Review: Logitech G110 Keyboard


Three years is a record. Three years without spilling on, trashing or utterly destroying yet another keyboard; All to be ruined by one morning cup off coffee. But I digress, the Gods laugh and Keiya gets an excuse to purchase yet another toy.

The Logitech G110 is exactly the same as the Logitech G19 minus the color LCD. The keyboard that I ruined was the old school G15 (the older one with more buttons and adjustable screen). I used to use the LCD to monitor system stats while I gamed. But since switching over the Windows 7, I prefer to use the desktop widgets docked on my secondary monitor, which are a lot better anyways particularly since there are widgets specifically for Riva Tuner, NVIDIA, etc. The only real use that I have for the LCD nowadays is to see who is speaking on Ventrilo, which isn’t worth an extra $100.


This keyboard also feels almost exactly the same as my old G15 and presumably the same as the G19. It is a bit narrower though, by about an inch or so at the expensive of an extra column of G keys. For better or for worse, it is of the same construction quality too: Which is to say, very very nice but not quite as solid feeling as something Razer pops out (Logitech makes cheap ass wrists rests). The keys are tactile but soft; Soft and quiet enough to sneak in a late night of WoW without waking your spouse (I dislike noisy keyboards).

Oh here’s something new: The G10 has it’s own onboard USB soundcard with inputs for an analogue microphone and headphones. Above the inputs (which are located at the top) are two buttons: Mute microphone and mute headphones. I really like this feature because is eliminates the awkwardly long and hazardous wire running from my case to my head (it’s also easier to access and stash the cord to the side).

FYI: Plugging a mic into the keyboard input will automatically mute your speakers, even if you do not have headphones plugged in. Which is kind of annoying because I have both Vent and the game sounds routed through my speakers most of the time. This is easy enough to fix in the Windows control panel.


Instead of having an ipod-ish volume dial, the G110 has volume scroll wheel similar to a mouse wheel. The G110’s multimedia buttons feel a lot better than the old school G15’s in both quality and location in my opinion. My other keyboard’s volume dial and play buttons were half pressed in and slightly loose feeling. I also like having them located on the right side near my mouse. I don’t have to reach over as far. Also for what it is worth, the drivers for the multimedia keys work out of the box with the most recent version of iTunes (on Windows 7 at least).

You can customize the keyboard glow to your heart’s content. Any color of the rainbow is at your fingertips, literally! The macro programming also works exactly the same as the G15 which is to say, very well. The software is self explanatory: Pick a button on the configuration screen and macro it. There’s no hassle and I haven’t encountered any software problems.

Oh one other thing: The high speed USB port isn’t too useful. There are very few thumb drives and devices that will run on it without getting a power warning. It’s nice that the hub is finally USB 2.0 but still…If you are strapped for cash, you might want to look somewhere else. $75 is still pretty steep for well, a keyboard. But if you can mentally justify the cost and/or want a nice gaming keyboard, it’s a great peripheral.

Star Trek Online


Oh hey it’s been exactly one month since my last posting! Bah so much weekly postings. Oh well.

So a small part of me party always has an always will love Star Trek no matter how over-franchised and cheesy it may become. I have been cautiously intrigued in STO, but not intrigued/too cautious to actually buy the game or brave Del Taco to get a demo code (I’m sorry, I have standards for Mexican food).

Luckily, a friend sent me a 5-day demo code for Star Trek online the other week. Unfortunately, I didn’t have too much time to trial it (a couple of hours total probably) as it was kind of a bad week to start a new game. I think I got just enough of a taste of it though to sample a few flavors. It’s an interesting game that I probably should have given more time, but it just seems so half-assed in many ways.

I really nope that Cryptic chooses to improve upon it at some point in the future; I was kind of put off by how unpolished many of the areas and aspects of gameplay felt; Which is kind of a shame because I was really hoping to like it. The combination between ship-to-ship combat and the third person ground missions is interesting and fairly unique to Massively Multiplayer environments. Actually, space is still pretty novel unless you count Eve.

The ship combat is fun despite the fact that the controls are super kludgy. From what I understand, as you progress in level the turn radius and handling improves greatly. I’m probably just expecting everything to operate like a WoW flying mount anyways. The space locations are gorgeous but the ground areas? Not so much.

