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Old 01-13-2013, 03:38 PM   #751
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Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
What do you think would be the best next step?
You kinda lost me with this question, Prof, as the titles you mentioned are not exactly connected to each other apart from having freeroam elements. It's not like they form a series or anything. In fact, they're all pretty far from each other, both thematically and gameplaywise, as I'm sure you've noticed. Red Dead is GTA with horses, AC concentrates on social stealth and Noire is essentially an old school adventure game set in an open city.

If you were simply asking what other sandbox titles there are out there that could be worth experiencing, I'm guessing one can never go wrong with GTA. IV's deluxe edition (containing both expansions) should be available for peanuts these days, with hours and hours of gameplay.

I wouldn't exactly bring the modern Fallouts into this discussion, as I don't personally consider them part of the same genre. They're RPGs first and foremost.


Regardless, I suspect it'd be a bit easier to namedrop titles if you'd rephrase the question a little.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:13 PM   #752
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Originally Posted by Finn
I wouldn't exactly bring the modern Fallouts into this discussion, as I don't personally consider them part of the same genre. They're RPGs first and foremost.


To my mind the Fallouts feel more 'sandbox' than GTA IV.

Quote:
Sandbox is a style of game in which minimal character limitations are placed on the gamer, allowing the gamer to roam and change a virtual world at will. In contrast to a progression-style game, a sandbox game emphasizes roaming and allows a gamer to select tasks. Instead of featuring segmented areas or numbered levels, a sandbox game usually occurs in a “world” to which the gamer has full access from start to finish.

http://www.techopedia.com/definition/3952/sandbox


The RPG element adds more choice to your actions, but it also imposes the sense of doing things a certain way (even though any way is an option). Every time I've played through Fallout 3 or New Vegas my character has always sought to do the right thing, to be 'as good as possible', because the virtual world feels real, and your actions within it have consequences. The limits in Fallout are ones you place on yourself.

GTA IV, since it has a higher level of realism than previous GTA releases, is the first one that strikes me as really sleazy. The others were more cartoon parody, and your actions were affecting an arcade-type world. Now, beating the seven shades out of the unsuspecting populace, or seeing the blood of a rundown pedestrian on the front of your vehicle somehow makes Niko more unlikable than his predecessors.

You have no choice but to put the frighteners on non-paying shopkeepers, or gun down rival drug gangs, if you want to make progress through the game. Niko is always going to be a criminal, whereas your characters in Fallout 3 and New Vegas could be good, bad or indifferent.


On top of that, the GTA series always seems to block off a large of the world from the start. A bridge is closed until later. This creates a partially levelled design, as you have to complete certain missions before the world opens up completely. Whereas in the post-apocalyptic wasteland you can pretty much walk to any point from the start and start missions, which, however, would be pretty challenging for a new, weak and under-equipped character.


On the subject of GTA IV, the driving is becoming a little easier. The motorbike seemed simplest of all to keep on the road, but there aren’t many about, and they’re no good for ramming the opposition.

The route planning is a neat idea, as is the talking satnav in some of the cars. The mobile 'phone is a natural method of keeping in contact with people.

The bad cabaret acts were funny. Bowling and playing pool became a bit addictive. I'm so new to this game that there's a lot I don't know yet.
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Old 01-14-2013, 01:50 AM   #753
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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
To my mind the Fallouts feel more 'sandbox' than GTA IV.
In the purest definition of word "sandbox", yes. However, if we are to use it as a genre label, it gets a different meaning.

Even if the word matches, marketing Fallout to somebody as a sandbox game could be misleading, as people who usually ask for sandbox games expect gameplay where moving from action setpiece to another is all that is required to progress through the game, rather than social interaction and character building.

I'm not saying that Attila couldn't possibly enjoy a good open-world RPG such as F3 or New Vegas, but given how he listed a number of action-oriented sandboxes, it's only natural to issue a warning. After all, the gameplay in Fallout *is* different from those mentioned by the good prof, which all base around the same idea, despite selecting their own approaches to it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
The RPG element adds more choice to your actions, but it also imposes the sense of doing things a certain way (even though any way is an option). Every time I've played through Fallout 3 or New Vegas my character has always sought to do the right thing, to be 'as good as possible', because the virtual world feels real, and your actions within it have consequences. The limits in Fallout are ones you place on yourself.
It's a rather idealistic view on the game, given how in the end, every choice you make and their outcomes are still predetermined by the developer. So the player is not writing his or her own story, not acting it out either, and not exactly even directing it - but is more akin to an editor, who takes the shot material and decides what of it makes it to the final cut.

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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
You have no choice but to put the frighteners on non-paying shopkeepers, or gun down rival drug gangs, if you want to make progress through the game. Niko is always going to be a criminal, whereas your characters in Fallout 3 and New Vegas could be good, bad or indifferent.
In a sense, you can roleplay Niko. The player can be either a criminal sociopath with very little regard for human life, or more of an anti-hero, who only kills those who directly oppose him. While they definitely have no effect on the larger outcome, there still are little choices littered here and there that can be used to almost make him a sympathetic character. One may not be able to fully turn the story around, but our interpretations of a character or characters can definitely be changed. Playing a game like GTA IV is full of "Han shot first" moments.

