There’s a few reasons why, as a long time gamer, I hate Zynga. Here’s another one

This company is built on the simple truism once discovered by Homer Simpson regarding criminal business models….get them addicted, then jack up the price.

I would highly recommend not investing in them, they are an ad-blocker away from insolvency, and require a high amount of ignorance on the part of their customers to make make any money.  It isn’t really the most sustainable model…especially in the information age.

Fallout 3 Character Generation (Review)

Originally uploaded by el_wah






A part of the character generation process in Fallout 3.

This is after the part where you are born (and the scene shows the hospital) and you pick your gender and name.

Previous to this, you are crawling around the bedroom and find a children’s book on the floor, which you pick up and set your starting stats.

Short, pre-review review…this game is amazing. Best three-word description, “Steam Punk Oblivion.”

More on this one late…this thing is pretty sweet.  Should have some video of me whacking some super mutants.

UPDATE: As promised…

NOTE: As should be guessed from the title of this post, Fallout 3 is an RPG.  As you can see from the video, it does have some FPS elements, but trust me, if you try and play this game like it’s Halo or Half-Life, you will die, a lot, and it will not be fun.

As you can see in the video above, the game utilizes a type of targeting computer and “Action Points” to make specially targeted attacks.  When you aren’t using this tech-helper, you have to aim and shoot manually, and in real time.  From my experience so far, it feels like the AI opponents have access to computer help in aiming all the time.  Which is to say, for them it’s like slow motion all the time.  You can’t run around in circles for 5 minutes and not get hit (like in Halo).  You will get mowed down.  Quickly.

That makes the game a bit more challenging, and for me, more fun.

You play it like a combination of Oblivion, Splinter Cell, Bioshock, and a bit of post-apocalyptic GTA (although more in mission style and world-size than action).  With brief moments of solid action, the meat of the game is expoloration and simple interaction.

At heart it plays true to its roots as a role-playing game, and it gives you lots and lots of roles to play.  This is true both in the storyline and the game mechanics.  There are many ways to enhance your character as you level up in old-school, RPG style of get-experience, level up, distribute skill points.   Skill points control stuff like real-world accuracy and effectiveness with weapons, so you can’t make up for having a 20 (out of 100) Heavy Weapons skill with world class Quake rocket-launcher dancing.  Again, RPG != FPS.

I’m stilling getting into the game, but if you ever wanted to be like that character that crazy guy plays in the Mad Max movies, now is your chance.  And it *really* does play like that.  It can get verrrry creepy when you are crawling around in some burned out, underground subway station and the lights go out and you start to hear creepy, crawly noises. 

Suddenly, your world erupts into hellish fire and you have to figure out which way to shoot to make it stop.

Good stuff.  Stuff that didn’t make it into the movies, sadly.  The movies were more about the social stuff, of which there is plenty in the game, but the fun is going off alone, at least for me.  That’s the Mad Max world I wanted to see, and here you get to do so.  Up close and freakishly personal.

Also, and more important to games reviewed on this site, there are “perks” that allow you to become a “cyborg” and “ninja”, so it looks like I have to make it at least level 20.  And so I’m off to the wastelands.

Peace (or world war ends badly….)

Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone (Demonstration)

I just finished updating my iPhone and computer (and solving a little problem) and got some of the new apps loaded.

Overall I have to say that I am VERY impressed with Apples efforts and the gaming potential of the iPhone.  I knew it had a pretty screen and some decent horsepower hidden in there, but I have to say I am, again, very impressed with the potential.  Note that word: potential.

The first round of software, at least from a gaming perspective, is neat but still in the early stages of development.  The price is pretty close for some stuff, but I think they might need to keep everything pretty low to move units.  Below is a video of me playing Super Monkey Ball.  It cost $10.00.  This is part of the whole iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 rollout.

There have been some serious issues with the rollout, but today the software is working fine and I have to say that the results speak for themselves.

I should have a couple more video reviews coming up.   Especially one for Tetris.  This looks like it might be a definitive version.  It works wonderfully with the touch-screen.  The iPhone may very well turn out to be as innovative as the Wii for gaming.

I’m still getting the software installed on the new laptop, so a bit of paitence as I recreate the video studio for mobile production.  Then more should be on the way.

The Joys of Random Number Generators (Catan)

For those that don’t recognize the screen, this is from the game “Catan” on the XBOX 360 Live. It based on the board game “Settlers of Catan” and is a very accurate recreation of that game. The screenshot is of an analysis of all the die rolls during the game. The dark blue background shows a “likely” distribution. The light blue foreground shows the “actual” distribution. The likelyhood of no “8”s being rolled is very small.

