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Scott Monster


The Simpsons: Tapped Out (Android)

My Favorite Droid Game!

The Good
It's pretty easy and has a lot of charm and whimsy consistent with the TV show. A lot of the characters have decent one liners that you don't mind. There's an assortment of challenges and trials to meet to gain prizes and level up. Its constantly being updated. It also often makes references to upcoming episodes by giving out gifts to place in your land.

They're also refining the interface and improving it. There's always something new to unlock. It's addictive.

The Bad
I wish the characters had more variety in their dialogue.

The Bottom Line
I've been playing this silly game almost every day for the last 4 years. I think I like it.

By Scott Monster on February 26th, 2017

BioShock Infinite (Xbox 360)

Bioshock was like a Haunted House. Infinite is like a Roller Coaster Ride.

The Good
So much to like about this game. The environment was immersive and spellbinding. The NPCs seemed lifelike and interesting. Elizabeth was clearly created with heartfelt intentions. It's understandable how Irrational games didn't think they could top this game.

The music was well done and properly paced. The shootouts were tough but workable. The tears and the vigors added a good deal of strategic challenge. I hated the boss fight at the end until I figured out how to work it.

Riding the Aerial lines were a total blast. The voice actors were top notch.

The Bad
It's a nitpick but the action came at you so quickly that you didn't get to see how beautiful the local scenery was. If it was slower paced at times and required puzzles, I'd not complain.

The ending had me confused at first.

The Bottom Line
A fast paced story with actual historical references. Well researched and written Lots of excitement and action.

By Scott Monster on November 17th, 2016

Dishonored (Xbox 360)

A Great little First Person Stealth Game.

The Good
I give credit where credit is due. The French know their political intrigue and have endued this game with a convoluted tale of backstabbing and double crossing. You start off as a valued body guard who is framed for a terrible murder. You're recruited by both the loyalists who want to see the rightful emperor restored to power and by a mystical figure who grants you magic powers to assist in your missions.

You're an assassin who has to remove political leaders from positions and assist the loyalists in their goals. Here is where the fun starts. You take two approaches to game play. You can hide, and sneak around, avoiding unnecessary kills. You can also go through and start killing everyone you see. The actions you take will reflect on your ending. You have the ability to jump, climb and teleport to various locations to get around tough obstacles. I tend to avoid killing in games like this for the challenge.

The levels are sprawling and complex. You can usually find more than one way to approach a location and with blink, you can often reach hard to find places. Light plays an important part of the game because it makes you more visible and more likely to attract attention. You spend a great deal of time exploring ruins that are infested with a plague that turns people into zombies.

There are hidden treasures everywhere, and exploration is necessary. You also have the option to restart any level you completed to see if you can make a better run of it.

There are interesting characters that are voiced by the likes of Susan Sarandon and Brad Doriff. The game is more than a little obvious in its inspiration, as it quotes "Thief" more than once. Once in a while, you get a outcome you didn't expect which makes your decisions more interesting.

The Bad
Be prepared to save and load a lot. You will die many times as you learn the layout of each level. You never know what to expect.

The powers handed out to you are a mixed bag. Some are extremely useful, and others barely do anything.

The Bottom Line
It's really fun and can be completed within a fairly short period.

By Scott Monster on August 4th, 2014

Fallout: New Vegas - Old World Blues (Xbox 360)

More Linear than the Root Game but Fun.

The Good
In the beginning, You are introduced to group of scientists who have shed their bodies and now float in mobile brain capsules. Their quarrels are humorous and set the story. They need you to stop a nemesis who strongly resembles a verbose bad guy from an old movie. You've been recruited, despite your hideous human body.

While set in the style of New Vegas, You'll not be conversing with anyone bipedal in this adventure. Thats part of the fun. The humor is ratcheted up a bit as you see scientists in the Think Tank try to communicate with you.

When you start this game, they recommend that you are at least 15. This is because its a bit tougher than the Mojave desert. This is a good thing because the bad guys are smarter and tougher. You'll find yourself running and gunning a great deal more.

If you have been playing a diplomatic character, you're going to have a much harder time exploring the Big Mountain.

The shining point of the game is the various personalities you eventually encounter. My favorite is Muggy, with a very loud preoccupation.

Once you complete the primary mission, you can revisit Big Mountain any time you want to get weapons and to be treated for injuries for free.