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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
On the subject of GTA IV, the driving is becoming a little easier. The motorbike seemed simplest of all to keep on the road, but there aren’t many about, and they’re no good for ramming the opposition.
A free hint: The game gives all vehicle types distinct maximum speed, mass and handling - but fairly decent rate of acceleration. Therefore, use regular brakes liberally when you need that extra bit of maneuverability. Gaining back the momentary loss of speed rarely becomes an issue.

Last edited by Finn : 01-14-2013 at 02:09 AM.
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Old 01-14-2013, 02:31 AM   #754
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Originally Posted by Finn
In the purest definition of word "sandbox", yes. However, if we are to use it as a genre label, it gets a different meaning.

Even if the word matches, marketing Fallout to somebody as a sandbox game could be misleading, as people who usually ask for sandbox games expect gameplay where moving from action setpiece to another is all that is required to progress through the game, rather than social interaction and character building.

I see. I just presumed it was a sandbox!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
It's a rather idealistic view on the game, given how in the end, every choice you make and their outcomes are still predetermined by the developer. So the player is not writing his or her own story and not exactly even directing it, but is more akin to an editor, who takes the shot material and decides what of it makes it to the final cut.

Prior to getting into Fallout 3, the last sandbox game I played was GTA: San Andreas. When I got heavily into FO3 it felt much more open and involved. After talking you often have to do some killing, but there were nearly always different ways of going about it, or even avoiding the killing.

While FO3 ends at the same point, the outcome can be slightly different, and the way you got there could be distinctive. Distinctive enough to have an effect on the people you meet, altering the way they react to you.

The RPG element comes into that as well, since certain skills give different opportunities.

Quote:
In a sense, you can roleplay Niko. The player can be either a criminal sociopath with very little regard for human life, or more of an anti-hero, who only kills those who directly oppose him. While they definitely have no effect on the larger outcome, there still are little choices littered here and there that can be used to almost make him a sympathetic character. One may not be able to fully turn the story around, but our interpretations of a character or characters can definitely be changed. Playing a game like GTA IV is full of "Han shot first" moments.

I haven't played GTA IV long enough yet to see the longterm effects Niko's actions have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
I'm not saying that Attila couldn't possibly enjoy a good open-world RPG such as F3 or New Vegas, but given how he listed a number of action-oriented sandboxes, it's only natural to issue a warning. After all, the gameplay in Fallout *is* different from those mentioned by the good prof, which all base around the same idea, despite selecting their own approaches to it.

It also lacks driving. Would've been cool to become a 'road warrior' in the wasteland every now and then: FO3 + GTA IV = complete mayhem!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
A free hint: The game gives all vehicle types distinct maximum speed, mass and handling - but fairly decent rate of acceleration. Therefore, use regular brakes liberally when you need that extra bit of maneuverability. Gaining back the momentary loss of speed rarely becomes an issue.

I found switching to first person view gives a better sense of control. But you do miss out on seeing the motion of your own car.
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:58 AM   #755
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
Prior to getting into Fallout 3, the last sandbox game I played was GTA: San Andreas. When I got heavily into FO3 it felt much more open and involved. After talking you often have to do some killing, but there were nearly always different ways of going about it, or even avoiding the killing.

While FO3 ends at the same point, the outcome can be slightly different, and the way you got there could be distinctive. Distinctive enough to have an effect on the people you meet, altering the way they react to you.

The RPG element comes into that as well, since certain skills give different opportunities.
See, here's the thing. Having an open world in an RPG is really not a new thing. Ever since the dawn of the digital gaming the genre has aspired to go there. Think of the Ultima series for example. Heck, the first in series which came out in 1981 had a top-view map that was free to roam for the player. These days, people keep wondering how large is the open-world map of any upcoming Elder Scrolls title going to be, and are kinda forgetting that the first one, titled Arena, already had all of Tamriel for the player to explore. Or, if you pick any Bioware title before the Mass Effect craze, they're definitely built around the concept of openness. Sure, they're still divided into separate sections, or levels if you will, but regardless, they're somewhat free to roam in their condensed state, and the players can definitely tackle them in the order of their choosing and even come and go between 'em at will.

Now, those craving for some straightforward action were for the longest while treated with sidescrollers or, in the early 3D era, very condensed and linear dungeons (or castles, or office spaces, or whatever) with forward being usually the only general direction.

I guess you're starting to see now why word "sandbox" is all the buzz and marketing point in more action-oriented games, whereas in RPGs it is even something of an overlooked element. When the first GTAs rolled around, they essentially revolutionized action gaming. Whereas with RPGs a truly open space has been a foregone conclusion for decades now, all that's held them back has been the progression of technology.

