Nov 142010

As usual, I have more written down than I can put into a review or even a coherent essay. So here’s a new occasional feature where I dump my game notes onto the blog. There’s no structure to this, just a series of thoughts I had as I was playing. The Mojave Wasteland had a lot of walls, and there wasn’t much effort to disguise them. Two areas felt particularly odd. One was around Fort McCarran, which is a walled encampment backed up against the walls of the strip, next to a walled refugee camp and a fenced-in farm area. [Read more…]


 Critique, Role Playing Games  Comments Off on Flipside
Nov 122010

A review will eventually go up at, but because Fallout: New Vegas is such a large game I couldn’t cover everything I wanted to in the detail it deserved. The shorthand for this game has been that it is “more Fallout 3“, which is, in a limited sense, a fair assessment. Obsidian doesn’t revolutionize anything about the way the game plays, except for the superior hardcore mode. What I would say instead is that New Vegas is more of a complement to Fallout 3 than a supplement. Bethesda’s version of Fallout was one in which the environmental storytelling was [Read more…]

Jul 062010

In my review panning Alpha Protocol, one of the many issues I singled out for complaint was the disconnect between the reticule and the actual position hit by my bullets. I’ve received a few comments through various channels that reflect a belief that I simply didn’t understand how an RPG works. I think it’s pretty obvious that I do; most of these comments display a fundamental misunderstanding of my complaint. The point here is not that when my character shoots there is a complicated set of calculations that decides whether or not I actually hit where I was aiming. Rather, [Read more…]

The falling action

 Critique, Role Playing Games  Comments Off on The falling action
May 262009

Most games, even particularly interesting ones, are hamstrung by the fact that they end too soon. I don’t mean that the gameplay itself ends too quickly; indeed most games would be served by chopping out a few hours. What I’m talking about here is that the story gets cut short. Whether RPGs, shooters, or brawlers, the finale of most games goes like this: climactic boss battle, short non-interactive cutscene, The End. Sometimes the short cutscene gets replaced with a long one, but the basic pattern is widely accepted. This hurts game narratives because it forces the player to assess the [Read more…]