Fallout 3 – Good Samaritan -Big Town, Big Trouble

I strolled into Big Town with as warm a welcome as a thunderstorm at a picnic. The residents of the ramshackle settlement looked tired and despairing. A dirty stinking man wandered about raving about their imminent and unavoidable deaths, no-one seemed to disagree. I managed to get a sensible conversation out of a lady calling herself Bittercup, though her outlook was just as gloomy. I learnt that the town was beset by enemies, one, a group of slave traders looking to restock their shelves, the seconds group they referred to as super mutants. I’d seen a mutant in Megaton, sickly and weak, skin peeling of like wallpaper after a flood. Super mutants just sounded like hysterical non-sense to me. How bad could they be? Bittercup explained how the mutants were their most pressing concern, they had rolled through town and taken some live captives, including the town’s only healer, clearly more than just the hostages lives were at stake.

The townspeople said their goodbyes as though it was the last we’d see of each other. I trudged up the road to the nearby Germantown police station where I was told the captives had likely been taken. I should have been more cautious, strolling up the road in plain sight like I was walking in the park. A figure appeared on the horizon, I thought it was a bear at first. A great hulking mass of green flesh, like a man, but twice the size, and it had seen me. It came charging towards me swinging a great chunk of steal I could have hardly lifted. Deadly, but without thought, he struck again and again, my baseball bat seemed pathetic in comparison. Yet I found I could easily dodge his blows, and those I couldn’t dodge, I parried with ease. For all his strength, he was not too bright. I dodged and danced around the brute, taking a swing at his head whenever I could, if it did any damage, he didn’t show it, or care. Maybe with an hour of chipping away I could have brought him down, providing I didn’t get struck in the process. But time was not abundant. The first I knew that we were not alone was a crack and a zip as a bullet whizzed past my face close enough to make my left ear ring like a church bell. Another Super mutant, this one brandishing a rifle, smart enough to work a gun then. My preconceptions about super mutants were now thoroughly shattered.

I ran. Legs propelling me in the only direction that my brain could conceive of. Away from them. I had been turned around in the fight, I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t care. Another mutant carrying a rifle was like a sideways gust of wind in my sails, sending me careening at a right angle. I made for the cover of an old railway overpass, but I was surrounded, and I could hear them calling, hunting me. Out in the open I was as good as dead, I made for the nearest building, a concrete structure, half rubble, with an exposed stairwell to a once interior door. I ducked inside, found a corner to hide in and held my breath. The room was filled with computers, still inexplicably functional. On the screen was a 911 call report. I was in the police station. Fortune had placed me exactly where I had wanted to go, I had yet to determine is said fortune was good or bad.

Once I had recovered my breath and my wits, I went to explore my surroundings. I found an old stealth boy in a drawer, along with grenades in a tin box. Huge sacks of dripping back gore hung from the walls or were left in heaps on the floor. What madness made me take a closer look I don’t know, at first it looked like a butchers trash can, until I saw a piece of shoe, a finger, a head. The Family were not the only ones with a taste for human. That 200 year old can of Pork’N’Beans I ate was ready to make a comeback but the sound of giant feet gave me the strength to keep it down.  If these mutants were any one thing, it certainly wasn’t quiet. Useful when you are sneaking around trying to avoid them. I listened to those footfalls like steady war drums until I was certain he was far enough away then made my way for the stairwell. If the captured settlers were in the building they weren’t up here.

