Fallout 4

Fallout 4

Alright Fallout 4, you beast. Let’s review this.

Game Name: Fallout 4 (2015)
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3)
Platform: PC, PS4, XBone (reviewed on PC)
Categories: Clunky 1st/3rd Person Shooter, One Player, Junk Hoarder, Nukes, Drugs, BFGs, Robots, Mutants, Zombies, Alternate Timeline Apocalypse, Base Building, Settlement Networking, Weapons/Armor/Provisions Crafting, Lockpicking, Password Hacking, Faction Missions and Alignment, Multiple Endings, Gorgeous Open World, Labyrinths and Locales, Primarily Combat, Targetable Body Parts, Hyper Violence, Repetitive Gameplay, Long Load Times, Buggy Missions and Visuals, Bad Pathfinding, 1950s Tunes, Extensive Voice Acting, Atmospheric Experience, Highly Moddable, Survival Mode, Customizable Power Armor!, Weak RPG Elements: Dialogue, Mission Resolution Options, Plot Branching, Unimportant Personal Stats, and Infrequent Ability Growth.

May Appeal To: Fallout newcomers, tinkerers, collectors, looters, explorers, crazed crafters, retro-future fanatics, trigger happy gore lunatics, and the twitchy FPS crowd.
May Repulse: long time followers of the Fallout series, pretty much. The guns/drugs use, glitches, body horror, PC graphics reqs, and a lack of multiplayer may chase off others.

Comparable To: the gun totin’ shootfest that is Borderlands 2, but with anti-radiation meds substituting the need for Adderall. Fallout 4 has less “RPG qualities” than all of its predecessors but is the prettiest to date. The map is smaller and more dense than New Vegas, easier to navigate than 3, and is less clever and humorous than 1 or 2 (which are completely different genres at this point). The default dialogue tree and “choices” are very much Mass Effect. Skyrim had interesting characters and quests vs checklists though it had less believable rules regarding competing factions as this applied to gameplay. TES: Oblivion had more tasks at the expense of being more repetitive while Morrowind allowed for some truly unique character builds and retained storylines that the average player never even discovered due to the world’s depth. Fallout 4’s crafting and networked base systems for attracting NPCs and generating scrap/revenue is a Bethesda first though it has some mild correlations with Terraria and Starbound the longer you think about it.

Continue reading

Mechwarrior (SNES)

Mechwarrior (SNES)

It’s not a giant Galactus tiara so a grognard has assuredly written a sternly worded treatise about this image’s canonicity. The pilot better be wearing an 80s thong bikini bottom or else!

Game Name: Mechwarrior (SNES version, 1993)
Developer: Beam Software
Platform: SNES (reviewed on SNES emulator)
Categories: Remake of the 1989 release – Not a Port, Battletech Inspired, FPS Mech Sim, Merc Contracts, Objective Variety, 50+ Missions, Performance Rewards, Revenge Plot, Heavy Customization, Punishing Difficulty, Auditory Mess, Flashy Sprites/Effects, 3D Battles on a Flat Map, Open Arenas, Clunky Controls, RPG-Style Intermissions, Quirky Characters, Immersive World, Surprisingly Cyberpunk for this Universe

May Appeal To: Battletech diehards, Shadowrun junkies, just plain ol’ SNES owners
May Repulse: PC owners and people with discretionary gaming options

Comparable To: the hideous bot design and coloring found in Rise Of The Robots, the seedy bar sequences with mysterious characters like in various Shadowrun incarnations, “Tank! Tank! Tank!” without special abilities and you’re the sole target. But I found the largest similarities with the classic action of Battlezone – if you could blow off enemy limbs. This has less mission complexity than Mechwarrior 2, less everything than Mechwarrior 3, and more personality than Mechwarrior 4.

Continue reading

Mechwarrior 3050

Mechwarrior 3050

I half expect to see some scrawny farm kid run by with an anthropomorphic frog in his backpack.

