Monthly Archives: June 2015

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Episode 33 – Fallout Shelter

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Fallout Shelter screenshot
How deep is your love?

We run the gamut of nerd emotions from wild enthusiasm to sputtering envy as we discuss the delightful iOS-only mobile game Fallout Shelter. It’s sweet, fun, and as thoughtfully executed as every other Fallout game (except that mythically horrible Xbox game we never speak of). And Rob will never play it.

LINKS

Fallout Shelter screenshot
Happiness is a warm fetus.
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Episode 32 – That Sounds Like an App!

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Alienware Steam Machine
Alienware Steam Machine

We’re back! We fell down the SummerHole for a few weeks, but we’re recording again and should be back in the groove for a good long time. This week we gab about three fun-sized topics:

  • Steam Machines: Valve announced for-real hardware available for purchase this fall. This is big news for PC gaming, and may have a long-term influence on console gaming as well.
  • Castle Panic: Paul and Rob have enjoyed this cooperative tower defense board game, and you might, too!
  • SimCity BuildIt: The SimCity franchise goes free-to-play with this iOS/Android app. Mary built her city on rock and roll.
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LinkHole: E3 Edition

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E3 Roundup collage
OH WOW MUCH GAME SO UPCOMING

E3 is all wrapped up, and the announcements came non-stop. Here’s some stuff we’re stoked for and some stuff we want to know more about:

Fallout 4
This is a biggie for us, we’re all devoted fans of the series. Rob already talked a bit about it when the trailer was released, and additional info on gameplay has only piqued our interest. Plus! Not only is the game due for release this holiday season, there’s now an iOS game called Fallout: Shelter to tide us over until November. (Fear not, Shelter is coming to Android, just not for a few months, sadly.) (That warm sensation you’re feeling is Rob’s white-hot rage radiating through the aether.)

Rob [via Facebook]: “Bethesda just dropped a bunch of new intel on Fallout 4…and I’m both wildly excited and a wee bit anxious. Will this be the game that finally teaches me to love crafting? Saying your game is like Minecraft doesn’t make me reach for my wallet. But I’m not kidding anyone–I’ll be lost to the world on November 10.”

Mary: I’m a relative new-comer to Fallout compared to these two, but I’m all in and super-excited for this edition. I’m already playing Fallout: Shelter on my phone, and while it’s basically SimCity: Apocalypse, if you have any love for this universe, you’ll probably want to grab it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m even considering getting that sweet collector’s edition so I can get my own Pip-Boy. I never buy collector’s editions, but the cosplay possibilities might be more than I can resist.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Mary: It’s hard not to see this trailer through the lens of last year’s Unity debacle… but let’s just be glad that Ubisoft is listening and has given us an excellent playable female character. Evie Frye is exactly the female assassin I want to play and Victorian London is an enticing location, especially the steampunky version shown in the main trailer and the gameplay walkthrough. Of course, I love this series more in theory than practice, but I’ll probably pick it up.

Cuphead
This lovely bit of insanity is hand-drawn, hand-inked, and brilliantly captures the animation style of the 1930s. Coming to Steam in 2016, Cuphead also features original jazz recordings and according to their website, “is a classic run and gun action game heavily focused on boss battles.”

Mary: I’m definitely checking this out as soon as I can.

Unravel
Reminiscent of the quiet melancholy and beauty of games like Limbo or Journey, Unravel is the tale of Yarny, a character made of yarn that slowly unravels as you progress through the gameplay. So far no release date has been announced, but it appears that the game will be available for both PC and console. Learn more at Unravel’s website.

Lego Dimensions
Dimensions is Lego’s answer to Skylanders.

Mary: First of all, can we talk about how adorable that trailer with Joel McHale is? I love the Lego games and am particularly excited by the IPs included here (SO MANY IPS!! Portal!! Back to the Future!! Lord of the Rings!! OMG!!). I’m not sure I can afford to get caught up in collecting all the minifigs, but the temptation might be too great.

Xbox One will be backwards-compatible with Xbox 360 games.
Sort of. Let’s call it “backwards compatible.”

Paul [via Facebook]: “They’re starting with a list of 100 by the holidays (there’s a couple dozen now), and they’re going to add more based on gamer feedback. Presumably it will be most big games eventually–but also presumably, I’ll never get to play Earth Defense Force 2017 on the One.”

Rob: This may be too little, too late for me, especially given Steam’s announcement of real live Steam Machines coming out soon. I haven’t done my homework yet, though.

