Tag Archives: fallout

Steam Summer Sale Haul

The latest Steam sale happened to coincide with me receiving a job offer after 3 months of unemployment, so I promptly purchased just about everything from my wishlist. There go my bragging rights that I’ve played more than 50% of my library. I’ve even had time to play a number of them. Funny how much gaming time I have when I take a break from The Witcher 3.

Here’s my haul:


Hand of Fate – Roger wrote about this on CMP a while back and I’ve been wanting to try it. I’ve spent quite a few hours on this already. It’s a sort of card-based dungeon crawler with occasional combat. You go through randomly constructed dungeons, picking up armor and items, meeting merchants, getting quests, and fighting monsters with the goal of defeating a boss at the end. One of the things I really like about it is that it’s a game I can play while doing other things. I need more of these in my life. Making dinner? I can take a turn or two while I wait for water to boil or the oven to pre-heat. I can even chop things at my desk while I play. The combat is the only thing that really requires full attention (and both hands) and fights don’t take too long. Being able to play while distracted may not seem like a ringing endorsement, but I do really like it.

Invisible, Inc.

Invisible, Inc. – I heard the game referred to as XCOM-like, and that’s really all you have to say to sell me a game. I played this for a bit on Canada day. It’s enjoyable, the artistic style is great, the characters are diverse, the story is enough to grab me. It’s not overly intuitive though. Some things which should be simple aren’t. It took a bit to figure out where exactly I have to stand to revive a fallen squadmate. I’m still unsure about how I get more ammo for guns. Credits are used for all upgrades from character skills, to weapons, items, and augmentations, and I don’t feel like the game did a great job at giving me enough information so I know what to buy or know when I’m “prepared” for the end of the game.

Her Story – An interactive movie where you watch police interview tapes and learn about a murder that took place in the 90s. I really enjoyed this and am planning to recommend it in my next Short Games for Busy People.

Technobabylon – This is a point and click adventure by my favourite modern adventure game company, Wadjet Eye games. The games always have great characters and puzzles that aren’t too frustrating, and based on reviews this could be their best game yet.

Fallout 1&2 – I think I actually already own these on GoG, but they only cost $2 and it was right around the Fallout 4 announcement, so I was excited.

Dead State – Turn-based, zombies. Enough said. This one has been on my wishlist for a while.

Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock. Desolate alien planet. Adventure. Exploration. Could not turn down.

NaissancE. An experimental exploration game with a stark colour palette.

Sunset – Tale of Tales latest, and unfortunately, last game about a housekeeper in the midst of a Latin American revolution. Not totally sure I want to spend gaming time cleaning things, but I’ve appreciated Tale of Tales other gaming experiences.

That leaves my wishlist rather bare. I only have Gravity Ghost (I’m actually not sure why I didn’t pick this up) and Darkest Dungeon (which I refuse to buy until that early access tag is gone) are left.

How did you make out? Pick up anything you’ve been waiting for? Have you played any of the games I bought?

Under the Covers

I’ve been playing the remaster of Saints Row 4 on XBox One and thoroughly enjoying it. Besides engaging gameplay, zany antics, and ridiculously juvenile yet hilarious jokes, Saints Row boasts one of the best character creators I’ve seen in a game. When you create The Boss you have a ton of options. Aside from choosing your sex, you can choose your race and your skin colour. You can choose from multiple different voice actors with different accents to voice your character, and further customize the pitch of your voice. You can make your character appear young or old, and choose a body build that you like. Then there are a thousand different clothing options. And if you ever want to change things up, you can do so at any point in the game.

My character is what I’d like to look like in a video game. She has purple hair, some meat on her bones, and some major eyeliner and brow game. She’s voiced by the wonderful Laura Bailey who I wish I sounded like. But every time I load up the game, I’m greeted with this guy.

Saints Row 4 cover and loading screen art

Who the fuck is this guy?

He’s certainly not me. He’s not in my crew. I’ve never seen him in my game.

I love playing the game but every time I’m met with this image, which is also the art on the game box, there’s a moment of cognitive dissonance. The canon protagonist (at least in marketing materials) has nothing to do with my experience of playing the game. It seems so incongruous to offer up this great character creator that lets people create the kind of protagonist they want to play, but then show us a design that’s likely completely different anytime there’s a chance.

Saints Row is obviously not the only game that has done this.

Covers for Dragon Age 2, Fable 3, Sunset Overdrive all showing a white male main character

Dragon Age 2, Fable 3, and Sunset Overdrive also all portray the protagonist as a white male despite offering other options to the player.

The Mass Effect series boasts a decent character creator (though it’s not as robust as Saints Row’s), but all of the artwork around the first 2 games still features a default white male Shepard. Incidentally, he kind of looks like the guy from the Saints Row cover with a buzz cut.

Mass Effect 1 and 2 cover art

For Mass Effect 3 Bioware’s marketing department realized some people had recognized the superiority of Jennifer Hale’s Shepard (I refuse to use the term femShep, because she. is. Shepard.) In a puzzling move (or not so puzzling if you want to absolve yourself of all responsibility), Bioware put the decision on how she would look to a fan vote. Blue-eyed, blonde-haired, Caucasian Shepard won the popular vote in what could be boiled down to a beauty contest. Then there was a second vote to decide her hair colour. Yep, hard-ass, space Commander, first human Spectre Shepard had her skin colour, features, and hair style voted on by the public. Now that there was a canon design for both the male and female Shepard, Mass Effect 3 had a reversible box cover (of which maleShep was still the default).

