Wasteland 2 Review

Wasteland 2 loading screen

Wasteland 2 Review by Honorabili

Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10

Wasteland 2 is the direct sequel to the original Wasteland, the game that Fallout was based on. Wasteland 2 takes the setting from the original game and updates it with isometric gameplay elements we love from similar games such as Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Jagged Alliance, Jagged Alliance 2, the X-COM series, and Silent Storm 2, as well as the lost Amiga classic RPG Perihelion. In spirit, to me, this game is what Van Buren would have been like for Fallout 3 rather than the Fallout 3 Oblivion-like game that actually got made. The writing for Wasteland 2 is also a lot like the one in the games I previously mentioned as well as Fallout: New Vegas.

Storyline:

The game takes place in an alternate timeline. The nuclear apocalypse happened in 1998 (although if you play the game it feels like 1988, maybe even 1983 based on the computer technology you find in the game) and it’s now nearly a hundred years after the end of the world. The kind of destruction of civilization and barbarity that take place would be at home in the Mad Max universe. Out of the chaos of the apocalypse, some engineers and military personnel in the territory that used to be the United States of America organized itself in the shattered remains of Arizona to become a paramilitary organization that would police the wastes. They are called the Desert Rangers. Your party are new members of this group that are quickly sent to investigate the murder of Ace, one of the characters from Wasteland 1.

Survival Elements:

Not only must you contend with the surviving psychopaths of the Wasteland but you are also trying to survive in an environment where you are not only battling radiation, limited ammo, limited healing, but also the lack of water. This is an element that was also found in original Wasteland and it will make you feel a lot like playing a Dark Sun Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

Gameplay:

Every location and they way you interact with the people in those locations affects the world in a large or limited way, depending on how relevant they are to the storyline of the game. Much like Fallout 2, this game is also filled with easter eggs, pop culture jokes, and inside jokes. Exploration is encouraged as the game will reward you with rare items which usually don’t seem useful but they may be useful to a character that you might meet after 10-20 hours of gameplay later. It’s this kind of depth that makes Wasteland 2 as enjoyable as playing all the RPGs I mentioned previously.

The game consists of making your characters explore and interact with locations (people and objects) as well as a LOT of combat. I would say this game is the polar opposite of Planescape: Torment (another favorite RPG of mine). Whereas Planescape: Torment had very little combat, the slaughter in Wasteland 2 is legendary! Combat happens very much in the same manner as Jagged Alliance, Fallout Tactics, and X-COM games. You position your crew in a square-system based grid and they move and shoot based on Action Points. These action points are based on your characters’ statistics as well as reduction in AP based on what armor you are wearing and also a bonus/penalty to AP based on whatever trinket you have equipped.

The game uses a hit point based system, much like most games do, which although is not the most realistic system is not as punishing to new RPG players as some other systems are (Vampire or Shadowrun proportionate health systems). Much like the original Wasteland, the game uses a very intricate healing system for which first aid and surgeon are two separate skills. First aid is mainly used to increase the efficiency of first aid kits in healing hit points, whereas surgeon is used to recover fallen soldiers and bring them back from the brink of death, as well help them recover from bleeding, and other status ailments.

Combat aside, the game has a very straight forward attribute and skill system. Most of the skills have a use which is self explanatory towards objects in the environments of locations. What’s interesting is that what is the speech skill in Fallout is implemented in this game instead as three separate kind of social skills: smart ass, kiss ass, and hard ass. Smart ass applies towards dialogue options in which logic is usually involved. Kiss ass involves towards stroking other people’s egos. Hard ass involves threatening (usually physically) some weak minded fools to bend to your will (basically intimidation). Much like many other games only social skills will open up special dialogue options that will lead to new plot lines.

