Monthly Archives: September 2011

Games Completed in 2011, #29 – Fallout: New Vegas, Old World Blues DLC

First, some Grinding Down linkage as I’ve already written a bit about this third DLC package for Fallout: New Vegas. Go on and catch up; I’ll wait:

There ya go.

After completing Old World Blues, I had decided that it was the vanilla game’s finest add-on, having not even played Lonesome Road yet at that point. With all four DLC now finished off, I can confirm that, yes, it is still the best of the bunch. Further proof: no other DLC to date dares call your fingers and toes penises.

Old World Blues begins with the Courier being transported to the Big MT research crater, a place thriving with robots and Old World mentality. A strange group of post-human researchers collectively known as the Think Tank take your brain out of your skull and then ask for your help. Cue Michelle Tanner: “How rude!” Off you go to explore the Big Empty, which is not as barren as you might expect, battle dangerous foes–such as robo-scorpions, nightstalkers, cyberdogs, lobotomites, and, if you have a certain trait turned on, one freakishly small, but deadly Deathclaw–and find the craziest equipment science can think up. It’s a grand ol’ time.

The DLC opens up with one extremely lengthy cut of chatter, but the writing and voice-acting make it worth sitting through. Kudos to Jim Ward, Cam Clarke, Jocelyn Blue, and James Urbaniak for really selling these robots as once human beings. After all that talking, the Courier then gets to go out and explore, but it’s no place to just go gallivanting about. Recommended for Couriers around LV 15 or higher, I found parts pretty difficult still at LV 28. Getting attacked by three nightstalkers is no walk through the park, and there’s a severe lack of available ammo to begin with; thankfully, one does eventually pick up the X-2 Antenna, a unique melee weapon that works wonders against enemies with either soft or hard skin. As you play, you’ll begin to upgrade the Sink, your home away from home, and the amount of new things is astounding; I now actively seek out random junk like cameras, hot plates, and irons because Toaster, which is an evil toaster, can break them down for me into microfusion and energy cells.

Both the DLC’s main quest and side quests are equally rewarding. “Picking Your Brains” is a side quest that has you talking to all the robotic doctors in the Think Tank, and while you may be tired of chatting with these super egos after the long intro, I suggest still doing it. You can gain some decent XP with skill checks, as well as early information about Ulysses and Father Elijah. “Field Research” will help make your biological research station and Blind Diode Jefferson even better–like that’s possible, you quip. “Sonic Emitter Upgrade” does exactly what it says on the tin, but it’s well worth the time as the Sonic Emitter is a powerful Energy gun that has a variety of mods to it, my favorite being Gabriel’s Bark, which rocks a unique “critical strike knockback” effect.

I’m hesitant to dive back into the Big Empty so soon on my fourth playthrough, but once I’m around, say, LV 20, I think I’ll risk it. It’s a pity to let such an awesome base go to waste for too long into Fallout: New Vegas, plus many of the perks gained from completing the DLC are important to creating a strong character. If there’s one DLC to get, this is it. Also raises your level cap by 5. Science!

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Achievements of the Week – The Big Bad Beat Bastion Edition

This week, I ended up beating two games. Well, one game I beat for the third time, which is nothing terribly exciting, and the other is one that somehow fell off my radar for two months. I apologize, Bastion. I apologize immensely. You’re so freakin’ gorgeous. I want to bath in your colors, and I want to hear Logan Cunningham reflect on my bathing choices, my three-in-one shampoo. I want to…hmm, okay, think I will stop this freaktrain before it derails…

Turns out, I was actually very close to completing Bastion before I forgot all about it so there wasn’t much further to go. Other than that, didn’t play too much Xbox 360. Some nights, it’s hard to plop down on the couch and game away; much easier to hide inside my studio bent over my laptop, clicking the minutes away, keeping the sadness at bay. Click, click, click.

From Fallout: New Vegas…


The Whole Gang’s Here (25G): Recruited all companions.

Already babbled about this one here.


Rocket’s Red Glare (25G): Acquired all upgrades for the Divide’s signature weapon.


Eureka! (15G): Completed Eureka!

