GGF#24: Fallout 3 is da bomb

[Gamer Girl Friday]

The game of the week is Fallout 3, quite surprisingly (for me), because I never had the slightest intention to play it.

The plan was to let the Goonfather play it, maybe let a video roll while he’s at it, or get him to write a review after playing it.

Well, I ended up not making a video because I’m tired of crap quality videos (need to buy a real video camera some time). But the Goonfather did send me a review. Only it was like 200 words long and read like the back of a game box, ending with the words, “To know what happens next… play the freaking game.”

So I ended up having to play the game myself so I could write my own review.

Hired help these days, tsk.

Can’t say I regret playing the game, though. Fallout 3 is DA BOMB.

That was an accidental pun. I swear.

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Table of Contents

  1. Fallout 3 — dark and delightful
  2. Calling all street fighters!
  3. Singapore gets on world gaming map
  4. Results of last week’s contest
  5. Win a 1GB Imation Nano Flash Drive!

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Fallout 3 — dark and delightful

As testimony to the brilliance of Fallout 3, I shall risk the wrath of (nobody) to publicly declare that I would rather be playing the game now than writing this review.

Fallout 3

Well… if there were somebody for me to risk the wrath of, I would.

I have never played any of the prequels, so believe me when I say that you don’t need to have played them to get yourself immersed in Fallout 3 immediately.

Also, because I have never played the prequels, I am blown away by how cool romping around in an irradiated wasteland could be.

Fallout 3

Let’s go through some cursory info first. Fallout 3 is an action RPG incorporating shooter elements, set in a post-apocalyptic 2277. You can switch between first-person and third-person views at any time with the press of a button. Available for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, Fallout 3 is rated M18.

Okay, that’s all the cursory info you need for now.

Fallout 3 impresses from the moment you press the Start button on your controller (assuming you’re playing the Xbox 360 version like I am). The process of character creation has been creatively worked into the plot of the game so that creating a character is actually part of the story and gameplay.

For an RPG that doesn’t have multiplayer elements and which many gamers would play in first-person perspective, I’m surprised at the almost infinite possibilties for facial customisation.

Fallout 3

I decided to pass on tweaking my face, instead settling for a preset face and hairstyle. Even then, I spent a good 15 minutes choosing from the presets. Even hair colour is amazingly tweakable with a 256-colour RGB slider.

Not that any of it will really matter in the grand scheme of things, since no one, including yourself, will see your character anymore after you’re done with this process. If you play first-person, that is.

If you’re in third-person, you’ll just be looking at the back of your character, anyway, and your shocking blue hair, for which you took 10 minutes to get the exact right hue, will be sadly hidden under an ugly bulbous helmet you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in 2008 Orchard Road.

Fallout 3

You start off in the game by being a baby. Yes — and I can’t get over how cute this is — your very first quest in the game is to crawl to daddy.

Fallout 3

By default, you start off in first-person mode so, yes, baby FPS!! It feels surprisingly heart-warming when your daddy praises you and talks to you in a loving tone while you gurgle back cutely.

I almost felt a lump in my throat.

One of your next quests is to read your baby book, which is a cutely disguised ploy to have you assign points to the standard abilities that your adult character will have.

Fallout 3

It’s a thrill looking into the book, so I won’t spoil it for you by showing you everything.

You’ll spend the next 30 minutes or so playing through significant events of your childhood, while at the same time learning that you’re given a heck lot of leeway to dicate exactly what kind of person you want to grow up to be, through the dialogue and action choices that you make.

The karma system takes into account all your choices, gradually affecting how the environment interacts with you. You could choose to be good or evil or straddle between the two, never quite deciding.

I started off being good because that’s just the kind of person I am. ;)

But as I progressed through the game, I gradually spiralled down the path to the dark side after one honest mistake.

Fallout 3

I took something that didn’t belong to me.

I lost some karma and the Goonfather accused me of being a thief. “See your karma dropping cos you’re a thief.”