In fact, it was something of a shocker that the title which set a landmark in the open world game design, GTA III, had essentially no roleplaying elements whatsoever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
I haven't played GTA IV long enough yet to see the longterm effects Niko's actions have.
I don't know if this is a spoiler, but there are none. The game will give you a handful of choices between choosing whether an (usually minor) character lives or dies, and the game actually does have a branching ending, but they're all on-the-spot decisions with earlier ones having no bearing on the options open for you.

Still, they can go a long way (along with your free-roam gameplay, whether you choose to kill and maim random pedestrians at will, or not) in determining what kind of man the Niko you play is. It'll all be in your head of course, but does one really need tangible rewards in the game world for it to matter?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
It also lacks driving. Would've been cool to become a 'road warrior' in the wasteland every now and then: FO3 + GTA IV = complete mayhem!
Incidentally, in Fallout 2, you could have a car (which actually appears again in New Vegas, as a wreck run into a muck pit near Novac). Of course, given the technical limitations, there was no running down beasties or raiders or random townspeople with it (unless it was a scripted sequence) - but it does kinda make you wonder whether these new open-world Fallouts are a step back. In the good old nineties you could essentially roam around the whole of American west coast at will, now you're limited to the immediate surroundings of a single city.

And it does also serve a point to why people see action-oriented sandboxes far more sandboxy than RPG ones. The former are essentially a mixture of different genres - you can have a shooter, a racing game, even something of a platformer in the same package. For the latter however, combat and conversation and consequence have been staples since god knows when, the only difference is in presentation.

Last edited by Finn : 01-14-2013 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:00 AM   #756
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Originally Posted by Finn
You kinda lost me with this question, Prof, as the titles you mentioned are not exactly connected to each other apart from having freeroam elements. It's not like they form a series or anything. In fact, they're all pretty far from each other, both thematically and gameplaywise, as I'm sure you've noticed. Red Dead is GTA with horses, AC concentrates on social stealth and Noire is essentially an old school adventure game set in an open city.

If you were simply asking what other sandbox titles there are out there that could be worth experiencing...

Fair enough. And yeah, that was more or less what I was asking, with the "next" portion of my phrasing pointing towards wanting to go for something that was either superior to others in the (potentially loose) genre, essential for its reputation or other qualities, or different enough from what I have played as to open up a new facet of the sandbox concept to me.

I've always heard compelling - or, at least, intriguing - things about Fallout 3 and New Vegas. I like the action elements of the games I have played, but I also can't say that they're the only draw. The "open" world of these games is likely the primary one. I've also never really played an RPG, some rinky-dink browser-based experiments aside, so maybe I should give it a try. Would you say one of the two Fallout games is more worthwhile than the other?

That said, of course, GTA and GTA IV do loom over (a stricter conception of) the genre. Heck, I might even be game for trying an earlier GTA installment, so as to enjoy it before the superior graphics of GTA IV ruins it for me. (You fellas know I like older games, but I didn't grow up with this genre the way I did, say, graphic adventures. Immersion is part of the point, along with the illusion of greater freedom.)
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:29 AM   #757
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Originally Posted by Finn
See, here's the thing. Having an open world in an RPG is really not a new thing. Ever since the dawn of the digital gaming the genre has aspired to go there. Think of the Ultima series for example. Heck, the first in series which came out in 1981 had a top-view map that was free to roam for the player. These days, people keep wondering how large is the open-world map of any upcoming Elder Scrolls title going to be, and are kinda forgetting that the first one, titled Arena, already had all of Tamriel for the player to explore. Or, if you pick any Bioware title before the Mass Effect craze, they're definitely built around the concept of openness. Sure, they're still divided into separate sections, or levels if you will, but regardless, they're somewhat free to roam in their condensed state, and the players can definitely tackle them in the order of their choosing and even come and go between 'em at will.

Now, those craving for some straightforward action were for the longest while treated with sidescrollers or, in the early 3D era, very condensed and linear dungeons (or castles, or office spaces, or whatever) with forward being usually the only general direction.

I guess you're starting to see now why word "sandbox" is all the buzz and marketing point in more action-oriented games, whereas in RPGs it is even something of an overlooked element. When the first GTAs rolled around, they essentially revolutionized action gaming. Whereas with RPGs a truly open space has been a foregone conclusion for decades now, all that's held them back has been the progression of technology.

In fact, it was something of a shocker that the title which set a landmark in the open world game design, GTA III, had essentially no roleplaying elements whatsoever.

Incidentally, in Fallout 2, you could have a car (which actually appears again in New Vegas, as a wreck run into a muck pit near Novac). Of course, given the technical limitations, there was no running down beasties or raiders or random townspeople with it (unless it was a scripted sequence) - but it does kinda make you wonder whether these new open-world Fallouts are a step back. In the good old nineties you could essentially roam around the whole of American west coast at will, now you're limited to the immediate surroundings of a single city.

And it does also serve a point to why people see action-oriented sandboxes far more sandboxy than RPG ones. The former are essentially a mixture of different genres - you can have a shooter, a racing game, even something of a platformer in the same package. For the latter however, combat and conversation and consequence have been staples since god knows when, the only difference is in presentation.

I understand what you mean now.

You can't go bowling, play pool, throw darts, drive a car or see a cabaret in Fallout 3!

