Fallout 1 free on GOG.com until April 8 (I think)

Whaddya you mean, you haven't played "the perfect RPG, minus faeries, spells, and other crap"?  Then visit http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/fallout and get Fallout 1 for free while this offer's still valid.  It comes with bonuses like a digital manual, the Fallout bible, a soundtrack, and more.
Good luck out there, S.T.A.L.-- uh, Vault Dweller!


Nintendo.com Exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles w/Classic Controller

It’s not as nice as that boxed version that came with a Monado red Classic Controller Pro that our friends overseas got, but if you’re in the US or Canada and would like to buy Xenoblade Chronicles AND get a black Classic Controller Pro, you’re in luck!

For $64.99, you can get this limited edition bundle, straight from Nintendo.com’s web store.  You’ll save $5 on the cost of buying them separately, which I guess you can spend on snacks or a drink or something, which you’re going to need if you’re going to play the Chronicles as hard as I will.

The bundle begins shipping on April 6th, so you won’t get it on launch day.  But hell, if you’ve been waiting for it as long as the rest of us have, unsure if it’d even see the light of day on this side of the world, what’s a few more days, right?

You can get the standard edition from Nintendo.com right here if you’d like.  Ships on April 6th.  Pre-orders at Gamestop will score you a free bonus artbook.  And there’s an intent-to-purchase survey up at Club Nintendo for you to fill out, if you’d like some bonus coins.  April’s coin-redeemable games are out, too, but none of them really seem that exciting (pun intended), especially since Xenoblade comes out this week.

Hang in there, gang.  It’s almost Reyn Time.



Stopping Games


>friend’s birthday is coming up
>decide to buy him a game
>due to overstock and low demand, prices on new, sealed copies are lower at Gamestop
>grudgingly go to Gamestop
>ask clerk for a new copy
>”Sure, let me check the back.”
>”Only one left is the store copy.”
>clerk picks up case from shelf with “New” sticker on it and pops a disc into it
>tries to sell me “new” game that’s not new, sealed, or wrapped
>refuse to buy “NEW” game that’s opened
>”but no one’s played it; this is the store copy”
>implying that’s the point
>go to nearest other Gamestop, about an hour away across a bridge
>get there, ask clerk dude for a new copy
>”it’s cheaper used”
>ask for a new, sealed copy SPECIFICALLY mentioning it’s a birthday gift for a friend
>”I can shrinkwrap a used copy”
>dude tries to push “protection plan”
>say “no”
>dude continues his “protection plan” spiel
>say “no” again
>dude won’t shut up about the “protection plan”
>dude slips flyer into the bag about trade-in bullshit
>take bag and leave before he can ask me about preorder crap
>go to Future Shop
>find a game I’m looking for on the shelf
>game’s priced higher than the store’s website says it is
>ask a clerk about it
>she looks it up and tells me that yes, I’m right
>tells me that it’s actually supposed to be on liquidation, so she’ll give me 25% off the lower price
>smile and thank her
>continue browsing while she goes to speak to the cashier
>proceed to checkout
>tell cashier that the clerk told me it’s 25% off
>cashier says, “I can make that 50% if you’d like”
>gladly pay up
>thank her
>be glad I went to Future Shop
>would — make that WILL — gladly return to Future Shop later
>will keep giving Future Shop my business

Seriously.  I mean, I enjoy fraudulent business practices as much as the next guy, but this is completely ridiculous.  I’m irritated beyond reason right about now.  It annoys me to no end that, here in Canada, Xenoblade Chronicles will ONLY be available at Gamestop.  I would really rather not give them my business, but damn, I need those Chronicles.  Their pre-order artbook’d better be good.


Do Gamers Dream of Electronic Boutiques

So I had this dream last night that I was in the basement of an HMV-like store that sold video games instead of music and DVDs.  I wandered into the “Imported” section and found myself face-to-face with Suda 51 himself.  Behind me was someone who looked suspiciously like Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes.

Suda was laughing and reached for the nearby rack of games.  There were two copies of Xenoblade Chronicles left.  He handed me one and the other to the Travis guy, laughing all the while.  After fanboying and thanking him, I walked through the aisle, intensely reading the back of the box, which I couldn’t, since I can’t read Japanese.