“I’m not a thief,” I protested. “I just took something that’s lying around. People are supposed to do that in RPGs!!”

That was when he pointed out to me that performing actions highlighted in red makes your character a little more evil.

It was then that I decided it was easier being evil because resources are scarce in a post-apocalyptic world. If you don’t steal, you’ll die of hunger or thirst or, worse, radiation poisoning, before the sun goes down. (But that was before I found out painfully that if you’re evil, sometimes you get ambushed by well-meaing folk trying to rid the world of evil.)

Fallout 3

So, I was in this clinic, trying to steal some medicine to heal myself because I needed it really badly and the medicine was just lying there. Only I tried to do it while the doctor was sitting there watching, and he wasn’t too impressed.

“Thief!!” he called me and then tried to clobber me over my head.

I did what any self-respecting RPG player would do: Clobber him back.

And that was how I murdered my first innocent. In doing that, I also killed the one and only doctor in the city (which looks more like a village). Luckily, I had chosen to specialise in medicine before arriving at the city, so I didn’t really need a doctor hanging around.

This is where the game is so infuriatingly infuriating.

There are way too many skill customisation options. It’s hard to choose. You feel like you need everything in order to survive, but you can’t have everything.

Fallout 3

Should you specialise in combat, put all your points in the several kinds of weaponry available? Or do you want to become like a charismatic religious leader, influencing, manipulating and hypnotising your way to victory? How about being a whiz kid so you can hack computers to gain entry to restricted areas? Or be a medic? Or a crook, sneaking around, picking locks and pickpocketing? Why not a mechanical genius so you can make your own weapons?

You can actually do all of the above, and more. But you might not succeed if your relevant skills are not high enough.

To make up for driving you nuts, the game throws in a fun personality test to determine your aptitude. This kind of helps people who don’t want to decide.

The test is also a precursor to the brand of dark humour which you will be faced with through the rest of your journey in this sick, twisted world.

Fallout 3

Fallout 3

I just love this game to death.

Until it exasperates me again by making me choose yet more abilities. At every level, besides getting points to pump into basic abilities and career skills, you get to choose a perk. These are bonus skills that help you navigate the hazardous world a little easier.

Fallout 3

Again, you will find that you want everything.

Combat in Fallout 3 is catered to both experienced FPS players and, uh, not so experienced ones.

You can fragfest your way through the game, or you can make use of a nifty feature called Vault-Tec Assisted Targetting System (V.A.T.S.). It allows you to stop time and zoom in on a targetted area of an enemy’s body. Scroll through body parts at leisure to pick the part you want to shoot (or hammer) at.

Once you’ve made your choice, a cinematic animation will play in slow motion, rendering in exquisite detail the severing of limbs and the flying of heads and the spurting of blood. My eyes popped out the first time this happened.

Fallout 3

(The above is the tamest screenshot I could find, out of respect for squeamish people.)

The Goonfather was quite impressed by the blood show, although he tried not to admit it. (Remember, he’s playing a good guy and hasn’t yet killed anyone brutally.)

“You are so disgusting!!!!” he said, after I completed a particularly graphic decapitation demonstration.

Oh, yeah, when you loot a body, the clothes actually come off. It’s quite a sick thing, leaving your victim lying there half naked in a pool of his/her own blood. It’s even more sick having to wear those clothes immediately after pulling them off a still warm body.

That’s the kind of thing Fallout 3 makes you do!

Fallout 3

I didn’t kill the lady above, by the way. The giant radioactive roaches did. I tried to help her but it was too late. (And since she’s dead, anyway, might as well loot her. It’s called survival.)

I realise most of my screenshots here are in third-person (because it’s easier to navigate through darkness and rubble that way) so here’s a first-person screenshot with my character holding the weapon of the day: a rusty lead pipe.

Fallout 3

In a world as crazy as the one in Fallout 3, it is often very difficult to hold fast to your beliefs and “do the right thing”.