The Bad
Since I loved New Vegas, I really enjoyed this game, but I wish I had more warning that it was a tougher shootout than the base game.

I also wish it was less linear and had more choices, like the root game. The graphics were not marginally improved for the game area.

The Bottom Line
I genuinely liked it. It was definitely in the spirit of Black Isles with its zany approach to missions and quests. The weapons were unique too.

By Scott Monster on October 2nd, 2012

Mass Effect (Xbox 360)

Great Story and decent game.

The Good
The spirit of the game was definitely inspired by Star Wars. You can visit strange planets and fend off attacks from bad guys. The story unwinds in a way that's easy to follow and continually intriguing. You can customize your weapons and armor to suit the fights you may face. You fight in 3rd and 1st person against a collection of bad guys. You also have several jaunts in a space age tank that seems to magically right itself, no matter what terrain you drive over.

Its easy to compare what ordnance you have in comparison to what you can trade in your inventory. You can upgrade your guns and armor with brands and models that give you and your characters a fighting chance.

The voice acting and music were above par and the characters were interesting enough. I really liked some of the interaction with other characters.

The gameplay required learning by mistakes, and going back again. Once you get the hang of it, It becomes a lot more fun and a lot less discouraging.

Cut scenes were great, and strongly contributed to the storyline instead of distracting from the gameplay. And the ending, Wow....

The Bad
I mentioned the cut scenes. I didn't mention that you can't exit out of them. It's terrible if you get a long one just before a tough fight.

There's only one location in the game that I found that doesn't involve shooting. For an exotic place, I would have liked to seen other places where you can trade and complete quests.

Leveling of your characters isn't as clear a process as I would have preferred. A greater assortment of bad guys would have been nice too. Heck, More aliens with odd quests would have cool too.

And good lord, It's talky...

The Bottom Line
Lots of exposition and talking. The shooting is good, but probably much better on a PC.

But the story is the real gem of the game.

By Scott Monster on August 5th, 2012

Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360)

Great Story and Great Gameplay!

The Good
The gang from Interplay return to add another addition to the Fallout Franchise. This is a great thing...

I admit that I don't really get in to the Sword and Sandal RPG games. So that's why the Fallout series is so cool to me.

The mechanics of the game are nearly identical to Fallout 3, which is a good thing in itself. However, The story is much more intriguing. You have several factions to contend with. Many of the goals will conflict with other factions and put you in trouble. Sometimes, You can unite them. Other times, you can antagonize them to your own benefit. No matter what you do, someone will love you for it and someone will hate you.

A lot of what you can accomplish is decided by how you spin your character in the beginning. It's compelling because you don't know what you can do unless you play it again.

The FPS aspect of the game is a little tighter, but you'll still often find yourself outmatched in most fights unless you recruit some friendly NPCs.

Getting an NPC is critical to winning the game. Each NPC comes with their own fighting style, skills and backstory. Unlike some RPGs, The NPC storyline unravels as you play so it become part of the game, instead of boring filler.

The voice acting is considerably improved from Fallout 3. There is a much larger cast of voice actors. A lot of them are famous and very good at bringing their respective characters to life. Your interactions would have consequences that also impact the game in the long run.

And the infamous kitchen sink approach that made the Black Isle games so great is back. Aliens? Vampires? Check... The game ending was comprehensive in its list of impacts you had on the game world. That was a nice touch.

The Bad
Starting off, There are no immediate plans for a sequel by Obsidian. The DLC will have to do.

Otherwise, I have no real complaints.

The Bottom Line
Play it if you are tired of Sword and Sandal RPGS.

By Scott Monster on March 14th, 2012

Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)

Brilliant But Not Black Isle.

The Good
Ok. Its massive. Its huge. Its just bigger than any other game I’ve ever played. You can easily beat the game without encountering two thirds of the stuff that Bethesda has created for this game. Unusual NPCs, Bizarre and breathtaking scenery, and challenging enemies are all here.

I like the fact that the designers mixed it up a bit with different factions and alliances too.

The graphics come very close to being photorealistic, especially when looking at the outdoors, with broken roads and burnt up buildings. I freak out when I see how the inside of the buildings are torn apart and crumbing. The rusted sheet metal of the Megatown buildings gives a real post war atmosphere to the game. There are so many little touches that you’d miss if you weren’t looking, like the various phases of the moon at night. The character models are very detailed and articulated. The don’t just stand around. They wander throughout the world, ready to interact with you and others.

