May 192011
 

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Fallout: New Vegas

Windows PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Contains: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


Honest Hearts is here. The second add on for Fallout New Vegas and the first of three to be simultaneously released over coming months with Old World Blues due in June followed by The Lonesome Road in July. Once again it brings a fresh set of achievements and trophies as well as another five level increase to the cap bringing the highest level to 40.

Once again out in the wasteland you detect a mysterious radio signal. This time it’s from a caravan in need of another traveller to assist them into the Zion national park. When arriving at the source of the signal you join the team and head on out.

Within Zion you meet the factions who inhabit this landscape which appears devoid of radiation and begin to unravel the story of the warring tribes. The White legs, dead set on eradicating the New Canaanites in order to earn favour with Caesar’s Legion, appear the most hostile attacking the caravan and your new found comrades. Unfortunately for them the legendary “Burned Man” a.k.a Joshua Graham former legate to the legion just happens to be a New Canaanite and with the help of the courier and his own tribe, The Dead Horses, attempts to fight back and hold his own against the invading menace.

Graham will introduce you not only to the powerful Dead Horses but also the more pacifist Sorrows tribe who are bearing the brunt of the attacks from the White Legs. The Burned Man requests you find a series of items and deliver them to a man named Daniel. Daniel is the pacifistic savior of The Sorrows and trying to lead them south to freedom at the Great Salt Lake with little bloodshed from either side.

The Burned Man Lives

The area offers an old hat from Fallout 3 in the form of Yao Guai which comes in regular, cub and giant form to mix things up a bit. Along the way you will also encounter a new breed of Zion Mantis which still doesn’t pack much of a punch but is still rather impressive in size for the locations lack of radiation. You can also enjoy a spot of Gecko hunting but with a difference thanks to the poisonous Green Gecko. What Zion lacks in radiation it likes to make up in poison.

Zion is a former national park and it shows with many more plants than the main wasteland but also a few new varieties including the Datura root, which although poisonous, will eventually be used for a rather trippy experience during a later mission courtesy of the local shaman. It would also appear that someone used a G.E.C.K at some point as you find the aptly named Vault 22 Dwellers Guard Camp which greets you with some lovely, mutant plants who like to spit spores but reminded me more of a Mario throw back than a major threat.
Throughout the story you will also be accompanied by three fresh faced companions in the form of the Dead Horse Follows-Chalk, Walking Cloud from the Sorrows tribe and when he’s done reloading all those pistols Joshua Graham himself.

As usual in Fallout you’ll have moral decisions to make throughout culminating in the eventual decision to help the New Canaanites either fight the White Legs to crush them and their menacing leader Salt-Upon-Wounds allowing the other tribes safety in their home or too merely help free The Sorrows and allow them a head start to reach larger settlements before the White Legs can destroy them.

Overall Honest Hearts brings to the table a good story with all the regular Fallout gameplay and background information you would expect. But, it does so in a very small package with the average play time taking around two hours and maybe another half an hour or so for you to pick up the final achievement by completing the second option. This DLC is great overall but a few more missions really wouldn’t have gone a miss but at least we only have to wait till next month to find out what’s in store next.

8/10 With the only fault being the length and overall size of this DLC giving it anything less than an 8 would be criminal.

XBox 360

Graphics

80
 

Audio

80
 

Gameplay

85

Creativity

70
 

Execution

85
 

Offset

80
    

8

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Honest Hearts is available now on Xbox Live Arcade and on Steam for PC and PS3

Apr 172011
 

Point and Click Adventure games have always been near and dear to our hearts here at Gaming Irresponsibly. We were overjoyed when word got out the the unofficial resolution to the King’s Quest series was finally going to be released in episodic content by it’s creators at Phoenix Online Studios. Needless to say we were honored to have an opportunity to have a conversation with Cesar Bittar, Director and Designer of The Silver Lining and CEO of Phoenix Online.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Can you give us a brief history of Phoenix Online Studios?

