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Archive for the ‘Videogames’ Category

Dungeon Addict

April 15th, 2011 No comments

There’s been both one good reason and one bad for the lack of meaningful content here these past couple of weeks. The good reason is that I was swamped at work, what with planning both the June TV schedule and the FY ’12 budget for Illinois Gardener.

The bad reason was this:

iPhone Screenshot 1

This, my friends, is Dungeon Raid, a maddeningly-addictive game app for the iPhone/iPad. It’s a cross between Bejeweled and Dungeons & Dragons in which you trace an unbroken line of matching symbols to collect gold, kill monsters (represented by skulls) and buff your dungeoneer. In other words, it induces the pleasant, semi-mindless haze familiar to players of slot machines or PopCap Games; and it also provides the constant reinforcement of gaining new and ever-more powerful abilities.

It’s very, very hard to put down. In fact,

Star Trekkin’ Across The Universe

August 22nd, 2010 No comments

In the month since my last blog post about Star Trek Online, I’ve had quite a career. I’ve been promoted from Lt. Commander to Commander, then again to Captain.

Friday night I reached the rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half). Yes, “lower half” is actually part of the title; apparently there’s a similar demarcation in the U.S. military. Still, it’s kinda weird when the non-player characters in the game refer to me as Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Caitlin Howard.

I felt that my new rank deserved a new uniform!

I’m now Level 42, which means that I’ve gone a good bit higher in Star Trek Online than I have in any other MMORG I’ve played.* I consider it both a testament to my joy in watching shit blow up, as well as the copious amounts of “fan service” in the story-based missions.

Confronting the Crystalline Entity.

It did not go well.

There was a pretty nifty bit that involved stopping the evil son of the “Mirror Universe” version of Miles O’Brien from using the Bajoran wormhole to bring through a massive invasion fleet from his own dimension.

Another story was about the Founders (the shapeshifting leaders of the Dominion from Deep Space Nine) establishing a new “Great Link” in the Alpha Quadrant.

Swimming in the Great Link. Founder? You're soaking in it!

Then there was a mission to Empok Nor, a formerly-abandoned Cardassian station turned into a terrorist outpost. In an especially clever touch, Empok Nor always appears tilted, just as it did in the Deep Space Nine episode in which it first appeared.

It wouldn’t be Star Trek without some Tribbles, and I saved an entire planet of them from some scurvy Klingons.

There will be no songs of the Great Tribble Hunt this day!

Yesterday took me down into the Bajoran Fire Caves in search for someone who’d been possessed by the evil Pah-wraiths. I had fun kicking Cardassians off the catwalks into the lava below!

Each rank increase brings with it new ship choices. For the most part I’ve stuck with the canonical starships. As a Commander, I tooled around in an Akira-class escort.

Flying between the towers of a Romulan asteroid base.

With Captain came the option of a Galaxy-class cruiser (think Enterprise-D from The Next Generation), a Defiant-class escort (Sisko’s ship from Deep Space Nine) and an Intrepid-class science vessel (a dead-ringer for the U.S.S. Voyager). I tried out all three, but instantly fell in love with the Defiant, a scrappy, zippy craft that made the stately Galaxy look like a lumbering cow.

As a Rear Admiral (Lower Half) I opted for a Sovereign-class cruiser, similar to Picard’s Enterprise-E from the latter Next Generation motion pictures. It’s only a little bit sportier than the Galaxy, but it certainly packs a punch!

The U.S.S. McAuliffe battles a Borg sphere.

Nothing gladdens the heart quite so much as an exploding Borg cube.

There was a major update to the game a few weeks ago. Among the additions was a dabo game in Quark’s Bar, complete with the voice of actress Chase Masterson as a holographic version of her DS9 character Leeta. Admittedly, she gets a bit annoying after a while.

The game is still kinda buggy. Here’s a screenshot of the time I found a whole bunch of NPCs repeatedly walking into the wall.

