Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

Fallout 3 Appreciation: All in the Atmosphere

SPOILER ALERT FOR FALLOUT 3

Seeing as how the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim releases in a little over a week (Vote for what console you want Kat to play Skyrim on!), I wanted to take a look back at another game brought to us by Bethesda, Fallout 3.  I know that this game is old news; heck, even the full game expansion pack is likely old enough to be under $30 at your local retailer.  But I wanted to take a step back and examine what made Fallout 3 great.

When Fallout 3 first came out, I was only mildly interested, if that.  A game about a post-apocalyptic, war-torn land, with crazily mutated beings wasn’t exactly up my alley.  A friend brought the game over and showed me the gory head explosions (or whatever limb you happened to target) and seemed even less likely that I’d want to try it.

Fallout 3 Centaur

Yeah, this is really NOT what I picture when I think 'Centaur'.

Months later, the Game of the Year edition went on sale at Target.  I decided to purchase it and give Fallout a try.  After all, Bethesda had also given us the Elder Scrolls games, so that should say something good about Fallout.  Fallout 3 starts off pretty safe, with you growing up as a child in a vault that has protected you from the ravages of the radiated Wastelands.  Escaping the vault was both nerve-wracking and thrilling.  And stepping out into an eerily empty town with partially or mostly destroyed houses set a great, lonely tone.  It was a relief to finally make it to Megaton, knowing that there actually were survivors out there.  I decided to keep up with the ‘Following in His Footsteps’ quest.  I wanted to see Liam Neeson *ahem* – dad – again.  Unfortunately, since I’m such a Scaredy-Kat, going into the tunnels caused me minor panic attacks (Feral Ghouls, Super Mutants?!!!  Limited ammo?!!), and I gave up.  You have to admit, some of the creatures are very creepy.  (Centaurs!!?)

A month ago, I decided to pick the game back up, and was sucked in.  I found Dogmeat, and having a companion by my side made me feel much better about traversing the Wasteland and even… tunnels.  Once I had this confidence, I was able to see Fallout for the great game it actually is.  There are so many aspects to Fallout, so much to do and see.

Fallout 3 Couple

*ahem* This couple was clearly enjoying themselves when disaster struck. And the creepy part is, you still have the option of sleeping in that bed...

For one, this certainly is no kids game.  There’s the more obvious limb exploding and violent deaths, but there’s also a lot of rough language, sexual aspects, and just plain horrific events.  Visiting Minefield and seeing a smaller skeleton than most in a room that contains kids toys is just heart wrenching.  The whole deserted mood of Minefield is haunting (no pun intended).  Did anyone else pick up through their conversations that Jericho raped/attempted to rape Jenny Stahl?  And of course, there are the perks:  Lady Killer, Black Widow.  There are actual sex benefits to choosing this perk (at least for a woman as a Black Widow), and one being a threesome, in fact.  Nova is there for more than just viewing pleasure.

Fallout 3 Springvale

Telephone Poles: Built to Last, even through Nuclear Catastrophes!

Another is that this game, the whole Fallout series, presents a unique idea that hasn’t been explored as much as a genre like fantasy has.  And they do it damn well.  The vistas, while fascinating as a torn apart and gritty world, don’t exactly make me want to live in such a world.  But they speak strongly for what the game is portraying.  The mood created in the game is often lonely, always eerie, and deserted.  Most of what you encounter in the Wasteland is going to try to kill you.  Finding a town might be a safe harbor, but you can’t rely on that.  In fact, a lot of the towns will have something nasty lurking inside; Raiders, mines, fire ants, super mutants.  But in a world like Fallout, that fits perfectly.  It’s to be expected.

The story of Fallout is great because, while there is plenty of tension waiting around every corner, and you never know what you’ll encounter next, but there’s hope in this dark world.  There’s hope that life will continue, despite all the hardships, and that what’s been destroyed can be rebuilt.  And that’s really what keeps me playing.