The Travis guy was still following me.  Then I woke up.  I guess this is what I get for playing a lot of No More Heroes recently and doing my best to remain patient until the Chronicles hits North America.


Need images of Grim Fandango flyers

Hey guys, I need a hand.  I'm making a Manny Calavera costume for the upcoming Montreal Comicon, and I want to print up some DOD travel packages, as seen in this screenshot:

Grim Fandango Travel Packages
I can't seem to find decently-sized ones for printing out, but before I try to make my own, I was wondering if anyone had any printable images of the DOD flyers handy.  Thanks for the help, duders!

Another Dream Post!

Hey, gang.  Your friendly neighbourhood Numbers guy here with another of my posts about a dream I've had.  I've been having some rather fun dreams lately, often involving old friends I haven't seen for years, but last night's one was unusual enough for me to want to write it down.
I think my last dream-related blog entry was around Christmastime, when I had one about my at-the-time girlfriend.  We're not together anymore, but in last night's dream, we were, and closer than we were in real life.  Before going to bed, I had to deal with some chucklefuck trolls on a message board (not GB or any Whiskey ones, mind you), and I think that might have made its way into the dream.  In the dream, I was working as a comedian in a hip nightclub, possibly influenced by the time I spent playing Grim Fandango recently.  The club was owned and operated by a villain from the Knight Rider episode "The Topaz Connection."  I think that's what it was called.  You know, the one with the embassy.  He had an assistant in black follow him around who was really more of a crony.
The club was built as a tower, with the upper levels restricted for special guests and decorated with all kinds of art from the boss' homeland.  It looked like the insides of the walls of the building were covered with clay in order to make it look like a house from his native country, and intricately painted.  My girlfriend and I had a room up in this area; I lived there as well as worked in the club.  Possibly there was something more sinister going on involving the boss having control over my fate.
That night, there was some kind of community event.  A banquet hall was filled with people and the hostess looked an awful lot like Felicia Day, who wore a light blue shirt that pleasingly contrasted with her stunning red hair.  I had a show to do, but for some reason, I couldn't find a part of my costume.  My girlfriend and I had a very messy room and there was clothing everywhere, but I couldn't find the black dress shirt that I was supposed to the wear.  The Boss dressed in fancy suits and liked order; he expected those who worked for him to be presentable and professional.  But there I was fumbling through piles of clothes in black pants and a bright orange t-shirt.
But the show had to go on.  I grabbed a dark green windbreaker and met with the boss, who was displeased to say the least.  He slowly walked me around his clay-walled homeland-painted area, assistant in tow, listening to my excuse.  I made up a story about how the jacket was part of the act; how I would talk about the plight of the working class, or something like that.  I tried to use the hand-crafted art of his country to back me up, talking about fighting oppression and shit, how he had to work hard to overcome obstacles, too, so he knew what I was talking about.  I guess it turned out that he was part of the ethnic group responsible for the socio-economic turmoil in his country and keeping the working class down (which would explain how he extorted money from them with his swanky nightclub), so didn't care for my story.  Yet the smug grin on his face never left.  He and his assistant walked me to an ominous-looking stairwell.
I'd really done it this time.  He'd had enough of my bullshit, and I was fucked.  He was kicking me out, meaning I was out of a job and a place to stay, but he had other plans for my girl.  He had his arm around my shoulder, real pally, and I knew this mobster was going to end me.  Down the hall, Felicia was in the doorway of the banquet hall and could see us.  Though the Boss talking to one of his employees wouldn't have looked suspicious at all.
The stairway was some kind of walk of shame.  Rather than an elevator down, it was a rickety old spiral staircase that wasn't illuminated and didn't even have a railing.  I'd probably slip and fall to my death descending it.  I had to act fast.
The Boss had his back to me, introducing the walk of shame with a fancy monologue.  Kick me out?  Howsabout vice-versa?  I put my shoe on his back and pushed as hard as I could.  There was no railing to the stairs, so he fell down the hollow center of the stairwell's tower (the stairs were attached to the wall and not a column in the middle), but the screaming stopped before he hit the bottom.  Probably snapped his neck on a step on the way down.
The assistant was in shock and I had to make the most of it.  I grabbed him and threw him through the doorway, sending him in the darkness where he plunged to his death as well.  It was a staircase built purely to punish those who'd crossed the Boss, so it wasn't patrolled or monitored, but surely the Boss' absence wouldn't go unnoticed for long.  I looked to my left and saw Felicia in the doorway.  If she was paying attention, she'd have seen the whole thing.  But she wasn't.  She was just checking if anyone else was coming to the banquet and shut the door, oblivious to what had just unfolded.
I didn't think about killing them.  I just acted out of instinct.  I'm not typically a violent sociopath, so I'm not sure where the hell that "us or them" double-murder action came from.  I guess things were worse off in the dream world than I knew.  Maybe I just didn't want them to kill me, and certainly didn't want them to get a hold of my girlfriend.  Still, having killed the Boss and his assistant, the rest of his cronies would be looking for me.  I had to make myself scarce, blow town.
I went back to my room to get a bag, stuff it with the few belongings I'd take with me, and to get my girlfriend.  We had to escape, that night.  She was in bed, covers over her head.  She didn't want to see me.  She didn't even want to say goodbye.  (Appropriately enough, this is eerily similar to how we broke up in real life.)  Somehow, she'd known what I'd done and didn't want to run.  Not with me, anyway.
This is when I woke up.