And then there was the time when the walls aboard a starship vanished, opening into deep space.

The first step was a doozy.

Still, I suppose that’s par for the course in such an incredibly complex game. Doesn’t matter, I’m still having a blast!

I spend a lot of time petting my Tribble, if you know what I mean.

*And yet it took me until this weekend to realize that there was an option to “hide” the armor suits that my characters are forced to wear during planetary missions. I’d gone to a bunch of trouble to outfit my gals in Original Series miniskirts, and was annoyed that most of the time they wound up wearing head-to-toe speed suits. Chalk it up to shitty online documentation; the in-game instructions are maddeningly superficial.

Fans Are A Dish Best Served Cold

July 18th, 2010 No comments

As my wife will attest, I’ve been playing entirely too much of Star Trek Online these past couple of weeks. It’s my favorite type of Massive Multiplayer Online game: one which allows me to largely ignore the other players. The only times I’ve been partnered with random strangers have been during those space missions that automatically assigned me to an “open instance team.”

Since my initial review of STO, I’ve been promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander. While my wife says that I wasn’t really promoted to anything, I know better. Mr. Spock said so. It’s funny how a few lines of Leonard Nimoy voice-over legitimize things in my head.

Exploring planet Portobello.

My new rank has granted me a new ship, and I naturally opted for a refit Constitution-class cruiser. (Basically the U.S.S. Enterprise as seen in the first half-dozen motion pictures.) I miss my Original Series vessel, but am enjoying my slick ride–and especially my aft torpedo launcher.

I’ve been playing through the Klingon story arc, which in the past couple of days has turned into a massive dose of fan service. It’s like the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise, which basically said “screw it, we know only hardcore geeks are still watching” and began wallowing in references to 40-year-old episodes of Classic Trek.

So it was that I found myself on the trail of a distant descendant of Khan Noonien Singh* (The Wrath of Khan) who was experimenting with the same Augment technology that not only produced the genetic supermen of the Eugenics Wars (The Original Series) but the mutated virus (Enterprise) that accidentally transformed the Klingons from the bumpy-headed warriors of the movies into the swarthy humans of Captain Kirk’s early adventures.

Then a Klingon ambassador kidnapped the daughter of Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres (Voyager) and took her through the Guardian of Forever (The Original Series) back to the year 2270 (The Original Series again) so that her half-Klingon DNA could be used to give the Klingons back their ridges. Oh, and I had to save the original U.S.S. Enterprise without damaging the timeline. (More Leonard Nimoy voice-over!)

Old-school Klingons!

More old-school Klingons!

Travelling back to the future (or rather, the future future), I learned that the Klingons had inexplicably gotten their hands on the planet-killing Doomsday Machine (The Original Series once more). Like Captain Kirk of old, I had to fly my ship right down its gullet and fire a super torpedo into its innards. (Ironically, I had already named my new ship the U.S.S. Decker in honor of the ill-fated commodore that was eaten by the planet-killer in the “Doomsday Machine” TV episode.**)

Honestly, the Doomsday mission was a bit of an understatement. The planet killer should’ve been introduced via a big, dramatic reveal, possibly wiping out a few starships on the way to our confrontation. Instead, it was just listlessly floating out there, getting off a single (admittedly devastating) blast before I pumped a few torpedoes into its maw.

I can only wonder what next awaits me. Will I have to save Harry Mudd from Locutus of Borg? Brave the Q Continuum in search of Spock’s father? The galaxy is the limit!


**This one’s for you, William Windom!

These Are My Voyages

July 9th, 2010 No comments

As if I needed yet another way in which to fritter away my precious hours on Earth, last weekend I signed up for Star Trek Online, another role-playing game from the company that brought us Champions Online. The Trek game has been out since February, but I decided to wait until I could get it cheap. Thankfully, Steam came through with a massive Independence Day weekend sale.