CB: Phoenix Online first formed as Phoenix Freeware in 2002. By 2004, we dropped the “Freeware,” legally registered the company, and became Phoenix Online Studios.  It was formed by a group of fans who were unhappy after learning that the Sierra we knew and loved had dissolved and that there were no plans for a new entry in the King’s Quest franchise. Through the years, people from every corner of the world, including the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, the UK, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, and the US among others, have become part of the team and have given their all to The Silver Lining.

These days, we often just go by Phoenix Online, and we are in the middle of a big transition as we become a fully functional and commercial company.

What inspired you to give the KQ series a fitting end? 

CB: We just simply couldn’t let go of our childhood dreams, and, when we learned that there would be no more King’s Quest, we decided to take matters into our own hands and do a final chapter. We wanted the series to go out with a bang. We felt it so deserved it. We had been together with this family for so many years and we felt that if we were to say goodbye to our heroes, it needed to be in a big way, a grand way, fitting of a Daventrian adventure.

What do you feel has been the greatest achievement in the production of TSL?

CB: I feel the fact that we’ve somehow been able to coordinate hundreds of people remotely to put together something so cohesive, all this while working in a volunteer way, it’s an amazing achievement in itself. At times, I don’t know how we’ve done it, and while it’s true that it took us a long while to get there, we’ve learned so much in the process that we’ve managed to now responsibly meet our own goals. For example, in the past, the new material we put in Episode 3 would have taken years to put together, but we did it in the best part of 5 months. And all this while we recruited the people to do it, so, I’m sure that now we are ready to take on real productions and work full time on it. That is the value of our achievements: we now can make professional games as we move forward.

What influences (outside of the KQ series) have helped to shape TSL into the game it has become? 

CB: I found The Longest Journey very influential when it came down to give me the crazy idea of making King’s Quest very epic. Around the time we wrote the original script, Lord of the Rings was popular as the movies were just coming out, and I has been loving Final Fantasy for a few years. So there’s where I drew most of my inspiration to say “OK, if I’m going to be spending the next I don’t know many years of my life working on a project like this, it’ll better be something that I’ll fully enjoy, and to me, I’ve been aching for a more mature rendition of King’s Quest, so, let’s have at it!” In the end, we are making the game we want to make, and we are very happy with it.

What made you decide to go with episodic content, as compared to a full game release?

CB: Having worked at Telltale for a period of time, I learned that the episodic content was not only  a great way to market a game, but also an amazing way to keep production focused on chunks of work at a time (as opposed to the full game). Things become easier and more manageable. From a marketing point, your game stays in the news for the whole duration of the production. And from a customer perspective, it gives us a chance to be able to listen to what the fans want and include these changes as we update the build and release the following episode. So it’s a win-win situation in every way you see it.

The remaining episodes seem to be slated to release this year – what are your plans after wrapping up TSL?

CB: Right now, we have so many windows open and so many possibilities that is a little too premature to say what comes next, but I can tell you that it’s going to be big. Having been at GDC this year gave us the opportunity to connect with many people in the industry who’d seen or heard of what we are doing, and there’s a lot of interest going around for what we can cook next. So, like I said, we are still juggling things and deciding on our next step while we work on a few prototypes for different games, but a lot is happening internally!

On a personal level, what games are you playing right now?

CB: I actually caught a whiff of nostalgia, so I was playing the Legend of Kyrandia 1 and 2. Other than that, I have a huge piles of games I always want to play — I’m a very hardcore gamer. I’ve been trying to play Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 for years  now, but I never seem to have the time now to play such immersive games. I do better with DS games these days — I was playing some Mega-Nan games recently, or adventure games. I recently played Gray Matter, by the incredible mind of Jane Jensen, and was so excited to experience a new game from the woman that brought to me my favorite series ever, the Gabriel Knight games.

What are your favorite moments in KQ history? I’d have to go with the zombie house in KQ IV.

CB: King’s Quest 7 as a whole reminds me of Christmas. But as for special moments, I remember curing the dragon in King’s Quest 7 was very cool, and the whole chase scene from the ending of King’s Quest 6 as you went up the stairs was amazing. Also, flying on Nightmare to the lands of the dead was very cool!

