Fallout 3 Review

Ok, it’s just a little bit like Oblivion with guns, but even a Fallout fan like myself who has played the entire series at least a couple of times has to give Bethesda credit for being true to Fallouts original, post-apocalyptic roots.

The thing is, I enjoyed Oblivion too, but as an original Fallout fanboy I couldn’t help but worry that the game would be way too much like an action-oriented RPG and let go of the gritty, radioactive settings and needlessly violent scenes that any real fan would expect. Fortunately those fears were not (entirely) justified.

The Fallout Atmosphere

So, I’m running from the Vault with some disgusting mutant dog on my heels in the ruins of what was once Washington DC, getting dust in my eyes and can’t help but feel right at home. I can go into VATS for a while – target various body parts and get percentages for how likely I am to blow that arm right out of the socket. This is the real Fallout alright.

I still wouldn’t say that Bethesda made it all the way with the post-apocalyptic atmosphere, but it definitely surpasses my expectations. Some details like the voice acting (which is pretty bad on average) keeps the game short of the top score. Another thing I can’t shake is that the designers haven’t quite managed to catch that 50s post-apocalyptic mood that is so central to the original games.

Turn-Based Combat with VATS

The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System is a little gadget that lets you move into turn-based mode, similar to Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics. Unfortunately, in my opinion, you can’t stay in VATS for more than a few turns. So, how does it work? When you push the V button on your keyboard, the game immediately pauses and lets you select which enemy you want to target by moving the arrow keys. As previously mentioned you may also select which body parts to target and see how likely you are to hit. The more skill points you’ve spent on your equipped weapon, the better percentages you will get.

Just like in the first games you expend action points with each shot – but the big difference is that once those action points are used up, the game goes back into real-time mode. Being a fan of turn-based RPGs, I would have preferred to stay in VATS for the duration of the fights. Although you can sort of circumvent this issue by running around in circles until your action points are reloaded. This just feels ridiculous obviously, and takes away a lot from the overall feel of the gameplay. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of real-time action RPGs it shouldn’t bother you at all, as you’re likely not using VATS unless you absolutely have to.

Character Customization

If you are like most RPG gamers and like to tweak your character down to the smallest detail and experiment back and forth with stats and different equipment, Fallout 3 has you completely covered. As you’d expect, there are lots of amusing perks to choose from, like the “Chemist,” which means than any Chems (as in drugs) you take last twice as long or “Concentrated Fire” that lets you hit specific body parts with ease.

In these typical RPG areas Bethesda know how to present a clever interface. Actually, the entire game design as far as user interface and playability goes are more or less perfect – with a possible exception for the turn-based combat issue or lack thereof.

Conclusion

If Fallout 3 had been a new game, unrelated to the timeless classics released by Interplay so many years ago, I would have loved it. I still love it to tell you the truth – I’m only slightly disappointed by the shortcomings of VATS and occasionally sub-par voice acting. At the end of the day it’s still a superb game that had me glued to the screen for its 60 hour duration.

Champions Online Review Beta Impressions

The new MMO Champions Online from the creators of City of Heroes/Villains is almost finished. Soon every place between the equator and the poles will be crawling with superheroes. Here’s what we thought of the beta experience. (Obviously it’s no review of the final version, but from what we’ve seen so far it’s shaping up to be an exciting game although it’s far from a traditional RPG.)

Create Unique Heroes with the Champions Online Character Planner

The character creation aspects of Champions Online is what will supposedly separate it from other games in the genre – aside from the fact that it’s a world free from trolls and elves and instead based on superheroes. You can tweak every detail of your hero – if you want the power to smite your opponents with a hideous armpit-stench you got it (or something like that).

This is undoubtedly one of the game’s biggest strengths and actually makes it unique in the genre. In what other MMORPG does no two characters look the same? In Champions Online they don’t. It’s also fun to spend a couple of hours with the character creation kit just because it’s rewarding to know that your hero really is one of a kind. If you do not like to spend so much time online, you can always use cheat codes. I prefer using a webkinz codes website to find the best cheats available nowadays.

Cover Lots More Ground

There are more than 900 missions in the game, and although many of them involve someone with an exclamation mark hovering over their head, there are also some novel ways of receiving quests, such as finding certain objects or being approached by someone in the street.

Compared to City of Heroes and City of Villains, the game world in this game is much larger. Other than Millennium City, you also get to visit deserts and tundras, plus Monster Island and the underwater world of Lamuria. Each of these areas are divided into subsections, so the total landmass has to be vast. Thankfully, you have some special Champions Online travel powers of which flying is one of the more mundane.

Make Your Own Bad Guy

Every superhero needs a nemesis, and a fun feature of Champions is that you also get to customize yours. It’s up to you to decide what his minions will be, what motivates his (presumably) evil quest for world domination and how he should fight. You’ll then get to face him every now and then until the eventual showdown. Naturally, there’s a system in the game to prevent you from making him unusually weak – he will evolve and gain levels just like your own character.

Set Out to Play in a Comic Book

The comic-book style, cell-shaded graphics suit this RPG well, and there’s never any doubt that this is exactly the plan. Every facet of the game design reminds you of classic Marvel or DC comics, and that’s arguably a fresh take on the whole RPG concept, even if I’ve come to be somewhat partial to the whole “orcs & elves” settings. In all, it’s a fresh MMO that will certainly capture its intended crowd.

 

The Last Remnant PC Version Review

Japanese role-playing games are usually console affairs, that only rarely get ported to PC. This Square Enix game is much better in the PC version though, mainly because the original release was extremely buggy. PC gamers have the luxury of being able to play this RPG as it was meant to be played, as most of the bugs and glitches have been fixed in the PC release.

Square Enix is not known for releasing anything but adequately tested and problem-free games, but when The Last Remnant came out for the Xbox360 it was surprisingly plagued by slow framerates, disappearing textures and several other annoying glitches. Thankfully most of these problems are gone in the PC version, which is great because this game deserves to be played.

In essence, The Last Remnant is an archetypal Japanese RPG, so if you don’t  like this genre don’t bother. It has all the ingredients of the classic jRPG – strangely clad androgynous men, turn-based cinematic combat and just about everything else you’d expect from a Final Fantasy game. All of which look stunning in the high resolution, bug-free and fast-loading PC version.

The story in The Last Remnant is fairly generic, or maybe it just feels like that as my expectations are pretty elevated for a Square Enix game. The main character Rush Sykes sets out to rescue his kidnapped sister, but as you would expect he runs into trouble on an epic scale. Remnants are powerful magical items that inspire political conflicts, and if this wasn’t enough an entity known as the Conqueror seeks to.. well, conquer by controlling these remnants. In all, it’s a well-told story though, and it’s enhanced by above average voice acting.

The game’s turn-based combat system differs a bit from the Japanese role-playing game template, since you don’t actually control the individual characters. You control a “union”, which in turn consists of several characters that you have to recruit. The battle union pools the units’ respective HP and abilities before you take them to the battlefield, and this leaves plenty of room for experimenting with different skills and magical abilities as you try to piece together the ultimate fighting union. It has a pretty steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it it’s really rewarding.


One of the disappointing aspects of The Last Remnant is that there’s not much room for free roaming. Compared to many other games in the genre, this one is fairly linear – there’s no huge world map to explore like in the Final Fantasy series. On the whole, though, The Last Remnant for PC is a highly enjoyable RPG, and if you like the Japanese RPG genre it’s one of a very limited supply of alternatives for the PC in recent years.