I even dropped the extra couple of bucks for the “deluxe digital edition,” which came with bonus content such as Original Series uniforms and enough store credits to purchase the classic Enterprise. It wasn’t very long before I’d created a mini-skirted, go-go booted Starfleet lieutenant!

Unsurprising to anyone who knows me, Lt. Caitlin Howard is a long-legged redhead who just happens to be a distant relative of Beverly (Howard) Crusher from The Next Generation. She commands the U.S.S. Bellerophon, named after the doomed colonist ship from the movie Forbidden Planet.

Lt. Howard kicking some Gorn ass.

While much of Trek Online feels very familiar to me–having played a couple of games from the same design house–there are at least two major differences. One is that, instead of a single avatar, each player has an “away team” of five characters when participating in ground combat. The other bridge officers aren’t under direct control, but you can train ’em, outfit ’em with gear, and dress ’em however you like. (Naturally, mine are rocking the ’60s miniskirt look.)

The guy on the right is Tim the Red Shirt, the only male on my crew at the time. Also known as "the luckiest man in Starfleet."

The second big difference is space combat. Glorious, glorious space combat. While the ground portion of the game seems a little undercooked to me, the space missions are everything I could’ve hoped for. Massive starships lumber about in true Trek style, unleashing phasers, photon torpedoes, polaron beams and what-have-you.

One thing I find appealing is how intuitive space combat is to me, having played my share of Trek tabletop wargames. One has to allocate power to the various systems, and maneuver one’s ship to face the enemy’s weakest shield, all the while keeping one’s own shields charged. Most weapons have a firing arc, so if I want my Constitution-class vessel to hit that Orion cruiser with both of my phaser banks, I need to expose my flank. However, if I want to hit him with a volley of torpedoes (which I do!), I need to be facing front.

My first fleet combat went very poorly.

One thing I want to stress is how frickin’ gorgeous this game is, at least on my gaming laptop. Many of my screenshots have been desktop-worthy. Space is filled with floating asteroids, colorful gas clouds and sweeping rings.

Seriously, look at this:

And this:

The game is filled with all manner of Easter eggs for Trek fans of both generations. It’s set several decades further into the future of the original Trek universe (not the divergent timeline from the most recent feature film), and while familiar screen characters such as Picard, Sisko or Janeway don’t seem to put in an appearance, I believe I’ve encountered grown-up versions of just about every child seen on the various televised series. (Haven’t run into Worf’s son Alexander yet, but I gotta think he’s out there somewhere.)

Many familiar locations are reproduced, including Deep Space Nine, Memory Alpha and Space Station K-7 (from the classic episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”). I’ve enjoyed my scenic tour of the galaxy, but I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that there’s not more to do in these famous locales. The fabled pleasure planet of Risa seems to consist of nothing but a bit of beachfront and a couple of boring vendors. I can’t even buy a bikini for Lt. Howard! And really, Quark’s bar on Deep Space Nine should have a Dabo Wheel minigame, or the chance to play a hand of Fizzbin.

Still, I’m enjoying what’s there quite a lot. I don’t know if it would be as much fun for those with only a casual interest in Star Trek, but as a lifelong fan who likes it when ships go boom, it’s a good time!

Set your equipment to "fan service."

All Dolled Up

September 28th, 2009 No comments

As I’ve mentioned before, what initially appealed to me most about Champions Online was the promise of creating my superhero’s own “nemesis.” However, I was disappointed to learn that the feature doesn’t become available until a character reaches Level 25. Now, after spending entirely too many hours at the keyboard, my primary hero (Toygirl) has at last acheived that milestone.

Yesterday I thought, now what? Who would be the archrival of a toy-themed gadgeteer adventuress?

