Games

Fallout Shelter

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I’m a slow learner. This is why several dozen innocent imaginary digital civilians had to suffer at my inexperienced hands while I learned to play Fallout Shelter. For those that aren’t aware, Fallout Shelter is a new mobile/tablet gaming app from Bethesda, the makers of Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and the upcoming Fallout 4. They’ve made other games as well, mind you, like the upcoming Doom, Dishonored, Skyrim. But Fallout Shelter is – as far as I know – their first app.

In Fallout Shelter you are assigned as Overseer of a VaultTech underground Vault, a fallout shelter for the nuclear apocalypse that decimates the earth and mutates beasts, man and contaminates water and food supply of anything that didn’t seek shelter. Inside the Vault of your creation, you must build the rooms necessary to maintain life. Food, water, power, medical supplies. You can even send people out into the Wasteland to scavenge for supplies and money. It’s a sim game set in the Fallout universe, basically, complete with disasters that can sabotage your gameplay. There are instructions included with the game, but if you’re like me, you don’t like to waste valuable time reading them! You just want to dive in and have some fun, build up your tiny world and enjoy it. So, here’s a few tips I’ve learned though lots of trial and error – mostly error.

1) Water Supply Means Life and/or Death – The biggest problem when I started playing Fallout Shelter was radiation sickness. It didn’t seem to matter what I did, my Vault dweller’s eventually became irradiated and began losing health. Once that red bar appears on their health meter, it’s like a shot through the heart (to me anyways) because I didn’t know what was causing it. Turns out, it’s the water supply! If you don’t keep a steady, strong supply of water running through the Vault, the folks inside will begin to succumb to radiation poisoning. Having a water supply isn’t enough, you have to keep that sucker in the green at all times. Once it begins falling below the acceptable limit, that’s when your radiation problems begin. So keep it in the green at all times, folks.

2) The Best Population Comes From Within – If you’re like me, you’ll eventually hit a dry spell. No one will stumble across your Vault and knock on the front door seeking shelter. When this happens, it can be a long, dry spell before the next visitor shows up. That’s why you have to make use of what you have! When folks stop a knockin’ go straight to your closest, best resource – your Vault dwellers, and get two of them (male and female) in the living quarters alone. Nature will do the rest, and before you know it, little Vault dwellers will be running around in no time! Keep a stead supply going or you’ll find yourself waiting even longer while they grow up to become contributing adults.

3) Man That Door! – Raiders. I hate Raiders. Raiders seem to always come in groups of three and always seem to bust right through my 2nd level Vault door. So try to upgrade that door to the max level as soon as you can, and always, always keep 2 guards in the entrance way with pretty decent weapons. The more you can take out before they start swarming the inside of your Vault the better. As an aside, I actually blamed Raider attacks on my radiation problems. They always seemed to coincide. I’d have a Raider attack, then the next thing I knew, my people were coming down with radiation sickness. Took me a bit to catch on to the water trick, though.

4) Don’t Expand Too Fast – The worst thing you can do is go into the game and just start throwing rooms down. Take your time, grow slowly, and don’t deplete your resources. Every resource is extremely important. If you begin expanding your Vault by multiple floors and unnecessary rooms before you actually need them, you’re going to regret it in the long run. The more rooms you have the more your resources are going to be stretched. Especially your power. Take it easy, have patience and you’ll be rewarded with a happy, friendly Vault.

As I grow and learn more, I’ll share with you other tips I come across. Have fun and enjoy this little addition to the Fallout universe!

Mortal Kombat X (PS4)

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** The following is not a professional review. It’s my ramblings of the popular fighting game franchise based on my own personal experience. Take it with a grain of salt, agree with it, disagree with it, don’t even read it if you don’t want to. **

Mortal_Kombat_X_Cover_Art

Mortal Kombat X is the latest iteration of the franchise, and one of my favorite versions to date. The graphics are gorgeous, the combat fluid and fast. If there is any flaw to the game, it comes at the expense of such a large story interspersed with flashbacks that not everyone may understand. I played MK9, but even I was thrown off by some of the storyline that was taking place. The roster includes some old favorites, some new blood and some DLC fighters that feature horror legends and sci-fi greats.

The combat itself is where it’s at. Of course, my complaint with any video game is the stiffness of the characters, how they jump, how they move, etc. But that’s just something we all deal with as gamers no matter what game we’re playing. In the style of Mortal Kombat, the fighting is as fluid as ever, moving from combo to combo if that’s your thing. The combatants hurl and punch one another, play off the backgrounds and set off their special breaker combos as handsomely as anyone would expect. I mean, if you want to talk about fighting, hey, it’s Mortal Kombat, what more can you say? There are fatalities and brutalities and quitalities, which are instant kills if a player leave a match.

