hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts


Andy Stead's blog

2:06 AM on 12.02.2014

Explain to Me: Alpha Protocol vs Skyrim

I'm still bitter and a new Bethesda game is almost certainly on its way sometime soon, so I want someone to explain something to me. Why does Skyrim get declared a GotY god child upon its release despite being horribly buggy, bland and generic and yet Alpha Protocol, despite being buggy out the whazoo, was not very bland and innovative and creative in ways that Bethesda forgot a decade ago?


6:33 PM on 12.18.2013

Doctor Vegas: A Sprint Through Goodsprings

Another episode, another ~13 minutes of New Vegas. Came out nicely and got all the way to Primm without dying. From hence forth is going to be hell.


PS: No CC. I'll add it if you guys need it, just shout in the comments.


1:22 PM on 12.18.2013

Lonesome Road: The Obsidian Dillema

I talk about Obsidian and their "problem" as well as how to fix it.

Didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would but I'm still pretty awful at this. Enjoy!

PS: There's CC if you need it.


3:22 PM on 12.11.2013

Doctor Vegas: The Boring Tutorial

I'm running a Let's Play with the Doctor as the main character. I'm running through the tutorial here. It's pretty boring, but hey, if ya wanna watch it's here for you!

First time I've ever done this, so feedback is greatly appreciated. Enjoy!

PS: There is CC. It's not fantastic, but it's there if you need it. You probably will.


4:02 PM on 12.09.2013

Why? An Open Letter to Bethesda

Dear Bethesda,

Why? Why did you let this happen?

There was a time, back in my youth, when I worshiped you! You were a god descended before me with a magical touch and sparkling brilliance. I remember back to when it all began, when I first played Oblivion. I loved that game. It was filled with creativity and wonder, it still had your charm. But, when I look back now, I see that this is when it started. When the golden idol caught your eye and you fell under its mystifying gaze.

Oblivion, for all its faults, truly astounded me. Before then, I was a Quake junky. On occasion I would branch out and try new things. There was Doom and Hexen, Duke Nukem and Commander Keen. I had never really tried out other games beyond shooters and platformers. Sure, I owned my copy of Age of Empires and SimCity, but those were the exception. So when I risked it and blew my birthday money on a copy of Oblivion, I never saw the experience coming.

I was so blown away by this new experience of an RPG that I decided to branch out. I started with you of course. I fiddled around on my Windows 95 and got a copy of Daggerfall working. What a time I had. Even dated, your love for games shone through, your old touch of creating an immersive world that sucked you in and never let go. I moved onto Morrowind and, even though it never quite had the same effect, I could still see your love and creative heart in the work through the browns and grays.

I slowly ventured out further, trying out RPGs made by Bioware and Obsidion. I played Jade Empire, KotOR I & II, Balder's Gate, Dragon Age, Arcanum, Neverwinter Nights; so many that I can hardly even recall their names anymore. Hell, I even gave WoW a shot. I picked up as many RPGs as I could get my hands on in South Africa and never gave the habit up.

There was one in particular, though, that I truly fell in love with. Its name was Fallout. The choice-action-consequence dynamics of the game was so grand that it boggled my mind back then and still does today. It and its sequel, Fallout II, ranked up there as my favorite games of the time and still hold their place today.

So when I heard that you, the mighty Bethesda, had bought the franchise from the decrepit Interplay, my heart soared with joy. Nothing could be greater than Fallout reformed and created anew by the master gamesmiths of Bethesda. It seems almost naive now that I think back on it, but my hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of so many, were riding on that game.

I don't know, maybe I'm just bitter. Fallout III was, by industry standards, a great game. But your games were, to me anyway, held to a higher grade, a finer ideal. It could have been your magnum opus, a testament to games as an art form. But you'd learnt your lesson of Oblivion well, hadn't you. No longer did you have to create games. No longer did you have to pour your heart and soul into the work. The glint of the golden idol was too strong and from it Fallout III was forged into a gilded cage. Pretty, sure, but confining and a damned shadow of its predecessors.

The years have tapered me down but maybe I still see things through a harsher lense. My vitriol and bile has hardened into a jaded state, but I just don't see you shattering that any time soon. Your disgusting management of New Vegas scorned me greatly. Denying Obsidion their just deserves for "mistakes" you make gladly was truly shameful. Your wanton lust for more money through DLC has faded into a joke to many but still burns strong in my memory. Skyrim only further proved my point to me that you care little for your franchises anymore, only for the money you can wring out of them.