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SUMMARY:
Pros:
Deep storyline
Hectic combat is a lot of fun
Completely customizable player characters
Well written characters for NPCs (including party members and town NPCs)
Really well made audio (both sound effects and music)
Can run on most systems (even obsolete ones)
Amazing dialogue
Very immersive environment
Many hours of game relative to the cost of purchase
Buying this game will continue to fund more games like this
Using the radio saves having to return to home base and that saves time
NO DEADLINE (aka gun to your head) like in Fallout 1 and 2
The funny, detailed combat log from the old Bard’s Tale games as well as the original Fallout games is implemented in this game too
This game is proof that really good games that people need can come out of crowd-funding projects

Cons:

Single-player game only
No editor for making custom campaigns
AI is not that effective in combat (in fact, it’s pretty dumb)
Unity graphics engine looks dated
Unity engine is sluggish (latest updates have made it faster though)
Limited replayability
Inventory management could be a little bit more polished
People who did not play 80s-90s-early 2000s RPG games will be not interested in playing it
Lots of loading and saving because of sometimes ridiculous skill tests (10-13% probability of passing with 45% critical failure rates)
Loading games on a hard drive can be slow and since loading happens often because of critically failed skill tests the game can get boring
I found some bugs/expoits (they have been patching the game every week or two since it came out so soon there will be none)

CONCLUSION:
We finally got the Wasteland sequel that we needed. How much did we need this? Well, fans of the original game had reverse engineered that game in order to modify it. That was a project that took years and a lot of patience. It’s been years since an actually good science-fiction, especially post-apocalypse RPG has come out. The wait was worth it.

All fans of the original Wasteland and especially fans of Fallout 1, 2, and Tactics MUST play this game. I highly encourage you to BUY IT especially since inXile did such a great job and they will continue to make the RPGs we crave. Keep the dream alive! Now here’s to hoping they make Wasteland 3! 🙂

E3 2011: My E3 Guide

E3 2011: My E3 Guide by Ignacio/honorabili

E3 2011

Guide:

Before going, the first thing to do is see if you can get in there for free! Well, the way I did it is by having this website and registering as soon as I could for the event. Starting this year, E3 was capping the number of passes they would give out to media, requiring your website to have 8000 unique visits per month per media pass given out. If you don’t even get 8000 a month then they would make you buy your ticket instead, which could making going to the event really expensive.

Like most of these kind of events, try to book as early as possible, both your travel arrangements and lodging. We booked 9 months before and paid 700 dollars a person for 6 days. We used Orbitz and that price included complete air fare (flew American Airlines), lodging (we stayed at the Ramada Inn in Koreatown, which I found to be a great place and neighborhood), and a rental car (Avis, which broke down and then they tried to rip us off when we returned the car; listen to the podcast to hear Laraque complaining about that!). I really recommend going to E3 especially if you already live in California or nearby, so it’s much cheaper.

When you get to the event, get one of the free magazines that is pretty much a quick guide to the event plus the IMPORTANT PART is the map in the center of the magazine. You can simply look at the map and see which booths interest you the most. If you mainly go there to see the next big game, you can easily find them on the main floor in megabooths. If you have media passes, you can go talk to their reception desk and they give you priority to test them, instead of making you wait in line most of the time.

E3 2011 - Konami

Some people like to go to E3 to demo the new games and hardware, mainly from the megacorps. Other people like to go to see what small companies are there and to see what big thing they brought to the show. Many of the small companies or the companies that are not coming out with a big product usually have a booth in the meeting rooms in the Concourse Hall. Those are better for you if you are into networking and seeing more unique things that the public usually cannot. There’s a more private version of that area on the second floor that you can only access if you have a VIP pass. There’s where you can see unreleased stuff more and negotiate business deals.

If you go, don’t expect to sleep much. You pretty much walk and stand most of the day and after the show, if you have connections expect to go to a ton of after parties (there’s one pretty much every day); this is where you can really make connections with developers, vendors, etc. If you go there trying to setup some business deals, bring a stack of business cards and some nice clothes. I made more contacts wearing dress clothes than simply the Obsolete Gamer T-Shirt.