This is the Achievement that pops when you complete the game by siding with NCR until the very end. I had little trouble beating the game on my third playthrough, as Kapture, at level 43, was fairly overpowered and carrying some crazy Energy weapons thanks to the Old World Blues DLC. Plus, I had ED-E at my side. I also had Lily, but she turned out to be pretty useless save for absorbing some bullets that would’ve first hit me.

Currently working on my fourth playthrough where Mr. House will get all my love and affection. Though there is a challenge to murder him with a golf club. Hmm…I could always save and reload…

From Bastion…


Kid-at-Arms (10G): Use the Forge to apply at least one upgrade to every weapon.


Vigilante (10G): Complete at least 50 percent of the Vigils in the Memorial.

I think Vigilante is a pretty common name for an Achievement. I know I previously unlocked it in Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game and LEGO Batman, and I’m sure it’s out in a bunch of other titles. Know any off the top of your head?


The End (20G): Complete the story.

Won’t go into too much detail here, as I’ll save a lot of thoughts for a final writeup of the completed game, but…wow. Talk about evoking a mood and emotions from the player. The endgame has two major decisions to make, and they are major; I sat for a bit, staring at the screen, truly thinking about which way I should go. Both choices had their pros and cons, their reasons for being, and it was ultimately up to the Kid to finish things. And there’s this song…this heart-piercing piece of music paired perfectly with the weight the Kid has to carry. Like the haunting conclusion to The Saboteur, I can’t get it out of my head.

There’s a New Game+ option in Bastion, and I’m doing it, which is rare these days, because I’m downright curious to see what the other final choices reveal. Not just about the Kid or Caelondia, but also about me.

That’s it from me. How’d y’all do this week with Achievements? Speak up in the comments section below!

Glitch might be my very first MMORPG

I had to wait a full 24 hours, but I finally got my invite to Glitch last night. When I first signed up, the message said it would be only “a few hours,” but a sudden increase in interest lead the folks behind Glitch–Tiny Speck, Inc. and some of the founders of Flickr–to extend the wait to not overload the system. Okay, understood. Can’t really complain too much about the wait considering Glitch is a free, browser-based MMORPG. Don’t have to download anything, don’t have to pay for anything. And it’s pretty good, too, considering I don’t really love MMORPGs–I just have to remember to close down all other open applications and ignore the lure of checking my email every few minutes, as between those two I crashed the game several times. My laptop is certainly on the way out…

So, what is Glitch about? Well, let’s use the creators’ words first, and then I’ll see if I can figure it out any better for y’all:

Glitch is a web-based massively-multiplayer game which takes place inside the minds of eleven peculiarly imaginative Giants. You choose how to grow and shape the world: building and developing, learning new skills, collaborating or competing with everyone else in one enormous, ever-changing, persistent world.

Hmm…basically, you are you, and you live inside the brainspace of one of eleven Giants. You will then help that world grow, going on quests, learning skills, interacting with other…um, Glitchers. There’s very little warfare, instead focusing on social aspects and friendly topics. For instance, a lot of early missions in RPGs (and MMORPGs, from what I can tell) involve slaughtering some kind of weak animal X number of times. Oh, new adventurer, eh? Go kill ten rats to prove your worth. Oh, fresh off the boat? Go eviscerate fifteen boars and wear their skin as a cloak to show me you mean business. In Glitch, one of the first quests you get involves petting six pigs. I liked that. I also like petting trees.

So, yeah, it’s a light-hearted affair, but I think that’s good. Plus, the whole “inside of the brains of Giants” is unique enough to really let the art style go wild. So far, I’ve explored caves, lush forests, wild fields, and I’m sure there’s even more. Each hubworld is made up of dozens of mini sections, all brimming with people or things to interact with. There’s a lot to learn, such as skills and what each item does and why it is important to collect butterfly milk or eggs from an egg plant (not to be confused with eggplant), but everything is gradual.

