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Fallout 3 and our Apocalyptic Tendencies!

I recently got a resurgent interest in all things post apocalyptic. This has absolutely nothing to do with an idea I got a few days ago to perhaps pursue my thesis on Post-Apocalyptic literature next year. So of course my first natural response was to get the greatest Fallout craving I ever had. This was so great it came to the point where I went out and re-bought the game for myself. Not a day had passed since this craving took me and I slipped the disc into my Ps3, updated the patches and voila! The familiar 50’s music and desolate apocalyptic surroundings soon became my new home. This isn’t a review though. This is more a few random thought being tossed around a bit. So spare me a minute and let me share a bit of it with you!

The first thing that came to mind, happened while I was watching the opening sequence of the game. Those that have played the game, would recognise it well. The camera opens up with a light being switched on, soft 50’s music start to play in the background as the camera starts to zoom out. It appears the light was that of an old radio in a bus, the camera moves through the bus slowly showing teddy bears, posters etc.  Artefacts of a previous life. Finally it exits the bus that we can now see is truly ruined, snapped in half. The music is almost silent now as the camera continues to zoom out. We take in the sublimity of the destruction that is apparent as far as the eye can see. Finally the camera stops and a man dressed completely in metal stand in the side of the frame. He is a Paladin of the Brotherhood of Steel. He signifies that the world around us now, is very different from what we are used to.

This is a pretty simple entrance, but at the same time very powerful and it succeeds in saying so many things at the same time. It sets the tone, gives us the background of the game in a nutshell and shows us a bit of what we can expect. But what follows is where I really want to make my point. The opening narration goes as follows:

War. War never changes. Since the dawn of human kind, when our ancestors first discovered the killing power of rock and bone, blood has been spilled in the name of everything: from God to justice to simple, psychotic rage.

Doesn’t Fallout just nail it? This along with many other subtle and not so subtle hints, makes way for a very bleak, very pessimistic view of human nature. But really, if you think about it. It is so very accurate. At this moment in the real world, there are so many conflicts going on at the same time. Some you might not even have heard of, I certainly didn’t know of all of them before this post. Areas that are currently experiencing some sort of major conflict that causes more than a 1000 death every year is among: Colombia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Mexico, Sudan, Syria, Iraq. Then there is something like 35 other more minor conflicts in other areas, some of them are older than 50 years. Here is a list of Wikipedia list if you want to have a look

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_military_conflicts

What does all of these conflicts have in common? Humanity and it’s very human problems. All of these wars are waged because of ideologies, religions, profit, power, drugs etc. Very human, very invented problems. In other words. Unnecessary creations that humans have included into their nature.

That is just war though. Then we have other man generated problem that is also represented in Fallout to some extent or another. Corporate abuse, Rampant capitalism, humans exploiting each  other, resources, religious fanaticism, man-made pestilence and of course the big one. Destruction of man’s own civilisation. That is kind of where all of this is heading is it not. Both the game and the article. The end of human civilisation, a hot topic for 2012, isn’t it. Even if it is not caused by nuclear holocaust as in the game, it will be come about in some other fashion. My bet is on Climate change. It might not happen in 2012, as some especially nutty cases would have us believe, but rest assured it is on our horizons. Be it 10, 20, 50 or even a 100 years. I can’t say, I am neither a prophet nor a scientist. But any idiot can see that the way we are running our civilisations at the moment and the abuse we are handing out to both ourselves and our planet is not sustainable.

What makes Fallout so especially grim, but also so very true, is that it shows the world after it has gone to shit. That is the scary part, what does it show? It shows humans are still exactly the same. Their civilisation has already been destroyed by war, environmental genocide or whatever and they have absolutely learned nothing from it. What is so especially interesting to me, is the fact that I can imagine this scenario so completely. As does many authors, films and other games in the genre. I will leave you with this.

 Even after the world has been burned to nuclear cinders, even after the ruling powers have faded and human society itself as crumbled into unordered anarchy, even after man has already brought the worst possible fate upon himself. Even now when it is the most crucial time for men to stand together, for there very survival depends on it, even then, they do not!