As far as being in L.A., bring a lot of money because things there are PRETTY EXPENSIVE. Most places we went to charge a bare minimum of 3-5 dollars an hour to park, with many places having a 15-30 dollar parking fee, even like going to a local mall. Food at most restaurants will cost you about 20 dollars a person unless you want to eat a lot of fast food. At E3, the food is very expensive and we’re talking like 6 dollars for a pizza slice kind of expensive and 5 dollars for a can of Monster (no Red Bull, which is my crack). A cheapskate trick is to go to the Concourse Hall and munch on the snacks (cookies mainly) and free soft drinks that a lot of the companies have there. Hey! You wanted a real guide, now you know how cheap I am!

E3 2011

When at E3, try not to take breaks. Be smart and go have a meeting where you can sit down to rest, while you keep working and networking. Again, I mainly recommend going to the event if you are in the industry, whether you have a game company, gaming website, resell video games, blog, shoot funny videos (like Mega64), otherwise, you can pretty much watch everything at the show for free on the internet on some of the mega video game sites or directly from the main companies websites, in the form of trailers.

If you are media/press, pick up every free bag of goodies they give you. The best stuff I got was from World of Tanks, which gave me a bunch of toy tanks, a special bag, a World of Tanks T-Shirt, mouse pad, and special game bag, as far as the main floor went, and the biggest gift I got was from Topware which gave me a Collector’s Edition of Two Worlds 2 and a ton of T-shirts. Even if you don’t like a game, who knows, a friend of yours might like it! If you have a gaming website, some of this swag would be great to giveaway in the form of a contest.

My Experience:

E3 2011 - Cooking Mama

The day before E3 I was rushing to get some Obsolete Gamer shirts over to J.A. Laraque’s house as well as a camera I bought him and some micro SD memory cards when the engine of my 1998 Mustang GT decided to die a block away from my house. After pushing the car with some neighbors up my driveway, I had my mom help me to drop the OG gear off at JA’s house. I stayed up pretty late playing League of Legends with my brother and his friends until we lost so badly that I had to go do something else. I remember drinking some rum while watching episodes of The Three Stooges on Hulu.

My old man took J.A. and I to the airport like around 5 PM EST on Tuesday, the first open-to-the-public day for E3 2011 and we quickly met up with Alienware’s Patrick Theodore and Ashley Brito. Even though Orbitz booked us on Alaskan Air, we quickly had to go running with all our luggage to the American Airlines concourse and go through the TSA checkpoint. After seeing old ladies from Miami Beach get checked to see if they have C4 in their shoes, the terrorists won! Anyways, they let us through and after a short while we were on the plane. I played the living shit out of Solitaire on the plane, which going to L.A. we had a 777 (great ride). Laraque played a lot of games on his iPad like Streets of Rage and some Homer Simpson game which was a lot like the original Simpsons arcade game. I slept on the plane but for the duration of this trip I was pretty much tired a lot.

As soon as the plane landed we hauled ass to Avis, and then drove fast to the show. Parked (see me bitch above about the parking, which in this case was 15 dollars cash [be sure to bring a lot of cash]) and then we got some of the food they sell there (again see above if you want to hear me bitching). Afterwards, we walked off into the main floor. My first impression was that this was a huge arcade. Colors and colors everywhere. We saw the Sony Online Entertainment booth, which we have been trolling on the podcast a lot lately, and I got a bunch of the free mints they had there. The only games they had which interested me were Payday (co-op bank robber game) and some Magic The Gathering strategy game, but that game looked pretty dated. I hit up Capcom, then Kalypso, which to my surprise is remaking (and this is much needed) Jagged Alliance and is making Tropico 4, another sequel to one of my favorite dictator sims of all time.

E3 2011 - Square Enix

I had a meeting with Indiecade, which showed me a lot of board games, which we will probably review later on The Inverted Paradox and a couple of Indie games. I got to play this experimental game project called Deep Sea where the game has no graphics and its just you attacking a sea monster based on what you hear only. Pretty original idea and it generates a feeling of solace and dread being stuck on a submarine with a leviathan around you. I also saw a game that was a rogue-like clone and also a cute strategy game called Skulls of the Shogun which is a like like Shining Force and Ogre Battle.