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Originally Posted by Finn
I don't know if this is a spoiler, but there are none. The game will give you a handful of choices between choosing whether an (usually minor) character lives or dies, and the game actually does have a branching ending, but they're all on-the-spot decisions with earlier ones having no bearing on the options open for you.

I let Ivan live, after reading advice that said it was better to have as many friends in Liberty City as possible!


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Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
Immersion is part of the point, along with the illusion of greater freedom.

Fallout 3 had me completely immersed to the point that I refused to do anything that would jeopardise my character's good standing.

As good as GTA IV is, I don't feel any real connection to the character or his world. There's lots to do, the driving is now great fun, the graphics are pretty, the destruction, crashes, and fires can be spectacular. I leapt from my burning car, and when recovered stood and looked back as the car exploded and set off a chain reaction of accidents and burning people!

Yet...

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Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
I've always heard compelling - or, at least, intriguing - things about Fallout 3 and New Vegas. I like the action elements of the games I have played, but I also can't say that they're the only draw. The "open" world of these games is likely the primary one. I've also never really played an RPG, some rinky-dink browser-based experiments aside, so maybe I should give it a try. Would you say one of the two Fallout games is more worthwhile than the other?


...these are still the pinnacle of my gaming experience.

Personally I would start with Fallout 3, as it sets the scene for the world. The Game of the Year edition has the five extra add-ons, one of which extends the number of levels your character can achieve.

The gaming world is an odd mix of the wacky and ironic, tempered by melancholy for a lost civilization. I became so immersed that going down into the creepy underground to face ghouls was something I preferred to do with a companion in tow!
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:37 AM   #758
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Fair enough. And yeah, that was more or less what I was asking, with the "next" portion of my phrasing pointing towards wanting to go for something that was either superior to others in the (potentially loose) genre, essential for its reputation or other qualities, or different enough from what I have played as to open up a new facet of the sandbox concept to me.
Superiority kinda tends to go hand in hand with novelty. If you're simply looking for a richer experience, picking up any followup title in the series should do. Of course, there are exceptions so don't follow this as a rule, but since you mentioned Assassin's Creed II, I really can't help but yet again echo my sentiment of checking out Brotherhood.

Now, for difference, I guess any GTA is distinct enough to warrant a look. Even the older ones, if the graphics don't bother you. Another facet that pops to mind are the open world games built around the concept of destruction. There are three main IPs here, the Mercenaries, Just Cause and Red Faction series (well, for the last, technically just Guerrilla, as the rest are pretty linear) in which the main gameplay idea is that anything in the landscape that is man made can be leveled or totalled, usually in the most garish manner imaginable.

What comes to their quality as overall experiences, well, I've got to admit that some of these did leave me craving for something more, but for a difference seeker they should offer at least a few nights' worth of s**ts and giggles. You see any in a bargain bin, pick it up.


And then there are of course the two Mafia games, which are bit akin to L.A. Noire. There's very little freeroaming, only a tightly-knit story with the city acting as a little more than a backdrop. But if you felt compelled by the early 1900s atmosphere, these can definitely offer more of that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
Would you say one of the two Fallout games is more worthwhile than the other?
The good thing is that apart from a few throwaway references, there is no direct story connection between the two. Both are decent enough experiences, but if I were to pick just one, my vote would go to New Vegas. But there's really no saying that F3 wouldn't be worth it either. Whichever you come across first is a fine enough starting point.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:04 AM   #759
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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
You can't go bowling, play pool, throw darts, drive a car or see a cabaret in Fallout 3!
You can see a cabaret in New Vegas though, so I guess that's progression for ya.

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Personally I would start with Fallout 3, as it sets the scene for the world.
Uh, not really. There's a little game, simply called Fallout, released in 1997 which does that.

In fact, as far the setting goes, Fallout 3 is actually the most detached of the four. The rest all take place in the same region - the west - and NV definitely is far more rooted to the earlier Fallout lore than F3 could ever hope to be.

As single outings, though, they're pretty much interchangeable. The chronology matters little. I guess the better argument for starting with F3 is that thanks to its setting being so separate from the rest, there is no baggage of history here and therefore no need to dive extensively into the background story to get every reference the game throws at ya.

NV still remains the better crafted game out of the two, though.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:26 PM   #760
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Uh, not really. There's a little game, simply called Fallout, released in 1997 which does that.

Yes, but gameplaywise, they look like a different animal.

3 was the first one I played, as the style of the previous two didn't appeal. The character you play is also a vault dweller, as in the original, so you're introduced to that form of life.

The player character in New Vegas wasn't a vault dweller.

Also, the heavier devastation in 3 gives a greater sense of the apocalypse, which to me set the melanbcholic scene. The New Vegas area fared better, and more survived intact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
As single outings, though, they're pretty much interchangeable. The chronology matters little. I guess the better argument for starting with F3 is that thanks to its setting being so separate from the rest, there is no baggage of history here and therefore no need to dive extensively into the background story to get every reference the game throws at ya.

That's definitely the case.