Human nature never changes.

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Huttstuff(It is indeed)

Introducing Mr Huttstuff

If you are looking for a good source to get all your gaming news, as well as reviews and other trends in the culture, I would highly recommend you to go and check out Huttstuff.net.

They are a rather new but quickly growing site dedicated to bringing you the latest and most interesting news of our beloved gaming lifestyle!

The contributors there are all talented and passionate gamers and I see a bright future for this fast-moving gaming site.

On a related note, I myself will also start to contribute for them soon, so if you like my stuff, be sure to keep an eye out for me as well!

Huttstuff will not leave you disappointed, so go and check it out now and see for yourself!

CLICK HERE —–>  Huttstuff

Also follow them and myself on twitter @Huttstuffblog

@BornAgainGamer

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Infamous 2: Review

Infamous 2: Review

(Warning this review contains possible plot spoilers for the FIRST Infamous, but if you haven’t played the first, why are you reading this anyway? Go play the first then we’ll talk again, tisk!)

Infamous was the first game my Ps3 ever slowly drew into its now ever hungry disc rom. I shouldn’t even have to mention that the game has some special significance for myself, if only for that reason alone. Luckily though for me, Infamous was a great game with some actual good merits, unlike something to the effect of Kane and Lynch, otherwise I would have to remember that for the rest of my life…  Strange though it took me quite a time to bother to get hold of the second one. The reason for this… I am not quite sure.

Click here to read the rest of the review

http://lazyassgamer.com/infamous-2-review

Please go check it out and feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences with the game.

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Lone Survivor: Review

Release date:  March 2012

Developer: Superflat Games

Not being much of an indie player, until just after playing Lone Survivor, and my subsequent purchase of my very own Humble Bundle, I went into this game with quite a bit of scepticism. I heard the little bit of hype, read the reviews and my thoughts were… How can a side scroller be scary? Especially to the degree the reviewers are going on about? This former mindset has taken quite a beating about halfway into this game and the end result is this review!

Lone Survivor is a side scroller, survival horror game developed by Jasper Byrne’s Superflat games. You take on the role of an unknown protagonist aka yourself. It gets quickly established that the world has gone to hell and most(or all) of the population has been infected with some disease turning them into weird thin men among other things. The only thing protecting you from the same fate is your wits and your trustee surgical mask!

Cat will keep you company…

I say most or all of the population, not because there isn’t any other human characters in the game, but because the game subtly and repeatedly hints that these people may not be real and is perhaps a product of the protagonists  ever-growing insanity. The game continually plays with this trend of insanity and even incorporates it into the survival mechanic. Your character needs sleep and as a result you often have to return back to the apartment to rest out, drink some of the variety of stimulants(which has their own pitfalls) or risk starting to lose grip on reality, the same happens in the dark if your flashlight goes out.

The survival mechanic is actually very well incorporated and balanced. Unlike with modern day “survival horrors” this game actually incorporates some actual surviving. You have to scavenge for food, tools, ammo and anything else you may need. You have to manage these or risk running out. The result is the player is soon forced to adapt a survivor mindset, having to carefully plan his trips to the outside. Wasting just a few bullets, your food  or even your batteries(Damn you superflat gameboy thingy!) will mean eventual death.

Chillax man! Nothing bad’s going to happen…

The monsters, obstacles and environments you face all help to build the feeling of terror and dread and you will quickly be immersed in the game. Along with this comes the games background story that plays a role, as well as the games pixelly look that works perfectly in its context. The soundtrack also is amazing and I could just open the game to listen to the title sequence music most of the day if I wanted. The levels are simple but well designed and generally the gameplay is smooth and plays well.