And this is what I look like, after tinkering around a bit with the avatar customization options:

Since the game is browser-based, your profile is always kept up-to-date, which is great as a refresher on things you’ve done and things you can do. I never used this feature too much with Dragon Age: Origins, but since Glitch plays within the very same browser that’s getting updated, it’s much easier to explore. Right now, I’m choosing the next skill to learn (Animal Kinship III?)–and I’m not even technically playing the game.

Easy to get into (well, once you get the invite), friendly, fun, with lots to do, Glitch might actually be the first MMORPG I’ve liked and continued to play. So long as I like and continue to play it, that is. I don’t have any buddies playing with me because I refused to connect with Facebook, so it’s solo me in a world of many, and while one always levels up fast in the beginning with four dozen things to do, I’m curious as to how long Glitch can hold out for. Granted, it’s adorable graphics are more than enough to keep me walking left to right, right to left, until every section of every world has been scoured.

Can’t say if I love Katamari Damacy or not, but its soundtracks absolutely rock

I’ve never played Katamari Damacy or its sequel We Love Katamari, but both games sound great. And by that, I don’t mean their plots are unique and stellar, their characters true works of art, going deeper than just rolling bags as flesh and bones. No, I mean these games sound great.

I use Grooveshark for streaming music while I edit text all day long, as it’s a better choice than burning CDs onto my work laptop or downloading a bunch of crap from the Interwebz. Much easier to just stream a huge playlist and never look back. The other day, tired of my listening staples, I decided to see if Grooveshark had any videogame-related tunes, and was pleasantly surprised to see that, yeah, they got a ton ready for groovin’ to. I played some Suikoden II, some Metal Gear Solid, and a few tracks from Chrono Cross (I touched upon how great its soundtrack is here). Then, for no reason other than pure curiosity, I looked up Katamari Damacy.

The Katamari Damacy series is the kind that I, unfortunately, judged before playing. Not that I even ever got to play it. I judged before I even played it and continued to judge it even after never playing it for several years. Shame on me, right? Maybe. I wrote it off as weird, kooky, too left of center. Gameplay involves rolling a ball called a “katamari” covered in an adhesive substance to collect objects until it is big enough to become a star in the sky. You’d think that with my love for Marble Madness, any game involving ball-rolling would hook its tethers in me deep. You’d think.

But yeah, Katamari Damacy tunes on Grooveshark. I added a bunch to a playlist, no specific order, and continued editing. However, I had to quickly stop editing as several of the tracks were of the ilk that demanded I do more than just listen to them. These were weird, but catchy weird. Kind of like the first time I delved into Passion Pit. A strange mix of electronica, jazz, pop, and even country. Yuu Miyake, of Tekken and Ridge Racer fame, wanted music surely as unique as the game, and I think he succeeded and then some. Each song goes for gold, trying to be more quirky and eclectic than the last, and they never stray into unlistenable territory.

I won’t bother listing tracks and talking about them specifically as there seems to be unclearness on what each track is actually called. I’ve found several varied names for the same bouncy pop number. Might as well just make up my own titles. In fact, my favorite song from Katamari Damacy‘s soundtrack is “Paul, the Wonder Hobbit”; what’s yours? That said, I might just have to track down a copy of either the first game or its sequel. Yeah, I still don’t know how much I’d love playing the game, but rolling a ball around to many of these tunes seems like a natural thing to do now that I’ve heard what’s on display. The problem is that with each trip to GameStop, there are less and less used PlayStation 2 titles on shelves to buy, and I’m not one to buy online, especially with all my latest mailing woes. Until then, I’ll just keep streaming the songs.

Stress is creeping in at the cracks

I’ve not been having a good week so far, and the stress is eating at me from beneath my skin; it’s only a matter of time until I am nothing more than walking bones, another mindless automaton for some hero–some chickabiddy in shiny, expensive armor–to slay. A few swipes of the sword and down I’ll go, surely, a pile of my former self. I’d fight back, but the thing with skeletons is that they draw no conclusions of their own and take no initiative. And sorry, hero, but I don’t drop any good loot. Unless you’re looking to craft something from my bones. By all means, please do. Give my existence kind of purpose because, as of late, I’m beginning to believe I don’t have one.

