Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Fallout 3

When I first started playing Fallout 3, I said on Twitter that it was basically a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod for Oblivion. I still think that’s true, but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I was a huge fan of the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R., so when the second, Clear Sky, came out, I was expecting more or less what they originally promised in the first. But, and I think this is largely because they had to shove a second game out of the door just a year after the first, it was buggy, the maps were mostly uninspired rehashes of things from the first game, and it just wasn’t as interesting because it didn’t feel like something new.

If Fallout is a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod for Oblivion, Clear Sky was a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I lost interest after maybe a week, when the first patch broke all my saved games. Which brings us to Fallout 3. I loved the original Fallout, never played most of the second, and after the failure that was Clear Sky, I needed a new post-nuclear-armageddon FPS/RPG. Fallout 3 came out around the time I was giving up on Clear Sky, so I was set.

A quick diversion: For some reason, Fallout fans are among the most noxious on the internet. I’m not sure why, other than the fact that a game that, among other things, lets you get hooked on drugs and fire rocket launchers at children is probably going to attract a somewhat more deranged fanbase than say, The Sims. So I started reading the no-rules Games forum on Something Awful, “Your Console Sucks”, in an effort to get away from Serious Business Fallout fans. The down side is that now I can’t talk about the game without wondering what the most pro weapon is, or just how many sub-optimal character choices separate a scrub from a scrublord. It’s colored my impressions of the game, to say the least, in that I went in not expecting too terribly much beyond a fun distraction for a week or two.

What I got, in short, was goddamned amazing. The Fallout series made the jump to 3D in largely the same way that Grand Theft Auto did - it’s not exactly the same, but it is unquestionably better. Details after the jump.

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Grand Theft Auto Four

I’ve been a little out of it this week, since pretty much all I’ve been doing is going to work and playing GTA4, with short naps in between. That by itself should tell you that GTA4 is pretty good, but to add some weight to that, but I did not own an Xbox 360 until last week. I bought a $350 console just for this game, and to top it off, I actually had to walk from DUMBO to Atlantic Center - a bit over a mile - before I found a store that was open, and had both the game and the console in stock (RadioShack, by the way, had 360s but no GTA for it, and no PS3s but the GTA for it).

I have no problem whatsoever with this, either. GTA4 is just that good.

As in previous installments, the game takes place in fake New York, only this time around, it’s actually recognizable as New York. No, the translation isn’t perfect - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Bay Ridge are reduced to a narrow slum above Coney Island, Times Square is about a block from Central Park, and, rather delightfully, Staten Island is missing entirely - but neighborhoods feel like their real-life counterparts, and the attention to detail is staggering.

The cop cars look like NYPD cars. The farecard machines in the subway look like the real ones, down to the graphics on the screen. Sometimes I find my way around by thinking of how I’d get there in real life, and I wonder how much of this people who don’t live in New York really grasp. It’s insane.

Beyond the setting, there’s a lot to like here. They took out that RPG bullshit that was in San Andreas, where you had to eat food and go to the gym and grind stats before you could run around with a shotgun blasting holes in things. The driving has been made a bit more realistic, which is to say that you can still drift all over the road and flip cars over, but pulling the handbrake and jerking the wheel is no longer the best way to turn, and, to my great amusement, crashing head-first into a wall will throw your guy out through the windshield. I’ve died more doing that than in gunfights.

This is getting long, so the rest is going after the jump. No major spoilers this time.

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