See, the thing is that both the starships and players are affected by collision. I can see why they would do that for space combat, but character collision really is never that great of an idea in any large multiplayer environment. As a consequence, every single area is disproportionally large in order to avoid a large clusterfuck of people blocking doorways and hallways. The space stations, rooms and everything feel so…sparse. Especially noticeable because the television show sets were not really designed like that, Well naturally I suppose. Large areas cost more and wasted space doesn’t make sense on a star ship.

Oh one more thing: One of the first missions is a hybrid space combat/ship boarding mission aboard the USS Azusa. As you are heading back to the rear cargo bay, “warning: meltdown imminent” will play over the ship’s speakers. That sound clip is straight from geoDefense (my favorite tower defense game for the iPhone OS). Just a fun little easter egg that no one seems to have noticed.

Review: Dragon Age


Dragon Age is probably the most captivating game that I have played in recently memory. I logged well over 50 hours into the first campaign and have started up a second campaign as a different race and class, which I guess, is pretty rare for me since honestly, most RPGs hold very little replay value for me. TL;DR for the rest of this article: Dragon Age is a fantastic game if you are in any way into fantasy games buy now.

Depending on what race and class combination you choose at the beginning of the game, your character is given one of six origin stories to start with. Each origin story is more than just a background intro; It helps to weave a tale of political intrigue and integrates into the main plot line of the game, probably more-so than most other choice based RPGs. A human noble for example, would be addressed differently than an elf would. It adds an subtle flavor as well as perspective to the story line.

The game as expected is fairly heavily influenced by character choices. There a some instances blatantly obvious dialogue choices ala Fallout 3 and Oblivion (as in: the good option, the neutral option and asshole). For the most part though I thought that they were very well done. Some of the choices were genuinely difficult. There were a couple of occasions in which you were forced to side with people. What you choose throughout the campaign will also affect the outcome of the game to some extent.


After you are set along the main quest line, it’s still more or less the same game no matter what you do, but origin stories and player choices make it different enough to warrant a second play through. Influence is a very overlooked factor in most games of this genre. Though we aren’t where I’d like to be in terms of how much the player should determine the outcome of the game, this is definitely a step forward.

The plot follows a classic good versus evil fantasy tale format. It’s obviously derived from any number of fantasy settings: Elves are tree huggers, magicians are aloof, dwarves live in mountains, and humans are for the most part assholes. But that’s not necessarily that bad of a thing is it? I mean, executed properly, it is a formula that has for the most part withstood the test of time. Most importantly, the land of Ferelden is absolutely rich with lore and history. BioWare really brought it to life with the amount of detail that they have poured into its creation.

The story is solid and gripping. It was captivating enough to hook me for almost 60 hours, which is pretty big considering my bad track record of getting bored with games or sidetracked and never picking them up again. There were a couple of areas that seemed to drag on a bit too long. The Deep Roads and the Fade could have been shorter as I spent the better part of several hours in each of those dungeons. Other than that, it was pretty well paced.


Each party member has a distinct personality. I’m usually not a big fan on RPGs that force you to choose between party members, but that’s a factor that has never really bothered me about BioWare RPGs. I don’t know about how everyone else plays, but I tend to favor one group of characters at the extreme exclusion of anyone else. Experience is distributed to all companions whether they are in your active party or not, eliminating the need to level grind or rotate party members out of fear that the plot might force you to swap people in (I really wish Square did this).

The dialogue is nicely written and the voice acting is well done. I am particularly picky about the latter; nothing spoils a game more than cheesy overdone voicing. The way Morrigan and Alistair were portrayed was especially well done in my opinion (Alistair had a lot of great lines). I actually didn’t realize that Claudia Black was Morrigan until fairly recently (Stargate: SG1, FarScape). I thought that she sounded familiar but just couldn’t put my finger on it. The silent hero thing is awkward. I was kind of hoping that the main character would have been voiced ala Shepard in Mass Effect.