You can play as a straight FPS, or use the VATS, which usually ends with a spectacular if not blurry death of your foes. You can size up your weapons and decide which one will be the most useful against your enemies.

There is an assortment of moral choices with long reaching implications, which is refreshing in a game. You can also make choices and add perks. The perks can really change some of the game play, making some fights and quests a great deal easier. Bethesda does know how to balance gameplay. You can play as any kind of character as you want, as long as you learn how to play with the character’s weaknesses and strengths.

I loved the collection of old time songs, and really wish they had more. I really liked how many of the songs had themes that matched with the game. The environmental music was ok, and pleasant at times but a tiny bit repetitive. The voiceovers of Malcolm McDowell as President Eaton were well done. Liam Nelson was almost unnecessary. Good job on the sound effects and foley effects.

Major Kudos to whomever designed the Dunwich Building. The Temple made my skin crawl.

The Bad
I miss the “everything but the Kitchen Sink” approach to design that Black Isle was famous for. Bethesda touches on it, but don’t go all out. The black humor that was characteristic of the first 2 Fallout games is missing or at least muted.

By their very nature, RPGs tend to be buggy. Fallout 3 had a couple bugs, but nothing too bad in comparison to others. The character models were a bit repetitive, but not excessive.

Now on to the stuff that REALLY bothered me.

A hard limit of 20? You have to upgrade to Broken Steel to get to 30? Ugh… The 3 voice actors were used repeatedly for all the same characters. Some of the quests were breakable by bugs. I had an experience where an explosion occurred on the west side of the map and when I fast traveled to the east, the NPCs acted like they heard the explosion.

The Bottom Line
Its great! It will take a while to get through. But it may also make you boot up your old copy of Fallout for nostalgia reasons.

By Scott Monster on July 13th, 2010

Postal²: Share the Pain (Windows)

Meh. Other games have done satire better.

The Good
It’s a standard FPS, with an unusual treatment. You are compelled to fetch normal domestic items for missions. As you go through the week, you accumulate enemies and watch as the town descends in to madness.

I really liked the creative ways you can kill people. Boot in their face, mad cow head, shovel or even scissors. The comical sound effects and one liners are reminiscent of Duke Nukem 3D. Game play is fairly responsive and challenging. You can take out a group of NPCs by using some more unusual weapons in your arsenal.

I got a minor kick out of the funny body captures. You can easily watch a cop or a waitress do this bouncy swagger of a walk. You can even talk to Gary Coleman and then shoot him later. Its certainly out of the blue, but he’s there.

The designers threw in a healthy dose of the movie “Deliverance.” They had you fight for your life in a meat factory whilst making local yokel calls. Not clever, but fun.

The Bad
Ok, Here’s where the real review starts. I’m by no means PC, but this game is going out of its way to be really offensive. That’s fine if it were actually funny or original. Yes, its satire, but its not good satire. Its 5th grade satire. Its one step above poop and fart jokes. Actually, I would’ve found fart jokes more fun than these gags.

Yes, There are a couple one liners I found funny. The rest were repeated way too often.

Graphics were dull and repetitive. The levels were blocky and uninteresting. And the jokes are dated. Chads, Fort Waco, and Lieberman are all mentioned prominently. Also mentioned prominently are fictional advocates of censorship, that act as your nemesis. Its pretty bad when your bad guys are this boring.

Multiplayer works, but is sparsely populated.

The Bottom Line
I bought it for 9.99 from I got my moneys worth and was mildly entertained before it became a grind. If you're looking for good satire in your games, you'd be better off playing any Zork game or anything with Douglas Adams attached.

By Scott Monster on May 16th, 2010

BioShock (Xbox 360)


The Good
I confess that I bought an X-box 360 for this game. After 2 years of hearing how wonderful it was, I broke down and tried it. I hooked up the unit to my HD TV and experienced something remarkable.

2k studios spent a great deal of effort designing this game. They designed an entire city, sculpted and shaped in the Art Nuevo of the preceding decades. Then they smashed it with blunt objects of war and destruction. The details are astounding, portraying a beautiful gleaming city in the process of an ugly death. Everywhere you look, you see what it was and what it is. Rubble and debris. Surprisingly creepy…

Using the Unreal 2.5 engine, The graphics are detailed, revealing textures and dimensions that add to the feeling of being in a real environment. The sound is equally well done, with subtle music cues. You won’t forget the first time you hear someone sing a gospel in a weary, lost voice. The random pieces of dialogue you hear from the NPCs wandering around only contribute to the sense of madness that has possessed Rapture.