Also note: Until this fall, you have to be in the invitation-only Xbox Preview program to play the 360 games. Here’s a list of the current titles (including BattleBlock Theater!).

The Kinect is dead. Or is it?
Yeah, so it looks like we won’t have the Kinect to kick around any more…for a while.

Rob: Note that Microsoft was quick to cover its butt and let us know that some forthcoming games will use Kinect, but it rings kind of hollow to me. While the tech has just never been quite ready, it was still a rare and wonderful example of Microsoft taking a risk in the console market. I wish they’d been able to deliver on its promise, but I feel confident that future generations of controllers will have some Kinect genes in their DNA.

Ashen
Mary: This looks very cool, and I’m a sucker for open-world RPG. Not sure how I feel about the faceless avatars, but I’d at least like to try it out.

Rob: This looks beautiful. I love the facelessness, mostly because it feels like a stab at uniqueness in a market filled with Uncanny Valley residents. But I have a bad feeling I’ll be more interested in watching Ashen than in playing it.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

Paul: This is maybe my favorite shooter ever (as discussed in our very first episode of Nerdhole!), and certainly my favorite game so far on the Xbone. PvZGW2 looks just as lovingly and conscientiously done as the original, with many improvements (detailed by Kotaku here) that address my main complaints about the game. First and foremost, they’ve added split-screen, side-by-side-on-the-couch multiplayer. I also love that every game mode is getting an offline AI mode—and, not surprisingly but thankfully, all your characters and upgrades will transfer.

The Walking Dead: Michonne
Breakout character Michonne gets her own Telltale game!

Rob: Well, this sounds like fun. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Telltale TWD game, but I’ve come to believe that may have been controller-related frustration, as I’ve had great good fun with subsequent Telltale games. We don’t know yet whether Danai Gurira will voice the character, but we can hope.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
It’s not out for well over a year, but Bioware had to shake things up a little with this announcement.

Rob: Wow, the trailer is fucking gorgeous. I was a very late Mass Effect adopter, but I’ve played each of the three titles many times through and will no doubt dive into this as soon as it comes out.

No Man’s Sky
This long-awaited exploration game (on its second E3 now) finally gets a preview.

Paul: I’ve been waiting for this forever, and my expectations are admittedly probably too high. I’ve been imagining my ideal crew of repurposed Mass Effect characters, privateering around a sandbox galaxy and occasionally landing the Mako for open-ended planetary exploration and swashbuckling. It’s still hard to tell what the game’s actually “about,” but … my expectations are (probably appropriately) muted. I hope the prosaic-looking pieces that we see here come together into something more. Watch the video and see what you think.

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WARNING! Fallout: Shelter Is Massively Addictive

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My vault.
My vault.

Nerdhole’s email thread regarding Fallout: Shelter:

Mary:
Ugh I can’t help it, I’m totally doing in-app purchases. Fallout: Shelter has taken over my iOS life. I don’t play SimCity, I don’t play Frozen, I ONLY PLAY FALLOUT: SHELTER.

I’m constantly worried about my vault dwellers! And if I send one out into the wasteland to forage I have to keep checking my phone to make sure he or she is ok. I’m about to spend my third $4 on supplies. I’m writing this in an effort to put it off, but who am I kidding? Eventually I will spend it!!

Paul, have you been playing?

Paul:
I got about five minutes into Fallout: Shelter and backed away in fear of just what you’re describing! But I think I may try again. The min-maxing pressure of where to place things and what things to place and being locked into your choices stresses me out—but I’m sure there’s an IAP to help with that!

Mary:
Yeah my first vault I just started placing things, so then I made a second vault to try to be more organized, but actually my first vault is thriving better. I just had a crisis where I couldn’t figure out why my dwellers were all sad and then I realized they all had radiation poisoning, and now they’re getting happy again.

I do wish you could shift stuff around like in SimCity. Even though you start with a core area and just start plunking stuff down, you can always move and reorganize.

Also you can NAME your dwellers, which is awesome. I haven’t started doing that yet, but it’s cool you can customize.

Rob:
Wow. Just throw this thread up as a post, title it “WARNING,” then walk away.

Mary:
Done and done.

More screenshots from my vault:

The kids born in the vault wander from room to room until they reach adulthood. This kid, Will, wandered in on a couple doin' it. Creepy. (The little green smiley faces from behind the cabinet indicate that baby-making is happening. If you put a male and female vault dweller into the barracks they WILL have babies.)
The kids born in the vault wander from room to room until they reach adulthood. This kid, Will, wandered in on a couple doin’ it. Creepy. (The little green smiley faces from behind the cabinet indicate that baby-making is happening. If you put a male and female vault dweller into the barracks they WILL have babies.)