I was very impressed with the combat system. It’s really scalable to be as complex as you want it; From World of Warcraft like me button mashing to a highly tactical, almost turn/RTS strategy feel. Party member AI is customizable in a manner that is very similar to Final Fantasy XII’s gambit system: It allows you to setup a prioritized series of scripts (i.e: shoot an Arcane Bolt at the enemy with the lowest health, heal any party member < 50% HP, etc). Or, if you are lazy there are presets available for the AI scripting (healer, tank, etc). I did that most of the time and it worked fine.


BioWare, more-so than probably any other game studio did an exceptional job of tweaking the interface between the console and PC versions of the game to make sure that neither felt gimped for the sake of the other. If you have ever played a PC based MMO, Baldur’s Gate or any other similar game then you will feel right at home. By the way, I highly recommend playing the PC version if you can. Though I haven’t played the console versions, from what I understand they are fairly different in terms of what you can and cannot do with the interface. For example, the PC version lets you mouse scroll zoom out into a bird’s eye view tactical setup where you can click drag multiple units ala Baldur’s Gate or even kind of sorta like an RTS.

Dragon Age is good looking and polished, but nothing that I would consider graphically astounding. The armor sets and characters are well designed and unique looking. Areas are also well plotted out and lush with detail. The texturing though could have been better in my opinion. For example, something just seems a bit off about the skin texturing in my opinion. It’s too glossy or something. I kept thinking about during certain (sex) scenes. I mean, it’s like they were bathed in cocoa butter or something.

Bottom line: Dragon Age is a shining example of a fantasy RPG. I mean, what else can you really ask for?

Belated Review: Borderlands

Wow this game is serious gun porn. Just an incredible amount of weapons; And it’s not just the quantity, but the presence as well, seeing how they drop like candy out of a pinata. Expect constant weapon swapping! Weapons are divided into basic classes: Sniper Rifles, Shotguns, Machine Guns, Rocket Launchers and so forth. 200,000+ guns sounds very impressive within the context of a first person shooter, where 20 weapons would be considered a lot. But, within the context of a role-playing game? Not so much. In reality, most of the guns are your standard randomly generated RPG varietyala Diablo II or WoW (they even follow the same color system: white < green < blue < purple < orange :P). Most of your drops are going to end up being vendor trash.

But, that’s not to say that each weapon is drab or similar feeling. Weapons are differentiated between each other by variances in damage, firing rate, reload speed, elemental attributes, etc. While minor statistical differences might not seem like it would matter much, would would be surprised at how differently some of the weapons play. For example, a pistol with a large clip, low damage and high reload speed plays very differently than a slow pistol with high damage and a large clip. It is very much about finding a weapon that suits your play style and situation. Besides, all bets are off when you have a sniper rifle that sets targets on fire.

Gameplay wise, it is at heart a straight up shooter. Critical damage is determined by hit location. Circle, strafe, circle, strafe etc. The RPG elements are very similar to any other FPS/RPG blend: experience based leveling and talent trees. There are basic classes to choose from each with a distinctplaystyle , weapons specialization and special ability. Mordecai the hunter for example, is adept at Sniper Rifles and Revolvers. If you though for example, prefer to play him with machine guns, you can do so effectively. It just won’t be optimal.

The graphics are cell shaded, which is interesting given how late in the game this change was announced. Cell shading worries a lot of people for some reason; I think people were afraid that the game would go Wind Waker on everyone. Fear not though; the graphical changes in Borderlands give it a unique feel, as opposed to the standard shades of brown pseudo-realism going around in nearly every other first person game. ThinkTF2 (cell shaded, tongue in cheek design, stylism) + Fallout 3 (general setting).

Cons: Some elements of this game are a bit finicky; Bullet collision through certain objects for example, feels off to me. Most weapons are balanced well except for the rocket launchers, which do surprisingly underwhelming amount damage in comparison to similar weapons in other games. The AI could also use some work. Most anything, even many bosses can be line-of-sighted and kited around for a not-too-challenging kill. The mobs very easily get stuck inpathing loops or run into collision problems.

The quests themselves leave a lot to be desired and rarely, if ever, step out of the “kill x and bring y to z” flavor. Until you hit a certain point in the game, expect massive traveling and fetching. If I haven’t already mentioned the plot. Yeah. The plot…But, most of the above a nitpicks. If you are looking for a fun way to feed your obsessive compulsive urge to collect shit, Borderlands is worth a play.