Gameplay is an elaborate gun and run mix up, enhanced by weapon choice, weapon improvement and general collection of supplies. I really like how you can use different approaches to killing your enemies.

One of the biggest points of the game is the story. It’s told through old tapes, ghosts, NPC narrations, and settings in the environment. Its not your run of the mill tacked on adventure. Its critical to the game and how it is played. I was taken by surprise when I saw the rooms that the little sisters were kept in. It was reminiscent of the brutal experimentations that were done by behaviorist in the early 20th century. B.F. Skinner is even mentioned in passing.

Voice acting was pretty good, if not slightly over the top. The accents were heavy and seemed to be coming from a b-movie cast.

It was very cool, how you had a few methods for turning enemies in to allies against their will. It was even cooler, how you could rack up achievement points for Xbox live.

The Bad
For a game based on self-determination, this game is pretty linear. You can find a lot of cool stuff by wandering off the path, but to progress, you have to pretty much follow the directions put before you. The game even alludes to it about 2/3 of the way. You end up normally using 2-3 plasmids for most of the game and the same goes for the weapons.

And its short and a little on the easy side. Replay value is not its strongest point.

The Bottom Line
This game is proof that games can be art and have a meaning to them. And yes, it was worth buying the Xbox 360.

By Scott Monster on January 17th, 2010

Anarchy Online (Windows)

Years later and Still Buggy.

The Good
I played the free version and liked the huge assortment of different roles you can take. You have over 20 career choices. The entry point level is fairly easy and lets you learn and level up. You can wander around and kill things and gather loot and exp points. The lag and the crashing issues have been resolved and you get somewhat smooth play. The tips are handy when you're just starting out.

The music is slightly intrusive and can be set to rarely play. I really like the fact that you can customize the play window by moving and pinning the widgets. It plays well on older systems.

The levels are expansive and have detailed architecture. Plenty of places explore.

The Bad
Its pretty much deserted, once you leave the training level. Few if any NPCs that you can interact with. The few quests that do exist involve killing lizards and birds for their weird parts. Some minor quests can't be completed due to the bugs left over.

The graphics have not aged well. If you leave the missions, you have nothing to do but wander around. Its pretty linear for a Multiplayer.

The Bottom Line
For free, Its ok.

By Scott Monster on September 3rd, 2009

Max Payne (Windows)

Ages Well and Still Fun!

The Good
No aliens, robots or demons here. Just the gritty, snowed in streets of New York. The story and the game owe a lot of inspiration to the "Die Hard" movies, complete with the renegade cop that can survive the impossible.

Here we start with bullet time that was possibly borrowed from "The Matrix" and implemented in almost every FPS immediately following it. A great feature that lets you aim in slow motion whilst killing the bad guys.

All the action is set against very realistic architecture, with missing tiles, dirty floors, boarded windows. The introductory subway level was especially enjoyable.

The sound was top notch too. The guns had distinctive sounds that let you know what the bad guy was firing at you. Voicework was great too. It was so well done that you never got the sense of bored actors reading a script in to a mic. The music was minimal and well done, providing that additional sense of the solitary figure against the world.

Storywise, It was a little contrived, but with memorable characters. Instead of your usual stereotypical wiseguys, you have different people representing different factions that are making a play for power in the Big Apple. Max finds himself having to take most of them all on at one point or another as allegiances fail.

Gameplay is awesome. I have never had so much fun with a 3rd person shooter before. The random bits of loopiness provided a much needed reprieve from the endless shooting, like the Pink Bird TV show. Using painkillers instead of health packs adds that additional sense of absurdity as Max is being continually shot up.

The graphic novel was an innovative touch, even if it was used to save the developer time and money instead of using ingame scenes. It let the player skip or review completely at their own leisure.

The end game? Fantastic and challenging with a grand payoff. I like that you really don't know who the really bad guy is until the very end.

The Bad
Got to be honest, Wasn't so crazy about the maze parts of the game. I didn't like the blood trail mazes, which were mercifully left out of the sequel.

Otherwise, It was just simply great.

The Bottom Line
Great gaming for low end machines at a budget price. I liked it so much that I bought it again in 2009 after buying it in 2001.