After creating a title, do you still have a good time playing it?

CB: Yes! I like to sit back and enjoy these titles as a final creation, and experience all the details that went into finalizing them. I sometimes will also replay Episode 1 just for kicks. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of what we are capable of doing.

Are there any shout-outs or special mentions that you would like to make?  Any sites you would like to bring attention to? 

CB: We’d like to thank everyone who’s been so supportive of our project throughout the years. Not everyone can say that they’ve gone out of a cease and desist twice and that’s only happened because of our incredible fans and because of the support from the press. So, a thousand times thank you!

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Once again, we would like to thank Cesar Bittar and Phoenix Online Studios for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you do yourself a huge favor and swing by their site to play the first 3 episodes of The Silver Lining as well!

Apr 042011
 

I’ve been a gamer for the past 15 or 16 years. My first game was Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ve always had gaming at my side, progressively through the generations. I entered into this generation with a Wii at launch, but held off on a 360 until early 2008. One thing you should know about my past gaming life, is I was a completionist. Burnout 3: Takedown was a brutal journey to just get that “100%.” I since started to get involved with the industry, and while my expansion of games evolved ten-fold, my completionist lifestyle was gone.

Late last year, I played Bejeweled 3. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I felt compelled to hit that 100% mark starting from the beginning. What drove me to do this, I don’t know. I did it though, that’s all that matters.

Arguably one of the biggest game-changers to this generation is the integration of achievements/trophies. Some of you might be thinking, “it’s a useless number!” Well you know, you’d be surprised at the influence these things have. They sell multi-platform copies on whatever console gamers have a high trophy or achievement count in. They add a ton of replay value in any game. Still not getting the big deal? Let me give you a tour into the mind of an achievement junkie.


[I will never abuse myself this much again... until Trials HD 2.]

I look at my completion list on my 360 right now. It’s sitting firm at 34 completions (35 counting Xbox Live Labs). Before this year, I was around 8 or 9. I ended off last year playing Trials HD non-stop in attempt to get the last achievement on it, the Marathon achievement. I spent at least 12-15 hours for this one 30g achievement. Why? That’s the exact thing I questioned myself while my hand cramped up. Finally though, achievement unlocked.

Trials HD was the start, big contenders have come around like: Limbo, Mass Effect 2, and more recently my 110 hour Gears of War 2 week in an attempt to get my level 100 achievement.

Achievement hunters like ourselves have a passion in completing games to their fullest. These games set up a wall of 1000g or a Platinum trophy for you to win if you conquer their challenge. It’s not a ‘you-don’t-play-games-for-fun-anymore’ thing. We have fun in getting these achievements. There’s no greater accomplishment than when you tackle a huge game like Gears of War 2 or Halo 3. Of course, it’s hard to do this without aid. My web surfing has become more browsing for achievement guides and what-not.

Now, there are people out there who believe achievements and trophies are the end of games. I have no clue why. Especially when you can turn them off. They do nothing more than give gamers more incentive to push on past the core game. No offense to the makers of the Burger King games, but I would’ve never gone back to play had I not had achievements there to entice me.


[No, I'm not using this as a means to show-off, I swear!]

Come next generation, I would love to see achievements/trophies evolve. Give them a more substantial role on the console. Hell we all remember back in the day when you had to photograph your high score to get your name on a magazine. Let us have some bragging rights if we must. There are outlets like Halo Waypoint that give you extras for your achievement count in the Halo series, those work just as well!

No, we’re not just bros who like a number that has no meaning. No, we’re not people who care about the achievements more than the game. We’re all gamers who get our kick from knocking out these objectives.

Thank you for visiting my gaming habits! Come again!

-Adrian

P.S. I totally used that Gears of War 2 photo to show-off my lack of life.

Mar 272011
 


We all have a soft spot for indie games. We’re built to root for the underdogs. While not all indie games are great, some good ones have shown some amazing results. Take Limbo, Minecraft, and Braid. Microsoft launched XNA games which soon after became the Xbox Live Indie Game channel. Sadly, not as many people care about this. Here are some reasons why:

5) Type of Games!