Dabbling With Aion


Ignore the frequent theme changes. I’m playing again and am too lazy at the moment to use the dev site.

I better post this entry before I get busy again. Delayed is better than never! I compulsively bought Aion off of Steam a few weeks after it was released to scratch a PC game itch that had been festering all summer. It was my downtime project for a bit, the idea being to reach mid-game so that I could do a review after experiencing some of the meatier content in the Abyss. Sadly though, I only made it to the mid-teens before I set it down permanently (real life business happened).

It’s hard to discuss MMO’s fairly without soaking a significant amount of time into them. You see, they are like people: some are pretty and sweet things on the first date, but transform into an overbearing bitch a few months into the relationship. Some on teh other hand are diamonds in the rough; They just need some time. Okay okay, that was a really bad metaphor (it’s late). TL;DR: Take this post with a grain of salt, I is noob.

Aion is a visually stunning game. The zones are beautifully designed, spell animations are shiny and fluid, the textures and water look very very nice and the character models are detailed nicely. I know that everything looks good when it’s new, but I really do like the way Aion looks; it is pretty. This game by the way, despite having only two playable races, is the holy grain of character customization. No seriously: There are not only a ludicrous amount of facial modifiers and hairstyles, but there are also sliders and options for body type in height. I think I spent an hour playing with this…

If you have played WoW or any other PC based MMO, you should be able to jump into Aion without any problems, since it more-or-less follows control and mechanics standards to a letter (a good thing). The newbie tutorials are also somewhat better than what WoW has to offer (until 3.3 at least). It’s a very polished MMO, though nothing that I would really consider ‘new’. It is however, different enough from WoW to be a fun side project but not innovative enough to make me want to play it past the free trial. Initially at least. As mentioned above, I don’t know what the end game content is like because none of that is introduced until you hit level 25.

The problem is that until you hit that point, the game is a fetch and kill quest grind. Quest progression in general is very linear. From what I’ve seen, there doesn’t seem to be even the option of being able to level grind in another zone. Being linear is not necessarily bad; The zones and quests flow together smoothly into a clear progression path. And yes, it is a grind whether it is disguised as a quest or not. I was a bit disappointed by the quests themselves. Though well written, there aren’t enough of them to level to the cap (I can’t find the link, but someone actually bothered to add up the total experience from every quest in the game compared to how much experience you need). The quests themselves are unimaginative and rarely diverge from fetching, killing X of Y or running across the zone to click on something.

The questing interface is rock solid and dare I say, a bit better than WoW. Actually, the interface in general is extremely polished. I am trying to think of a gripe, but I honestly do not think that I have one. I really like the in-game database. The quest text contains hyperlinks that when clicked, will open a pop-up window containing a description and a generally location of the NPC or item.

So the big thing in the game as well, advertised on the box and everything is the ability to fly. You actually obtain this ability fairly early on in the game at level 10, but it’s restricted to only a few small areas. I know that it plays an important part in later game elements, but so far it seems pretty gimmicky given that I can only fly in like one area for 60 seconds. The flight controls were also a little cludgy and awkward, but I guess I was just expecting it to function like WoW a bit too much.

Gameplay is fun but nothing too new. In WoW, every class has a pretty standard spell rotation consisting of a series of buttons that you press in a certain order to maximize damage output over a specific period of time (well or collision prioritized FCFS for retribution paladins). In Aion every class has a pretty standard spell chain consisting of a series of buttons that you press in a certain order to maximize damage over a specific period of time. Fun? Sure. Different? A little bit. Groundbreaking? Not really.

The content distribution seems a bit uneven. No dungeons or instances until level 25, so until then it’s rote questing and grinding. That is so vanilla WoW! Aion isn’t the holy WoW killer, but It was actually fun. If you are looking for a side squeeze to try out, give this one a shot.

geoDefense Swarm

geoDefense Swarm by Critical Thought Games is finally up on the iTunes app store now. It’s an open level version of the original game; So instead of blasting creeps along a single pre-defined path, it is up to you to create a maze of obstructions in order to fend them off.