Every hero has villains, but in my view only one can rise to the level of “nemesis,” the opponent to which a heroic character is eternally linked. Batman may battle the Penguin or the Riddler, but everyone knows that the Joker is one that really gets under his tights. (Errr…)

My theory about nemeses is that they basically come in two flavors: the duplicate and the opposite. A duplicate is a villain who is more or less identical to the hero, with similar powers and perhaps a costume which parodies that of his rival. An opposite is one that is everything the hero is not. An example of the former is the Flash’s foe Professor Zoom; he might be nicknamed the Reverse-Flash, but he’s really just the Flash with a color-inverted supersuit. Lex Luthor is an example of the latter. Superman is characterized by his physical might, Luthor counterbalances that with mental genius.

Anyhow, my initial thought was to give Toygirl a duplicate: a rogue gadgeteer named the Dollmaker. I saw him as surrounded by deadly Barbies, rag dolls and the like. Unfortunately, I soon learned that at this time one can only choose a pre-generated set of minions (pirates, ninjas, etc.) for one’s nemesis. That didn’t seem all that toy-themed to me.

So, thought I, “Why not make Barbie herself the villain?” Rather than a duplicate, she can be an opposite: a self-aware toy.

Tremble, then, before the majesty of Barbara X-03!

She's come straight from Malibu to kick your ass!

I wrote up a short bio for her: “The final creation of rogue toymaker Geppetto Dolly, Barbara X-03 (known affectionately by no one as “Babs”) is a plastoid shell over an unobtanium mechanical frame. Plotting from her dream house, Barbara X-03 is out to prove that killer fembots can do anything!”

The first nemesis mission is a museum heist, which begins when the villain blows a huge hole in the wall. I like that the first thing one sees of the nemesis is a slow, cinematic pan up from the feet.

Isn't that typical? You always lose one Barbie shoe."I am here to chew bubblegum and kick ass!"

Kneel! Kneel before Barbara X-03!


Since that initial encounter at the museum, Barbara X-03 has not made a reappearance, but her robot minions have ambushed me on several occasions. I would’ve liked to have posted a better screenshot of Toygirl vs. Barbara, but quite frankly any time I get near her she blasts me halfway across the room!

Until next time, Babs. Until next time.

I Make This Cape And Tights Look Good

September 15th, 2009 No comments

Champions Online launched last week, and it’s already been a colossal drain on my free time. I’ve got a half dozen active characters, mostly to try out some different superhero concepts.

I’ve concentrated on a gadgeteer named Toygirl, whose signature move is to unleash “Attack Toys” on her foes. From what I can tell, the Attack Toys power is much maligned by the CO gaming community for putting out too little damage, and indeed, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else use it. But come on, I have a chance to unleash killer teddy bears and toy soldiers, and I’m not gonna take it? I don’t think so.

Fighting Foxbat in a TV studio.

My initial impression of Champions is that it’s a superhero amusement park. Wherever you travel, there’s something going on. In addition to the standard missions doled by my “contacts,” sometimes a bystander will run up and tell me, for example, that he’s just seen a bunch of robots run into a museum. Last night I happened across a bank robbery in progress.

Then there are the so-called “open missions,” which repeatedly recur in certain areas of the map. They’re typically big brawls involving a dozen or so heroes against a major menace, and the interesting thing is that you can join them in progress and compete for points. (The winners get the best loot, but everyone who participates gets a prize.)

Somewhere in the middle of this is one poor supervillain.

As you can see from the screenshots, it’s a beautiful looking game. The main map is Millennium City, a sprawling metropolis built on the ruins of Detroit. I enjoy simply swooping around on Toygirl’s jet sneakers, buzzing between buildings and through the legs of statues.


Another early impression is that Champions seems to encourage solo play much more than City of Heroes/City of Villains did. In CoX, I couldn’t take two steps without someone inviting me to join their team or guild. I’ve temporarily teamed up with another player to take on a troublesome mob (“mob” is Massive Multiplayer Online game slang for a “mobile object,” aka a thing what attacks you), but have yet to pursue or even to be invited onto a team for an evening. There are some missions that are recommended for two or three heroes, but I hear that some people even go solo on those.