-Kat

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Rating: 4.3/5 (3 votes cast)

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

ni no kuni wrath of the white witch

Animated movies are a guilty pleasure of mine; in fact they are one of a great many guilty pleasures. Thankfully I have an older sister who embraces them to the point that she helps me to expand them to the utmost. This is why a few years ago when she said “Have you ever heard of Hayao Miyazaki? You need to watch his stuff,” I took it to heart.  I started off with My Neighbor Totoro and fell instantly in love and since that moment I’ve ridden the Studio Ghibli train and never looked back.

ni no kuni party memebers

I have no idea what's going on here but I can't wait to find out.

Fast forward a few years  to the announcement of a video game coming out of Studio Ghibli. I will admit that when I first heard about Ni no Kuni I was worried, perhaps even slightly concerned. I was unsure if the skills of Hayao Miyazaki could translate well into a video game. His worlds are rich with life and emotion. They are deep and seem to jump to life off of any screen they grace. However more often than not dreams of gaming grandeur often fall short. It wasn’t a function of ambition or imagination but instead a function of existing infrastructure to handle a world that Miyazaki could create. While I don’t know him, something tells me that he is the kind of person who is only limited by the confines of the medium he uses. I would hate for video games to tarnish someone who is, in my eyes, so sterling.

While I watched the trailers with interest I can honestly admit that I have never been this style of excited about a game. I feel like a child as Christmas approaches. I’m watching the trailer the way a bright eyed youngster watches the the twinkling lights with a mix of awe and rapture.

As we watch the video we see a landscape that is easy to get excited about. At 0:38 seconds we begin to see a world full of vibrance and life as creature dot the landscape and clouds float overhead casting shadows on the ground. We see a town full of life and traffic artistically crafted in a way that most certainly bears a Miyazaki mark. As the trailer continues we see a world where nothing is ever “stationary”. Everything in this world finds some way to come to life. Nothing lays dormant in the background just taking up space. This has always been a facet of his movies that I have found enthralling and my fears of it translating to a video game have been belayed.

But visuals are only one piece of a game. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is an RPG and as such we expect to see something in the way of combat mechanics and gameplay techniques. This trailer does not disappoint. From puzzles to what appears to be a race the gameplay of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch does not skimp on the Miyazaki sense of wonder. Anything that can be done can be done with magic and flair. Nothing is ever done “just because”. Ever inch of it is dripping with subtle flashes of creativity and life. Even when flying a hulking dragon through the skies, the movements and actions have hints in subtleties that only Miyazaki takes the time to animate.

Ni no Kuni for the Playstation 3

Even the bricks in the road have a sense of artistic wonder that other companies can learn from.

Then there is Ni no Kuni’s combat. It appears to have a mix of turn based and action RPG elements in it. You select your character and your actions while a clock ticks down in the bottom left. In this we see an array of combat elements from the standard melee and ranged to the more creative magic elements but ultimately how they play together remains to be seen. During battles you line up your party members to make use of tactics and skills. If one player is good at taking damage and blocking you can align them to shield other weaker party members. This hearkens back to a more classical RPG styling that has be simply delighted.

And then there is the apparent book that comes along with the game. In a time when gameplay manuals are becoming a thing of the past Ni no Kuni: The Wrath of the White Witch says “Forget that noise. He’s a book to make up for everyone else’s shortcomings.” It is a book that represents the magic book from the game itself and is needed in order to play the game. But that’s not all it contains. It goes ahead and throws a bestiary at you and short stories that contain clues to help with certain aspects and elements of the game. It’s more or less and indispensable field guide needed to finish the game. Miyazaki has essentially taken the game out of the video game and brought part of it into the real world.

I have finally come to the point where I no longer fear the release of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch as something that may take away from Miyazaki’s legacy but something to solidify it as a creator who transcended mediums and created wonderful worlds of delight.

So I leave you with one question, what video games have you approached with worry but been so surprised by that you fell in love?