Duke Nukem Forever PC Demo Impressions

I'm a big Duke fan, and like many others, have been patiently waiting for Duke Nukem Forever to come out.  The demo did, today (for Duke Nukem First Access Club members anyway), and you can bet I tried it out.  Here's what I thought.
The pointless title screen.
I played the PC version of the demo, released on Steam (making for very fast download speeds).  Steam in-game overlay support is also present, allowing you to do your usual Steam in-game overlay activities, such as the web browser, Friends list access and messaging, and screenshot-taking/uploading.  Upon launching the of the demo, a splash screen is displayed featuring the Duke Forever logo on top on an animated waving American flag.  Very eyecatching, much more so than Borderlands' vanilla rectangular-box splash screen.
 In the menus.
The opening logos are skippable, which is unexpected but welcome.  Development company and producer logos ( 3D Realms, Triptych, Piranha, 2K, and Gearbox) are presented in a short animation of Duke, assisted by the Holsom twins, rolling dice, presumably in his casino.  Next, a stylized animated cutscene summarizing the events of Duke Nukem 3D.  Not that you really need to know that "alien maggots booby trapped the [U.S.S. Dallas submarine]" or other such details, but longtime Duke fans might get a kick out of seeing familiar events, locations, and monsters displayed in such a manner.  I did.
 Kicking down doors, like a boss.

Up next is the title screen, a console-port leftover complete with "press any button" message.  The screen serves no purpose.  The menus offer some options which many PC games unfortunately lack these days, such as the ability to choose between hold and toggle crouching and aiming, rather than getting hold aiming and toggle crouching imposed upon us.  In addition to mouse inversion and mouse sensitivity settings, there is also a mouse precision.  The higher this number, the more precise the cursor will be, but the slower it will move.  At least that's what the tooltip explained.  Perhaps I didn't mess around with the sensitivity and precision enough, but I felt that there was something off about the mouse aiming in the game.  I don't know if it was mouse acceleration or not, though.  Just a final note about the tooltips: they are all the same sized rounded squares with the shorthand version of the key or button assigned, and they are all the same size.  I can understand why they did this and I'm very glad they have PC-specific tooltips at all rather than, say, simply show the controller button like in the PC version of Bionic Commando, but it's a little awkward seeing "LMB" and "SPC" on icons that are supposed to represent small keyboard keys.  Custom mapping might result in strange abbreviations (my mouse's fifth button registers as "Uo5"), so just be aware of what you controls are before jumping in.
 I believe this counts as an emergency.