A few negative comments would be the sheer lack or direction you will sometimes face in either what to do or where to go. This can be frustrating at times when you have to head out on an already tight budget and risk losing precious resources while not accomplishing a specific goal but actually just trying to figure out what it is! The diary and radio are there to help with this but although sometimes useful, they can be just as vague as well.  Second would be the fighting. Although this is a minor issue as you will mostly avoid fighting where you can anyway, when it comes down too shooting either a thin man or the fat one, it’s a pain in the ass. Being hard enough to aim without them jumping around the place and advancing faster than your remarkably slow shooting gun and spit out bullets. Same idea applies to the fat men that tank more bullets than even fps games would have to spear. These are minor issues though as you can mostly avoid or sneak past any uglies with either rotting meat, flares or just good old running away!

God damn aiming!

For what the game sets out to achieve its succeeds remarkably. Along with an interesting enveloping little story, the mood, art and the amazing soundtrack, all in all this is a must play for both the indie enthusiast as well as the regular gamer. For me personally this was the most fun I have had with a survival horror in recent memory and reminds me of the good old days in the genre. Go get it now from steam and support the creator. He earned every buck coming his way with this great game!

BornAgainGamer approves with a 8/10

Follow @BornAgainGamer

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The Modern First Person Shooter: For better or for worse?

As I might or might not have mentioned before, I am now writing for a growing and dedicated gaming website! This is my first non-review article and opinion piece that I wrote for them. I invite you to check it out :).

The First Person Shooter: Slow Evolution or Painful Degeneration

http://lazyassgamer.com/the-first-person-shooter-slow-evolution-or-painful-degeneration

Feel free to comment either here or on the article itself and let me know what your view is on this rather controversial debate!

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My 5 most memorable games

I haven’t posted in a while because things have been so hectic over on this side. I ended my second term of Honours and acquired a nice part-time reviewing gig at Lazyassgamer.com <- so go check that out, my posts will appear there soon :D. Anyway, been seeing a lot of gaming lists on the web the last week or so and it got me thinking. What is the most memorable games thatI have played? As I searched my consciousness, I realised this is actually quite a tough question. So many competing names in my head fighting for dominance! In the end I settled on these five in no specific order.

Vampire the Masquerade

Vampire the Masquerade. What more can I say? This vampire based FPS/RPG became an instant hit in its time and it certainly made its mark in my gaming memory. I still have fond and some slightly disturbing memories(haunted hotel and weird photographer dude comes to mind). This game was very epic in its time. Graphic wise, story wise and it did all of this without leaving its sense of humour behind either. I replayed it again somewhere last year, still a great game with the ability to pull you in so much that and you hardly notice the slightly dated graphics at all! Go pick up your old copy and give it another run. You won’t regret it.

Get ready to pay or be payed

Bioshock

My personal turning point in FPS gaming. Bioshock wasn’t just a game it was an experience. The kind of game that stays with you long after the console is switched off. It had an amazing graphics, a great story, innovative and original game play and a few sound moral lessons thrown in just for good measure. Five years down the road it is still a beautiful game and if it was released today it would probably still kick the asses of any of the current FPS releases. Best part of course, Bioshock infinite is on its way and despite its slight delay it promises the same experiences which the first one gave us. We can only pray….

Seems like a bit of a unfair fight Mr Bubbles…

Suikoden1 + 2

Many of u reading this would probably never have played this. Suikoden is a classic RPG game released way back when on the PS 1. I played and replayed this game so many times… The storyline is amazing and the animations timeless, in the manner that it is still pretty too play, even today more than  15 years after its release. The typical epic fantasy game, it has everything you need and, at a time could want to bring you an amazing and addictive gaming experience. Its sequel was just so good and had one of the first features ever where you could import saved data from the first.

Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness

A Classic if there ever was one! Together with Starcraft and Diablo this game helped put Blizzard in the monolithic position they find themselves in today. This game was innovative for its day, featuring some of the first online features playable on battle.net, that I at least could remember. It dragged us back to the war ravaged lands of Azeroth where war against the humans and Orcs were raging yet again! It introduced naval battle and with this a resource that no other Warcraft game had ever had. Oil! It had personality, a good story and was pretty balanced for its time, if you want to take on your friends. More importantly this game opened up the Warcraft world to what would develop intoWarcraft 3 and a eventually bit later, the big one, World of Warcraft.