Probably the one thing worth mentioning about the actual combat of the game, is the fact that each character now has three variations you have to choose from at the selection screen. For example: Scorpion can select a fighting style of: Ninjutsu, which lets him wield dual swords. Hellfire, which relies on his abilities to call forth his fire and smoke moves. And finally, Inferno, which allows him to summon forth hellspawn minions to help him with his fighting. So basically, instead of having all of your moves as you have in the past, they’ve been sorted and categorized into three fighting styles for each character and you’re made to choose one stance before combat. It really isn’t as bad as it seems, and levels the playing field by not over powering one character or the other.

There are several gameplay modes to choose from. There is, of course, Story Mode, Single Player, 1 v 1, Online Ranked, King of the Hill, Survivor, Test Your Luck and Living Towers. Out of all of those, Living Towers is the most inventive, as it plays with the Challenge Tower aspect but throws in the aspect of how you play is changed up every hour. There might be bonuses to fighting skills, downgrades in certain areas, you may only have to fight 5 players or win within a certain amount of time. It constantly changes and offers several different options to choose from.

Another option to add to the overall gameplay is something called Faction Wars. You choose between one of the five factions fighting in Mortal Kombat X, and your scores and ability to complete special tasks add to a worldwide collection of scores across all platforms. At the end of a given week, the winning faction receives faction-specific finishing moves for a limited time or other rewards such as Koins and experience. In the current/Next Gen era, it’s all about online connectivity, and this is a step in the right direction of how it should be done. A game that, when connected online, offers up the chance to work together and compete at a grand scale with other players that you may never even come in contact with.

The most controversial aspect of the game – if it can be called that – is the ability to collect tokens at certain points. These tokens can allow you to do one of two things, depending on which you receive. Red tokens will allow you to spend them at the end of each match to perform a special one-button finishing move. Instead of having to memorize a series of buttons to execute a bloody finishing move, you simply push the corresponding button for the fatality you want, and it’ll spend a coin to allow you the 1-button ease. The second token you can earn are Green tokens. These actually allow you to skip fights! If you use them in story mode, for example, you use pause the game and if you have any Green tokens, you’ll be given the option to skip the fight. It’ll automatically proclaim you the winner and skip to the end of the fight, advancing you to the next combatant.

While those actions in and of themselves created a stir, the fact that you can buy these tokens in the online store received the biggest backlash. Yes, micro transactions have come to Mortal Kombat, but you do not have to participate at all. The tokens can be earned through gameplay in story mode or unlocked in The Krypt, which is another returning feature I’ll discuss in a moment. Aside from purchasing tokens, you can also choose to skip The Krypt all together and for $20 unlock everything in it at once. There are also characters (Goro is $4.99 at launch and that’s the only way to play him is by buying), there is a special skin for Sub Zero ($1.99). And there are skin packs, such as a Cold War Era set of three costumes for three specific characters that I believe will run you $3.99. As with all games now, you also have the option to buy the Season Pass, which will net you a couple of DLC characters, including Jason from Friday the 13th and Predator as well as a couple of Classic MK characters. There are some skins included as well. That’ll run you another $20, or you can buy them independently as they’re released.

While Mortal Kombat isn’t the first to resort to all these micro transactions, it is a bit of a disappointment that they’ve gone so far into adding all these features. Why? Because, I like additional skin options, extra characters to fight as and as someone who has trouble performing combos, let alone fatalities, I love the one button fatality option. And, for the record, I did buy the season pass.

The Krypt! The Krypt is the first person movement game that lets you take all the Koins you earn through out your fighting – in pretty much every mode – and spend them on making crypt markers explode to reveal unlockable content. This may be a rough sketch of a scene, music, brutalities, fatalities, skins, areas, Red or Green tokens, etc. You get the idea. And while I don’t recall if this was available in the last version of the game, MKX features timed reward chests. While you are in the Krypt, there is a timer that’s constantly running, and at random times, chests will appear with special rewards in them. From what I can tell though, the spawn locations are also random, so keep your eyes open! There are also a few RPG elements to The Krypt in that you have to possess certain items in order to unlock other areas and progress. It’s a nice way to unwind after all that button mashing.

Now, last but not least, I’d like to point out the mobile app. Mortal Kombat X is also available on smartphones and tablets. This is a collectable card game genre fighter, but as you collect the character’s cards, you can build 3-man teams to fight either online or on a challenge map that advances as you do. You can collect cards with abilities that add to the teams strength, or weapons to equip to their individual advantage. The cards level up as you go, growing stronger. The tie-in with the console version and vice-versa, is that as you achieve certain goals, you’ll unlock items on either side. Console wins will unlock special prizes on the mobile version and the mobile version will unlock prizes on the console version. It’s win-win! And best of all, at least the mobile version is free! (With micro transactions to advance your characters if you want).