Very much a gaming experience.

By Scott Monster on July 23rd, 2009

Half-Life 2 (Windows)

Great Graphics, Great levels, but Dated Play

The Good
This review is going to be simple and straight forward.

I downloaded it off Steam, fully patched and updated. No bugs at all. Even the annoying audio stutter was resolved.

It stays true to the original, for good and bad. You have the clever puzzles and hidden paths of escape. The sound effects are improved but not replaced. The voice acting is top notch and including a lot well known actors like Robert Culp and Robert Guillaume.

The graphics are remarkable, considering that they'll run on most machines made within the last 8 years. Unlike Doom3, You don't need an ATI or Nvidia card to play the game. You have several options for customizing the video to match the requirements of your PC.

The story is not going to win any Hugo awards, but it serves the gameplay suitably. The story is actually enhanced by the dialog performed by the helpful and not-so-helpful NPCs.

The gravity gun is awesome but not used enough in game play. Part of the fun is finding out what weapons work best against the varied baddies you face. The barnacles and headcrabs make a great return as the annoying aliens.

The Bad
This game is very linear. The only challenge stems from survival to the next level. For a game with such potential, the play options are surprisingly limited.

The bullsquids and One-eyed Howlers are missing.

The Bottom Line
A decent challenge the first time you play it.

If you're into run and gun gaming, this is a good game for you. If you're more into any role playing, you might find this a bit dry. There's little reason to play it more than once.

By Scott Monster on April 19th, 2009

The 11th Hour (Windows)

Bigger, badder, but not quite better.

The Good
Trilobyte upgraded the groovie engine, with better graphics and interaction. The videos were clearer and not nearly as pixelated as in 7th guest.

The acting was about the same, hammy, but interesting. Stauf came back with a whole collection of snarky comments for the player. The puzzles were as good if not better than the ones in the original game. Some of the anagrams were pretty cool.

The Fatman came back to create the soundtrack, a definite highlight of the game. You can even play the tracks as the 2nd CD has CDA tracks on it.

The developer did a good job of aging and destroying the house so it looks like several years have passed since the original.

The Bad
4 freaking CDs. Swapping wasn't bad because the game swaps out only during milestones in the game.

The story makes even less sense then the original. The raunch, as mild as it is, was kicked up a notch to give it a more adult feel.

And the really frustrating anagrams brought the gameplay to a standstill.

The Bottom Line
Plays solidly on XP machines, give it a try and see a could've been classic.

By Scott Monster on February 2nd, 2009

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (Windows)

Ann Rice + Brian Lumley + John Carpenter = This Game

The Good
I bought this game from Gametap for 20 dollars. That was 5 months ago. I've been playing it every day since I purchased it. Its incredible.

You find yourself left in a City with little idea what is going on. You wander around and explore the city. You learn as you go by talking to characters who give you dialogue options. The choices you make impact the game play by giving you a benefit in one way or another.

If you were nice, you get cooperation from many characters. If you are mean, you'll make them angry and you may avoid getting interesting quests.

The biggest difference in play is the character you chose. A Noseferatu will send people running away screaming. A Toreador will seduce anyone and everyone. So you can play with the strengths of the characters to accomplish a multitude of things. Most of the choices impact how your character will do in future quests. You can intimidate or or seduce.

The Graphics are fine. The city areas are gritty and covered in graffiti. The characters are fully animated and responsive, courtesy of the Source Engine that powers it. Voice acting was consistently top notch, and added a lot to the game.

The sound is excellent. Many ambient sounds match the feel of their environment. Gunshots, sirens, People yelling.

The game levels were done with great care. Special notice should be given to the very spooky Haunted house and Chinatown.

But one of the star elements of the game was the music. It combined songs scored for the game and licensed songs from bands. Great stuff. Does a job setting the mood.

The fights are challenging because you need switch disciplines to win. Otherwise, you can't just shoot it out. Great story, and good characters make it a unique game.

The jokes and cultural references are everywhere. Cussing and swear words are the norm. This isn't a game for kids. The violence is over the top and very satisfying.

The Bad
Well, its more of a limitation of my hardware then anything else, but every time you load a game, the sound and video stutter for a good few seconds before it catches up. I found the load times to be fairly long and sometimes, the game would fail on on load.