While I was exploring the local church (which looks more like a juvenile clubhouse), I discovered tons of books placed haphazardly on bookshelves. I didn’t know how they could be of use to me, but I took them anyway, since, according to RPG 101, if it’s there, you should take it.

Ever the voice of morality, the Goonfather gasped out loud, “Gasp! How could you steal from a church?!!!”

“These people are freaking worshipping an atomic bomb,” I shot back.

Fallout 3

And they are. There’s an undetonated giant atomic bomb half-buried in the middle of the city, with a handful of kooks gathered around it, listening to the head kook sound off his sermons in resounding, reverent tones.

This game just kills me.

Considering the staggering number of choices you can make throughout your career, each of which will open up a different series of consequences that will snowball to a climactic end, you could replay this game to death and then still find that you haven’t completely exhausted every option and explored every corner.

Well, I haven’t reached the end yet but I’m already considering a few different replays.

The only flaw I can think of for this game is the awkward animation of the avatars. It’s a little bit painful playing in third-person view because you don’t want to believe that the guy (or chick) lumbering along clumsily in a funny hunch could possibly be you. (And when you go into stealth mode, it’s duck walk circus.)

Fallout 3

But the voices are great. I have a habit of speed reading through subtitles and cutting short voiceovers, but sometimes the voices are so good that I feel compelled to listen through them.

Frankly, for a game of this league, the minor flaws become nothing.

There’s a lot more I can say about Fallout 3, but I want to get back to the game, dammit. So… to know what happens next… play the freaking game.

[Back to Table of Contents]

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Calling all street fighters!

The Goonfather is pretty good at fighting games (a legacy of his wayward youth), so I asked him to take part in the upcoming Singapore Arcade Showdown.

But he said, “Dowan lah. The kids who spend all their time at the arcade are damn good lor.”

I think he was speaking from experience.

So I need to find another champion to root for.

WILL IT BE YOU?

Singapore Arcade Showdown

Featuring Street Fighter IV, The King of Fighters 98 and Tekken 6, the Singapore Arcade Showdown will be held at Suntec Convention Centre on Nov 22-23, as part of Anime Festival Asia (AFA08).

Almost $3,000 worth of prizes will go to worthy champions. You have until Nov 18 to sign up for it.

Don’t wait! Click here now!

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Singapore gets on world gaming map

Xbox fans, you could soon be playing a game on your Xbox 360 which was fully developed by Singaporeans!

News has just been released that a Singapore team managed to beat 7,800 participants from 100 countries to win the top prize of US$40,000 in a global game development contest organised by Microsoft.

OMG. US$40,000!

US$40,000!!

Team Gambit, led by NUS undergraduate Bruce Chia, won the Dream-Build-Play 2008 contest with its acrobatic puzzle game called CarneyVale: Showtime.

CarneyVale: Showtime

Second place (US$20,000) went to a team from Venezuela, who submitted a game called Battle Tennis.

Well, word has it that you might be able to download the winning game from Xbox LIVE Arcade as early as Nov 19, in conjunction with the launch of the New Xbox Experience!

I am so proud of my fellow Singaporeans. Can’t wait to be a circus freak!

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Results of last week’s contest

I posed a stupid “challenge” for last week’s contest, asking readers to explain what they would do if stuck on a deserted island with only a soccer ball and a pack of dental floss.

This was to win a FIFA09 game!

FIFA09

I should stop making contests like that because I really have a hard time when it comes to picking a winner. (Using Mr Randomiser is so much easier.)

I decided to use Mr Goonfather to pick this week’s winner.

I e-mailed him all the entries (minus the names of the contestants) and got him to pick the best response.

Mr Goonfather picked entry number one!

And entry number one belongs to RN1209!!

RN1209’s winning entry:

Assuming it’s a jumbo pack of dental floss, I’d start weaving myself a makeshift net. I’ll then place the soccer ball into the net and tie it to my person. Hopefully, that’ll be a good enough floatation device for me to swim away from the island and find some other island with people I can play football with. :)

Congratulations RN1209! You win FIFA09!!!