I love you still, you know. I understand there's little hope, but the very least you can do is tell me why. Why did you do it Bethesda? Why did you shun everything you once stood for? Why did you gladly join the ranks of Bioware and Blizzard? Why did you give up your creative legacy for money? And, most importantly, is it too late? Has the cancer gone so far as to infect you entirely? Is there nothing left of what you were? Is there any hope that some day, you'll sit down again and create something visionary and beautiful, or am I just sitting here, to be left out in the cold?

Andrew Stead

PPS: Yea, I'm probably still just bitter.   read

11:54 PM on 12.07.2013

An Ode to Super Realism

This one's a bit pretentious. Full of stuffy, thought heavy ideas and worse, no pictures!

Grand Theft Auto V is all in vogue but alas, as a stanch PC gamer, Rockstar hates me with a passion that cannot be understood. Years of late games, flat up refusal to release popular games and poorly optimized messes have left me jaded by the company. Still, they're a good publisher so I stick with them but I won't be the newest release in the series for quite some time. So I went back to number IV to try a playstyle that many might declare a touch crazy. 

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love me some realism. In fact, they might say that I'm a bit insane when it comes to realism. I love its tedious and frustration inducing qualities. I love its immersion creating touch. I love going out of my way to place myself in a world with a sprinkling of the real. I modded Skyrim to the point that I was living a second life of waking, eating, working, and sleeping in Tamriel. I made it the same in Mafia II, going so far that bullets did the damage that they do in our world and you have to visit the mob doctor to get healed up. I took Fallout: New Vegas so far that I was spending more time bandaging up and sneaking around instead of actually fighting anyone.This may sound horrible to you, but I absolutely love it.

So when I installed GTA IV again, I was determined to bring the real world into Liberty City. I stop at red lights, drive on the right side of the road and "exchange" insurance details in the rare bumps and scratches. I walk when I don't have the car, even if it takes ten minutes to get to my location. I eat every morning and evening. I sleep at least once a day. All in all, I play the game as if Nico Bellic was a normal, everyday, human being. It may sound terribly tedious, and it is mind you, but it opens up a world that, I believe anyway, Rockstar originally envisioned.

They wanted the game to be played this way. It's why there are so many little touches of the real world in the game. They never intended for the player to go on a sociopathic, rampaging murder spree right off the bat, or ever for that matter. They wanted you to take your time, get to know who Nico is and understand his plight. Its the main motivation behind splitting the GTA III - San Andreas universe and the new universe into two. Unfortunately, Rockstar overestimated their fan base's desire to join them down the greyscale brick road.

No one else wanted what Rockstar wanted. They wanted guns, bombs, jetpacks and masturbation jokes and I don't blame them. Every GTA before IV had taken its sincerity with a pound of salt. They told serious stories of revenge, greed and loss with a side of levity so that the player never felt overwhelmed. But Rockstar, apparently, was ashamed of this legacy of silliness. They wanted to mature from their past and that is a fair motivation. It's just a shame that they did it so fast as to lose most of their audience standing in the dust.

I, however, am willing to play IV the way I believe Rockstar wanted it to be played and, I must say, it's damn fun. Sure, it can get really boring, but that's life. Nico rapidly becomes a human being with struggles and hopes. The basic monotony of life grounds him so that he never ascends to the mythic levels that CJ, Speed and Tommy got to. He's not a god of crime. He's just a guy who wants a better life. He doesn't get to run around, 24/7, blowing away cops. He has to go home and sleep, eat and shit like the rest of us.

It's truly a surreal experience when you're sitting a stop light, blowing away the time, when you see a car that you want. You don't jump out your car and go steal it. No, you dream about it and hope that the side jobs that  you do will get you the money to afford it some day. This is just one example too. There are many little things like this, that really put you into the head of the character and how they'd approach situations.

I won't say that this is a style of play is for everyone, it's really not. It can get really boring sometimes. However, if you can pull through, the level of immersion you will feel is beyond what I can explain. To watch Nico go about his life and care about his dreams as if they were yours is an experience I won't forget any time soon. I suggest it to everyone, to just give it a shot some day. Worst comes to worst, you lose an hour or two of your life. At its best, you'll get a life changing experience that will leave you thinking.

Who doesn't want to understand that sexy mug? Wait... did I say no pictures?

11:11 PM on 12.05.2013

Out of Curiosity, Where Are All the Black People?

I was playing Bioshock recently when I something suddenly stuck out to me. Rapture has not a single black resident. Now, this sort of thing can be hand waved. Ayn Rand.. COUGH.. sorry, Andrew Ryan, was racist and didn't want to include black people in his “free for all” land. Segregation of the times would have intrinsically kept them out right off the bat. It's in water. There are a variety of in-universe reasons for them not to be down there, but the question kept nagging me so I thought about it a bit more. What if, just maybe, 2K forgot to add black people?

