50 PM
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...and now for the thrilling conclusion....

Another improvement over Oblivion is the "overencumberance" system. In Oblivion, if you are overencumbered with weight, you absolutely cannot move except to turn, and must drop something, or use a consumable to try and remove the excess weight so you can move again. In Fallout 3, overencumberance simply penalizes movement speed. You cannot run/jump, and you cannot fast-travel to other map locations. However, there are many ways to shed the excess weight.

1. Repairing damaged equipment. If you have multiples of the same item (say a minigun), you can probably repair one of your miniguns with the other miniguns. This will remove them from your inventory and merge them with the minigun you are repairing....which kinda sucks if you had plans to sell the excess miniguns to a merchant later.

2. Ingest consumables, be it food, drink, or aids (or dead body parts).

3. Just drop what you don't need.

4. If you luck upon a merchant, you can sell your excess gear, or if you're close enough to home, you can stow the excess gear for later use/sale.

Just about everything you do in the game (from character interaction, to killing certain targets, to stealing, to helping someone out, to the manner of completing your tasks....just about EVERYTHING) will affect your character's Karma. Karma gains means your character is leaning toward sainthood. Neutral karma is that fun and broad gray area, but tread carefully in this zone. Karma loss indicates you are doing foul deeds (you just insulted or verbally hurt someone, you just killed an innocent or non-combatant, you just opened a container with red text, or worse, stole its contents...etc), and you could be labled a bad-guy by those you happen upon. If your character is desperate enough for aid, and you have no means with which to heal yourself immediately, save for body parts you may have decided to pick up, or corpses you will definitely stumble across, you can resort to cannibalism. (If you are caught by witnesses, it will be deemed a crime against humanity and nature, and you will be persecuted for it). So far, I've not resorted to it...although I might in a future playthrough.

You can also create weapons and concoctions when you acquire the right parts, schematics, and skills to accomplish this. Just like in Oblivion, where you can eventually get an alchemist's table, a forge, and a place to stay, you can get a laboratory, a workbench, and even a mini-infirmary for your home (when you get your home....and then you have to buy --or acquire -- the necessary enviromental perks to do these things.)

Your adventures are also reported (sometimes with slightly annoying repetition) by the game's howling DJ at Galaxy News Radio (a DJ called "Three Dog"). As you venture into different areas of the landscape, you will pick up other radio stations, and your location on the map could affect how well you receive those stations, if at all. You can actually wander out of range of a station. The music you hear in the game is largely 1930's pop fare, so you'll hear big band styled music, or crooners, or dream doll chick singers. Some songs are genuine 30's hit paraders like "Anything Goes", and others seem to be ones that are made up for the game, but are so well done that you'd swear it was a golden oldie anyway.)

This game also has a great sense of humor. Some jokes you may hear in the game, or some wise-cracks you may hear from non-player characters will give you a good laugh at least once.

Voice acting in this game is also very well done, and this time much more varied than in Oblivion. In other words, you won't hear the same four or five voice actors covering some thirty or forty different characters. (Although the ghouls and Super Mutants kinda all sound the same). The big name actor in Oblivion was Patrick "Captain Jean Luc Picard" Stewart. For this game, it's Liam "Rob Roy" Neeson.

For those who are venturing into the RPG realm of video gaming for the first time, do not be mislead into thinking that this game will be slow and plodding. No. Far from it. This game is largely a first person shooter at its heart. The RPG elements are simply seamlessly woven into the fabric of this title, and it really works well. And for those of you who are veterans of Oblivion, you will have no trouble transitioning to this game. And although I've not played the first two Fallout titles, I've been told by others who've played this game that it is very true to the source material and spirit of its predecessors. Overall, unless you have an aversion to first person shooters, RPG's, or both, you will love Fallout 3.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: Yep, moms and dads, there might be some things in here you'll wish to be attentive of if your little one is howling at you to buy this title for them.

Blood and Gore: Yeah, this is a pretty bloody game, and blood gushes by the gallon in combat. You will also happen upon "gore sacks" which are nets filled with the dismembered parts of humans (which can also be found strewn about the wastes).

Intense violence: Heads get blown off, limbs get severed, and bodies can even be fried to ashes depending on weapon type.

Sexual Themes: Yeah, you'll run into the occasional hooker, or there might be some innuendo in the dialogue or music in the game. I've not encountered specific sexual scenarios, but they could well be in there. So be advised if you're averse to sexual content for your young'n's.

Strong Language: Almost everything you'll hear in an R-rated movie (including liberal use of the F-bomb) can be found in this game's dialogue.

Use of Drugs: Although there's no cocaine, crack, or marijuana in this game, the fictional drug use in this game (Jet, Psycho, Med-X, etc.) should be considered if your young'n's are of impressionable mind.


BOTTOM LINE: Like Metal Gear Solid 4, this is one of the most perfect games I've ever played, and if you are of an RPG or First Person Shooter bent, then you absolutely must not pass up this title. Fallout 3 is vast and easy to lose track of time with.

From now on, video game reviews will be under their own threads. I hope this was informative for you gaming fans.
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Old 11-08-2008, 07:16 AM
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Cool! I've Been Thinking About It..
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Old 11-09-2008, 04:35 PM
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How about a "professional" review of my favorite game, World in Conflict.
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Old 11-10-2008, 12:14 PM
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Greetings, Admiral.

Sadly, I did not pick up "World In Conflict".

But I do plan on doing reviews on "Resistance 2" (PS3), and "Tom Clancy's EndWar" (PS3), the latter of which seems to be more along the lines of "World in Conflict".
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Old 11-10-2008, 12:45 PM
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You should look into world in conflict, it is awesome.
www.worldinconflict.com/us
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