Mortal Kombat X is a beautiful (I use that word a lot, I know) next gen fighter. The improvements from installment to installment are always for the better, and I absolutely love what they’ve done with the series in this version. Micro transactions aside, this is your same old Mortal Kombat with not only next gen graphics, but also next gen characters to advance the story. The biggest downfall can be the story, however, which I found to be confusing at times, especially with the way flashbacks are handled. The main cast has aged, and that’s reflected, even if by simply graying their hair. Their fighting styles have been broken down, and this doesn’t weaken them but offers more variety in play style.

We’re far enough along in the series by now that you already know if you’re going to pick it up or not – or already have considering how long I waited to write this post – so I know my opinion doesn’t matter. But if you aren’t planning on buying it, at least rent it for a fun night of friendly rivalry and dismemberment. It’s Mortal Kombat for crying out loud!

Revisiting Lego Batman 3 for the PS4

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A few months ago, I posted my review of Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham for the Playstation 4. Today, I’m here to add an update to that review. It’s not a pretty update, friends. You see, since posting that initial review, and playing – or attempting to play – Lego Batman 3 over the last couple of months, I’ve encountered crash after crash, losing levels worth of data and progress that we’d achieved. It sucks!

Where the problem lies, I do not know. I’ve tried restarting the system fresh, tried reinstalling the game and downloading the save file – all to the same results. The game will randomly either not load at all, or will encounter an error at some point in the game and just crash, asking you to file a report before exiting out completely. Tonight was the last straw and I decided that Lego Batman 3 is getting deleted from the console storage and traded in next time I go to Gamestop. I refuse to continue to support or try to play a game that doesn’t want to cooperate with me.

Now, I have considered that it’s something to do with the actual save file, but that just makes me all the more angry because the game isn’t entertaining enough for me to delete the file and play through the game again just to get back to the point that I’m currently at. I’ve beat the darn game, just let me play and 100% the levels and unlock all my characters, darn it!

But the damage is done. Bye bye, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. T’was nice playing with you while  I could, but I just don’t have room in my game library for something that isn’t going to be reliable enough to spend my valuable time on. Maybe when you get down to about $10 I’ll pick you up again, though that seems kind of a high price itself, now that I think about it.

First Impressions: Bloodborne (PS4)

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I’d like to write you a nice blog post about my impressions of FromSoftware’s Bloodborne, a PS4 exclusive title. However, that won’t be possible. Why? Because all those reviews you might be seeing online saying this game is not for the casual gamer are all correct. I can play stealth games, I can play shooters, I can play action platforms with puzzle solving elements. But Bloodborne is heartless in its difficulty. It can even be brutal if you don’t know what you’re doing or decide to rush headlong into every fight. But, it’s not a bad game at all!

Bloodborne is beautiful, the atmosphere set up by the visuals and audio is breathtaking. The sounds passing enemies make by scrapping their scythe across the floor makes me shiver. It’s top notch console horror. I haven’t been this creeped out by a video game since the first Resident Evil or Silent Hill game. All that praise aside, though, and Bloodborne is still too difficult for me to play. Doesn’t mean I did’t want to pick it up and try it out, and I’m glad I did because it is an experience everyone should at least be exposed to.

Alas, this was probably my last day with the game. If I’m not going to be able to advance and maneuver my way through the levels at a decent pace, and am going to spend the majority of my time waiting for the load screens telling me I’m dead, I don’t have time for that. Time is valuable, and if I can’t easily advance through a game at a sensible pace, then it’s just not for me.

So should you pick up and play Bloodborne? Well, like I said, I think everyone should at least experience it. It’s a remarkable game that evidently had a lot of love go into it. But if you aren’t patient, or can’t stand dying every few minutes, then you should definitely skip this game. If you are frustrated by having to start entire levels back over because you didn’t make it to that next save point, then you should skip this one.

On the flip side, if you love difficult games, like a good challenge and prefer to duck and dodge between blows, this is your game. It really is beautiful, and you owe it to yourself and the developers to at least give it a try. As for me, though, I’ll stick to my easier casual games.

Tips on Creating a Successful Online Gaming Community

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There was a brief moment in time when I had the bright idea to start an online gaming community of like-minded people. This wasn’t a well thought out plan, mind you, or a simple one as I came to find out. Building a good, strong community of people who are willing to participate and support one another is near impossible if you aren’t willing to put in the effort. Aside from that, if the people you are looking to as a community aren’t willing to join in conversations or events, that adds to the difficulty. So what are the things one should be focusing on to make a community work?

Below are three sites I’ve stumbled across that give some pretty decent ideas for anyone wanting to get a social group up and going.

1. Top 10 Tips on Creating a Successful Online Community (from Popten.net)

2. Build a Popular Gaming Community in 5 Steps (from Boostlikes.net)

3. 3 Ways to Grow a Successful Game Community (from Scumlabs.com)