It's understandable from a certain point of view. Not saying they're racist but a, I assume, majority white dev team probably would forget to put black people in their game. After all, I barely just noticed it. I'm sure hundreds of thousands of white people played the game with nary a thought on the issue. But that idea, of the dev just flat up forgeting about black people stuck with me. It made me open up my memory banks to think about black people in games in general. The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to the same question. It's a question that I imagine not many white people ask all that often. Where the are all the black people?


More relatable than Claude and Tommy combined.


I don't mean to soap box and it's probably not even my place to go banging down doors about the issue. It's just something that struck me as odd and out of place. I could barely even finish a list of fifteen games that have primary black protagonists with their own story and arc. Even as side characters, black people are rare. It's not like they're not represented at all, they're there, but they're rare. There are more aliens in video games than black people. Now I'm not demanding that more black people be put in video games, but I figure that having a black protagonist every now and again would be nice.

If anything, having a black protagonist could really impact the story. For example, playing as Lee in The Walking Dead, gave me a new perspective on what it's like to be black. The innocuous comments people made that ended up offending me. The worry that people didn't trust me due to race. I'm not saying that I now truly comprehend the entirety of the black experience, but it's a fresh outlook on life that had me thinking after the fact.

Definitely didn't cry at the end. Nope. Not a single tear.

In the end, all I really want is an answer from publishers and devs. Why aren't there more black people in video games? Why aren't there more black protagonists? I'll probably get the, “Most people don't want to play as a black person because they can't relate to them” response. But you know what? If devs can have me relate to characters that aren't even of my own species, then they sure as shit can have me relate to people of another race. 

PS: Interestingly, R* is one of the better companies when it comes to diversity. But I've got a torrent of shit I'm going to throw in their direction for my next blog, so lets just void that for now.
PPS: I'd get rid of that annoying "(left)(/left)" thing if I could see it, but I can't. Sorry.   read

2:38 PM on 11.27.2013

Bioshock, I'm sad and just disappointed in you.

Bioshock is a lovely game. It's fun; it's got a mildly interesting story about the downfall of a civilization and jacks off my post-apoc cock pretty nicely. The game is goddamn gorgeous, even for this day and age, and its stylized approach to Rapture gives off both wonderful mixes destruction porn and art deco in ways I couldn't imagine since reading "Atlas Shrugged". 

Whats more, I love that the game doesn't take a side about Ayn Rand. Yes, you can take the downfall of Rapture as the failing of objectivism. But, by the same token, you can blame it not on Ryan's teachings but instead on those who failed to follow them. Its nice and refreshing to see something to take a middle of the road approach to the horrifically uncomfortable topic of politics and political opinion and I like that.

On top of everything, the game is tits up terrifying. Admittedly, I scare myself pretty easily (to the point that I've never even made it a quarter of the way through Amnesia), but the atmosphere is so gloriously rich that you can choke in it. The setting, environments, sounds, voices; everything brings its own little ounce of flavor to the game that builds on the looming feeling of terror and loneliness that I haven't experienced since the Peragus Mining Facility in KotOR II. Even the clumsy weapons system feels genuine and authentic and you desperately fumble between abilities and guns while a splicer runs you down. I've blown through ammo on one splicer solely because I was so fear stricken that I couldn't think clearly enough to conserve my bullets. Its a nice feeling to play as a character so incompetent with weapons for once (or hey, maybe I'm just that bad at aiming. Either way, its very nice).

It's a shame then that the game drops the ball so hard and so early. Maybe it's just me or maybe its the years of hype from never having played the game before, but I'm so disappointed in the game. I feel that, while making this game, the developers got a bit scared. They were afraid that people wouldn't like their game if it was too scary or too lacking in combat, so they compromised on their values in exchange for better public appeal. Howard Roark would be ashamed.

They spent so long building up the atmosphere only to break it with too much action. To give an example, Steinmann was terrifying before meeting him. He seemed like this mythic monster that had ascended from Tartarus itself to hack me up into a variety of different pieces. Then he turns out to be a guy with a machine gun and a lot of health. I was so let down by this singular fight that I wanted to drop the game right there. I've been slogging through it deeper and deeper, but I don't feel like its getting better. The further I go, the less scary it becomes and the more I feel like a Bethesda protagonist; swaggering down the halls with guns blazing and bullets plinking off my turtleneck.

I'll finish the game, I've come too far to not at this point. I'm just sad. I feel like the game could have been mind-wrenchingly good if it hadn't "sold itself out". Its story could have had so much more impact had it kept what it had going for it at the beginning of the game. At least there's a touch of irony to the whole mess. In a game that criticizes Ayn Rand's values of never compromising, it could have used a bit of that same gumption.