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Originally Posted by Finn
NV still remains the better crafted game out of the two, though.

All apart from the inability to continue after the end of the game without using a mod. And the mod isn't a perfect solution as there were choices you made that aren't recognized in the aftermath.

These games are so big that without poring over a guide you wouldn't know whether you'd done everything before you elected to go into the final battle.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:10 AM   #761
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Having played GTA IV for a little while now, I've been starting to wonder, is it essential to socialize? It's almost as annoying as having to socialize in real life!

Roman rings up wanting to go out at inopportune moments. I'm concerned about that druggie, Jakob. He calls and asks me to take him to a show.

Then there's Michelle who blows hot and cold. I mean, all I did was run over a pedestrian and she freaked out and refused nookie rights.

Is there a payoff for getting drunk with your mates? Well, getting drunk is pretty funny, with Niko staggering around and falling over.

But do you get better job offers and opportunities if they're giving you the thumbs up instead of the thumbs down?
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:14 AM   #762
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Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
Fair enough. And yeah, that was more or less what I was asking, with the "next" portion of my phrasing pointing towards wanting to go for something that was either superior to others in the (potentially loose) genre, essential for its reputation or other qualities, or different enough from what I have played as to open up a new facet of the sandbox concept to me.

While limited in terms of physical area to explore, I would encourage you to plunk down your hard earned cash for the Game of the Year edition of Batman: Arkham City. It includes all of the DLC released to date, and a digital copy of the animated movie Batman: Year One.



Finn and I have often discussed the merits of storytelling in an open-world environment, and this is one of those instances where it manages to gel together. In other words, the story doesn't lag even when you're attempting the side missions.

Dig the ultra-slick trailer for Hugo Strange. (One of Batman's overlooked villains.)



Personally, I find Sleeping Dogs to be far more compelling than any of the Grand Theft Auto games ever were. I'd opt for the former versus the latter if money isn't too tight.

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Old 01-15-2013, 05:29 AM   #763
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While limited in terms of physical area to explore, I would encourage you to plunk down your hard earned cash for the Game of the Year edition of Batman: Arkham City. It includes all of the DLC released to date, and a digital copy of the animated movie Batman: Year One.

Finn and I have often discussed the merits of storytelling in an open-world environment, and this is one of those instances where it manages to gel together. In other words, the story doesn't lag even when you're attempting the side missions.

Oh, now that looks good!

Can you play it with a mouse and keyboard? (I'm figuring there's a lot more hand-to-hand than ranged combat).

And is Arkham Asylum GOTY worth playing first?
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:30 AM   #764
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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
All apart from the inability to continue after the end of the game without using a mod. And the mod isn't a perfect solution as there were choices you made that aren't recognized in the aftermath.

These games are so big that without poring over a guide you wouldn't know whether you'd done everything before you elected to go into the final battle.
I originally thought that it would have been possible to code in an ability to continue exploring the world you helped forge once the credits have rolled.

However, after thinking about it more closely, it would have been a rather dull world to explore. Say you help the Legion win. It wouldn't have been too hard to replace the common NCR troopers in and around Vegas with legionnaires, but their appearance would have been little more than flavor. I doubt they'd given you new quest lines or dedicated dialogue, so all you'd be hearing is stock lines like "Ave, true to Caesar" over and over again.

And talking about the quests, there is very little that don't involve NCR personnel in some capacity. And given how in only one of the endings the NCR doesn't withdraw from the area, the result in most cases would have been a whole bunch of failed quests in the log and again, a very dull game world to explore.

On the other hand, I can think that letting you continue after the end to play the DLCs would have been a reason enough, even if the area surrounding Vegas proper would have felt empty or undeveloped. For example, the premise of Honest Hearts certainly feels jarring to do mid-story. The conflict over the dam is brewing, the Courier in the middle of it all... and all of a sudden he or she just decides to take a couple of months off by departing with a random caravan that's looking for a guard? Okay.

In the end, I ended up finding a story justification for it when I went and assassinated Caesar. That way, the Courier needs to get away from the Mojave to escape the Legion's wrath, and the world holding the status quo in his absence can be explained by the Legion needing to regroup. Also, bearing the news of Caesar's death gives you few extra lines of dialogue with Joshua Graham.

Of course, there is nothing in the game that states this outright, but given how neatly all the pieces fell together, I couldn't help but wonder if this was actually meant to be the in-story justification for the add-on. Not a complaint though, as working it all out by myself gave me far greater sense of accomplishment.

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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
But do you get better job offers and opportunities if they're giving you the thumbs up instead of the thumbs down?
There are definitely rewards. You make 'em happy enough and they start offering specific favors in return, which you can utilize by calling them at any given moment. For example, Roman will send a free cab to your location. Little Jacob is a gun merchant, who will drive up to Niko with a boot full of lethal metal, available for a hefty discount. Different girlfriends offer bonuses too, such as calling the cops off of Niko's backside or allowing him to leave the hospital with his arsenal intact. If I recall right, this only applies to the optional ones, though. Michelle and Kate, the two that come with the plot can be safely ignored.