The bugs were plentiful, but hardly a real problem. The physics engine was nice, but hardly necessary for the game play. I'm sure some would appreciate that the physics engine was applied in modelling the breasts of the women in this game. I found it a bit cheesy.

The Bottom Line
Great story B-Movie Vampire story wrapped up in a game. You can play it again and again to discover what different ways you can do things. Its easily one of my favorites.

By Scott Monster on February 1st, 2009

Hellgate: London (Windows)

Tedious and Disappointing.

The Good
This game takes some chances, but does not vary far from the Diablo formula that was established by Blizzard. It lets you play first person as well as third person view if you like to melee. The graphics are decent but not astounding. I bought it used for 3 bucks, so I never got to try the multiplayer. Odds are, you won't either since the servers will be shut down by Feb 2009.

A lot of effort was put in to ambient sound and the music was not intrusive. The character models were interesting and had quite a few body animations.

The bestiary was nice, but not huge. I have to admit, I found one creature, the Dunder Liche, to be an unusual construct.

Part of the fun was collecting and improving your gear. You have a lot of choices when it comes to allocating point skills too. There are occasional touches of humor that will surprise you like the "I HATE CRATES" bonus points awarded to you for smashing all the crates in a level.

The game also does a very good job of tracking your missions and quests. Its a system that works as well as in Diablo, if not slightly better.

The Random Treasure levels are very cool because they break up game play. The voice acting is sparse and mostly made of cockney accents making really odd comments. My favorite quote? "An Apple a Day keeps the doctor away, So eat anything that looks like an apple."

Its really cool when you stumble upon a rare item or weapon. Its easy to stockpile and augment your equipment to do more damage or provide more protection. There's always money around to get stuff with at the local store junctions.

And the beginning movie was really well done.

The Bad
Ok... Here's where I get serious.

The game has major balance issues. I created a melee character that just fights and fights and never really loses since I put all her points in healing points for killing. I just press forward and hold down the mouse button and the game plays itself. No strategy, no finesse, no thinking, no aiming. Just hold down the mouse button. Your swing radius far exceeds your sword, and you find taking down ariel creatures just as easy as their grounded counterparts.

You get to kill blobs. They don't move, they spit poison that misses and they throb like jelly. You stand there, holding the mouse button, swinging at glob of french vanilla pudding, until it dies and releases a level one set of britches. The 3rd set of level one britches you've found so far.

The other creatures? Zombies, Zombie Creators, fire breathing little dragons, albino minotar things with guns that were designed to miss.

The levels are all the same, using the same structures, buildings walls, paths and etc. Even hell is boring after the 3rd visit.

The missions vary from "Help those soldiers set up ground weapons" to "Find 12 goblin livers for a reward."

With the exception of the Museum level, there is no sense of challenge or danger. The Museum level is the best thing about this game and it indicates the true potential this game could've had.

And the In-game scenes are rendered with the engine and make absolutely no sense at all. It involves obscure dialogue, scenery changes that were supposed to be dramatic, but were just a different color palate switched.

There is no sense of accomplishment. No sense of adventure.

Just holding that damn mouse button down.

The Bottom Line
Boring and really disappointing.

By Scott Monster on January 6th, 2009

The Simpsons: Hit & Run (Windows)

For Simpsons Fans only.

The Good
It's obvious that the Simpsons writers were involved in this game. The storylines and the gags are pure Simpson. As a Simpsons fan, I really enjoyed the convoluted storyline that’s trademark of the show. Especially enjoyable were the oneliners tossed by Homer, who’s takes up most of the game. You often get chewed out by the character after hitting an object with your vehicle.

The music is top notch, and most of it is clearly in the spirit of Danny Elfman’s original theme. Sound was great too. Most of it recycled from the stock sounds of the show. The engine noises were indicative of the state of your vehicle. A nice touch.

The developers did a good job recreating Springfield on the game map. The body motions varied partially when costumes were changed. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the “I am Evil Homer” dance.

The challenge of the game comes from the goals and the limitations of each vehicle. Most races can be easily completed if you have and use the best vehicle for the race. The best vehicle isn’t necessarily the fastest. Handling, toughness, acceleration and size are also to be considered when racing. There are some races that require you to use a particular vehicle. Those are by nature, tougher than the others. You can assume control of almost all vehicles that you get close to. Part of the fun is finding those secret vehicles. The physics engine is used to great effect, having your vehicle fly off in different directions, or knocking other vehicles out of your way.