Downstairs looked as much like a wolf den as the upper floor had, untidy and littered with carcasses. Clearly they didn’t like visitors, landmines were left all over. I tip toed round one and made a dash to the door, and found my path blocked. Before my eyes was a massive, green chest, every inch that wasn’t pockmarked with sores, or scarred was pure muscle. Atop the chest was a gruesome face, missing an ear and something sharp protruding from its cheek. It let out a roar from a salivating mouth. I turned and ran for the exit, hopped over the mine, but had already found another way around and cut me off. If I was to survive this I would have to fight. I fled to the corner, putting the landmine between me and him and did my best to look terrified and helpless, not a difficult act to sell. Predictably he lumbered forwards, looking to claim his next meal. There was a bang and a cloud of smoke as he triggered the mine. Not too bright. The dust cleared, revealing the same face as before, only not somehow angrier and uglier before, oozing red streaks covering his scowl. He drew his rifle, and I drew my pistol. When both stopped firing, I opened my eyes and saw the giant slumped dead against the wall. He looked almost as surprised as I did that he was the one dead and not me. I heard footsteps again. No way the other mutants hadn’t heard that mine go off, or the bullets fired. I activated the stealth boy snatched his rifle and crept into a washroom by the stairs to the basement. The mutants came up from the basement, so it seemed like a good place to be if they weren’t there. Once I was sure they wouldn’t hear, I slipped past. In the downstairs was hot as hell and smelled like a barbeque. In the distance, voices. I crept close and could see silhouetted by an open furnace a mutant bigger than the rest. He was talking, which was surprising in itself. More he was bragging, saying how he was going to cook someone.

“Ha. I hope you choke on my bones.” The voice of a foolhardy man yelled, to which the giant guffawed.

“Me? Choke on your puny bones?”

Clearly there was little time left to save this man. I had to act. Now. I had surprise on my side, so I used it. Before he knew I was there, three grenades had blown at his feet. In a rage he fired blindly at me. But I was already in positon, taking cover behind a doorframe and taking steady shots at his head. For once I was in control of a fight, the beast hit the floor with a thud. I entered to find a man named Shorty tied up and somewhat relieved to see a human, picking through the would-be-chef’s possessions. I untied him and asked if there were any others.

“Yeah, they got red. She’s upstairs. You lead and I’ll show you where.”

“You know how to use this?” I said handing him my pistol.

“Hell yeah. Lay it on me.” His eagerness to take the gun should have warned me it was a bad idea to arm him.

We crept upstairs to the cell where the other captive was being held. The lock was beyond my picking ability, but I felt in my pocket for a key I had absentmindedly taken from the last mutant. To everyone’s relief, it fitted the lock. Quietly as we could we sneaked out a ground floor door. But then, stealth was off the table. A mutant saw us immediately and began calling to his comrades. Nothing else for it. I shouted run. We snaked across the open ground as fast as we could. Only when we were clear of the town did I notice only one person was with me. That damn fool shorty was fighting the mutants. One beaten and broken man with a peashooter in a crowd super mutants. If we had found the courage to save him, it wouldn’t have helped, he was dead before he had emptied his weapon. No time to mourn, they would be after us next. We didn’t stop running until we reached Big Town. The people stared at us like we were ghosts. None had thought to see either of us alive again.

Fallout 3 – Good Samaritan – Welcome to the Wastes

Here we are, the first of hopefully many pieces chronicling my adventures in Fallout 3 and a helpful wander. I figured since I would be a generous soul, and it’s just 2 days from Christmas, I’d call my character Klaus, give him white hair and a big beard. My character in the end didn’t look much like Santa, but you work with what you are given. I think I will be making a narrative from my gameplay, just for fun.

As I step out into the destruction and decay that was once the nations capital, I am left wondering just what I was expecting. In many ways it is worse than I could image, and yet completed not what I expected. I was told it was a lawless place filled with barbarians and murderers, but what I see is just a lifeless void. I am filled with sadness as I pick through the carcass of small village, burnt out ruins left as a memorial to the lives that once called this place home. Hard to believe just a day before, I was living my safe, sheltered life. My biggest worry was Butch and his lackeys. All that was gone. My father, left without a word. My only friends, Jonas and Amata, nothing more than memories. Jonas is dead, Amata, left in the clutches of her maniac of a father, and worse, I killed a man.

I was seen as a threat to the vault community, they sent guards to end me. I tried to disarm the man, but he would not let up. When Butch appeared, pleading for me to save his mother, I could not waste any more time, I pointed the gun Amata left me and squeezed, before I knew it, he was lying dead on the ground. Saving Butch’s mother was little consolation after that, I could not stay here. I had once dreamed of being the vault pastor, the G.O.A.T. had confirmed I was a match for the job. Now. I was a killer. I shrugged off the baton blows of my pursuers as I fled the vault, into my new life. I could be of no more help to the people of the vault, but perhaps I could help in other ways, it looked as though this world needed a lot of help.