Dinosaur Jones makes aliens extinct!

On the other hand, the game also encourages player vs. player (PvP) combat, to the extent that even I’ve joined in. This is my fourth MMO game (Asheron’s Call, Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes), but the first in which I felt comfortable enough to battle other players. In the past, my relative ineptitude with the controls and with the intricacies of creating a character designed to make other players cry left me unwilling to take on snotty game punks.

The nice thing about the PvP combat in Champions is that it’s a five-on-five cage match, with participants more-or-less randomly assigned. Everyone is set to fight as if they’re a Level 20 character, and there’s no penalty for losing a match. So, even though I still suck at it, I’ve actually had fun in most of my PvP battles. I’ve even been on the winning team a few times!

Excuse me, can you direct me to Tiananmen Square?

There’s been a fair amount of in-jokiness so far. The TV studio mission pictured above has one saving thinly-disguised members of the cast of the movie Anchorman. I also played a couple of scenarios clearly inspired by John Carpenter’s They Live, including a parking lot fight against a parody of Rowdy “Roddy” Piper.

As might be expected, the character creation system is even more robust than the one for City of Heroes. (Cryptic Studios designed both games.) One can play all manner of demons, angels, aliens, furries and even gorillas.

Meet Two-Gun Gorilla!

As seen in "For a Few Bananas More."

And here’s my attempt at mixing powers from different sets. Chillblain (who probably needs a better name) is a combination fire/ice thrower.

His suit keeps hot things hot, and cool things cool.

Meanwhile, if only to prove that I’m not above prurient interest in my superheroine designs, here’s Bettie Bombshell.

Call my party line at 900-555-BOMB!

Finally, here’s an alternate costume for Toygirl. One can preset multiple “builds” for one’s character that can be toggled back and forth depending upon whether one is playing an offensive, defensive or support role, so I came up with an appropriately beefed-up look for her more aggressive mode.

I'm my own action figure!

Sorry, I’ve got to go. There are aliens coming, and I’ve got a city to save!

Oh. This is not good.

Putting On Tights Again

August 20th, 2009 No comments

After a couple of days of downloading, patching, downloading again, repatching and smacking my head against the tabletop, last night I was able to join the Champions Online open beta. The superhero role-playing game goes officially live next week, but they opened up the beta test for those who pre-ordered.

You may recall that I used to play City of Heroes, a similar MMORPG. Both games were designed by Cryptic Studios, though City was eventually handed off to South Korean company NCsoft. My initial reaction to Champions Online is that it’s more of the same, except better.

One obvious improvement over City is that one has much more control over the look of one’s heroes. There are dozens of slider controls to tweak both facial features and physique. Unlike the older game, it’s actually possible to play a small-breasted (or no-breasted, if you’re into that) female character.

There also appears to be greater variety of character archetypes. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to lock one into a specific role (“scrapper,” “blaster,” “tank”). Instead, beginning character builds are based on their power sets. I noticed that at least some powers can be modified; for example, I was able to make one of my psychic attacks emerge from my head, hand or even chest.

My first character was an attempt to recreate my favorite from City of Heroes, Ms. Mesmer. I really like the spiral effect on her costume. Not so crazy about the hood; it’s big and dorky. But at least she gets a cape from day one. In City, heroes could only don them after reaching Level 20. While I understand that the idea was that it made a cape an obvious status symbol and a reward for long-term play, it was pretty silly that you couldn’t just tie a towel around your neck, same as any five-year-old pretending to be Superman.

I took Mesmer out for a spin through the tutorial levels last night. It took me quite a while to get the controls to my liking, and to stop auto-running into a group of angry alien insects. I’m not familiar enough with the pen-and-paper role-playing game on which the online Champions is based to fully understand the attribute scores that describe my character’s capabilities. (The original RPG was so insanely complex that an advanced degree in mathematics was helpful when trying to get the most of your superhero.)