The game is gentle with us of slower reflexes and lets us skip all but the last mission if we fail enough times. It also lets you go back and try the mission at any time in the game with any vehicles you’ve acquired later on.

Each level comes with collector cards, gags, cars, costumes and a bonus mission that you can complete to unlock hidden items. The game is very PG, no swearing, no blood, no sex or overt violence.

And it’s the first time in a very long time I’ve played a game out of the box that I didn’t need to patch.

The Halloween level was a major laugh!

The Bad
The game is relatively short with only 7 levels. The bonus races you unlock only really work for consoles. You will hear the same one liners over and over and over.

Some parts of the game require you to hop and jump to get items. The controls are unwieldy for that kind of play and you often find your perspective jumping around due to bound box boundaries of the camera. In those situations, you would be happier with a first person perspective.

No online player component. And you don’t get to play any characters except for the Simpsons and Apu.

The Bottom Line
Play it if you’re a Simpsons fan. If not, you’ll probably be really annoyed with it.

By Scott Monster on December 15th, 2008

Painkiller: Black - Limited Edition DVD (Windows)

By Scott Monster on June 19th, 2007

Painkiller: Gold Edition (Windows)

Run and Gun Babee!!!

The Good
When I first purchased this game, it actually came on 6 CDs. So I installed it and discovered that it was updated to 1.62. I took a moment to update it to 1.64, which provided a bloom effect.

This game is fun! There is rampant carnage to be fully engaged. You watch as the Havok engine tosses baddies left and right, occasionally exploding or tossing like a rag doll. The developers were very clever in designing both levels and designs. Each level managed to spook and challenge unlike most FPS as of late.

Some levels, like the Oil Rig level were enormous by game standards, and left you breathless as you faced a very long fall from towering cranes. The Roller Coaster level was a blast if not one of the hardest levels in the game.

Sound was worked so ambient noises were there to fool you. Each monster had its own unique sound, so you could anticipate attacks. The ambient music between fights was pleasant enough.

Special Kudos to the Designers for the final Hell map. It was the most ingenious use of the Havok engine I've ever seen.

The checkpoint save worked to avoid redundancy by autotracking your progress through game. Ammo is everywhere, so explore and you'll find it.

The Bad
Story, What Story? The FMVs were ok, but hardly the same quality as the exemplary work done by Blizzard. It was as if it was slapped together by Poser software. The voice actors did an ok job as well.

A lot of music is industrial metal and very repetitious, excessively noisy with a couple exceptions. Clipping was a minor problem. Crashing wasn't such a minor problem. The game would crash on certain levels, forcing you to start over from the last saved point.

The Bottom Line
Rough but a lot of fun!! You can pick up in the bargain bin and you should if your system has the hard ware to support it.

By Scott Monster on June 18th, 2007

Anachronox (Windows)

Remember When Games Were Fun?

The Good
This game is utterly amazing. IonStorm took the Quake II engine and modified so much that it looks nothing like its predecessor. The particle system, the plasma effects, the increased palette of colors. Its all so cool!

The designers took great care to design elaborate levels, with deft architecture and remarkable detail. The twisted levels on Anachronox alone were a tribute to Escher. I especially liked the interiors of several buildings such as the hotel on Sender One.

Sound and dialogue were well done and perfectly fit the loopy attitude of the game. The music was slightly repetitive but otherwise effectively contributed to the game play by setting the mood.

Game play took a little to get use to. Ananchronox isn't a FPS, its an adventure game with upgradable weapons. Main quests are either fairly easy to complete or have an alternate methods if one way is too difficult. The side quests aren't required, but completing them enhances your party by providing skills, supplies or upgrades. You can easily play this game a couple times and not complete all the quests.

Combat involves a little puzzle solving and strategy. Encounters are done in turns, with each character having a cycle of time between each action. You can set up a que of actions in your party so you can watch it unfold. The variety of moves add a measure of challenge. You can move, heal yourself or another party member, invoke a defensive tactic, chose a special attack, or stick with a standard attack.

One of the major aspects of the game is the weapons and attacks. Arms can be swapped, sold, upgraded or replaced. The attacks can be based on the Mystech thats collected. Each character has an affinity for certain Mystech and the effects of the attack generated by the rocks. During fight encounters, mystech plays a major part in fighting off adversaries as they engage in more powerful attacks in return.