This horrible mindset is what blossoms when you spend day after day changing your old mailing address to your new mailing address to only discover, much to your horror, that only some mail is coming through, some is being returned to sender, and that if I want to get a better guarantee on mail being delivered to Grimmauld Place, a form for the USPS has to be filled out. A form. However, I also then got confirmation from the USPS that my new mailing address has been confirmed. Whaaa. Conflicting information is conflicting. Also, this is the first time in, oh, like 10+ years of receiving mail that I’ve had to fill out a form for envelopes to get stuffed into a tiny box. I’d ignore all this hassle and get a P.O. box at the local office, but I already went to a lot of trouble with changing addresses and paying cash-money for mail to be forwarded. Fun times.

Which, I guess, leads us to videogames. Seems like with each day that passes, Grinding Down becomes a little less focused on solely gaming, with my personal life creeping in at the cracks. To be honest, I don’t know how I feel about this, but it’s somewhat inevitable. As a 28-year-old being, I can no longer just play games all day long. I have to sleep, to eat, to go to work, to work, to come home from work, to eat, to shower, to try and make a name for myself–whether through art or writing or simply having everything fall magically and happily into place–and then sleep again. Gaming was a whole lot easier when it was just that: playing a game for as long as I wanted. Maybe taking a break because it was dinner time, and Mom made her marvy tuna noodle casserole, but then kicking back for the remainder of the night for some grinding or item collecting or what-have-you. Now, not only is there the actual videogame to consider, but the game of balance, of time, of giving all you can safely give.

This week, I’ve been using my videogames as both a distraction and dose of relaxation. They are a reward for what little success–or failure–I accomplish every day, and I’m so thankful for them. Don’t want to know what kind of monster I’d turn into without ’em; certainly something worse than a skeleton and bigger than a breadbox.

Getting lost again in Bastion‘s colorful world of Caelondia was heavenly, and I’m already ankle-deep in New Game+ mode, focusing on completing all those mini-challenges in the Bastion’s Shrine. It’s fun to discover the narrator saying different things the second time around, and the button-mashing is actually surprisingly therapeutic. Sometimes it’s more than button-mashing, but for the most part, you just wipe out everything in your path, and a single button pushed over and over again can do that. Watch out, Squirts. The Kid…is back, and he’s got a machete leveled up to the max.

Just finished up my third complete playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas, siding with NCR all the way to the end. Immediately after skipping the credits, I created a fourth dude named Rhaegar who will ultimately be the pawn for siding with Mr. House and getting to try out all those new weapons in the Gun Runners’ Arsenal DLC. Here’s the tagged skills I selected for this build: Guns, Lockpick, and Explosives. If only explosives actually blew doors off their handles and cracked open safes, then I wouldn’t need Lockpicking, but alas, that skill is vital for both XP and moving forward.

And then there’s been some more adventuring in Chrono Trigger. Right now, the game is saved outside a place imaginatively called…Magic Cave. I’m saving that experience for the right time, which could very well be tonight. I don’t know. We’ll see if I even make it home alive; the stress, the stress. It’s still eating at me right now.

Recruiting all companions in Fallout: New Vegas only took three playthroughs

Man, I have to imagine that if you’re not a fan of Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas and that you’re still following my blog day in, day out, you must be sick of me blathering about these games by now. I know I am. No, not really. Never ever evah. They are great for musing. There’s way too much to this franchise to explore–both good and bad–and considering I still have at least two more playthroughs left (for a sickening lump sum of five playthroughs) before Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes over…well, expect more Fallout-based posts. Sorry, haters. Congrats, lovers.

But yeah, check this baby out:


The Whole Gang’s Here (25G): Recruited all companions.

Got it last night. Only took three playthroughs, and I’ll explain why, as it’s actually a simple Achievement to get, but requires the Courier to do things in a certain order or to grow a cold shoulder. There are eight companions to recruit during one’s time in the Mojave Wasteland, and they are are: Arcade Gannon, Craig Boone, ED-E, Lily Bowen, Raul Alfonso Tejada, Rex, Rose of Sharon Cassidy, and Veronica Santangelo.