We went to the after the show parties for AMD and also for S2 Games, the makers of Heroes of Newerth. Both parties had free bars and the AMD party had AMAZING food! =P It was fun talking to AMD about the new APU that already got released by now as well as talking about old hardware with some of the people who helped design it, like Marc who helped design my favorite CPU the AMD K6-3. 😀 The AMD party was also very special for me because I got to speak in person with my friend Alfred Giovetti who runs The Computer Show. In the middle of people talking about the latest and greatest we sat for a good while talking about stuff like the rise and fall of Microprose and Interplay and games such as Darklands by Microprose. I recommended he try out Mount & Blade which is a lot like Defender of the Crown mixed with Darklands.

E3 2011

Back to the show, I got to meet up with the people from Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends which let me see upcoming champions (hero units) for that game, one of my current addictions.

The people from World of Tanks gave us some goodie bags which was put to good use in-game (another one of our addictions now).

I got to meet (finally in person) with my long time internet friend Seth Sternberg (8 Bit Weapon) and got to hear them live. We interviewed both band members and you can check out the 8 Bit Weapon interview here.

We stayed in L.A. for 4 days after the show and it was a nice vacation for us.

In conclusion, the E3 experience was a good one and I highly recommend it, especially if you can go there cheap or get somebody to sponsor your trip! ;-]

Urban Legend

Urban Legend - PC Review
The year is 2127 and Russia has been a colony of the US for over a century. The people are starving, Neuromancer influenced megacorporations are running amok, genetically modified food is introducing the masses to cancer, non genetically modified animals have been extinct for ages, the poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer and this time around there is no Lenin. There’s only John Doe -strangely, one of the more interestingly named heroes in history- and it sure feels as if someone pressed the diarrhoea button for the great arsehole up there. Oh, and thankfully it’s still 2007 and this, apparently, is a review of Urban Legend.
Urban Legend - PC Review

 

So, uh, let me introduce the game properly, shall I? Well, according to the developer (Russia based ELENS) Urban Legend is an isometric turn-based squad-based strategy game, and, shockingly, it really is. And a good one at that too. The game offers over 30 levels of sheer strategic fun that will definitely appeal to the Fallout, Jagged Alliance and X-Com (a.k.a UFO) crowds, providing a very elegant action points based combat mechanic and an intuitive interface, that’s as simple as left-clicking to move and right-clicking to fire. Then again, moving and firing, admittedly with the added hassle of picking the right weapons and selecting/equipping a modestly sized squad, can be tactically challenging enough to test years of accumulated turn-based combat experience and even lead to frustration and/or insomnia. Thankfully genre beginners and tired middle-agers can always go for the easy setting.

Urban Legend - PC Review

Us young and lively gnomes, on the other hand, always go for the harder difficulty setting such as …er… hard and nightmare… It’s a masochist thing, really.

The enemy AI feels brilliant, and -what’s more- getting progressively smarter, the level design is varied and lethal enough to have your clumsily positioned sniper killed in no time, whereas the simple RPG-like progression of your squad gives the game a depth that can easily turn it into an addictive marathon. I for one have spent over 30 hours with the beast and have yet to beat it or at least get bored. You see, Urban Legend might not be the most innovative indy game ever developed, but it’s a brilliantly polished, immensely playable and very fair experience, that does make sure you’ll only loose when you make an obvious -even if tiny- mistake. It’s a fully satisfying example of an almost extinct, but still popular (ah, gotta love them contradictions) genre.

The only rough bits are some awkward translations from Russian to English, that are easily forgiven, as they almost enhance the (cyberpunk; did I mention that?) atmosphere. Besides, when you get tons of beautiful pixel-artist created graphics -some the best I’ve actually ever seen- and smart splashes of sarcastic humor, you can definitely ignore the odd misspelling.

Visit the Urban Legend website and grab a demo.

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).