Jul 24, 2011

Review: Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues DLC

Could it be that I'm posting a review on a current release for a change? Indeed I am, for SCIENCE!

Introducing Old World Blues, the courier picks up a signal from a crashed satellite at the Mojave Drive-In. Investigating it doesn't reveal much, until the clock strikes midnight and this suddenly happens:

Midnight Science Show

Jul 23, 2011

In support of everyone affected by the attacks on Oslo and Utøya

My thoughts are with everyone affected by this senseless tragedy. This refers to the bomb attack in Oslo that killed at least 7, and the unimaginable attacks by a gunman at a youth camp on Utøya which as of yet has more than 80 confirmed children and youths killed, reported by the police as of Sat 23rd at 4 AM CET.

A truly black day for Norway, which has not seen an attack of this kind on our own land since WW2. Again, I wish everyone affected by this tragedy be it injured or casualties, the strength to get through this.

SSFIV:AE SFCCL Season 3 call to arms for PS3

This is just to help getting SSFIV:AE players informed about the several years running PS3 league for Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. Third season is just starting, check out SFCCL website for more info. 2 Separate divisions of US and EU.

Jul 21, 2011

Review: Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts DLC

Wear Sunscreen!

Scanning frequencies on his radio, the courier suddenly picks up an unfamiliar signal on his Pip-Boy, which turns out to be a contract offer as caravan escort on a mission from the Mojave into Utah, to establish trade with a friendly tribe.  Surely enough as the Courier is used to unforeseen hindrances, shortly upon arrival, things go terribly wrong. The escort mission quickly turns into sandbox adventure of its own in a habitat quite different than what our courier is accustomed to.

And with that its time to welcome adventurers and curious souls to Fallout: New Vegas - Honest Hearts. I will try not to spoil too much besides what we were teased with in the trailers.

Starting off, the courier gets to meet the Burning Man aka Joshua Graham, aka former second in command supervillain of Caesar's Legion. While I'm sure some lorebuffs would already be sold at this point, there's a bit more to this expedition. The primary mission of the courier gone terribly wrong, he is instead forced into dealing with a conflict between foreign tribes of the Utah natives, just to be able to make his way home.

This all said, its time for my own thoughts on the DLC:

First off, Honest Hearts has a much more open mission structure than that of Dead Money. While not comparable in size to the New Vegas area, Honest Hearts still offers a much more exploration friendly experience. The Utah world, while fairly small, is also a completely different experience to explore which is a very welcome addition to players who have gone through the original story in New Vegas a couple times. Instead of endless desert wasteland, the player is instead introduced to the big canyons including its tourist traps and other features.

Scenic view from Honest Hearts

As mentioned, the mission structure is also a bit more open and while there is still an overlying objective from the beginning, the Courier is welcome to make any number of detours along the way.  I personally found the exploration and discoveries very satisfying, and while I won't spoil anything further I suspect any Fallout lore buff will enjoy all the little discoveries there are to be made immensely.

While there are dozens of locations to discover and pillage, I still found this DLC fairly short, made even more clear after I just finished another run through both Dead Money and Honest Hearts. Having been through them both before, this time I focused only on completing any quests and significant rewards, and just getting through the whole thing. I spent about 4 hours on Dead Money, while Honest Hearts was finished in just under 2 hours. While I appreciate the open enviroment of Honest Hearts, I am still a bit disappointed in the low amount of missions and gameplay time it offers. I felt the same way after my first play through it, and it actually took me several months to consider heading back to Honest Hearts after I had been through it once. For me, that is a long time, I am a total New Vegas junkie and find myself starting new characters and trying out new mods on a weekly basis.

From a gameplay perspective, I have to say I enjoy Honest Hearts over Dead Money or even the original game. In that regard the DLC impresses, and there are of course the advantages of another 5 levels added to your level cap, but also some new perks and quite a few more crafting options. The focus on crafting in particular appealed to me, and feels like it picked up on a few things that should have been in from the Vanilla release already. Of course, there are mods which expand on such already, but I feel I can't weigh that into my opinion of a DLC as I feel it should be weighed against the developer releases.