The Radio Station can lure wastelanders to the vault where they can live in comfort and harmony. Mostly.
The Radio Station can lure wastelanders to the vault where they can live in comfort and harmony. Mostly.
Tim and Pam, gettin' it on for the second time. (Will is their kid.) Sexy-time takes a dweller's happiness level right to 100%, and pregnant lady dwellers will stay at 100% their entire pregnancy. Which is obviously 100% accurate.
Tim and Pam, gettin’ it on for the second time. (Will is their kid.) Sexy-time takes a dweller’s happiness level right to 100%, and pregnant lady dwellers will stay at 100% their entire pregnancy. Which is obviously 100% accurate.
In this picture you can see Will, the kid from earlier, all grown up. He enjoys working with his dad, Timothy, in the power plant. Will is equipped with a rifle, not the BB gun he wished for when he was little.
In this picture you can see Will, the kid from earlier, all grown up. He enjoys working with his dad, Timothy, in the power plant. Will is equipped with a rifle, not the BB gun he wished for when he was little.
OH NO! Disaster! Pam's been working in water treatment and something's gone wrong. Pregnant dwellers and children will run from disasters, and you need to bring other dwellers in to deal with the trouble.
OH NO! Disaster! Pam’s been working in water treatment and something’s gone wrong. Pregnant dwellers and children will run from disasters, and you need to bring other dwellers in to deal with the trouble.
The fire spread a bit, but the dwellers got it quickly under control.
The fire spread a bit, but the dwellers got it quickly under control.
Cynthia's intelligence is high (you can see the bar over the "I" in SPECIAL is taller than the rest). I also equipped her with a lab coat that gives her another +5 to intelligence (the blue part of that bar is the boost). She is happy working in the science lab.
Cynthia’s intelligence is high (you can see the bar over the “I” in SPECIAL is taller than the rest). I also equipped her with a lab coat that gives her another +5 to intelligence (the blue part of that bar is the boost). She is happy working in the science lab.
Timothy heads into the wasteland to forage for supplies and caps. He's now reasonably well-equipped so I haven't had to stay glued to my phone the entire time he's out.
Timothy heads into the wasteland to forage for supplies and caps. He’s now reasonably well-equipped so I haven’t had to stay glued to my phone the entire time he’s out.
Tim's journal lets me know everything that's happening to him. The green bar at the bottom will fill up with supplies as he picks them up. On his last expedition, which was four hours long, he picked up five guns and about 600 caps. It takes dwellers half as long to get back as the length of their expedition, so a ten minute mission will take five minutes to return from.
Tim’s journal lets me know everything that’s happening to him. The green bar at the bottom will fill up with supplies as he picks them up. On his last expedition, which was four hours long, he picked up five guns and about 600 caps. It takes dwellers half as long to get back as the length of their expedition, so a ten minute mission will take five minutes to return from.
The in-app purchases are lunchboxes filled with mystery items. You may get caps, food, power, water, weapons, armor, or dwellers. Whatever you're thinking now, you WILL be purchasing some lunchboxes. Good luck.
The in-app purchases are lunchboxes filled with mystery items. You may get caps, food, power, water, weapons, armor, or dwellers. Whatever you’re thinking now, you WILL be purchasing some lunchboxes. Good luck.
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Jurassic World Is Super Fun Despite Its Shortcomings

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Check out all the majesty.
Check out all the majesty.
Let me start with this: Jurassic World was never going to surpass the experience of seeing the original Jurassic Park in the theater in 1993 for me. It was the first time we saw real dinosaurs on screen (well, real-ish… more real than the stiff, plodding dinosaurs of movies past.) Jurassic Park‘s dinosaurs were smart, fast, felt like real animals, and they were brought to life in a way we’d never seen before. Yes, it was chock full of scientific inaccuracies, but that hardly mattered to the dinosaur-lover inside of me… I was Alan Grant, tearing up at the majesty and magic of the creatures, just as Hammond intended.

So Jurassic World was never going to be that. But it was also never going to disappoint me… I already knew there was a gang of velociraptors rolling with Chris Pratt on a motorcycle. And that was every bit as awesome as I anticipated… in fact all of dino-action was FANTASTIC. From the pastoral grandeur of the roaming herds of herbivores to the over-the-top, kick-ass climactic fight scene, Jurassic World DELIVERED. And seeing the park taken to the logical conclusion was satisfying, as were all the winks to the fans and nods to the original film. I loved it. I loved every minute of that stuff. I laughed with childish glee. If you’re at all hesitating, it is ABSOLUTELY worth seeing this in the theater, because the magnitude and action are the best things about the film.