 The character who said this line in the 2001 Duke Nukem Forever trailer had a MUCH better delivery.
The adventure begins, much like 2006's Prey (another 3D Realms project), inside of a washroom.  In true 3D Realms style, the room is filled with interactive objects.  Peeing won't give you back any health since Duke's not hurt yet, but the classic Duke3D "Ahhh, much better" line returns.
A quick note about health, if I may.  Duke Forever features "Ego" instead of health (an idea adapted from Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project).  Duke dies when his Ego reaches 0 (complete with his shades shattering), and Ego recharges over time.  I don't think you gain Ego for killing enemies like in Manhattan Project, but the loading screens' protips say that interacting with the world (working out, playing pinball, etc) will give you a boost, and that defeating bosses increases your maximum Ego capacity.  (Those who preordered Duke Nukem Forever at Gamestop will receive the bonus content pack dubbed "Duke's Big Package," which includes an ego boost.)
 Writing on the whiteboard.
Upon exiting the bathroom, Duke finds some Earth Defence Force troopers meeting at a whiteboard.  The EDF forces are manning the stadium of the L.A. Detonators American football team.  Looking around, you will find the jerseys of the team's players and plaques with their names.  The names are those of members of the Duke team, including Scott Miller, George Broussard, Joe Siegler, and Duke Nukem's creator, Allen H. Blum. The whiteboard is naturally interactive, and the player is invited by a desperate EDF grunt to add some plans to the board so the men will know how best to tackle the challenge that awaits them up on the surface.  This whole level is a flashblack to the final boss of Duke Nukem 3D (at least before the expansion pack added a new Episode), a battle with the fearsome Cycloid Emperor in an empty stadium at night.  You can still shoot down the blimp if you want, but it won't drop you any ammo like it did back in '96.  Defeating the boss triggers a cutscene: Duke Nukem himself, ever the narcissist, is playing is own game, revisiting his past victory, while being serviced by a pair of blonde twins who ask him if the game is any good.
 Respect. (Scott Miller is real cool and sometimes sends fans then-unreleased screenshots.)

 Oldschool is the best school.
The game then loads another level, one set somewhere in the deserts of Nevada.  There is no story development at all in the demo.  If you don't remember Duke3D, the first part of the demo (the throwback to Duke3D's boss fight) makes no sense.  Who are these guys?  What's the EDF?  And what is a giant monster doing in a stadium?  The following level does not explain anything, either.  Why's Duke in the desert?  Why are the aliens back?  What's with the pigs?  What's that vortex in the sky?  And where did his monster truck, Mighty Foot (a reference to his famous kicks) come from?  While there is no story development in the demo, I feel it is important to remember those who will be playing are the ones who preordered Duke Forever, so they probably know what is going on.  (Then again, the Duke Nukem First Access Club is open to those who purchased Borderlands, as well.)  Even just a screen of text or two to set the stage would have been nice.  And they could have easily made those story screens jokes.  "I thought we stopped making these wall-of-text screens in 1996!"
 I knew I should have brought a spare jetpack.
Humour, of course, is always present in the franchise, and the Forever demo is no exception.  Jokes and references are scattered throughout.  Long-time Duke fans will appreciate the nod to a 1991 Duke villain in an ad on the monster truck and the fact that one of the first EDF troopers they meet quotes a line from the Duke Forever trailer from 2001.  (Though I would have liked to have seen more ads in the stadium feature references to classic Apogee history, like "Keen Learning Centers" or "Raptor Mobile - Call of the Shadows!")  As usual, expect more Evil Dead lines and references to other games, although considerably more recent ones than Doom and Quake.
 No crowbar?  No problem.