Gameplay so far seems like a familiar mix of missions: “Go beat up 30 bad guys,” “Go take this piece of paper over there,” etc. Hopefully there will be more to it once the full experience is up and running.

Ms. Mesmer takes on the Black Talon!One thing that doesn’t seem to be active I haven’t been able to try yet* is the aspect of Champions Online I find most appealing: the ability to create one’s own archenemy. It came to bug me that in City of Heroes,  everyone was fighting the same set of supervillains. To me, every great hero needs at least one really compelling rival that’s all his/her own. Batman has the Joker, Spider-Man has the Green Goblin, Betty has Veronica. Supposedly, Champions will include in the character creation process the opportunity to design a custom villain who will be computer-controlled, and will dog that hero’s career. I’m looking forward to introducing Ms. Mesmer to the dreaded Mr. Remsem!

And now, here’s a sneak peek at my first new character for Champions Online:

Dinosaur Jones, Prehistoric Adventurer of the Spaceways!

* Apparently, I was wrong about the “archenemy” thing. I’ve read that you don’t get that perk until Level 25. That seems awfully late in one’s superheroic career.

Notes From The Apocalypse

June 27th, 2009 No comments

I spent much of my week off immersed in the world of Fallout 3. I’ve now witnessed my digital me die dozens of times. It’s still weird.

I am in no way compensating for anything. Not at all.Here are some random observations regarding my travels in the D.C. Wasteland.

  • There’s no crippling injury that can’t be cured by an hour’s sleep.
  • I applaud the game designers’ inclusion of restrooms in most of the houses and public spaces. For me, nothing breaks the verisimilitude of an imaginary environment more than the lack of a place to poop.
  • Robby the Robot-style mechanoids are cool. Robby the Robot-style mechanoids in powdered wigs are awesome.

Who says that videogames aren't educational? I'd never heard of Button Gwinnett until I met him.

  • I still hate Moira. But at least I’ve stopped trying to kill her.
  • Some of those rotting ghouls are surprisingly well-stacked. (“Don’t look, don’t look…”)
  • Killing slavers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is satisfying, but not as much as gunning down the head slaver with Lincoln’s own rifle.

Defending freedom! Boo-yah!

  • Apparently, making pretty much the same decisions that I would in real life makes me a saint in Falloutville.
  • Being a saint means that you can steal stuff with impunity.
  • Lincoln’s rifle is sweet. Lincoln’s hat? Priceless.

I'm here to emancipate your ass!

A Few Rads Never Hurt Anyone

June 23rd, 2009 No comments

My obsession du jour is the PC game Fallout 3, a role-playing experience set within the post-apocalyptic ruins of Washington, D.C.

While this is not my first exposure to the Fallout franchise–I played through a Playstation 2 spin-off called Brotherhood of Steel–I never tried either of the PC-based installments. I know that some old-school Fallout fans were turned off by the new game’s switch from a turn-based combat system to something resembling a first-person shooter, but I don’t have the grounding in the originals to make a proper comparison.

That said, I’ve played my share of FPS games, and it rarely feels like one of those. There are long, lonely stretches of exploration between combats. While running-and-gunning is certainly an option, Fallout 3 evokes its roots by employing a targeting system called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, don’t ya know). Going into V.A.T.S. mode pauses the battle and allows one to pinpoint an enemy’s limbs–or, more likely, its head. The player has a pool of action points to expend by queueing up multiple attacks, which are subsequently executed in a slow-motion, grisly ballet of death once the game is restarted.

Honestly, with this guy, it doesn't matter what you try to target.

Fallout 3 literally starts from the moment of birth, as part of its unusual character creation system. I traditionally use a female avatar, as I feel that if I’m going to spend 50 hours staring at someone’s ass, it might as well be a nice one. However, on this occasion I took a different path and made a digital me. For me, a big part of the appeal of a post-apocalyptic scenario is personal: how would I fare in such a world? So there’s now a digital David running around a nuke-ravaged landscape, a David with much more charisma and a better selection of guns than his real-world counterpart.