I was beginning to think the world didn’t have any humans left in it when I found a woman, hiding in a small house. She was scared, defensive. She kept raving aboutsome man by the name of Moriaty, thinking I had come on his orders to settle her debt, I promised to talk to him, see if I could convince him she was long gone. This led me to Megaton, folks seemed to be clinging on to life by their finger tips here, and there were plenty of no good types looking to profit from their suffering, from a narcotic pedling “doctor” to the booze and debauchery dealing Moriaty. He seemed to have forgotten about the debt the lady was concerned about, but being around him made my skin crawl, I had to get out of this forsaken place. My hand was on the doorhandle when I heard a plea.

Lucy west was her name. And her request, at first, seemed small. To deliver a letter to her family. Were it only so simple. I set off through the dead landscape, towards a lonely settlement, perched on a half collapsed overpass. There were many dangers along the way, and I used the last of my pistol ammunition to survive, so when a figure clad head to toe in armor appeared, firing missiles at me, I had no choice but to run. I passed a settlement called Big Town where the people looked like they were having troubles beyond my ability to fix, so one I went, to Arefu. The reception was none too friendly, and could you blame them. Nighttime attacks from a group calling themselves The Family. I offered to help, a letter to Lucy’s family would be little help if they were all dead. Unfortunately, it seemed I was too late. Lucy’s mother and father lay butchered by unknown means in their home. How would I tell Lucy? I broke it to the towns protector, Evan King, telling him of the two corpses. Yet a ray of hope remained, apparently they had a son as well, Ian. The Family had been known to take young people captive, perhaps the boy was still alive. Evan pointed me to a few local landmarks where he suspected the Family might be hiding.

I set off, towards a spot that was once an outdoor cinema, but it looked pretty deserted. The place felt exposed, not somewhere I wanted to be with little more than a baseball bat for protection. A creature attack me, a hideous monstrosity from the nearby river, like some kind of mutant crab-person. Luckily, it exploded, unluckily, the cause of the explosion was the armored man. I could not be sure if it was the same person as before, but her wielded a rocket launcher and was now firing at me. I ducked into a nearby cave. One Evan had pointed out on my map. It looked long abandoned, nothing here but irradiated giant scorpions. The place was like a maze, and the scorpions were out for my blood, my baseball bat was little use. An improvised mine was useful to take out one of them, but the rest was swarming. I ran, and locked myself in a small room. Out of breath and bleeding. I could hear them scratching at the door trying to reach their prey. A plan formed. I opened the door and scrambled up an old bunk bed, the scorpions flooded in like a river when the dam breaks. I leap over them, through the door and slammed it shut, trapping them inside. When I left the cave, the mysterious man had left. Only one location left on my list.

I made it to the old metro station, sneaking or running past giant moles and rabid dogs. I raided an abandoned grocery store for supplied and made my way into the tunnels. Apart from some drug dealing ghouls and a feral pack of molerats, it was pretty desolate. I ventured deeper into the tunnels. There I stumbled on a bunch of viscous trapped. I was injured and tired, but something told me I was on the right path to find Ian. What I found was a community lead by one man named Vance. The radiation outside had done something to the people there, made them crave human flesh, Vance, had sworn to help them, show them another way. Turns out Ian had the same hunger for, and his appetite had caused him to murder and cannibalize his own family. He had gone to the Family for help. Once I showed him the letter from his sister, he gained a new resolve, he would return to Arefu to make amends and help the struggling community. Out of the tragedy, I feel I helped some good come about. Ian has a new lease on life, and Arefu and the Family have come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Arefu provides blood to keep the Family’s hunger at bay, and the Family protect Arefu. Still. What would I tell Lucy. I didn’t have the strength to tell her yet, better to let her go one thinking, for now at least, that her parents were alive and well. Perhaps the people of Big Town could use my help…