I really like geoDefense, it’s one of my favorite iPod Touch games. A while back I was on a tower defense bender and tried out virtually all games of this genre on the app store (the ones with a free demo that is). This one was my favorite by a fairly large margin. It’s harder, fast paced and require a fair bit of thought and strategy for many of the higher levels. The vector graphics are also colorful, clean and well presented.


If you are still unsure, it’s only $0.99. It includes 30 levels across three difficulty groups. There are several new features not present in the original. I don’t know if this is the permanent or promotional price, but either way it’s well worth picking up.

Review: Razer Carcharias

I have a small headphone fetish and apparently cannot function without being able to properly listen to my music wherever I go. I have a pair for every occasion: At home/work, on the go, running and Ventrilo. If you wear headphones often, it’s actually worth dishing out a little extra cash to get a not crap pair. In my experience, most of the extremely cheap ones break easily (stress fractures on the headband near the ear cups, loose wires).

So my old headset broke last week: The sound coming through the earphones was extremely muffled and the microphone intermittently muted or reduced itself in volume. I could have just sautered the loose wires or ghetto fixed it, but why pass up on an excuse to get a new toy?

I was using some really clunky Plantronics headset. The microphone was actually pretty good, but they were uncomfortable and the headphones sucked (sound was way trebly). They were way too snug and bulky; Never get faux leather earmuffs, they crack over time and stick to the side of your head whenever it is warm. Tight headphones, in addition to giving you a headache over a long period of time, are impossible to wear with glasses.

I ended up getting the Razer Carcharias. I’m a pretty big fan of Razer’s line of computer peripherals (as seen on any of my workspace pictures). I was somewhat dubious of their audio products (headset is different than a keyboard or mouse), but the Carcharias had received good marks on most review sites so I gave it a go. It is very comfortable, it feels notably lighter than most other headsets without feeling shoddy or flimsy.

carcharias side

The headband tension is tight enough to seat the ear cups against your ears well, but not tight enough to pinch your temples off. Consequently, they are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time, even for folks who wear glasses. The earmuffs are plush and velvety. I am partial to this type of material because it is soft and doesn’t stick to the side of your face when it is warm. It does collect lint though.

Each ear cup is attached to the headband with two stuff paperclip like wires that slide up and down to adjust to your head size. They are flexible enough to laterally move to fit the side of your head, eliminated the need to include a swivel joint. Not having a moving joint against the side of your head is a huge plus to anyone who has long hair that gets caught in things on a constant basis.

There’s an in-line remote with a volume and a mute switch on the cord. Both are easy to use and stay put even if you shuffle around quite a bit (I have had issues with loose mute switches). Other than that, I suppose they are much like the remote on any other pair of headsets.

The braided cord is tangle resistant and fits snugly into the rubber sheath that attaches it to the base of the headphone cup. The cords on cheap headphones jiggle around quite a bit when you yank on them, leading to breakage. This point is a huge nitpick but: When you twist the braided cords they get increasingly curly. I find that slightly irritating.

carcharias 2

The Carcharias isn’t a sound isolation/cancellation set of headphones. If you play in a noisy environment, you will still hear background noises, your mother or wife sneaking up behind you, whatever. A couple of reviewers felt that the noise canceling microphone was sub-par, but it seemed more than sufficient to me. It was at least equivalent to the mic on my old headset, which was pretty decent (err according to general Ventrilo opinion). It is also worth noting that I have all of my headsets plugged in through the analogue input ports on my X-Fi front panel.

The headphones themselves are a bit lacking bass wise in my opinion. They are great for gaming, but only above average to good for music. It’s not that they are tinny, trebly or bad, they just don’t sound as rich as mySennheiers (which were in the same price bracket). If you aren’t extremely picky about sound, they are way more than adequate and far better than most of your run of the mill headphones. Audiophiles though, will probably opt for something better.

They are a bit pricey. I think the average retail price is about $70 give or take a couple of dollars. Overall, they have been great so far.