PS: I'm not a fan of Ayn Rand. Just saying that now before I get death threats in the comments.

PPS: I can go deeper into my disappointment with the game if anyone wants. This is just a basic summary of how I feel. I diary entry of sorts.   read

12:29 PM on 11.24.2013

An Orjasmic Review for "The Shivah"

I'm not very Jewish. I spent four years in a very Jewish public school and that's about as close to the religion as I ever got. It's good then that 'The Shivah' required pretty much nothing of me. Barring a very minimal understanding of how religions work on a base level, you can enter this game with no knowledge of Judaism and exit with a strong desire for latkes and matzo.

'The Shivah' starts off with the main character, one Rabbi Russel Stone, ending his sermon early only to be interrogated moments later about the murder of an ex-congregation member. It turns out that this man had left Rabbi Stone a small fortune, enough money to easily save his dilapidated synagogue, which puts Mr Stone up as suspect number one. Like a good point and click hero, Rabbi Stone decides that the best thing he could do is attempt to solve the murder himself, getting embroiled deep into the world of mystery, intrigue and murder that surrounds the Jewish community. Ok, so it's not the most original story in the world. It's very tropey and, ignoring a minor twist near the end and a red herring or two, I had pretty much guessed the story from the beginning. Even with the Jewish get up, you could easily mistake this for Gabriel Knight Wears a Yamaka. That being said, it's fun. Your choices have a modicrum of impact on the story, which is a nice touch. There are also a handful of endings and the game encourages you to get the best one with a nicely placed autosave. It kept me entertained for the entire story, which lasted just under two hours including my faffing about.

Rabbi Stone: Sins of the Dressmaker

The gameplay works the exact same way that every other game in the genre. Walk around rooms, click on literally everything and attempt to solve the game enough to move to the next area. Thankfully, most of the puzzles are extremely intuitive and I only got stuck once. The game does a good job of explaining the mechanics very early on. There's one where you combine clues together to attempt to piece together the mystery. Its a nice mechanic that makes you think every now and again and does a good job of advancing the story through player action. Everything you get in the game is integral in some way to the puzzle, so you never get throwaway items. There's even a search function that plays its role in the story, which is nice. Holding down the right mouse button can bring up everything selectable in the area, but I almost never needed it. A hint system would be nice for the occasion where you get stumped, but its no loss without it as the game is so small that you can easily figure it out with a little patience. Its just unfortunate that the game never does anything too original with the genre. It doesn't even really do much to change the original up, besides explaining how the mechanics work and throwing on some more tinsel. Its still fun, it just seems like a bit of a missed opportunity.

Rabbi, your resolution greatly improved on that woman's face.

Finally, it is actually quite a sexy game. The original kept it old school with the trappings of late 80s point and clicks, like Maniac Mansion and Leisure Suit Larry. This new one bumps it all the way up to modern times with its early 90s style of Full Throttle/Gabriel Knight. It's actually surprisingly visually appealing. It brought me back to fetal nostalgia of messing around on my Windows 95 but I'm sure that, even without a history with the genre, it can be pleasing to the eye. Everything is very well drawn and can easily be made out for what it is. When in conversation with another character, a small box with both faces comes up displaying different portraits for different emotion. You can really appreciate the attention to detail in the characters and the world and can get lost quite easily in the short time you're with the game. The music is very nice and authentic. It adds another layer of atmosphere. However, the voice acting is moderate at best. The acting in and of itself is good but the quality really brings it down and hearing static or feedback can bring you out of the immersion that everything else worked so hard to get you in. 

Overall, its fun. For $4.99, or your regional equivalent, the game is so inoffensive and mildly entertaining that you have pretty much no reason not to get it. Its not very original and follows the worn path but its story and setting is fresh and honestly, how often are you going to get a game where you play as a rabbi.

6/10 – Not recommended for Stormfront members.   read

10:44 PM on 11.23.2013


So I wrote up a review for The Shivah, then I noticed that this website had just put one up. Then I did my notes for Risk of Rain... only to notice there was a review already. I wish I got games two weeks before so I could do reviews of new games, but alas tis not to be. I am no great and powerful reviewer, descended from the heavens themselves and given unto Destructoid to critique games with jurisprudence. I guess I'll go back to reviews of old games and seeing how they compare in these modern times. I can do that, you can't take that away from me DESTRUCTOID!!!

... or can you.