Fallout 3 – The Good Samaritan Challange Run

Been A while since I have posted one of these. This is one I have been thinking about for a while, mostly out of a desire to revisit Fallout 3. The plan, to play through the game with self imposed rules to create a new experience. The idea, to be a wandering, saint. Helping the people of post-nuclear Washington with whatever little problem they are having. No task too big or too small. Here’s the rules

  • If someone has genuine need or aspiration, or asks for help, you must drop everything and help them. Naturally You may end up with more than one request at a time, so you finish the current one then move onto the next one.
  • Only help those who deserve help: The poor, the downtrodden, those struggling. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. And if they seem aggressive, rich, powerful etc. they don’t get your help.
  • When one quest ends, talk to those nearby until you find a new quest. If no-one has a quest, wander towards the next nearest populated area and ask around there. If you are quest-less, talk to every stranger you meet.
  • Main quest can be ignored or dipped into at your discretion. But it’s mostly about helping the common-folk.
  • No crafting or repairing or trading. Use what you find, if a weapon deteriorates beyond use, discard it. You can use any caps you accumulate for medical treatment or upgrades only.
  • No killing of sentients except in self defence, if a quest giver wants you to hurt someone innocent, either find a peaceful solution or don’t help them, or help the other party.
  • You may carry a maximum of two functioning weapons, if someone gives a weapon to you as a gift, you can stash it for later use or discard it. You may hold onto any additional melee weapons for use only when other options fail. You can drop a weapon at any time to take another you’d prefer.

So there it is. May need tweaking in practice, but I think it should be interesting. Since it is a role-playing game, it is nice to pick a role and actually play it, rather than what I and I bet many others do, which is to do whatever gives you the best loot, or sounds more fun. Excluding some gameplay elements like trading and repairing also means you can spend more time on other things, and forces you to adapt and play differently. I like the idea of replacing weapons when they deteriorate, meaning I will have to take whatever is available and scavenge on the fly, as well as providing variety rather than finding a weapon you like and sticking with it throughout the game.

Check back to see how I get on, and post your experiences in the comment if you try this yourself.

BGG 24 hours game contest – May 2015 – Knight at the Inn

Follow the links below for the components and rules to my BoardGameGeek.com 24 hour game contest entry for May 2015. If you want to know about my journey in board games so far and the development of this game, then read on.

Knight at the Inn Components

Knight at the Inn Rule Book

Getting into Board Gaming

As an aspiring game designer, I have really enjoyed diving head first into the world of board games, or more specifically the side of board games known as designer games or hobby games. I have enjoyed a lot of games over the years (although even back then I had to have my arm twisted to play Monopoly or Cluedo). I guess it was inevitable that once I had a taste of games beyond the mass market stuff found in high street toy shops, I would get hooked.

For me the game that started it was Talisman, I got myself invited to a game and had a blast, it was an experience like the western RPG videogames I enjoy but on cardboard. I began learning all I could about the hobby and before I knew it I was through the looking glass, down the rabbit hole, in at the deep end and all the other clichés for getting deeply involved in something. After that my collection began to rapidly grow, I converted my girlfriend Gemma into a board-gamer as well and we have not looked back.

I think one of the things I like most about the hobby is transparency of the design in the final product. If you know where to look, there is every little obstructing the player from the designers decisions. The rules and all the components are all there for you to see and analyse in the box. And as a game designer I can’t help but try to deconstruct every element; why that number of cards? Why is that action worth that many points? Why are those dice results special and not another combination? Which makes it all the more impressive when it all comes together to make an interesting, well balanced and fun game. So having established that I have been suitably inspired, it’s my turn…

BoardGameGeek May 2015 24 hour game contest

– My Entry – Knight at the Inn

Playing Knight at the Inn

Playing Knight at the Inn

I had attempted a game or two before, and have had dozens of designs in my head. But never had I gotten past the prototype phase. So the 24 hour contest was looking like it would be a great challenge and a good incentive to get over that hump. I was a little unhappy with the theme being “Knight” I was struggling to come up with a concept that didn’t revolve around killing things with swords (I don’t like to go for the obvious choice). Inspiration struck thinking about chess pieces and knights marching across a medieval countryside. What formed in my mind was an abstract strategy game about knights returning home and staying the night at inns along the road home. And being a big Game of Thrones fan, I thought about the way that main characters traveling across the land would always end up in the same tavern.