During my first playthrough, I collected all of them, but I only managed to pick up Veronica after a certain incident, the kind of happening that’s unforgivable, the kind that involved me wiping out everything she ever knew. Once she was “recruited” she quickly realized who I was and what I had done, and that was it. She left, never to join my forces again. I’m guessing the game didn’t consider that one to two minutes she was on Team Jareth enough for this Achievement. Oh well.

During my second playthrough, the same thing happened without me realizing. I murdered all her BoS friends before recruiting her and didn’t even bother attempting to track her down. Besides, my second playthrough character was Samantha, a fiery redhead, and there wasn’t room for competition.

Now, my third and most recent Courier, that creepy Kapture, he went after Veronica as soon as he could. Well, right after getting Boone and ED-E, of course, but long before the main quest got in the way. And then he still murdered all of her friends. Only this time, we kept our distance. Sent her off to Lucky 38, never spoke to her again. Harsh, right? Nah. Saved her a lot of pain and trouble, I suspect. After that, it was just a matter of time and getting a high enough Speech skill for Arcade, after which…ping. Achievement unlocked!

This Achievement is notorious for being buggy. Glad to know that during playthrough #4 or #5, I won’t have to worry about getting everyone and keeping all neat and happy. Also, no more Lily. She freaks me out. It’s mainly always going to be ED-E and either Boone or Rose.

So yeah, three playthroughs and nearly a year later. Closing in all finishing up all the Achievements for Fallout: New Vegas, but I know a few more come out tomorrow with the next DLC, Gun Runners’ Arsenal. Mmm…guns.

Achievements of the Week – The Welcome Home Edition

Oh look, another week at Grinding Down coming to a close. These things just sort of creep on me. Like creepy creepers. Like your hairy uncle that drinks too much at family gatherings. Um…

Right, moving on. Did I play more Deus Ex: Human Revolution and scour China for all of its secrets? Nope. Did I continue on with Mafia II to sneak into some government building and steal gas stamps? Nope. Did I get back into Bastion after going silent on the game for many, many weeks? Nope. Did I play the latest DLC for Fallout: New Vegas? You bet your sweet buttocks I did. And that’s basically all I played. Still dealing with a lot of stress and lack of time/energy. Hopefully, after the next few weeks, that will all be in the past. Hopefully.

From Fallout: New Vegas…


Condemned to Repeat It (20G): Decided the fate of all the Divide Dwellers


Hometown Hero (30G): Completed Lonesome Road.

So far, until more FAQs come out and the wikia is expanded, there are two ways that I know of for dealing with Ulysses, the final boss of Lonesome Road. And they are…

::SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS::

You can talk your way through it, first needing a speech skill check of 90, and then who knows what else after that. Or you can kill him. But to do so, you must first deal with a swarm of medical eyebots that are constantly healing him and constantly respawning, as well as a seemingly endlessly attack from marked men. Chances are you have ED-E with you, but he goes down very fast. Trying to take on Ulysess, two to three eyebots, and at least two marked men at once eats up a lot of stimpaks. There are machines that will stop the eyebots from spawning, but you need a 100 in either Repair or Science to do so. Guess which three skills my character Kapture neglected to focus on during this playthrough? Speech, Science, and Repair.

Basically, I was screwed, and this became even more evident after failing the fight over ten times and trying every tactic in the book. Actually, there was one final tactic left: I changed the difficulty from Normal to Very Easy. Sigh. Not ideal, but it worked; I used Pew Pew to weaken Ulysses farther than ever before and then turned him to ash with a well-timed V.A.T.S. headshot.

After that, there’s some choices involving a nuke, which, even though I clearly labeled this section as spoilery, I will not go into. Maybe another post. They’re pretty interesting, and from what I can tell, actually have a lasting effect when returning to the Mojave Wasteland.

But yeah, between Ulysses and Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s Barrett, I’m not having a great time with boss battles lately. Why can’t we all just eat cake and talk about how great The Beatles are and then end the night with songs around the campfire? I mean, really.

That’s it from me. How did y’all do this week? I’m guessing many of y’all played Gears of War 3 since that was the big name to drop recently. Let everyone know what Achievements you unlocked in the comments below!