Mass Effect 3 covers

I’m afraid that marketing departments just can’t win with me. Though I can (and have) flipped the cover of my Mass Effect 3 box for 360 to show the version of Shepard that’s closer to my own, it’s still not my Shepard. My Shepard is an N7 Marine and she sure as hell would never have a haircut that allowed bangs to obstruct her eyes. That’s really not safe for combat. While having an option for female box art is something, it still doesn’t take into account how people have created their own version of Shepard. Why does she have to be white? Why does she need to have delicate, conventionally attractive features? Why does she have a design that you can’t really even replicate in-game while box art maleShep and in-game maleShep can look pretty much identical? These are the great mysteries of the Mass Effect world.

I think the best way to market games that allow you to customize your character is to not show the protagonist in the artwork. It’s the only way to avoid that sense of dissonance and the feeling that if you’re not playing as scruffy white male #42, you’re not playing the character as it was designed. A number of games have done this, and I don’t think any have suffered from not putting a face on the box art.

Dragon Age Inquisition box art

The box art for Dragon Age: Inquisition has an enticing design that shows something of the story, without committing to a specific character design. This should work for most characters. Unless you play a dwarf, then you’re out of luck.

Dragon Age Origins box cover

Dragon Age: Origins has artwork that doesn’t give any indication of a canon Warden, while still being quite effective.

Fallout 3 and New Vegas box art

The newer Fallout games both feature heavily armored figures which don’t give away sex, race, or appearance, but tell you a lot about the game world. Though I’m sad to admit I always assumed the figure on the cover of New Vegas was male just because of lack of sculpted boob plate. But when I force that stereotype out of my head, it could really be a man or a woman.

Why spend so much time and effort giving players robust character customization only to default to the standard scruffy white male protagonist in all the marketing materials?


What to play?

Summer, though my favourite time in terms of weather and weekend getaways, is a pretty shitty time as far as video game releases go. All the big titles seem to be released between September and March leaving the other half of the year rather barren (with a few notable exceptions). Since I haven’t seen a new release that’s interested me, I’ve been trying to replay some old favourites.

A few weeks ago I was re-playing Dragon Age: Origins. I was going through that quickly and got about 75% through the game, then I lost interest. I realised I was playing pretty much the exact same character as I did the first time (except this time I was a mage. Pew! Pew!). I had wanted to try out some of the other options when the big decisions came, but in most instances, there only seems to be one satisfying way to resolve the problems in the game. I’m a completionist. I’m going to play the way I think will give me the most experience and open up the most content. I will never tell someone to go jump in a lake when they ask me to help find their lost kitten. It’s a quest! It will give me experience and gold! I must find the kitten! I’m also rather attached to all the characters in my party in Dragon Age, I don’t want to do things that will result in them leaving or dying. I find the thought of Alistair (I <3 Alistair) getting killed by the Archdemon or becoming a wandering drunk quite traumatic. Anyway, after realising I was most likely going to finish the game in the exact same way as my first playthrough I stopped playing.

Last week I had an urge to replay Fallout 3. I have all the DLC, but most of it is unplayed, and I decided to start a brand new game, blow up Megaton and generally be an evil bastard. I played through the intro, left the Vault…and immediately realised I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than play through the whole game again. I quite enjoyed my first playthrough, but the thought of talking to dead-eyed NPCs, trekking through identical sewer maps, getting lost in the Capital and being killed by Giant Radscorpions AGAIN made me turn it off. There are a number of things I like about Fallout. I love the setting. The 50s vibe is great and end of the world scenarios are my favourite. I liked exploring the world – there were so many areas and little outposts to discover. The character customization perks are also a lot of fun. It certainly has its downsides though. For one, the game just screams “Bethesda!” and I can’t help but draw constant comparisons to Elder Scrolls, which I hated. The sewer environments were far too common, repetitive and hard to navigate for my directionally-challenged self. Another thing that bothered me was the sheer amount of crap you could pick up. Really, how many clipboards do I need? Fallout was a lot of fun the first time around, but not something I want to sink another 40+ hours into.

After giving up on Fallout, I tried out Borderlands. I’m not a big fan of first person shooters, but I thought I’d try something different and continued the game I had started when it was released. I got in maybe an hour or two of play before putting Borderlands back on the shelf. It’s not a bad game by any stretch. I like the look of it and it’s somewhat cathartic to blast away the bad guys with my SMG, but as I said shooters just aren’t my thing. I like my games to involve a bit more story and a lot more dialogue. Calling Borderlands a “role playing shooter” is a huge stretch. A talent tree does not an rpg make. The game has barely a hint of a narrative and your character…lacks character. I also wasn’t a big fan of how loot-driven it was. There was too much stuff. I spent more time examining stats on guns than I did shooting them.

So now I’m at a loss. Anyone have ideas for something new to play? I’d prefer a console game. PC games have the distinct disadvantage of requiring me to get out of bed to play them, which is one of my least favorite things to do at the moment. Any suggestions?