Mr Goonfather will contact you soon and throw a ball at your head!

Just kidding.

Thanks to all the participants and your great answers!!

[Back to Table of Contents]

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Win a 1GB Imation Nano Flash Drive!

Here’s this week’s giveaway!

Flash Drive

It’s a 1GB Imation Nano Flash Drive with “The STRAITS TIMES” etched on it!

It’s cute! Only 4 cm in length!

And I’m bringing Mr Randomiser back this week.

Please post a comment of at least 30 words, including the words “LET ME WIN”, to qualify for the randomising!

Closing date is Nov 6, 2008, 11:59 pm.

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You’re feeling cheated because Gamer Girl Friday looks somewhat short today. Well, not really. The Fallout 3 review is so very long.

And there are no other game reviews this week because Fallout 3 is da bomb. And I want to get back to playing it.

So, adios amigo!

[Gamer Girl Friday]

Why all food tastes good in Malaysia

No more negative talk! Today, I shall talk about Singapore’s favourite topic: FOOD!

Yeah! Doesn’t that make you happy? =)

When I was filming in KL, we didn’t always get to eat at popular food places. Because of our tight filming schedule, we had to eat at nearest available places.

But that’s alright because EVERYTHING TASTES GOOD IN MALAYSIA.

One night, I asked everyone, “How is it that you can walk into any random coffeeshop in Malaysia and order anything and it will taste better than its Singapore counterpart?”

I was talking about normal, everyday local favourites like chicken rice, roti prata, mee goreng, prawn noodles, ban mian, and so on.

Dean, our Malaysian host (cum actor cum camera assistant cum chauffeur cum gofer cum court jester), said, “The ingredients in Malaysia are fresher (since they’re all locally grown) so food tastes better.”

IS THAT TRUE??

I always thought that the quality of food is mainly dependent on the skill of the cook.

Divine mixed vegetables (above)!! I relegated the poor black pepper steak to the background (even though it was good, too) because the vegetables really killed me, being buttery and impossibly fragrant.

All the dishes pictured above are from a food centre two minutes’ walk away from Istana Hotel. We ordered about 10 dishes between us and they were all good.

(I think I’m going to be taxed for using the word “good” so often.)

I’m not saying that Singapore doesn’t have good food. I’m saying that Malaysia does not seem to have substandard food.

Or maybe I just need to visit Malaysia more often to get a more accurate sampling.

I took quite a bit of food photos while in KL, the first one being my squashed Gardenia bun.

I bought it at a petrol station during our drive up to KL and it got forgotten and squashed by my luggage.

Okay, that was a joke photo.

Here’s something I want to recommend. This coffeeshop in KL boasts bland-looking but very delicious dim sum.

Maybe Dean was right about the ingredients. The dim sum just tasted fresh.

Here are some pictorial clues where this place is. Sorry, I don’t know the full address.


The road sign says: Jalan Merak.

I love the free-flow sauces!

Did I mention I’m a sauce addict? Sometimes I eat more sauce than the main food itself.

Mix the garlic chilli with the sweet sauce. Heavenly!!

We also ate at Old Town White Coffee. (There’s an outlet in Singapore, at the newly renovated Big Splash, but I haven’t tried it so I don’t know if the quality is the same.)

I ordered the asam laksa. I had to, even though the other dishes were so tempting, becasue asam laksa is so hard to find in Singapore. And the ones I’ve found aren’t really worth the calories.

The curry noodles and nasi lemak are apparently killer, too.

This makes me want to visit the Singapore outlet!! Soon!!

I have a couple more food things to talk about but they belong to Ipoh and Penang so I shall save them for another day!

For now, please share your views. Does food generally taste better in Malaysia? If yes, why do you think that is?

SingNet banned my blog or what?

I have received numerous complaints from readers that they haven’t been able to access my blog. Almost all of them are on SingNet.