Let's talk gameplay for a while.  I already mentioned the somewhat-awkward-feeling mouse, but there are other issues as well.  For some reason, Duke Forever has a tiny console-style field of view with no in-game option to change it, just like Gearbox's Borderlands.  (This could be fixed in Borderlands by modifying one of the .ini files; presumably the case is the same for Duke.)  Sprinting is also Borderlands-style in that the player merely needs to press the Sprint key while moving to start running rather than hold it down.  Holding the Sprint button down will have the same effect, though, for you PC gamers with your pinkies on left Shift key.  Unlike the Borderlands characters, Duke will get tired after sprinting for a while.
The Shotgun from  Duke3D.
Shooting is standard fare.  Mowing aliens down feels oldschool, which is great.  No cover system, blind firing, or other crap.  Just straightforward shooting, pun intended.  The weapons in the demo are enough to cause serious Duke3D nostalgia.  The shotgun, Ripper chaingun cannon, RPG, pipebombs, laser tripmines, Devastator mini-rocket system, and shrink ray all are back, albeit some have been updated and/or modified.  Newcomers this time are Colt 1911 handgun and the Railgun, an accurate energy weapon ala Quake railgun or Unreal ASMD Shock Rifle.  Only Duke's Railgun has a scope, can shoot through multiple enemies and headshots trigger a head exploding animation.  The chaingun cannon's firing sound is no longer as high-pitched, the Devastator is much more sleek, the Shrink Ray looks like a sci-fi healing gun out of Exteel, and the Devastator and RPG's ammo counts have been seriously reduced.  The Freezethrower and Enforcers' gun are not in the demo.  Or at least you don't encounter them in the demo.  A weapons cheat might give them to you; I haven't looked into it.  I found the shooting in the Duke Forever demo to be surprisingly satisfying.  Blowing up heads with the Railgun and hacking off legs with shotgun blasts is a lot of fun.  The weapon sounds are great; the shotgun (based on a real-life gun owned by George Broussard) sounds like it did in '96.  The maximum carrying capacity is 2 weapons, 4 tripmines, and 4 pipebombs, plus other inventory items.  Duke only uses his fists when he has no weapon, or when both of his weapons are empty.  His trademark Mighty Boot kicks are present, so don't get too upset.  But it's still disappointing to press the melee button and NOT have him kick stuff.   However, the tiny FOV combined with the screen shaking due to recoil and melee impact make it hard to see what is going on, particularly when using a high-recoil weapon such as the Devastator.  
 Duke3D's RPG.  Come get some!

 Using Dukevision in the mine.
Pipebombs are thrown like grenades rather than lobbed underhanded and they bounce quite a bit, so they take getting used to.  After tossing a pipebomb, press the LMB to detonate it, or your pipebomb button again to throw more.  You can switch to other guns and keep shooting, and press the pipebomb button again to bring up the detonator.  The detonator is a car starter on Duke's keychain.  Triggering the detonation plays a short sound that's supposed to sound like a car's security alarm, but is actually the first three notes of Lee Jackson's "Grabbag," the Duke Nukem theme song.  A nice touch; the sort of vanity you'd expect from a character who whistles his own theme song in the bathroom.
 A beer can is found near the back of the truck and the Holoduke is in the pickup's bed.
Other items in the demo include "Dukevision" (replacing Duke3D's nightvision goggles), the Holoduke, and beer.  Like in Duke3D, the Holoduke generates a fake holographic Duke to distract enemies, and it turns the player invisible, too.  Will be handy in multiplayer, no doubt.  (In singleplayer, the Holoduke emits bad or misquoted robotic-sounding Duke lines in order to comically remind players that it's not the real Duke).  Beer, according to the tooltip, "makes Duke tougher," but does no go into more depth than that.  Tougher, as in more health?  Tougher, as in stronger punches?  It doesn't say.  And why does a single can of beer cause Duke Nukem's vision to get blurry? 
 Dr. Proton, antagonist of 1991's first Duke Nukem title, has returned as a sponsor.

The HUD in Duke Forever fades away by itself when no items are in use and your status isn't changing.  (IE - it is visible when you shoot, reload, heal, change weapons, or take damage.)  Crucial mission items, such as a tank of gas for Duke's monster truck, remain on the screen to remind you that you have it, but if you wanted to check how much ammo you have left, I don't know how you'd call up the HUD without doing something like changing weapons.  Maybe there's an option somewhere to force the HUD on, but I didn't try looking for one.  Furthermore, the HUD does not tell you which weapon you are using, only its ammo type and capacity in the upper-right corner of the screen.  Keep an eye up there when using the Holoduke to make sure you're using the right weapons.  You don't want to stealth up behind a Pig Cop thinking you'll headshot him with a shotgun only to blow yourself up with an RPG.
 Holoduke in action.  The player who activated it gets cloaked, so be careful in Dukematches in the full version.

