Reviews by iamstillbroke


And you are a newborn god

iamstillbroke | May 4, 2014 | Review of Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition - PC

Or benevolent ruler. Or that one guy who fixes everything and hops off to another adventure. Much like the Lone Wanderer in Fallout 3, Courier Six in New Vegas is the ace in the hole needed to turn the tides of war. New Vegas itself is a place where fortune and failing is possible in every turn, and that uncertainty continues the series' tradition of immersing a player into a slice of a post-apocalyptic America. Beyond that however, is the story of a courier who walks through a desert for revenge, only to stumble into a game with infinite stakes. To make it through that journey, the player has access to better survival mechanics and camera; instead of useless workbenches and merely atmospheric campfires, players may now use them to fix their equipment and craft various items. If they get lonely, companions who are no longer two-dimensional in character can hop on to their caravan and provide perks which seriously helps in the game's more difficult fights. These fights, for the most part, can be avoided by careful management of abilities or SPECIAL. Abilities these time around are better constructed, and the added ones from all the DLCs are gamebreakers when chosen carefully. While Fallout 3's choices of DLCs are great, New Vegas' choices honestly feel more streamlined and makes more sense for the Courier to tackle, even if the scientists at BM think you're doing uncomfortable things by just waggling your fingers. Despite unfixed bugs and strange clipping issues, New Vegas is immersive and charming, and worth several playthroughs to get to all its endings.


War never does change

iamstillbroke | May 4, 2014 | Review of Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition - PC

War never changes, but with Fallout 3's entry to 3D, it does change perspective. Glitchy, slow on loading, and unkind to those who find judging depths difficult, F3 shouldn't be a successful sequel, but a phenomenal set design, atmospheric setting, and stellar writing makes it a worthy first look into what the Fallout series would evolve to. Starting as a vault dweller, it's almost mind-blowing how free one could be to resolve most missions and really build a unique Lone Wanderer. From the get-go, one playing style could be employed- e.g. the infamous pacifist run-, but because not everything could be resolved with a plasma gun or a smooth tongue, the player will develop multiple skills, just like how a real successful wastelander would. Combat can be unkind at some points, seeing as the camera could be downright uncooperative and aiming a pain to perfect, but once a good level's attained in normal or energy weapons- or bypassed by a good stealth score or the Chinese Stealth Armor-, the unavoidable combat is child's play. A good prowess in combat or stealth is really needed in the DLCs, since most center around combat-heavy situations and don't take too kindly to slow players. If gameplay's not too much of interest, the story and how the world is constructed to be a tangible part of it would interest players too. In fact, it may be the only reason why some would continue playing it; a strange, but pleasant, conundrum in a sandbox where a single wrong turn might land you smack into a town threatened by super mutants.


Refreshingly free

iamstillbroke | May 4, 2014 | Review of Just Cause Steam - PC

Sandbox games are sometimes thinly-disguised linear trots through the same game. However, it can safely be said that Just Cause does not care for those conventional rules. As stereotypically macho the story is, gameplay-wise it does break some sandbox rules without even batting an eyelash. Airplanes, gun-mounted combat, and parachutes aren't usually seen in missions until the latter portion of games, but this brings everything in within the first fifteen minutes. It's refreshing how it has the audacity to show minstrelsy in an age where such acts are relegated to cheapness. Admittedly, it goes for cheap thrills at some parts, especially when you get the grappling hook, but the fact that it doesn't slow down to attempt justification is fun. Clunky aiming, unyielding moving mechanics, and rather tedious side missions hamper an otherwise insanely fun experience.


Team Building Exercises

iamstillbroke | May 4, 2014 | Review of Borderlands 2 Overflow 1 - PC

Sick of blasting zombies on another title, my friends and I moved on to Borderlands 2, expecting something a little more strategic and friendly with our RPG tendencies. We were absolutely not disappointed. From the get-go, Borderlands 2 does not let up with the action- because we were playing on True Vault Hunter mode, one of us even dropped because of the nuances of playing Gaige. Because of the characters' different skills, players are forced to think with their skills rather than relying on their guns, unless they're gunzerkers. Coordinating attacks are never boring, because NPCs tend to be unrelenting and utilize the environment to be merciless. Drop rates of items really do vary from difficulty to difficulty, which makes it fun to compare when we're too frustrated with getting blown to bits. The visual style of the game itself lends a somewhat calming effect; cell-shaded blood is a lot more tolerable than realistically-mapped redness. Characters, NPCs or player characters, are also just plain entertaining, and the one-sided banter of mission-giving folks makes the tediousness of some missions worth it. Overall, I wouldn't really play it on my own, but with a couple of friends, it can easily devour hours in just one sitting.