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Skyrim Poll: Kat Needs Your Help

The Ultimate Decision

If you were to know anything about Kat, she’d… well, she certainly wouldn’t want her indecisiveness to be that one thing.  However, it’s the truth.  On top of being a huge BioWare fan and a Scaredy-Kat and a number of other things, she can be very indecisive.  As of right now she’s having a lot of trouble deciding what console to buy the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for.

That’s not to say Kat isn’t excited for Skyrim.  She is.  She’s so excited she can barely contain herself.  Calendars with November 11th boldly circled in red haunt her dreams.  She finds herself humming the Elder Scrolls theme song at random times of the day.  She even wrote a post about tearing up over the beauty of Skyrim’s graphics alone.

Kat Needs You!

Kat needs you. Err, your help.

But the fact is that her indecisiveness has left her with a choice:  what system should she get Skyrim for?  She goes back and forth in her mind, one moment thinking that the 360 will be better as Skyrim was developed on it specifically, but the next minute thinking that the blu-ray capabilities might make the PS3 run Skyrim better.  She likes the 360 better in terms of achievements, but the extra PS3 controller triggers might mean she can have quick access to more attacks & spells in game.  What’s a gamer girl to choose?!

That’s where you come in.  That’s right, Console Polishers, Kat needs YOU.

We here at Polish the Console decided to hold a poll.  You, the readers, will decide the fate of which system Kat gets Skyrim for.  Whichever system wins in the poll below, that will be the version of Skyrim she gets.  And here’s where it gets really fun: Kat won’t actually know which system won until her copy of Skyrim arrives in the mail.  Then, on November 11th, Kat will film a quick video to show which copy of Skyrim came in the mail and post it here on PtC.

The poll will close Wednesday, November 9th.  You can vote once a day, so keep coming back to vote for your favorite system!  So what’s it going to be?  What system do you want Kat to play Skyrim for?  …or what do you want to FORCE HER TO PLAY?

Be sure to check back on November 11th to see what Kat got!

 

-Kat

(it was strange writing in third person)

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Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)

Dark Souls: Playthrough Journal – Final Entry

Dark Souls Playthrough Journal Final Entry

In Part 1 and Part 2 of our Dark Souls Playthrough Journal we’ve taken you through a few initial elements in Dark Souls. This is a game that has taken what has worked so well in Demon’s Souls and made a few improvements on it. While we can’t stop playing we can’t ask all of you to contend with our updates about the required grinding. Dark Souls doesn’t stop when the console is turned off. It lives on. It invades our dreams and clouds our thoughts. Each waking moment is a time to reflect on what went wrong and how to correct it. It’s a game unlike most we have played and for that we are in love.

Similar to our absence from one another, the world of Dark Souls has continued on. While my character only progresses through my own actions the world continues to see new signs of life. Blue shadows of those who succeed and newly formed bloodstains of those that don’t appear and disappear like the ethereal apparitions that they are. However since last we found ourselves at the Firelink Shrine we have not laid dormant.

Dark Souls

Being overrun can also work to your advantage if you strike just right

In Dark Souls the controls are difficult to master but once you do you find them to be almost perfect. Save for a few niceties like a proper jumping mechanic they are absolutely wonderful. People don’t die in Dark Souls because they controls are imperfect. They die in Dark Souls because they themselves are imperfect. However taking any break from Dark Souls means that we will lose the precision and understanding that we have worked so hard to cultivate. So we press on. We become the spirits and stains that dot the landscape and hope that others begin to learn from us. We leave messages in the world to aide those that will follow so they may not be caught off guard.

As we fight the demons and the evils of the world we know that we will not be successful on our first attempt. But we press on because we know that the rewards are worth the price. As we fight these demons we’re struck with the sheer magnitude of evil stands before us each and every time. With each new demon we have a whole new challenge. Dark Souls isn’t there to help you win. Dark Souls knows how to defeat the demons. It’s your job to figure it out for yourself. However there is something that Dark Souls doesn’t know that is ultimately your greatest strength.