Review: Betrayal at Krondor

image_47Betrayal at Krondor is a longstanding PC favorite of mine. It’s an older (1993) DOS based PC roleplaying-game, developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra On-Line. The game events occur in the rich and detailed fantasy world of Midkemia, the setting for Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle. I actually wasn’t aware that Betrayal at Krondor was based off of a book series when I had originally played it. If anyone is curious, it takes place approximately halfway between A Darkness at Sethanon and Prince of the Blood (decade after the riftwar).

The game is designed to unfold like an interactive book. It’s divided into nine chapters, each beginning and ending with a cut scene consisting of text narration and pseudo-live action animation (fair warning: This game was created in the early 90’s, the height of live actor cut scene cheese). Most importantly, Betrayal at Krondor feels like a book: The narration is compelling and well written. Most RPGs present you with a generic selection of character archetypes to play. Not so much here, the characters are well fleshed out, each with a distinct personality, past and history.


Betrayal at Krondor, if I am not mistaken is one of the earliest examples of a not strictly linear game. Each chapter allows you to freely explore large portions of the map, which are filled with small towns, loot and side quests to complete. It’s a good balance: Open enough not to feel like you are on rails but not so open that you are distracted from completing the main plot. I highly recommend taking the time to explore. The side quests are fun and supplement the main storyline.

Keep in mind that the graphics haven’t aged well to say the least. All of the game travel occurs in the first person. Though the concept was way ahead of its time, it looks pretty dated now. Combat occurs in the third person, image map graphics with hot spots for inns, shops and whatever are used for large cities and certain locations. The game’s charm though, lies within the writing and plot. Stunning new age graphics were never a main draw, to me at least. The soundtrack on the other hand, is great.


The gameplay has a turn based grid combat system which occurs in the third person, kind of similar(ish) to Final Fantasy tactics. Skill gain is based around usage, there’s no leveling. For example, the more you use a sword, the more accurate you will become. It’s a well balanced system. One of my favorite parts of the game are the Moredhel chests. The treasure chests are locked with a letter dial combination lock. You are given a riddle and it’s your job to figure out the answer.

Anyway, Sierra released Betrayal at Krondor as freeware, available at Abandonia or wherever people go to download old games. There’s also a sequel, Return to Krondor, also a fun game. Unless your computer is ass-old, you will probably need DOSBox to play it. Highly recommended, well worth a download.

The Sims 3


You know, I had these grand plans of actually posting and updating this on a regular basis throughout the month of June; I even typed out a few post drafts. But then The Sims 3 came out (as well as several other things) and I started semi-obsessively playing it. As such, I feel obligated to post about it.

The Sims 3 in a way feels fundamentally different than The Sims 2, though at heart, the same. For one, sims aren’t trapped on their lots anymore. The entire neighborhood is one seamless area, allowing sims to visit neighbors and go into town without having to load areas. Time also progresses universally throughout the neighborhood, so no more going out for a full day, only to return to a lot that hasn’t changed since you left.

You now live in a persistent world. It’s fluid and growing; the new Story Progression feature keeps it as such. Sims outside of your active household will also grow up, fall in love, have children, live their lives and die. Gone is the need to micromanage every single household in order to avoid the awkwardness of being the same age as your great great great uncle (accidental incest is bad).

Story progression though does have strange moments: Computer spawned babies apparently need only one parent. For example, I created a small family consisting of a father and son, moved them into their own house and then left them to their own NPC devices (I wanted interesting neighbors). Several days later, a baby popped out of nowhere. I guess this is the way that the game balances itself, which is alright though someone artificial feeling.


The game feels geared towards a single family play. You can swap households, but doing so feels a bit cumbersome in that it requires quite a few mouse clicks (go to the edit neighborhood screen, click change active household, choose the household, etc). When you swap households, short term wishes are reset and you run the risk of story progression doing something negative to that family unless you toggle it off. If you were one of those Sims 2 players who insisted on having absolute control over every household, this change mightfrustrate you somewhat.

Daily life feels like much less of a grind, much of the sim needs and daily micromanagement has either been streamlined or reduced, leaving more time for storytelling and antics. Yours sims don’t need to pee or shower as often and you are able to throw out trash and put items away yourself, rather than having to wait for your sim to do it.