That being said, literally every female character in this film is an eye-rolling stereotype or a prop. I mean, it’s not like anyone is well-written, but it’s particularly egregious with the women. This movie couldn’t be any more male-point-of-view. The main female character, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a lazy 1980s cardboard cutout of a corporate ice queen who doesn’t know how to have fun and is completely out of touch with her environment. Also probably she wants babies because every human female wants babies. Judy Greer—as Claire’s sister and the boys’ mother—was criminally underused. She has a weird melt-down at one point that’s completely unsupported by the plot, and also she’s sure her sister wants babies. The other female cast members include the older son Zach’s girlfriend (prop); Zara, Claire’s assistant (prop); Vivian, from the control room, who refuses the advances of her co-worker but also cries alot (I know people had just been eaten, but none of the dudes are crying!); and all the girls Zach looks at (also props).

The 22-year-old Jurassic Park was infinitely more feminist. In that film we only had two female characters but they were both solid. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is a badass, she’s clearly respected in her field, she’s not afraid to call people out, and she doesn’t burst into tears at every possible turn. Lex (Ariana Richards) was actually an improvement from the novel… sure she’s not thrilled about the outdoors, but it seems to do more with her being a computer geek (sorry, hacker) than a girl. And she helps save the day on more than one occasion… she distracts the raptors in the kitchen, and she knows the “Unix system.” Weirdly, even the female raptors in the original film were better written: they were calculating clever girls, whereas Blue and her gang take orders from a man. They couldn’t even write the female dinosaurs correctly!

This all makes it sound like I hated the film, but I honestly didn’t… it was everything you want and expect from a dinosaur-fueled thrill ride. In conclusion, I give Jurassic World 10/10 Barbasol Cans for awesome dinosaur action and nostalgia, but only 7/10 White Suits for mild sexism and exhausting tropes.

And now for some spoilers:

Continue reading →

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Ready for Opening Night of Jurassic World

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Hold on to your butts: Nerdhole heads to opening night of Jurassic World tonight, and I AM READY! I’m wearing my vintage 1993 Jurassic Park Island Tour tee shirt. 22 years ago today I saw the original on opening night with my best friend Chris and my two sisters. Chris nearly lost his arm like poor Mr. Arnold because I kept pulling on it in terror and excitement. Despite all the scientific inaccuracies and nonsense Jurassic Park is still one of my favorite movies of all time.

Obviously we’ll have lots more to say about this, and I promise my review will be filled with ALL CAPS and ALL OF THE EXCLAMATION POINTS.

jurassic park island tours tee shirt

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LinkHole: A Round-Up of Headlines From the Past 24 Hours

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The Martian
The Martian
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Fallout 4 or Dog Simulator?

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I’m as excited as can be about the hot new Fallout 4 trailer (see it here), despite viral shenanigans keeping my body in check. Bethesda is mostly just teasing their E3 presentation on June 14 (watch it live here), but there’s a lot packed into the three-minute clip.

Let’s start with the setting: Boston! Okay, it might not have been my first choice, but it’s got plenty of landmarks and history to mess around with. Each title in the franchise has built in more and more setting-based Easter eggs (though New Vegas did recycle some from Fallout 2), and the clip is full of Boston landmarks. If there’s not a Tea Party side quest, I’ll eat my three-cornered hat.

And then there’s the elephant in the room, which in the Fallout world can only mean the dog. First-time viewers of the trailer could easily think that the friendly, inquisitive German Shepherd is the game’s main playable character, and while the ending suggests otherwise, who am I to say for sure? Canine companions are another fixture of the series, but maybe they’ve flipped the script this time so it’s more like Peabody and Sherman.

And then comes the fan service. There’s a lot to take in, from the Ink Spots song to the Power Armor in the garage to the insanely dangerous household robots to Ron Perlman’s iconic line “War…war never changes.” The brahmin, the deathclaw, the ghouls, the vividly detailed city streets, it all adds up to a $60 direct debit from my checking account.

My only concern is the emphasis on pre-Apocalypse flashbacks. Most likely this is just non-game storytelling juju, but that was a lot of pre-war animation, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It might be neat if they worked that into character creation, like the infancy-to-adulthood sequence in Fallout 3. Time will tell.