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…]

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…]

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…]