Your Sim’s current ‘state’ is based off of a new moodlets system. Certain activities and conditions will give a buff or debuff to your mood. Each moodlet lasts for a certain duration; Being in a good mood positively influences work performance and social interactions.

You can also change the color and texture of virtually every surface and clothing item in the game. Even so, there is a distinct feeling that EA is holding back on items for the sake of eitherre-releasing them in an expansion pack or on their online store. Where’s the piano and hot tub?


The Sims 3 also runs notably smoother than The Sims 2, even on very large lots with a surplus of items. Keep in mind though, that this is the base game, minus any expansion packs. We will see if this performance improvement holds up in a year or two…

Anyway, there are dozens of fun changes and game mechanics that I skipped over (the traits system, collectibles, body shapes, etc). In short, it’s fun. So fun that it has ate up my urge to do much of anything else during the period of free time that I set aside for gaming and stuff like that. If you enjoyed the other Sims games, you will most definitely enjoy The Sims 3.

Fallout 3


I better post this article before it loses complete relevance. I am just too busy playing Fallout 3 to tend to my website. This review turned into an Oblivion/Fallout 3 comparison at some point. Anyway, don’t get me wrong; I loved Oblivion, but it is far from a perfect or even near perfect game. It is also a natural comparison, being from the developer, being roughly similar and using the same graphical engine.

Fallout 3 uses a hybrid real time/turn based combat system called V.A.T.S.: V.A.T.S. pauses combat allowing you to queue up attacks to specific body parts. You have a certain amount of Action Points (AP) to use and different weapons/parts cost a different amount of AP per attack. When combat resumes, your actions are played out in a cinematic manner (slow motion head explosions!). Attacking different body parts also reaps different benefits. For example: Crippling a target’s leg will reduce movement speed and crippling their shooting arm will reduce accuracy.

Real time combat is fast and harsh. In fact, it feels similar to that of Oblivion’s, but with more ranged options added in. For example, it is very hard to shoot accurately from a distance in real time in comparison to your standard FPS. The bias is definitely towards V.A.T.S. combat, which is just fine with me because VATS is supremely fun. From skimming the previews, I had originally expected it to be mostly a novelty. There’s a lot more strategy to it than I had expected.


There is a stealth element to Fallout 3, but it really isn’t a stealth game. For example, I’m not sure there are too many (if any) combat based missions than can be completed on stealth alone. Similarly, though you can ignore V.A.T.S. and approach combat like a straight up shooter, I’m not sure I would recommend it.

Fallout 3 has a straight-up experience based levelling system. You obtain experience from tasks such as completing quests and killing things. When you get a certain amount of experience, you level up. Upon leveling, you are able to assign skill points into any of 13 skills (such as Speech, Melee, etc). Leveling also allows you to choose a “Perk.” Perks range from practical (boosting damage and stats) to purely for fun (Bloody Mess).

Even though Fallout 3 is running off of Oblivion’s somewhat dated graphical engine, it looks great. I love the atmosphere, the world detail and the scope of things, it really draws you in. Your first view of the wasteland as you first exit the vault is particularly impressive. The character animations and facial expressions though could have used some polish to say the least, they look awkward and wooden.


The world map feels more condensed in comparison to Oblivion’s. It’s quite a bit smaller, but there’s much more to do. As I play, I find myself doing a lot of walking and exploring because it doesn’t feel tedious; There aren’t ginormous stretches of nothingness. The game world is littered with the shells of old buildings, towns, old factories, ruined houses and what have you.

I don’t want to discuss the main plot too much because I don’t want to spoil it. But so far, I am really liking the story, it’s interesting and well paced. It’s also, at least so far, seems to be free of “Oblivion Gate” moments. There also aren’t as many quests as Oblivion, but each one is quite a bit longer.

Overall, it seems that Bethesda does know how to listen. Many of the gaping problems present in Oblivion were fixed in Fallout 3: They dumped the dumb skill/leveling system, made the world map not boring, and hired more than 3 voice actors. It still though could have used more polish, the engine quirks are still present (glitchy physics, awkward animations, pop-in).

TL;DR: It’s fun, buy it as long as you have time to suck away entire evenings at the computer.