Today, after many attempts to speak to SingNet technical support, I finally got through by harrassing an operator at the SingTel headquarters.

When I told the tech support the problem, he said, “I can access your website, mam, there’s no problem. Maybe the problem lies in your readers’ computer or router settings.”

BACK TO SQUARE ONE.

This is frustrating, so I am seeking your help. If you have problems accessing my blog, please help me by doing either or both of the following:

A) Send me a trace route report from the computer that can’t access my blog:

  1. Click on Windows Start button.
  2. Select “Run” (bottom right).
  3. Type “cmd” and click OK.
  4. A DOS window will appear. Type “tracert sheylara.com” and hit enter.
  5. You will see funny strings of words start to appear but it will get stuck halfway. Once it’s stuck for maybe a minute, do the following:
  6. Right click on the window and select “Select All”.
  7. Press Ctrl-C to copy the screen.
  8. Press Ctrl-V into your e-mail. Mail it to me at:

B) Call SingNet to complain so you can tell them what’s the error message.

Thank you for your help! I hope to have this issue fixed ASAP.

I did NOT become a gamer to meet guys!

I almost died of shock when I flipped open the November issue of Maxim and saw my interview.

The first question is: “Did you start gaming to meet guys?”

Apparently, my answer is yes. (!!!)

Lucky I had my stress ball with me that day or I would have burst a few hundred of my capillaries. Instead, I squeezed the Goonfather’s arms and burst his capillaries. (Yes, I’m quite strong. Read this if you don’t believe me.)

Here’s the Maxim interview (click for larger version), but don’t believe everything it says!

This interview was conducted through e-mail because the PR agency handling my interviews told Maxim that I don’t do bikini or lingerie (or similar) photoshoots, so they decided to just e-mail me a bunch of questions and use a photo from my Xbox photoshoot.

They sent me 12 questions and but only five made the list. (I guess if I were editor of Maxim, I wouldn’t want to spare more than a page for someone who isn’t half naked, either.)

That’s quite alright. I’m happy enough with a page.

But it is killing me that they have made me sound like some desperate bimbo who has to resort to gaming to find a boyfriend.

My life is officially over!

This is what’s printed on the magazine:

Did you start gaming to meet guys?

Yes. Three ex-boyfriends were from Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG). So is my current one. My social circle is about 80 per cent gamers, and guys outnumber girls.

The following is the original Q&A from the e-mail interview:

How long have you been gaming?

Since I was seven years old. I’m not going to tell you the number of years! :P

Did you get started to meet guys?

You mean in gaming? Yes. Let’s see… my last three ex-boyfriends were from MMORPGs. My current one is, too. Well, my social circle has been about 80% gamers since MMORPGs existed and guys always outnumber girls by a lot in our real-life guild outings.

THEY CHANGED THE QUESTION AND EDITED MY ANSWERS!

During the e-mail interview, I had thought that the question “Did you get started to meet guys?” was just a badly-phrased version of: “Did you start meeting guys through gaming?”

And look at the first question again, which they left out of the article.

How long have you been gaming?

Since I was seven years old. I’m not going to tell you the number of years! :P

How is it possible that I started gaming to meet guys at seven years old?

It is not possible for anyone who has read the unedited interview to come to the conclusion that I started gaming to meet guys, so I don’t know how the interview ended up the way it did.

I feel wronged.

You might think it’s a small matter, or a small misunderstanding. But it’s very serious for me because it affects my reputation and my credibility as a gamer, which in turn affects my career because gaming is part of my career and source of income.

How could anyone now see me as a serious gamer if everyone starts believing that I started gaming to meet guys?

I started gaming when I was seven because I love games!!

Anyways. I’m done ranting. Thanks for reading and here’s the original, unedited version of my e-mail interview.

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Where did you get the name Sheylara?

I’ve been playing RPGs since I was, like, seven years old and I loved creating unique names for my game characters. I’ve created tons of names but Sheylara is my favourite. I’ve been using that name for all my characters in MMORPGs since Ultima Online.