Dark Souls has no idea how to stop you. Granted it will throw almost everything imaginable at you in an attempt to stop you. In fact if you move too carelessly it will throw far more at you than you can handle and it will be successful in learning how to stop you. But then once you start over you then take this as a lesson of what not to do.

As we move through the world we care careful note of how many enemies there are and what they do. Not every enemy can be killed in the same way. While you could spend the entire game blocking this will just wear you and your equipment down. Sometimes it’s best the just charge in and other times it’s best to wait and snipe. You won’t know what the best course of action is, however, until you try. Sometimes a kind soul before you will have left a message to help you on your way.

Dark Souls Wallpaper

Nothing shows both the strength and despair of Dark Souls quite like this

Progression in Dark Souls is done slowly and this is the way they intended it to be. Not every enemy is one you can kill. Sometimes it’s best to run. Sometimes it’s best to just steer clear. Sometimes you run in swinging. You will only ever learn which is correct by trying. Once you know you keep doing it until you have it down to a science. You learn the strengths and weaknesses and exploit them. This is not your game. You don’t get to play it your way. The only way to survive is to play it their way.

As we work our way up from the Firelink Shrine and past the aqueduct we’re quickly finding that being overwhelmed is something that Dark Souls will throw at us time and time again. From enemies hanging off the side of a railing to metal covered bulls to a dragon that decimates everything in it’s path the onset of Dark Souls will not pull any punches. However the ways to beat Dark Souls are not always contained within the game. Sometime you must look elsewhere to find the solutions. Dark Souls lives outside of the console. It permeates the world around you and ceases to be an RPG and starts to become a part of your life. It’s like that pet that you tried to hide from you parents or that naughty magazine you also tried to hide from your parents. You don’t want to admit that you’re looking for help but it’s the only way to survive.

It is for this challenge and totally different gameplay that we give Dark Souls a 5 out of 5

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Signs of War

Star Wars: The Old Republic - Signs of War

As we approach the impending end of year deluge of phenomenal games there are few that I am this excited for. I mean yes, Skyrim is a must and with Batman Arkham City having been released earlier in the week and Dark Souls two weeks ago video gamers have already begun their descent into a long season of epic gaming. But one stands out to me as more than just a video game.

I grew up a Star Wars fan. Watching the original trilogy reminds me of growing up and hanging out with my older sister. For me this MMORPG allows me to live in the world I always wanted to when I was younger. But as this trailer shows us, it’s not going to be an easy life. Before I give you the SWTOR trailer feel I should warn you that you may feel a sudden urge to start fist pumping, cheering, and punching Sith.

We appear to be at the onset of an online RPG that will redefine all those that come after it. At least I’m sure that is their aim. Their goals are lofty and all we can do is hope they hit them and then some. BioWare has definitely pushed on with a potentially genre defining offering with SWTOR. It is either going to be a resounding success or sputter out into an overwhelming display of average. But with the fan base and hope behind it I think what will ultimately make or break Star Wars: The Old Republic is how many users pick it up and start playing.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I wonder if that condition is contagious

This gameplay trailer is, in a word, passionate. War is breaking out all across the galaxy and not all of it takes place right out in the open. There is subversion, political intrigue, and all out raging battles. Nothing appears to be as it seams and, in true Star Wars fashion, I think we can assume that there is going to be some losses. The Star Wars Universe has never been about “kicking back, take it easy, and relax”. It’s about uncovering plots, tactics, gaining the upper hand, and (when the need arises) kickin’ up a little dust. SWTOR is showing us that the universe is at a point of great unrest and it can not be won by one or two lone heroes. It is going to take a team effort to ultimately win the war.

This will not be a war won by men in suits alone. There are fights taking place behind the scenes. From Twi’lek dancers shooting soldiers in bars, to shady deals with politicians in Coruscant this war is going to go far beyond the pull of a blaster trigger or hum of a lightsaber. This will be a war on many fronts.

And now…I have goosebumps. Damn you Old Republic.

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