This isn’t as big of a issue with me. Some see it as one though. The variety on the Indie Channel is weird. We have an abundance of SHMUP games on there. I, personally, don’t mind it. I know some people are tired of them. It’s understandable. When there are some XBLA games like Galaga Legions and Space Invaders: infinity Gene, some think, “why bother?” We may have to wait for a game on the caliber of Limbo to hit up indies to change those peoples’ minds though.


[Yeah... I have no idea what's going on in this game...]

4) DRM!

Hoo-boy! Good thing this isn’t PC we’re talking about. We’d have a giant war of words, otherwise!

Any who– If you’re not familiar with the XBLIG side of Xbox Live, you may not be aware that there is a DRM attached to the indie games. It may seem weird at first. You might be asking yourself why it’s a big deal if you had to be online to fetch it in the first place. Well that’s a doozy. If you’re like me, my connection is horrible. There have been times my internet got knocked down for days, and because of that I can’t play my games. I also know friends who go to other people’s houses, download some items, and go back home. This is a problem. While not the biggest, it’s definitely one that should be fixed.


[Your standard self-explanatory image! Exciting, huh!?]

3) Achievements!

One thing you should know about me… There are two things I like to get when I’m gaming. Those two things are pizza and achievements. Yes, I’m an achievement whore. I’ve been spoiled. Achievements and trophies are for another topic though. My big reason holding me back from XBLIG is the lack of achievements. Not because I’m shallow. I haven’t even played Avatar! The 360 foundation is built on achievements. Your gamertag tracks your entire game collection by this meaningless number. There’s something psychological here, but the XBLIG being left out makes it seem like they are the goth kids of high school. The big cool kids kinda stare… they beat them up… Yeah. Some indie games have tried their own thing. FunInfused made “Awardments.” While I salute them for knowing we need that, it isn’t the same. Games like Brawl can get away with it because of a whole different platform. 360 games shouldn’t be missing achievements though. Yeah yeah, the massage games will ruin it. How about 100 points per game though? Separate Xbox apps from games. Bam, solution!


[What!? I like achievements, okay? Quit mocking me.]

2) Advertising!

There’s only been one super promotion on the indie channel in my memory. That was the Indie Uprising. No offense to them either, but it wasn’t huge. It did garner the attention from Microsoft. Even enough to add a block for them on the dashboard. I want a Summer of Arcade promotion for them. Hell, some of the indie games that have already been on the XBLIG beat out XBLA games in quality! So what gives? Even now, the indie games are hard to find. You’d have to do a bit of scrolling and searching if you’re a newbie to the platform. I’ll applaud the fact that Microsoft did bump them up from the very back, maybe their own bar on the scroll would please us? This is obviously hard to do because of the lack of a super approval process. Which leads us to out first reason…


[We do love advertising, right? No? Okay, well some do!]

1) Quality!

You made it to number 1! Achievement Unlocke– oh yeah, sorry. Achievements aren’t allowed here.

The quality on the indie marketplace is laughable. No, not all of them. I absolutely love ZP2KX, Decimation X3, and Hypership Out of Control. Right now, for example, I’m looking through the Top Downloaded, I see: Avatar Fighter, Office Affairs, Voice Changer 360, and Avatar Adventure. This brings up two things: one, Avatar games! Stop. They sell so well, it’s hard to stop. The games are using Avatars as their novelty, and it’s not working out for them. Two, games like Office Affairs, Baby Maker Extreme, and anything involving how to get girlfriends are drowning the good games. If I’m a new kid on the 360 and try out the indie games with Office Affiars, I’m going to throw up. Okay, not throw up, maybe just cry. The rating system isn’t utilized as much as we’d need. Maybe some sort of review list like on the iTunes store could be useful. There’s many ways to fix this and not. Regardless, this is holding back many great developers from getting the sales they deserve.


[Can I have a side of Score Rush and a refill on Zombie Carnage Football please?]

There you have it. I love the indie marketplace. I’ve made friends with some of the developers on there. I have my fingers crossed that some of these problems get fixed so these developers can really take their awesome ideas to the stars.