Speaking of enemies, you'll only face a few in the demo.  There are the familar green-armoured Assault Troopers from Duke3D in the stadium level, but they're dead by the time you'll find them.  The Cycloid Emperor returns, only to have you hand him his ass again.  Pig Cops, mutated EDF troopers, are plenty, and will use shotguns as well as Rippers, 1911s, turrets, and they have a feral beast-like attack when their health is low enough.  There are unfortunately no full-sized Octabrains in the demo, but there are some Octabrain young, known as Octababies.  They can be shrunk, but I wasn't able to step on them.  I had to melee them when they were shrunk, unlike Pig Cops, who will get stomped on by Duke when you shrink them, Duke3D style.  An unexpected foe in the demo returns from Duke Nukem II.  In Duke II, cartoony spider-like creatures would latch onto Duke and drain his health.  This time around, they are far more bony and organic, but the concept is the same.  Don't let them get too close to you, and if they do, be ready to pound that jump button to pry them off.
So I've written a lot but not really said much.  " How was it?" you must be wondering.  "You played Duke Nukem Forever and you still haven't told me how it is!"  I guess I haven't, have I?  In a word, it was glorious.  Today I did something I never thought I would ever get to.  I played Duke and had a blast.  You could not wipe the dopey grin from my face.  Duke Forever is a labour of love and it shows.  It's for the Duke fans, and Duke fans will have a blast with it.  The demo banks heavily on nostalgia.  It seems a little too convenient that so many classic weapons are available in it, and the first level is the homage to Duke3D for cryin' out loud.  If you're not a Duke fan, I don't know how much the demo will convince you to pick up Forever on June 14th (June 10th internationally).  The over-the-top nature of the title is certainly not for everyone.
 Duke3D box art and the logos of 3D Realms and Triptych grace the hood of Mighty Foot, Duke's monster truck.

I do have some complaints.  I'm not really sure what the purpose of the beer is, unless Duke3D's steroids are not in the game.  (Steroids would make Duke temporarily run faster, jump higher, and strengthen his kicks.)  I also find the regenerating health prevents much of the running-and-gunning fun of Duke3D.  You can't grab some armour, boost your health to 200 with Atomic Health powerups, and head into a crowd of chaingun-wielding lizard-men this time.  The need to crouch behind stuff and wait to heal up, in my opinion, is very un-Duke-like.  Duke wouldn't do that sort of thing.  He'd walk off the injury and grab a health item later, or use the interactive environment to heal him by drinking water or using a bathroom.  Or he would rely on his handy Portable Medikit to patch himself up a bit.  Leave the "hide behind stuff and wait to heal" shtick for the wimps in power armour or the clowns who rely on cover systems.  Duke is not the sort of character who would take that crap, and the action is not as intense as it should be when you're afraid that every Pig Cop with a shotgun can kill you.  During the gunship miniboss battle, I was hiding in the downed EDF troop transport, waiting to heal up, after every single RPG round I'd shot at the enemy vehicle.
 Reminds me of the shareware days.  Man, good times.
The demo of Gearbox's Duke Nukem Forever, like their Borderlands, unfortunately has some console-leftover elements, such as the needlessly tiny FOV, but it is far from what I'd call a lazy PC port ( Resident Evil 4, I'm looking at you), but they hardly get in the way its enjoyability.  Longtime Duke fans should check it out and will no doubt find some elements to nostalgia over.  Heck, the rats in the mines make the same sound that they did in Duke3D.  (Does Lee Jackson still have the same recording??)  The demo is explosively entertaining (at times literally), action-packed, and full of attitude.  It is very short, though, but features a checkpoint-based saving system so you can continue from where you left off if you don't finish it in one sitting. (This does not bode well for the full game having a traditional PC-game-style save/load system like Duke3D, but a checkpoint-based auto-save-only system of modern console titles.)  I would have enjoyed another level in the demo, or at least some more story.  The 2011 reveal trailer plays at the end of the demo, but if anything, it should play at the beginning, since it tells more of the story than the entire demo does.
Then again, who ever played any Duke Nukem game for the story?
Duke Nukem Forever releases internationally on June 10th and in North America on June 14th.  The demo is currently available exclusively to Duke Nukem First Access Club members.  Visit http://www.dukenukem.com/access for more information.

Sorry for the lateness.

I know, I'm way overdue for another of my Mass Effect progress entries.  Been busy with exams and other crap lately.  I'll keep them coming, though!