Excerpt from one of my academic papers on the game (no, really)

iamstillbroke | May 4, 2014 | Review of LA Noire Steam - PC

L.A. Noire is a technological and narrative achievement in videogames. It proves that videogames have style, substance, and content that non-gaming audiences may enjoy. It’s a game that re-envisions its roots—film noir and the hard-boiled genre—as something a modern audience may still appreciate. At the same time, it brings depth to the character stereotypes the genre has developed over long years of deconstructions, and re-establishes why the detective genre has survived for this long. Though its play style may be more like a visual novel, the fact that the world and the characters are virtual, living, breathing, copies of the real thing and that crucial plot coupons may be missed shakes up both its genres—HBI/Noir and videogames—in their entirety. Instead of waiting for major events to happen, the player has to make them happen, by way of careful, intuitive playthroughs. The game allows the player to go through the game at their own pace. Even without collecting newspapers or paying mind to foreshadowings and whatnot, the game is an enjoyable experience on its own. Reader-response here becomes player-response- the experiences of the player with hard-boiled/noir/neo-noir crime fiction and open-world action-adventure games gauge their way of tackling the challenges and perceiving characters. With over 400 actors and 2200 pages worth of dialogue, the game promises to bring a new innovation not only to videogames, but to crime fiction itself. Immersion in the game environment allows the player-reader to surpass the limitations of the first-person perspective, as they actually control the character they follow. As it has its own story, it encourages developers and writers to move beyond adapting known franchises such as Sherlock Holmes into games and into creating a new canon just for this particular medium.


Not bad for the first entry of the HD universe

iamstillbroke | May 4, 2014 | Review of Grand Theft Auto IV Steam - PC

GTA IV is the first game in the series' HD universe. Featuring a new timeline divorced from GTA 3's Liberty City, IV possesses a more realistic storyline which some fans of the more out-of-this-world entries found dreary. However, IV's grittier story is one of the game's strongest points, simply due to its more biting dark humor and sympathetic characters. There's no denying that San Andreas' Grove Street crew or Vick Vance are relatable, but the payoff of Nico's many relationships felt a little more rewarding due to his more complex personality. Gameplay-wise, it's certainly a step up from previous games, although the new driving mechanics are difficult to get used to at the start because of its stiffness. Targeting is easier this time, since the cursor moves easier from target to target. While swimming is less substantial this time, it's compensated with better running and walking mechanics. New additions which could've been implemented better include the internet, the phone, or even the TV. The phone could be argued as misused due to nagging phone calls from contacts, though. While not built as a social sim, its social aspects could be used to diversify more missions. Beyond activation and confirmations, these could be used to make options available in accomplishing missions, or unlock new ones. GTA IV's replayability is arguable- if one's playthrough goes through at least 87 or 90 perceent of the game content, one practically coasted through everything the game has to offer. It's a solid Triple A title, and with the price reduction, a must-buy.


Like a kid again

iamstillbroke | May 4, 2014 | Review of Bully Scholarship Edition Steam - PC

There's no end to the potential Bully had as a series. If it had only reached the mystical goals Rockstar set for it, a third installment would surely be in the works now. As it is, Bully is a solid adventure game which features the quirky humor of the GTA series, but without its lethality. The lack of lethal options actually makes it more enjoyable, since players are somewhat encouraged to explore the game's many distractions. Because it's set in a school, it might raise nostalgic feelings for some players, whether their school was as brutal as Bullworth or not. Jimmy Hopkins himself isn't completely relatable, but players may feel empathy for the troubled teen. The supporting cast itself has as much personality as Jimmy, even if they are put into stereotypical cliques. While it does hinder full character development, the different aspects of each cliques are explore through its students, which is honestly good enough for the game. Exploring Bullworth itself is fun, and getting the rubber bands and cards lend to the wanderlust vibe it gives off. Classes, while tedious at times, are necessary to play the missions without the hindrance of preps or cops chasing you down- and the perks are not half-bad either. For anyone thinking to buy the game, do it. The additional classes, missions, and dialogues of the Scholarship Edition just makes the game more re-playable and entertaining.