Only in Azeroth will you find exploding ice…

Return to castle: Wolfenstein

The sequel to the ultimate classic FPS. Return to castle had many redeeming features to it and very little negative ones. Its graphics were amazing along with its story and game play. If you played this you can surely remember many hours gunning away at Nazi’s, skeletons, skeleton Nazi’s and of course also the occasional Uber Soldat! It doesn’t get better since these later procure guns… This game pushed the limits in many ways including what the board of whatever ratings at the time would allow. No matter though, certainly a modern classic in gaming, if I may use the term and if I didn’t lose disc one of my special edition copy, I would probably be jamming it again at this moment, instead of writing about it!

If he sits on you… Yeah, they tend to try that….

Some worthy mentions:

Elderscrolls IV: Oblivion

American Mcgee’s: Alice

Red Alert 2

Diablo 2

Infamous

There is my list! Share your thought below on these games or any of your favourites. Why not even post your own top 5 and at me on twitter while you’re at it! 🙂 @BornAgainGamer

Till next time!

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The Importance of Story in Modern Gaming

The importance of story has fluctuated throughout the history of the gaming culture. Back when systems were slow and weak an emphasis were put on story to make up for the lack of graphics or interactive game play. Then came the nineties with the boom of the Playstation and introduction of the CD and 3d graphics, gaming companies started an obsession with graphics that has become a recognizable feature in the gaming culture ever since.  With that obsession the emphasis on story slowly declined.

But recently we have started to see this emphasis shift again, as more and more game companies is starting to realise the possibilities that a good story holds for their games. Some modern titles with strong story elements is of course the Mass Effect series, Elder Scrolls, Uncharted etc. This did not only happen in the Action Adventure and RPG genres, but also in FPS games. The latter genre was traditionally the biggest perpetrator in the sacrifice story for graphics dilemma. In many cases this choice to add depth to the experience led to great success and wide acclaim. One of the best examples of this is coincidentally also one of my all time favourites, Bioshock . The spiritual successor of the System Shock series brought an intense FPS experience to the table along with a very interesting story line as well as an immersive environment one can truly get lost in. One of the most important features of Bioshock, that definitely left a lasting impression on me, is the background story of Rapture and its context. I fell in love with the city and it almost felt as if Rapture itself was a character in the game. Bioshock’s depth seems to have far reaching bounds since they even went as far as to explore an entire philosophy throughout the game, see Ayn Rand’s ‘Objectivism’.

Yes there are many aspects and features that make a great game truly great and all of them have their purpose and place. A good game for instance needs solid, smooth running gameplay, it needs to be pretty and polished, it needs to have intelligently designed and functioning levels and most of the time it helps if it has some level of innovation that makes it unique. Yet I don’t believe this is all. Another crucial feature modern games often lack is a good story.

Story is one of the most defining features that makes a game truly great and more importantly memorable. The reason why Bioshock is seared into my consciousness as one of my favourite games of all time is because it had all the features described above, and especially the last. The characters are still fresh in my mind and with that also their own interesting background stories that comes along with them. All this contributes to the overall feeling of the game. Rapture, the dystopian city, that houses all these personas including the character you play. With its immense amounts of atmosphere and character. The story ties everything else together allowing the rich experience that sets it apart in the FPS genre from just being another mindless shooter.

In my opinion many other gaming companies can take a page from Irrationals’ book and invest more time and resources into story. Two things set a game apart from becoming lost in the endless drone of new releases. The first is innovation. A truly innovative game will be recognised and remembered maybe even classified as a genre changer. And secondly is a rich, atmospheric, engaging story experience where the player can get lost in. That essentially is what gamers want isn’t it? They want to live those amazing experiences that would otherwise not be open to them. Now give them that with a well thought out story where you can build on in the future and you have yourself a successful gaming series guaranteed to not be forgotten soon.

What’s your thoughts on this? Give your opinion in the comments below.

If you enjoyed the post or any of my others don’t forget to add me on Twitter @BornAgainGamer