Game Name: Mechwarrior 3050 (1994)
Developer: Tiburon Entertainment (Soviet Strike, Nuclear Strike, Madden NFL)
Platform: Sega Genesis, SNES (reviewed on a SNES emulator)
Categories: Stompy Mech Combat, One Man Army, 3/4 Isometric Perspective, Customized Loadouts, Nuanced Attack Patterns, Precision Bullet Counting, Bullet Hell, Hard as Hell, Hella Satisfying, Niche Gaming, Finicky Controls, Few Missions, Exceptional Animations/Graphics, Repeat Play Experimentation, Weird “Multiplayer”, Laudable Cheats, and Level Completion Codes

May Appeal To: Battletech grognards, practical mecha fans, battlebot audiences, spec ops military commandos, ammo conservationists, holistic enjoyment gamers
May Repulse: Battletech grognards, Gundam-style mecha fans, conventional military theorists, run-and-gunners, spray-and-prayers, nitpickers

Comparable To: …. Jungle Strike. This game is positively a mech-ridden, slow paced Jungle Strike but with varied loadouts and a hefty boost to the enemy count. The “authentic” ground-pounding feel of Armored Core is alive and well but with more numerous enemies. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is Dynasty Warriors: Gundam swarms of enemies and projectiles but there is a definable bullet hell element to the game at its pinnacle, up there with the entry levels to a classic alternative take on WWII like the 1945 arcade title. Strangely enough, I frequently remembered the ammunition conservation like the true “survival” games in the Resident Evil series. Finally, the lop-sided power in taking down so many tanks, helicopters, hovercraft, turrets, and a sprinkling of mechs is iconic to the Mechwarrior series, primarily MW3/MW4 and Mech Assault . Mechwarrior 3050 was the second game with “Mechwarrior” in the title but made huge improvements to the aesthetics, mechanics, pacing, and fun of the original.

Continue reading

Castlevania

Castlevania

Contrary to Konami developers, this castle’s architects had no idea what they were doing.

Game Name: Castlevania (1986)
Developer: Konami (Gyrus, Gradius, Contra)
Platform: Family Computer Disk System (original), NES, Arcade, C64, Amiga, MS-DOS, Windows, Game Boy Advance, Mobile Phones, Nintendo DS, MSX2, Atari 2600  (reviewed on NES emulation)
Categories: NES Classic, Side Scrolling Platformer, Pitfalls, Power-Ups, Meticulous Level Design, Multi-Stage, Catchy Soundtrack, Medieval Castle Dungeon, Delayed Player Input, Life Bar, Hidden Items, One-Hit Minions, Vampires and Universal Movie Monsters, Overlapping Enemy Patterns, Infinite Tries, No Saves, Punishing Difficulty

May Appeal To: leather wearers, 17th century tailors, S&M enthusiasts, lion tamers, and those that chow down on pork chops discovered in the very walls of gothic castles.
May Repulse: sun shunners, neck biters, atheists, anti-reflectionists, those with a garlic allergy, and anyone requiring explicit permission to enter a domicile or who felt compelled to cart a coffin of dirt from their country of origin.

Comparable To: its descendants. Castlevania II has inferior design, pacing, art direction, music, and level layout. Symphony Of The Night empowers the player instead of crippling them, though it showcased a complex map and bestowed personality upon the very environment with attractive sprites and surprises. Castlevania 64 reeks of the early push to convert popular side-scrolling platformers into 3D, low-poly, shitty-camera shadows of their former selves. Lament Of Innocence and Curse Of Darkness successfully hone this newer perspective, added more to the strategic RPG experience with customizable summons or inventory management, and offer spatial reasoning challenges as well as a new focus on exploration. Portrait of Ruin was considerably easier for me, though the loads of maps and the dual-character system prove to be fun, diversionary mechanics in hindsight.

Continue reading

Rampage

Rampage

“Cut out that racket. I’m trying to FISH.” – Man with a mermaid  in his boat.

Game Name: Rampage (1986)
Developer: Bally Midway (Mortal Kombat, Cruis’n USA, Spy Hunter)
Platform: Arcade, Sega Master System, NES, Atari Lynx, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, C64, Amiga, Atari ST, Atari 260 (reviewed on an NES emulator)
Categories: Arcade Port, 2D Side View, No Scrolling, Giant Monsters, Button Masher, City Smasher, Tank Trasher, High Scores, Infinite Lives, Multiplayer (co-op/competitive hybrid), 100+ Levels, No Saves, Great Localization, Bad Ending

May Appeal To: Godzilla fans…. excuse me “Gojira” fans, King Kongers, social gamers, digital marathoners, Americana tourists, home-grown 80’s nostalgic terrorists.
May Repulse: PETA, irresponsible corporations, challenge seekers, soloists, arcade diehards, cartographers, city planners, and members of the organized armed forces.

Comparable To: an early proof-of-concept for Smash Brothers, baby’s first Primal Rage, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters but with expressive characterizations. Lastly, let’s throw in GTA’s wanton abandonment of social mores in a city setting. Continue reading