The story is the heart of the game. There is a compelling mixture of loopiness and drama, adding the sense of moving forward in the game. You're not just wandering around another dungeon, fighting off generic monsters. You're accomplishing goals and unlocking chapters that make you want to play for just "10 more minutes." Interaction with NPCs is always interesting and quite funny. NPC interaction is also necessary for accomplishing most main quests and all sub quests.

The quality of the body models vary. The IonStorm team took great pains to include textures that bring 'character' the the models. Some models are overly repeated, but once in a while you'll catch an elaborate alien model that was carefully constructed.

The Bad
Even with the unofficial 1.02 patch, the game is slightly buggy. There are movement issues, especially when you gather a party. Stuttering game play, having to move your players around to position them to solve puzzles.

There are a couple arcade games built in to the game that can't be avoided, and are somewhat difficult.

Since the game wasn't totally completed by Ionstorm before they shut down, there are some broken aspects of the game. So saving often is required to complete it.

The Bottom Line
If you are a PC gamer only, this will prove to be a very new experience for you. Try it out and be converted.

By Scott Monster on March 8th, 2007

Thief II: The Metal Age (Windows)

By Scott Monster on February 12th, 2007

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)

By Scott Monster on November 5th, 2006

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Windows)

By Scott Monster on October 22nd, 2006

Black & White (Windows)

Where's the fun?

The Good
Considering all that the game was to accomplish, the graphics were surprisingly good. Especially amazing was the animation that was encoded in the avatar/pet.

The music was beautiful and diverse, taking arrangements from different cultures and places. The idea of miracles and casting was pretty cool. Fairly easy to learn how to play.

The Bad
Oh, so many disappointing things about this game. The hand control scheme was difficult to handle. The continual fedex missions and the requirement to babysit the avatar at the same time became nigh impossible by the 2nd land.

The Bottom Line
Beautiful, but Tedious.

By Scott Monster on September 12th, 2006

StarCraft: Battle Chest (Windows)

Wickedly Good fun...

The Good
I bought this package for 20 bucks, not knowing how much fun I'd get out of a bargain. It was the first RTS I ever played. Wow! It was easy to learn but hard to master. I really liked the beginning video sequence even if it didn't make much sense at first. The battle chest edition included strategy guides that proved quite helpful for a newbie like me.

The tutorial was easy to follow and not tedious like other built in tutorials. The game designers took special care to introduce and maintain an interesting group of characters to interact and help build the story. The controls were relatively simple and easy to master.

Sound effects were top notch and the music was only slightly annoying after hearing SO many times. Voice work was well done as well.

Balancing between the races proved to add a lot of challenge and fun to the game. When you completed one race, you were issued a new set of parameters as you adapt to the races particular strength. This adds a measure of playability as you explore open ended options to resolving game goals.

This isn't a simple game of sheer numbers. If you send 20 marines after a force, you'll probably lose. If you balance it out with different forces, you'll stand a better chance of winning. It forces you to think about how to get the best results with the resources you have available.

You get several weeks of gaming out of 20 bucks, and it runs great on older really low end machines.

The Bad
Ok, You're stuck at 640x480 resolution for the whole game. The figures in the game look like ants, and path finding is a chore since your soldiers are limited to walking on a very restricted map tile set.

The limited technology tree can get pretty silly as you build starships that can be shot down by rifle baring marines.

The Bottom Line
Its a lot of fun, and can be frequently found in your bargain bin. If you have an ancient PC, you'll be in for a treat.

By Scott Monster on August 22nd, 2006

Star Wars: Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast (Windows)

A Solid Sequel...

The Good
My hats off to the developers for taking great inspiration from the preceding Jedi Knight game. The immense structures were breathtaking and stylish. The sound was without issues and the graphics were top notch.

The Light saber play was really fun. A great feature to add upon in the game, adding challenge and specialized attacks. I took special pleasure in whipping my light saber through a crowd of storm troopers, watching as they literally fell to pieces.

I really liked the story. It felt slightly contrived, but not so strained to break the feeling of being in the Star Wars Universe.

And driving the Walker was very cool...

The Bad
The numerous jumping puzzles that required a fair amount of keyboard agility created some annoying play.

I was less than crazy about the jungle level and I really didn't like the underground training level either. The starting levels were slow and really tough.

The Bottom Line
Its too cool to set aside because of a couple rough areas. A great sequel. A lot of saber action...

By Scott Monster on August 21st, 2006

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