Yes, I had a Big City on a tile with an 8. And there was not a single one rolled in the game.

I lost the game.

Penny Arcade : Really Long Titled Video Game

Penny Arcade : Really Long Title

Originally uploaded by el_wah

This is is a screen shot from the recently released Penny Arcade video game. I played through the game the other day. I should have a review up for it some time this week.

Quickie review: Solid RPG-Slight Action game with some funny dialogue and solid cell-shaded graphics. Roughly 8 hours of direct gameplay, and it looks like plenty more to come, as this was Episode 1.

One of My Latest Steam Splurges

Everyday Shooter by Jonathan Mak

Everyday Shooter is an album of games exploring the expressive power of abstract shooters. Dissolute sounds of destruction are replaced with guitar riffs harmonizing over an all-guitar soundtrack, while modulating shapes celebrate the flowing beauty of geometry.

Nice little indie game.

I like the noises it makes.

I’m also turning into a bigger fan of the Steam™ platform for game delivery. It’s essentially a secure game download tool pushed by the guys at Octane selling Half-Life 2. They’ve been able to horseshoe into the game download territory and have now pulled upwards of $100 or so out of my pockets for game splurges like this at that ninja one.

Me Getting My Blackbelt

Dark Sector :: Game Review :: XBOX 360

It was good to spend some time back in full ninja mode. Never before have I seen such a slow moving ninja, but eventually I was able to get around like the best of ’em. The secret is fairly constant use of the A button.

The Basics:

Dark Sector is a third person violence fest with an over-the-shoulder view. The gameplay is along the lines of Resident Evil 4 (RE4), with the Halo health system and some Gears of War cover action. The addition to this type of gameplay, and a newish weapon to play with, is the “glaive”. I’m calling it the glaive because that’s what they called it in Krull and that’s where the idea came from. It’s never really explained why you have a glaive, and not ninja stars, or nunchucks, so some other cool implements of death, but the glaive works and eventually it works quite well.

The Story?

You are one of the infected (some sort of goverment/business defense research). As the story progresses, so does your infection and you track down the doctor who created the virus. The mood and storyline are also very much along the Doom 3 lines of demons/infected and a mastermind at the end. You kill stuff, you fight special bosses and the story moves on.

You continue to gain abilities as you move through the very linear storyline and get your personal weapon upgrades out of the “black market” that is a very direct homage to the weapon upgrade system in RE4. I was able to complete the game without getting enough cash to buy the final handheld weapon, but my trusty AK with full upgrades made good work when needed.

The Glaive:

The glaive is one of the first automatic upgrades that you get as the game progresses. You soon gain the ability to control in bullet time the flight of the glaive, learn to embue it with various elements (fire, cold, electricity) and even make the thing blow up on command. As your timing with the glaive get better, it is possible to through a “super-glaive” that is orange. Orange means dangerous, as limbs and heads flow much faster with the organge glaive.

You also get random (to you) upgrades, including a very handy force shield, and finally the ability to go momentarily invisible. This is useful for the finishing moves that also cause of lot of limbs/bloods/energy to flow.

The Gameplay:

The game is divided into 10 chapter, leading up to a final confrontation with the big boss. Most of the chapters conlcude in a pitched battle with a boss character, many taking particular combination of glaive power-ups, boosts, and finishing moves to defeat.

You will die, and you will die often. Enemy are plentiful, if a bit dense. They’ll take cove but stick to it, and group tactics seem well beyond the AI. There’s not a lot of variety in the targets, but those that do make the grade and nicely animated, including demons that hop with the agility of, well, the demons in Doom 3. Once they land, however, they become pretty slow moving targets, fighting with a steady barage of energy shotgun blasts.

Working a combination of the glaive and standard weapons, the game avoids drudgery with a bit of variety with locals, short vehicle sequences, and some wonderfully rendered cut-scenes. All in the graphics do a good job of displaying the on-screen action, and let you know who and what is likely to kill you wkith splotches and vibrations.

There are a few moments of dread, albeit, less than RE4, and some excellent ambiance.


A workable action title, easily finishable within a week rental. The game is fun enough, although breaks no real new bounds. The artwork fits the theme of a dark and nasty base, replete with ruins, sewers and the test labs.

I’ll give it a 7.4 out of 10.

And I got 605 out of 1000 achievement points.