Please don't.   read

4:40 PM on 11.22.2013

A Fashionably Late Review for Alpha Protocol

Something I always appreciated was never hearing the hype for Alpha Protocol. I can only imagine the joy many had over hearing that there was going to be a triple A game released and it was going to be about espionage. After all, the world of espionage is a popular genre in film and doubly in books. For a 'Splinter Cellesque' game done as a full blown RPG, it would be exciting news and powerful enough to discolor and bias people against the game when it was finally released. Like most Obsidion games, it was buggy and unpolished. Sega had grown tired of waiting for the game and released it early. Part of the fault was Obsidion's for, once again, biting off a bit more than they could chew. Part of the fault was Sega's for being impatient and releasing an unfinished game. All this culminated in bad reviews and a bomb for Sega. Time has marched on, however, and the game has had most of its issues patched away and I feel a sense of duty to the game to give it the review it deserved from the get go.

Graphically, the game is average at best. Its not the most beautiful game in the world but it does the job. Its age shows in most of the environment. From a distance it is fine but up close it becomes a pixilated mess of colors. A lot of the faces are fairly impressive, with lots of detail and great animation for the times. Unlike most modern RPGs, you can't personally design the main character, Michael Thornton, but you are allowed a measure of customization from skin tone and eye color to beards and hats of decent variety. The world environments are impressive with every map looking unique and accurate to the area and setting. The most impressive ones in Taiwan are colorful and fun, with lots of little extras all over the place to flesh out the world and make it seem a bit more real. Unfortunately, the game uses a lot of bland colors, mostly off browns and grays, in most of the places which can lead to a bit of boredom in even the most exotic of places. On top of that, there are still graphical glitches and terrible design choices that stick around. Some of the more garish colors, such as one character's maroon hair and the big bad's yellow shirt, tend to bleed into the surrounding meshes. Also, while the orange reticule works almost all the time as there are few places with a similar color, the abilities use the same color. These abilities usually require your aim and are timed, making it very frustrating when you can't seen your reticule and get killed because you couldn't aim your ability in the short time allotted. Eventually, you become accustomed to it but it is still inexcusable that it was in the game to begin with.

The story is the meat of the game. It is extremely dense and chock full of real and meaningful choices. Literally every dialogue choice in this game has some consequence, even if it's minor, and when this game says that there is no wrong answer, only results, it means it. You can play the game straightforward, charming, assaultive, a little in between all three or dance around them all and you can still have a great game. It will adjust to your decisions in such major ways that playthroughs can have completely different endings. To top it off, there is no good or bad ending, only what you hoped to achieve. One might find joining the big bad only to betray him at the last second and found your own PMC a good ending, another riding off into the sunset with the girl. Alpha Protocol allows for whatever you desire from your game, harkening back to games like Deus Ex and Fallout. Unfortunately, this enormity can make the story convoluted at times, leading to a bit of confusion as to what exactly is going on at times. You might be confused as to what particular characters importance in the story is and unless you read the codices, you might never find out.

Finally, the weakest part of the game, the gameplay. To start off, it's still fun. It's really bad, but it's still fun. There's a lot of action to be had (which is very good in an action RPG) and there are a lot of people to kill or passify, which ever you prefer. The RPG parts of the game are fantastic. Shoot across the room with a pistol at the start of the game at the start of the game and you'll probably miss, by the end, you'll be blind firing with dead shot accuracy (that's not even a joke, this game is hilariously fun some times). The hacking and lockpicking minigames are incredibly fun and require a considerable amount of personal skill as well as character skill. They are an excellent mesh of talent and RPG mechanics and should be an example developers on how to do it properly. Unfortunately, all this is let down by the game's frustrating nature. The maps can be poorly designed at times, leading to confusion as to where you're supposed to go. The AI is absolutely brain dead and is on par with the first Mass Effect for terrible combat decisions. This can be equally frustrating when attempting to perform stealth, as normally predictable AI can simply flip out and kill you on the drop of a hat and without warning. Finally, there are the boss fights. Unless you are kitted, weapon and skillwise, for the boss fight, they can be nearly impossible. I'm not saying that you must look up a guide on how to defeat each one but if you don't, you might end up with broken hardware very fast as the you die for the nine billionth time.

Overall, Alpha Protocol is a very fun game with enormous depth that still boggles my mind to think about. Every time I play the game, I discover something new, something I never saw before and they're never small things. Different plot points open up, different endings unlock, the whole story changes around me just because I spoke to one man differently or didn't do a mission at a certain time. If you are looking for a fun romp and a good yarn, Alpha Protocol is the game for you. If you are looking for an RPG with spies, then Alpha Protocol might be the only game for you. At the very least, pick it up on sale and give it an hour of your time. I guarantee you'll be either enthralled or appalled, hopefully the former.   read

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -