The holiday sales start early – here is a big list of geek toys you and yours may want

In an attempt to stave off the spectral horseman of Famine, retail stores this year are starting the holiday sales early.  Like now.  I’ve been scouring Amazon for gift ideas for geeks – myself being one of them.  Not only will I pass these on to you, but also to my wife and family.

If you’re into dragons, couple with dungeons and bearded half elves then today may be your lucky day. Dragonlance – Dragons Of The Autumn Twilight the animated movie is just $14.99.

Have you watched Dr. Horrible yet?  Love the music?  Get the soundtrack as a digital download for your MP3 player for just $5.

In that vein, there’s a gigantic MP3 Player sale going on right now.  Amazon claims that all their MP3 players are on sale but I think you’ll find the best deals (some up to 80% off) are on products that aren’t named after fruit.  iPods are only a couple of bucks off.  Still, seeing as I just had my iPod touch stolen out of my pocket yesterday, I may have to pick up a new one.

The Cosmotopia SciFi DVD sale is still going on, with lots of DVDs seeing their prices chopped in half.

If you want stars with a bit less fiction, check out Uncle Milton Homestar which is basically a planetarium for your home.

Two deals for the video gamers in us all.  First, check out the RPG shop with discounts on most titles.  There’s also a buy 2 get 1 free sale for selece Nintendo DS titles.

If Keifer Sutherland in an animated Dragonlance feature wasn’t enough for you, check out 24 – Seasons 1 – 6 for$97.99.  That’s a nice deal, unless your a terrorist.

Risk fan?  Get Hasbro Transformers Risk Game for $13.48 which seems to be a good deal.

The horribly addictive, wonderfully changing tile game Carcassonne is going for$18.45. I’ve spent many an hour with this game.  It rocks.

Lastly, your chance to be King Arthur with the Mega Bloks King Arthur Battle Action Castle with 553 pieces and hours of fun assembling  your castle and pretending you’re the Once and Future King stuck together with blocks.

[tags]deals, video games, games[/tags]

Eight hours with Fallout 3 – or I Hate Radscorpions and Fireants

Over the past few days I’ve gotten to take some time off from my day job and spend some quality time with my PC playing Fallout 3.  Other than the fact that I was home for excruciating pain the time was quite enjoyable.  Here’s what I have to say about Fallout 3.

Note: I was so into playing that I failed to produce any original screenshots.  So what you see here are canned shots courtesy of Bethesda.

First, the install.  It went smoothly! Everything look great, I started up the game and . . . boom. Crash to desktop when I tried to start a new game.  Well, that’s not fun.  After a few hours of searching and trying stuff it came down to a conflict with a codec I had installed on my computer.  C’mon Bethesda, I know you can do better than this.  It’s a fairly common codec too – FFDshow.  So it would have been 10 hours with Fallout 3 but two of ’em were mostly me swearing quietly to myself while typing furiously.

After getting the damend thing to actually work, I got to create my first character.  Character creation is something of a lengthy though enjoyable task where you see yourself born, get to choose your sex, set your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats at age 1 and go through a couple of psych tests (including the infamous G.O.A.T.) to see what type of character you’ll end up being.

It’s a neat way to do character creation, although it makes having multiple characters a bit of a drag.  Also, when all is said and done, at the end you can tweak and change your character any way you like.  Fun the first time but tedious afterwards.  Is there a way to skip to the end of this?  I dunno but I’d like to find out.

This time isn’t just for character creation and getting to know the game though, it’s also a good half hour spent inside Vault 101, with the sky mere feet above your head.  This is great setup for what you see when you first leave the vault and begin your life in the Wasteland.

The scope of this game is really amazing and it’s never more so than your first vista, once the sunlight has stopped blinding you.  Grey and browns as far as the eye can see, the ruined buildings, dead trees and a horizon filled with shattered interstate overpasses.  This is honestly one of the few games that has made me go “Oh wow!”

After poking around a bit and getting spat at (or deficated on?) by a muckfly, I found Megaton, the largest settlement around.  It’s good fun to wander around, meeting the residents and collecting side quests while trying to find some leads on the main quest in the game.

I’m not going to talk to much about the quests in this game as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone and hell, if you really want to know, you’ll find it all online anyway.

I do want to touch on a few things about the game play though.  First – expansiveness.

Fallout 3 is HUGE.  You’ve got your quests and side-quests and random encounters.  Aside from that though is a whole Washington D.C. area to explore.  You’ve got to be a bit careful as a new character because there are things out there which will litterally chew your face off – but still and all it’s a great, open ended world.

Not YAFPS.  (Yet Another First Person Shooter). F3 has much more of a true computer RPG feel than a run around, switch weapons and blast things feel.  Sure that’s part of the game, but it isn’t all twitch.  In fact, it’s mostly not twitch thanks to the V.A.T.S. system.

(Click for a larger picture) With V.A.T.S. you can target certain parts of those whome you wish to harm.   The number of attacks you can make at a time are determined by your Action Points (AP) and which weapon you’re currently using.  Headshots stun and do increased damage, take out an arm and it’s harder for the enemy to aim or attack with it.  Take out a leg (or legs for bugs) and it’ll slow them down.  Torso shots do the least specific damage but are usually the easiest to achive.  The one downfall of this system is the overly numerous decapitations that seem to happen. I’d say I’ve killed about 200 baddies in this game, 100 of them by decapitation.  At first it’s a “woah” inducing moment as the gore flows but now I’m hardened to it.  It’s a YAD game.  Through this interface you’ll see a lot of slow-mo action shots.  While you can’t turn this feature off, I don’t think it takes away from gameplay as a few other folks seem to. It’s part of what Fallout 3 is.  Enjoy it.

This system does do a good job in removing the twich element though for which I’m glad. Crysis is a beautiful twitch game, Fallout 3 is a beautiful RPG that features guns.  Which brings me to my next little niggling criticism.  You can’t target specific areas when using melee weapons.  I don’t quite understand why but I guess in the scheme of things, it’s a small price to pay for a good game.

You’ll meet a lot of bad guys out in the Wasteland too.  In my brief time wandering about I’ve met lots of bandits, mean old dogs, bugs that spit at you, supermutants, giant fire breathing ants (ouch), centaurs and my least favorite creature of all – the radscorpian.  For the last two giant bugs, frag mines work wonders.

That’s the thing with this game – there are many little things that annoy but on the whole the game is great and more than makes up for the annoyances.

Some of the neat things in the game consist of your interaction with your fellow Wasteland NPCs.  How you interact with the cast in this game effects what side quests you’ll get and in some cases effects how the game itself plays out.

Another cool thing – houses.  I just got my own house and it’s nice to be able to have a place to store all of my spare parts.  You can pick up some modifications for your house as well, like a workbench where you can create new weapons based on schematics you find or purchase.  Or borrow a publicly available workbench to make your stuff.

There are also a few NPCs who can be coaxed to tag along and give you a hand (although I haven’t met any of them yet).

What I have found is that I’m spending a fair amount of time just looking around.  Even when trying to fulfil a quest, it’s nice to stop and sniff the breeze for a while.  The whole Wasteland is very detailed.  If you enter someone’s house you’ll see that they’re all individually decorated, not just cloned “house spaces” that we’ve all seen before in other cRPGs.

In the game you’ll find yourself following a Karma system.  Do some good and your karma increases.  Take something that isn’t yours and your karma decreases.  This determines what kind of character you are (good/evil and everything in between) and can also effect how some NPCs interact with you.   So far and a little to my dismay my character is pretty much a goodie two-shoes.  Even after stealing some 5.56MM rounds from a gang of psuedo-vampires.  If I get the gumption to create another character he or she will be a kick-ass bad mofo type who slaps around dogs and hugs guns.

There’s one aspect to the vastness of this game that’s a little odd though.  You can stumble upon side quest areas without being on an actual side quests.  Walk into a building and it may just be part of something you’re not aware of yet, thus spoiling that side quest for you a bit in the future.  Not ruining the actual quest but taking a bit of wind out of your sales.   I’m not sure what Bethesda could have done to get around this but it’s something to be aware of.

The long and short of it – if you’re looking for a great, expansive, georgeous game with some faults and a few glitches but mostly offering up a very enjoyable time, then Fallout 3 is your bag.

[tags]fallout 3, rpg, video games[/tags]


Just a reminder, if you live in the USA then get your butt out and vote.  I did.


Holiday gift ideas for your geek self, friends or significant others

This Monday finds me trolling Amazon (please, someone stop me with the puns) looking for neat gift ideas for my fellow geeks.  Amazon’s got some pretty good deals going on this week.  And quite frankly, sales resulting from this site help me pay for TC so here goes!

Amazon has a very nice Toy blowout sale going on today only.  If you have kids you’ll love this sale.  If you’re like me, you’ll love this sale even if you don’t have kids.  They have a freaking space shuttle!

Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa is under a buck today. UNDER A BUCK.  What other MMORPG can you get for on quarter the cost of whatever Starbucks is calling a large coffee these days.

If you spent a portion of the 80’s (mainly the Saturday morning portion) watching cartoons you may be interested to hear that Dungeons & Dragons – The Complete Animated Series is 42% off, or$31.99.  This show kept me on roller coasters even though I don’ t like them much in the hopes that I’d be transported into the realm of my favorite RPG.

Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization is on sale for under $18.  If you like turn based strategy games that feature managing resources, land and politcs then you’ll probably like this one.

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons, the Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set, 4th Edition is on sale for $66.12. Normally going for $104 or so, this set features the Players guide, DM’s guide and a Monster manual.

Last but certainly not least for the movie enthusiast is a massive Blu-ray DVD sale with some good titles. Dark Knight, the entire Firefly series, Disney stuff like Pixar favs, the Hulk and my personal favorite – the Yule Log on Blu-Ray! That’s right folks, now your fake fire can be in 1080p!

[tags]video games, deals, toys[/tags]

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