Have to maintain the friendships, too, or they will stop. Tell 'em you're busy enough times after you've unlocked the ability will make their friendship score drop, and once it goes below a specific threshold, they'll simply refuse.

I have to agree though, the mechanic is a little tedious. You can keep 'em off your back though by initiating the activities yourself. Drinking works probably best, as it doesn't involve a minigame of any kind. Call 'em up, catch a cab to their location, then another to the bar and once more to take 'em home. Won't even have to look around for a yellow car if you remain buddies with Roman.
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:37 AM   #765
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Originally Posted by Finn
I originally thought that it would have been possible to code in an ability to continue exploring the world you helped forge once the credits have rolled.

However, after thinking about it more closely, it would have been a rather dull world to explore. Say you help the Legion win. It wouldn't have been too hard to replace the common NCR troopers in and around Vegas with legionnaires, but their appearance would have been little more than flavor. I doubt they'd given you new quest lines or dedicated dialogue, so all you'd be hearing is stock lines like "Ave, true to Caesar" over and over again.

And talking about the quests, there is very little that don't involve NCR personnel in some capacity. And given how in only one of the endings the NCR doesn't withdraw from the area, the result in most cases would have been a whole bunch of failed quests in the log and again, a very dull game world to explore.

On the other hand, I can think that letting you continue after the end to play the DLCs would have been a reason enough, even if the area surrounding Vegas proper would have felt empty or undeveloped. For example, the premise of Honest Hearts certainly feels jarring to do mid-story. The conflict over the dam is brewing, the Courier in the middle of it all... and all of a sudden he or she just decides to take a couple of months off by departing with a random caravan that's looking for a guard? Okay.

In the end, I ended up finding a story justification for it when I went and assassinated Caesar. That way, the Courier needs to get away from the Mojave to escape the Legion's wrath, and the world holding the status quo in his absence can be explained by the Legion needing to regroup. Also, bearing the news of Caesar's death gives you few extra lines of dialogue with Joshua Graham.

Of course, there is nothing in the game that states this outright, but given how neatly all the pieces fell together, I couldn't help but wonder if this was actually meant to be the in-story justification for the add-on. Not a complaint though, as working it all out by myself gave me far greater sense of accomplishment.

I think I mentioned before that with the 'continue after end' mod you find yourself in the projection room watching the ending. The narrator is standing there with you, and he's doing all the various voices himself.

I have a load of other mods with other quests attached to the game, so continuing afterwards was worthwhile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
There are definitely rewards. You make 'em happy enough and they start offering specific favors in return, which you can utilize by calling them at any given moment. For example, Roman will send a free cab to your location. Little Jacob is a gun merchant, who will drive up to Niko with a boot full of lethal metal, available for a hefty discount. Different girlfriends offer bonuses too, such as calling the cops off of Niko's backside or allowing him to leave the hospital with his arsenal intact. If I recall right, this only applies to the optional ones, though. Michelle and Kate, the two that come with the plot can be safely ignored.

Have to maintain the friendships, too, or they will stop. Tell 'em you're busy enough times after you've unlocked the ability will make their friendship score drop, and once it goes below a specific threshold, they'll simply refuse.

I have to agree though, the mechanic is a little tedious. You can keep 'em off your back though by initiating the activities yourself. Drinking works probably best, as it doesn't involve a minigame of any kind. Call 'em up, catch a cab to their location, then another to the bar and once more to take 'em home. Won't even have to look around for a yellow car if you remain buddies with Roman.

Worth pursuing, then. I killed two birds with one stone (and several pedestrians with a Patriot) by asking Michelle out to dinner when I was low on health!
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:11 AM   #766
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Finn and I have often discussed the merits of storytelling in an open-world environment, and this is one of those instances where it manages to gel together. In other words, the story doesn't lag even when you're attempting the side missions.
Yep, made the same observation. The optional stuff actually feels like part of the plot proper rather than a sideshow you'll do to simply gain different gameplay bonuses.

Well... maybe there is that one twist after which you really shouldn't be looking for ringing payphones or hunting down Riddler trophies.

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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Personally, I find Sleeping Dogs to be far more compelling than any of the Grand Theft Auto games ever were. I'd opt for the former versus the latter if money isn't too tight.
Maybe about halfway through, it's no doubt forming out to be one of the better sandbox titles I've played, even if there really is nothing groundbreaking here. The devs at United Front have simply taken the most common conventions of the genre and given them an extra layer of polish, resulting in a highly enjoyable game.

Incidentally, what's said above for the side stuff in Arkham City holds true rather well for Sleeping Dogs as well. The world isn't even that large by the genre standards, but sometimes less seems to be more, as it feels far more coherent than, say, anything Rockstar's given us.

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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
Oh, now that looks good!

Can you play it with a mouse and keyboard? (I'm figuring there's a lot more hand-to-hand than ranged combat).

And is Arkham Asylum GOTY worth playing first?
I wouldn't call myself a Batfan, but I appreciate a good game when I come across one. Both entries to the Arkham series are very definitely worth playing.