So, the crafting is expanded a bit, but so is the combat. There are a multitude of enemies of different types. There's tribals, new types of mutated insects, the return of a feared adversary in Fallout 3, and some other goodies. To make that whole experience complete are of course a slew of new weapons, mostly focused on Guns, Melee and Unarmed weapon types this time around. However, the combat doesn't usually challenge the Courier a lot. This will of course vary depending on your character's specialization. On my last play through I had a level 22 Courier with Speech, Science, Repair and Guns maxed, and Energy Weapons, Melee and Unarmed at 25. Playing on Very Hard and mostly rushing through the content I can't say I felt much resistance from my foes. I suspect the "And Stay Back" perk contributed a lot to my success though, talk about overpowered perks.. :)

Firefighters Utah Dpt. post-nuclear war

In conclusion, I think that the Honest Hearts DLC does a decent job at expanding the original game. It should have had a few more mandatory missions I feel, but then again exploring can be its own reward, and is this time around. This DLC is also much more open than Dead Money which is very welcome, not to mention the lack of lame gameplay gimmicks which annoyed me to no end in Dead Money, and still do. So, as a DLC I would have to say Honest Hearts is a better experience than Dead Money. It's worth picking up, even if you, as I, wasn't blown away by the first DLC. I do wish it was a bit longer though.

+Lots of exploration to do
+Lore fills in some blanks in New Vegas story
+- More varied combat than Dead Money, but poorly balanced (Too easy!)
-Low replay value

For number lovers, I'd give Fallout: New Vegas - Honest Hearts a strong 6 out of 10, which is more than I would give in my Dead Money review here, except I didn't give it points.

Jul 18, 2011

Wondering how well SSFIV:AE plays on your PC?

Find out for yourself with the SF4 benchmark tool that was released for along with SF4 a while back. SSF4 should be running the exact same engine, so while this benchmark demo is rather old, it should still be very accurate to determine how well your computer will run it.

Also for online play, please make sure you tweak your graphics settings so you can maintain 60 fps at least average, preferably a bit higher to avoid dipping below which can cause annoying and input wrecking slowdowns on both parts!

The benchmark program can be downloaded here, or you can just google for it and find a download location better for you.

Jul 17, 2011

The big SSFIV update post


A lot has happened in the Street Fighter scene over the last couple months, that I haven't updated on at all.

Starting off with the most obvious bits, Super Street Fighter Arcade Edition is out for a while now on consoles, but is also finally available for PC which is the first update since original Street Fighter IV was released ways back. I haven't looked up prices everywhere but it goes for around €40 on Steam. A bit pricey but still a mandatory upgrade for existing PC players, and a highly recommended buy for newcomers. From what I've seen the PC version plays great after a quick patch that adressed some controller issues. Unfortunately if you own a PS3 Madcatz stick and your PC uses a Nvidia chipset (Or was it Intel processor? Look it up yourselves if this affects you!), you will still need to purchase an adapter to use it on the PC.

On the community side of things, my old online community Streetfighter4forums has finally had a mass exodus of users after a long line of site problems and downtime caused by DDOS attacks. Sad times, but the new community at 2dfighters.net is shaping up real well in the short time it has been up and comes highly recommended for any fighter fans. Its main focus is still Street Fighter since most of the current user base have come over from our old site, but it aims to cover a broad assortment of fighter games.

Shortly after the PC release of SSFIV:AE, ex-wow, SC2 and various game caster Totalbiscuit surprisingly did a couple videos on the game, one of himself noobing it up with Dan in an online game, and another video where he attempted some casting for replays. I found them both good to watch, and hope it is something he will expand on. For anyone interested the videos can be seen here and here, do thumb it up and/or leave some encouraging words if you'd like to see more.

Last bit of news, to get the ball rolling after the launch of 2Dfighters.net there is one large tournament which is already underway for XBOX and PS3, and another one still in planning. The first tournament is the World Warrior Tournament (PS3, XBOX), matches are already being played and results from our matches are being uploaded here for PS3, will update again when its up for XBOX as well.

Ending the update with the first match uploaded from the tournament matches I've had so far where I got a thorough stomping by Subes88. I've played one more which was slightly more even against KanyeWestAddict which isn't uploaded yet.

Match replay here, Blogger.com is being stupid and won't let me embed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exG5budJwbc&feature=player_embedded

Till next time!