It's creepy watching him die.The storyline begins in one of the underground Vaults that were intended to protect humanity during a final, nuclear war with the Chinese. But pretty soon the main character escapes into the wild. I was very impressed with my first glimpse of the new world: the distant ruins of D.C. bathed by the morning sun.

Pretty soon I arrived in Megaton, a Bartertown-inspired village built from scraps of old planes and centered around an unexploded nuclear bomb. And right away I got my first sense of the open-ended nature of the gameplay, when a well-dressed stranger offered me a bunch of money (bottle caps are Fallout‘s currency) to rig a detonator to the warhead. I’m told that you can indeed set off the bomb and nuke an entire community of non-player characters and their associated missions into a huge, smoking hole. The player is frequently asked to make moral choices which often have consequences affecting later storylines. There’s even a sliding good/evil scale that changes in response to one’s actions, and influences how the player is viewed by others.

I chose not to set off the bomb, having taken an instant liking to the scruffy suburb. I would, however, come to regret that choice.

Soon I met Moira, keeper of the local supply store. She’s a daffy greasemonkey who seems to be inspired by Kaylee from the TV series Firefly. One of the major side quests is built around her efforts to write a survival guide, with the player as a human guinea pig. Challenges include getting radiation sickness, receiving a crippling injury or activating an entire building full of killer robots and being forced to fight one’s way out.

All of that, including Moira’s skewed commentary on her ridiculous tasks, would’ve been okay if it hadn’t been for the voice acting. I call it a doi-voice. Try making the sound “doi.” Now imagine that everything you say sounds like you saying “doi.” That’s Moira.

The face I desperately want to punch.As I mentioned, I found myself wistfully remembering the days when I had an unexploded atomic bomb with Moira’s name on it. Just for fun, I once saved my game and spent the next half hour or so trying to kill Moira in as many different ways as I had available. The flamethrower was the most satisfying.

Fortunately, most of Fallout 3 is set far away from Moira. There are miles of wasteland to explore. I’ve really enjoyed wandering around and looking forward to seeing what’s over the next rise.

I had read reviews of the game suggesting that it was really depressing, but I don’t find that true at all. To me, a post-apocalyptic story is less about the breakdown of society than about the people struggling to reform it. And indeed, there are all manner of candles in the darkness, including a Brotherhood dedicated to preserving past knowledge to an entire city built in the rusting hulk of an aircraft carrier.

Washington as seen from the flight deck of Rivet City.So far, I’ve paid very little attention to the main quest and have been doing a lot of the side missions. I was intrigued by the spooky, ghoul-infested Dunwich Building in the southwest corner of the map. Ultimately it was kinda disappointing, as the quasi-Lovecraftian references that peppered that particular story paid off without once encountering an eldritch horror.

Hmm, this appears almost...squamous. Rugose, if you will.One particular moment of pride came last night when I finally took out the Super Mutant Behemoth that was hiding out near the rail tunnel. Sucker killed me a bunch of times, partially because the game’s “draw distance” kept it invisible until it was nearly on top of me. But mostly because it was fucking huge and had a mace with a fire hydant at its end. I finally got my hand on the “Fat Man,” a shoulder-mounted weapon that launches Mini Nukes. It took two atomic blasts to take that sucker down, but down he went.

I'm told that Super Mutant Behemoths are good eating, but am reluctant to try.I’m taking off this week to burn off some vacation time, and I expect to spend a significant portion of it exploring this strange, new world, seeking new civilizations and new weapons with which to melt Moira’s head.

And Still More Spore

February 12th, 2009 No comments

I’m having entirely too much fun recreating the classic Dungeons & Dragons canon in Spore. Unfortunately, it looks as if a gelatinous cube may be out of the question for now. But here’s a carrion crawler doing a little dance!