The controls are fine, too. I had no trouble utilizing the PC standard when giving Joker's mooks a beatdown.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:16 AM   #767
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I wouldn't call myself a Batfan, but I appreciate a good game when I come across one. Both entries to the Arkham series are very definitely worth playing.

The controls are fine, too. I had no trouble utilizing the PC standard when giving Joker's mooks a beatdown.


Excellent news. Think I'm going to give these two top priority post-GTA.

I've had a long fascination with Arkham Asylum, in comics, on film, and in Lego. Also love atmospheric games.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:22 PM   #768
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:52 PM   #769
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I've been in a Super Mario craze lately due to nostalgic reasons. I've been playing a lot of Mario's greatest hits. I've been thinking about buying some of Mario's new games, but can't find the time. Eventually I assume.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:44 AM   #770
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Oh, now that looks good!

It is good. Arkham City is one of the finest interpretations of The Batman to appear anywhere. It's even better than that Nolan schlockfest. Though, I admittedly haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises yet.

Taking on twenty thugs as The Bat is deeply satisfying. Especially watching him move in proportion to his abilities.

It helps that Paul Dini (he of Batman: The Animated Series fame) penned the script for both games. If you haven't had the chance to do so, pick up his work on Batman: Streets of Gotham.

It's also incredibly deep. While it took between twenty-and-thirty hours to complete the main story, I've probably put in about a hundred gameplay hours over the course of the past year. And I'm still not done.

Dig: The Catwoman DLC allows you to free roam Arkham City after you've completed the campaign; she has her own set of trophies, and a couple of mini-missions too. Nightwing is only playable in the challenge rooms, unfortunately, but he's not a mere re-skinned Batman. His moves are unique to his personality/abilities and requires a different touch. The Robin DLC only initially only allowed you to play the Teen Wonder in challenge rooms, but the Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC allows a limited amount of free-roam outside of the main story.

The Riddler's Revenge DLC, et al add a bunch of challenge rooms that can be attempted by any of the four playable characters. Medals, achievements, and trophies abound for each as well.

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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
Can you play it with a mouse and keyboard? (I'm figuring there's a lot more hand-to-hand than ranged combat).

Finn's more knowledgeable than I am since I played it on PS3, but I don't see why it couldn't. Ranged combat is virtually non-existent, of course. Batman likes to mix it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
And is Arkham Asylum GOTY worth playing first?

Arkham Asylum is definitely worth getting. It's noticeably shorter than its sequel, but Mark Hamill is in fine form as The Joker. That reminds me, AA is at its core your typical Joker v. Batman story with a few extra villains thrown in for color.

I do have one major criticism, though. In the console version at least, the camera is oddly fixed just over Batman's shoulder. It hindered combat and exploration for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
Well... maybe there is that one twist after which you really shouldn't be looking for ringing payphones or hunting down Riddler trophies.

Agreed. I answered all the ringing phones early in the game, but I'm still acquiring all the Riddler trophies. 414 and counting! I have three or four left for Batman, then need to get the rest of Catwoman's. Fresh eyes have certainly been beneficial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
The optional stuff actually feels like part of the plot proper rather than a sideshow you'll do to simply gain different gameplay bonuses.

Tying the snippets of Hugo Strange's therapy sessions to the Riddler trophies this time around was an interesting touch, and has really brought all the disparate threads together. If you haven't had the chance to collect 'em, try it out. Or, give them a listen on Youtube. I wish there were more of them, but that's because Corey Burton is awesome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
Maybe about halfway through...

I'm still only in the early stages of the game; i.e., just met Amanda Cartwright, but there's definitely a lot going on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
I wouldn't call myself a Batfan...

...but, you could certainly spend some time on the Batman wiki to digest more information about the character than you could possibly ever want to know!


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Originally Posted by DocWhiskey
said something interesting, I'm sure, but it's been so long that he's graced the site with his presence that I'm still in shock.

Stop in more often.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:25 AM   #771
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It is good. Arkham City is one of the finest interpretations of The Batman to appear anywhere. It's even better than that Nolan schlockfest. Though, I admittedly haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises yet.

Taking on twenty thugs as The Bat is deeply satisfying. Especially watching him move in proportion to his abilities.

It helps that Paul Dini (he of Batman: The Animated Series fame) penned the script for both games. If you haven't had the chance to do so, pick up his work on Batman: Streets of Gotham.

It's also incredibly deep. While it took between twenty-and-thirty hours to complete the main story, I've probably put in about a hundred gameplay hours over the course of the past year. And I'm still not done.

Dig: The Catwoman DLC allows you to free roam Arkham City after you've completed the campaign; she has her own set of trophies, and a couple of mini-missions too. Nightwing is only playable in the challenge rooms, unfortunately, but he's not a mere re-skinned Batman. His moves are unique to his personality/abilities and requires a different touch. The Robin DLC only initially only allowed you to play the Teen Wonder in challenge rooms, but the Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC allows a limited amount of free-roam outside of the main story.

The Riddler's Revenge DLC, et al add a bunch of challenge rooms that can be attempted by any of the four playable characters. Medals, achievements, and trophies abound for each as well.