By the way, Sheylara.com was first a gaming website I made while playing Star Wars Galaxies. I was a very sought-after fashion consultant in the game and I made game clothes for players, so I had this website to showcase my creations.

How long have you been gaming?

Since I was seven years old. I’m not going to tell you the number of years! :P

Did you get started to meet guys?

You mean in gaming? Yes. Let’s see… my last three ex-boyfriends were from MMORPGs. My current one is, too. Well, my social circle has been about 80% gamers since MMORPGs existed and guys always outnumber girls by a lot in our real-life guild outings.

If we game against our girlfriends, should we let them win?

Of course not. What’s the fun in cheating? And you don’t have to let us win. We’ll beat you easily in games that we’re good at. I’m good at music, puzzle and party games.

Why should gamers listen to you for advice about their Xbox?

I like to think of myself as an objective and credible source of gaming information. While I’m representing Xbox, I still maintain my own gaming column (Gamer Girl Friday) in my personal blog. I talk about other platforms besides the Xbox so I won’t endlessly plug the Xbox just because I’m paid to endorse it. I’ll tell you my honest views about any game or any platform because I’m passionate about gaming and I take this passion quite seriously.

What would you say if someone asked you to make a house call?

Great! Let’s play The Sims Online and I’ll pay you a visit there.

Have you gotten any unusual or interesting queries online so far?

My favourite question is this: “Sheylara, are you forced to wear the same white outfit every time you go out as Sheylara the Xpert? And if I look into your wardrobe, do you have a whole row of the same white top and pants?”

What’s your favourite Xbox title? Why?

Currently, it’s Tales of Vesperia because I’m both an RPG and anime fan. Tales of Vesperia totally rocks as both RPG and anime! You know, when I was writing a review of it, I couldn’t think of anything bad to say about it.

My next favourite game will be Guitar Hero: World Tours. I love music games! And the song Chop Suey by System of the Down is going to be in it! That’s like the best song — okay, one of the best songs — ever.

What sort of game genre are you into? Why?

Fantasy MMORPG is my all-time favourite because I’ve always been fascinated by medieval fairy tales and mythology. So, to actually be able to experience such a setting personally is like the most wondrous thing in the world.

Well, also, in MMORPGs, I can be really sexy and have humongous boobs.

Are you into Role Playing? If yes, what sort of character would you be?

Um… sexy and humongous boobs? Haha. No, really. My fantasy character is a beautiful princess who’s intelligent and spunky and good with knives. I meant that in a medieval swordfighting sense, although my princess carries twin daggers. Er… she’s actually a character I created for a game quest some time back. Her name was Sheylara and after I created her, I stole her name and used it for myself.

What about Cosplaying? What do you think of guys who cosplay?

I love cosplay. I would do it if I had the time. People who cosplay are super cool, whether male or female. I would love to date a cosplaying guy but then my boyfriend wouldn’t like that too much, haha. Oh yeah, because he’s a Star Wars fan, I told him if we’re ever getting married, he will have to cosplay a Jedi at the wedding. If not I won’t marry him. Haha.

Who are better gamers — girls or guys?

Guys will always be better gamers because they’re more willing to be obssessed over games. And if you spend an inordinate amount of time at something, you’ll naturally get good at it. :P

Secret stories behind the things I carry

This is a totally embarrassing topic, to say the least. But if duty calls for public embarrassment, then I shall have to rise to the occasion.

The whole world shall now learn of my secret alter ego: I am a kiasu hypochondriac.

To start off, I have to explain first that the most memorable thing about me is that I carry gold bars with me wherever I go. Or so my friends and acquaintances would have me believe.

“OMG,” they will say, “Your bag is so heavy!! I think you have gold bars inside!!”

This is my bag:

I use it for all occasions (both work and leisure) because it’s the biggest bag I can use on a daily basis without giving my parents the impression that I’m trying to elope.

Continue reading…