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For your review


I have recently played a bunch of new games. I thought you might like to hear about them.

Fallout 3

I played Fallout 2, never the first one so I think I have a moderate standpoint between the hardcore Fallout enthusiasts and the newcomers who never experienced the isometric, top view, turn based RPG in the days of yore. The beginning did a great job of setting up your character and running you through the tutorial. I really enjoy it when a game makes the tutorial portion transparent through the storyline. This feat is only topped by games that are so intuitive that no tutorial is required. This experience was horribly marred though at the moment you exit the vault and it asks you if you wanted to change anything about your character before starting the game. Really, that was a total pussy move. After exiting the vault you are presented with a dystopian world after a nuclear holocaust. They nailed this pretty well. Mutant animals and humans running amok, people living on the trappings of the past, surviving in ways that would be considered criminal in our time but are a natural part of life there. The obvious correlation between this game and Oblivion are obvious but I think it was a natural engine to convert Fallout to. The game is challenging, has a bit of the charm of the old games and with the side quests there is a lot of enjoyment to be had. The skills system is enjoyable and has noticeable effects on your character. I am trying to think of some annoying aspects of the game (besides that blunder in the beginning) and it is hard to identify anything specific. Perhaps the optional VATS system is a little clunky. I would rather they had stuck to either FPS or VATS and not made it an optional gig. I think that overall the game is great though the scenery can get a little monotonous. There are only so many rusty cars that I can look at before I think a nice rusty gas pump would have been nicer. This is a game I will pop in and out of my XBox on occasion, satisfied with doing side quests and never completing the game completely, sort of like Oblivion.

Dead Space

The most shocking aspect of Dead Space is that it was made by EA. I was fairly comfortable with the idea that EA would only make sequels and sports games, like the upcoming “Madden 2010: Roster Update”. Shocking I tell you because this game is wonderful. It has the feeling of a directed horror movie with eerie music queuing when you are about to be scared out of your seat. Shocking sequences of shadows, sound and movement that we got a taste of in Bioshock are perfected in this game. The plot is very similar to the most recent trilogy of Metroid games in that you must travel about this 3d map repairing things and picking up upgrades to allow you to move into the next area. The story is engaging and delivered in a believable way. Another wonderful feature of the game is a complete lack of a 4th wall interface. Your ammo, life and video communication are all done with in game elements like holograms or indicators on your armor and weapons. There is still a full screen map and inventory that I think could have been done in game with a little more work, but I respect the amount of time that would have taken to implement. There’s room to grow, let’s hope we see that done in future games. I enjoy though that I don’t have to look at some hokey ammo indicator on the left edge of my screen, constantly tainting my immersion. The battle system has a unique shaped ammo element that sets it apart from other FPS games in that it adds a level of strategy beyond the standard sort, mid, long range weapon choices. My only complaint might be the upgrade system and the power node rarity. After almost completing the game I realize that my math is bad and I should have been opening all those doors that required a node to open. I also don’t think the upgrades are very descriptive, intuitive or fun. I consider this the weak point of the game but really this could have been a great game without any upgrade system whatsoever. All in all I loved this game and would recommend it to anyone of appropriate age. It is even more gruesome and frightening than Bioshock was and I think it might give small children nightmares. If you like scary, you are golden.

Crossbones

I picked up this game for my iPhone and it has become my new diversion when I forget to bring my DS somewhere. Pull it out and a quick game always treats me with a grin. If you are familiar with the card game Set the idea of the game will come easily. There are four criteria of the tiles in this pirate themed game:

1) Color
2) Stripes
3) Symbols
4) Count

Each criteria has three iterations and to complete a match, you need three tiles that either match each criteria or are a complete mismatch of the iterations. I probably didn’t explain it well but after you get the hang of it (with the game’s easy tutorial) your head will buzz as you start to match them faster and faster. Beware of the ‘Hard’ setting; It will make you feel unworthy! It also has a ‘hand’ feature that is unique to the Set game and adds a but of hands on to the gameplay. If you can’t match anything you see you can shake your iPhone for a new hand of four cards that only you have access to. I have so far been unable to participate in an online match so I am hoping this will get all of you out there tapping away at it so I can lock horns of wit with you in the near future! Until then, the single player game is a worthy opponent.

-Aaron

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