It sounds pretty much exactly the game I'd enjoy. I haven't spoken to anyone yet who has much of a bad word to say about these.

The other day I installed the Lego Batman game for the first time, to get a Bat fix. I uninstalled it within half an hour: wasn't a game I could get into. So I won't bother loading Lego Indy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Arkham Asylum is definitely worth getting. It's noticeably shorter than its sequel, but Mark Hamill is in fine form as The Joker. That reminds me, AA is at its core your typical Joker v. Batman story with a few extra villains thrown in for color.

I'll start with AA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
I do have one major criticism, though. In the console version at least, the camera is oddly fixed just over Batman's shoulder. It hindered combat and exploration for me.

I've been reading about that issue. It might not apply to the PC:

Quote:
Trying to decide if I should get this game for PS3 or 360. I've read that the camera is more zoomed out on the PS3, and more zoomed in on the 360.

I am trying to figure out which is more closer to the PC version, as perhaps that would be seen as the 'lead platform' so to speak. Small issues no doubt, but still.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:08 AM   #772
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Agreed. I answered all the ringing phones early in the game, but I'm still acquiring all the Riddler trophies. 414 and counting! I have three or four left for Batman, then need to get the rest of Catwoman's. Fresh eyes have certainly been beneficial.
I only played it through once when it came out a year ago, but in that single playthrough, I went after 'em all as well, in no small part thanks to the fact that the reward for solving the puzzles was actually more plot-related gameplay, rather than a pat on the back in the form of a simple gamerscore achievement.

And how could you not. Most of the time, they're just annoyingly sitting there, in the open. The challenge is not the usual "scour the map grid by grid for every nook and cranny", but figuring out the associated conundrum - which is actually fun.

If we're to think about examples of how collectibles are implemented in a game, City is textbook.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
I'm still only in the early stages of the game; i.e., just met Amanda Cartwright, but there's definitely a lot going on.
There is, and will be more, as some of the optional things only unlock as the plot advances.

In fact, another facet of a sandbox I've found excellent with this title is the pacing of the game, at least this far. Besides the engaging main plot, the side stuff is compelling to play as well, and dispenses just right.

The world is fully open from the start, so those who wish to take a break from the story can roam at will and enjoy the sights. And even if the main spot of activity early on seems to be North Point, there's always something worth looking out for in the other districts as well, be they collectibles like shrines or lockboxes or simply a random brawl.

In a good open world game, the impetus to advance between the main plot and the off-hours activities go hand-to-hand, and Sleeping Dogs hits it as close to the sweet spot as I think I've ever seen.

Probably the premise of the game alone has forced the devs to give it some extra thought. Usually you play some kind of an outlaw in these games, but Wei is a cop. Going on a rampage that maims bystanders or causes general mayhem would be out of character for him, so other options are required when the player feels the need for additional distraction.

Quote:
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...but, you could certainly spend some time on the Batman wiki to digest more information about the character than you could possibly ever want to know!
Heh. Incidentally, I do happen to have a tendency to take wiki walks related to the subject at hand amidst my gaming. Lately, I think I spent almost as much time reading up about the American revolution while playing AC III. And I have to say, freshly comparing actual history to the version presented within and learning background information about the various persons and events I just met or witnessed made it possibly even more engaging experience than simply playing the game. Another reason for me to remain a PC gamer, no alt-tabbing to the browser on consoles (though I suppose you could have a laptop open on the side).

Right now, in other tabs, I have open various articles about - you got it - Hong Kong, its landscape and customs.

So, who says video games can't be educational?

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Originally Posted by Montana Smith
I've been reading about that issue. It might not apply to the PC
I can't recall any major gripes with the camera.

It's another point for PC in the discussion about different control schemes - mouse offers far more fluid and controllable movement and richer field of view than the thumbsticks of a pad.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:48 AM   #773
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I can't recall any major gripes with the camera.

It sounds like the PC got the best view.


I've ordered a copy of Arkham Asylum, as I'd rather do them chronologically.

The Game of the Year edition says it has 3D capability that works on a non-3D screen, and glasses included in the box. Though some report getting headaches using it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:55 AM   #774
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I'm not gonna be able to play much of anything for a bit. My old fat 40 gb PS3 died on me after six years of gaming.
It was a good system and it done it's job well. Sigh...

And for the record, Monty. I enjoyed Arkham Asylum a helluva a lot more than I did Arkham City.

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Old 01-17-2013, 10:30 PM   #775
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I'm not gonna be able to play much of anything for a bit. My old fat 40 gb PS3 died on me after six years of gaming.
It was a good system and it done it's job well. Sigh...

A car has been sent to collect your fallen domrade...







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Originally Posted by The Drifter
And for the record, Monty. I enjoyed Arkham Asylum a helluva a lot more than I did Arkham City.

I'm looking forward to seeing AA, but now I'm at the stage of not wanting to read too much beforehand. I want that Fallout 3 feeling of stepping out of the Vault and not knowing what I'm going to see!
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