I quickly put together a pen and paper prototype and tried It out with Gemma. I wanted it to be a tactical game of maneuvering your knights across the board whilst blocking your opponent. So I made sure there was limited space at the inns for tactical blocking and covering of pieces. And I tried to give the pieces variable abilities to allow them differing roles in gameplay for players to discover. The lone knight as an easy to move but vulnerable pieces ideal for dashing about and pinning threatening opponent pieces, the King is a difficult to move piece but can be a strong tool to muscle your way though and block pieces.

After the first play though, we realised we had had a great time. Sure new rules were implemented on the fly but it was fun, we could see clearly where we could move, who we could block, where would leave us exposed. The tension seemed to really build towards the end, just when you thought you had a handle on it and could run away with it, your opponent would get a foot hold. A happy accident of the design, that as you got more pieces to the end space, you became more vulnerable to being pinned down or blocked. Most games we have played seemed to come down to the last few pieces. I felt I was onto something good when after one play, we immediately wanted to set it up again and go another round.

Development we pretty well but I made a mistake of starting my project a few hours before I had to be in bed for work early the next day.I spent about 4 hours setting up the basic rule book and pieces before I had to call it a night. I may not have stuck strictly too the rules, but three days later all I needed to do was make some pretty pictures for the pieces and finish up the rules before making my final presentation.

Going Forward

I have had a bunch of plays of this game with Gemma. But I think the next step would definitely be to have some others play it. See whether it merits further development, I have my concerns about it and things that I like, but it’s hard to say what direction I should be taking those elements right now. So far I haven’t gotten much feedback form other people, so I will have to start going after play testers some more. That or I will just move onto the next project. One thing I know is that the rules need a little clean up.

The Game Tinkerer – King of Tokyo AI Opponents

The Game Tinkerer – Because no game is ever finished

This is the first in a series of articles I have been meaning to write about modifying games. Be it video games or board games, sometimes the base game is just not enough. It could be a good game I want more of, or a bad game that needs fixing, or just using the constraints of the game to stretch it as far as it will go. I hope to make a few of these articles, covering topics such as house rules, alternate ways to play, video game challenge runs and maybe some game mods.

House Rules – King of Tokyo AI opponents

Today I will be outlining the AI rules I use in King of Tokyo when I want more people to play against. Great if you want a solo variant or just more monsters to fight against.

Hamsters don't make good opponents, they can't sit still long enough

Hamsters don’t make good opponents, they can’t sit still long enough

I have had King of Tokyo for some time now but have struggled to get it out to play with more than three people. Trouble is, as great as this game is, it get better the more people you have. Sure you can pull it out for a party or a gaming meet up but the rest of the week if you live alone or with your partner (like me), it is gonna stay on the shelf. So I developed a way to play against automated opponents. With some simple rules you can have games against some fairly competitive AI players. I have used these rules to play solo and with my girlfriend in three and four player matches and had a good time.

As deep as King of Tokyo is, essentially you only have a few decisions to make; which dice to keep and which to re-roll, whether or not to buy that card you can afford, and whether or not to yield Tokyo when attacked. My rules randomly determine each of these decisions in a way that feels like playing a human opponent, a slightly dumb, very aggressive human, but any more complex and it would be a pain to implement.

AI rules

Rolling and Re-Rolling the Dice

The dice are, despite the re-rolling mechanic, a very random element of this game, so the following rule set will usually simulate a convincing imitation of a human players dice choices.

Each of the three rolls work in much the same way. Rolling the dice, determining the “useless” dice for re-rolling and keeping the good dice. I class the dice faces are numbers and symbols (heart, energy or attack)

“Useless” dice are defined:

  • Any symbols that cannot be used, for example an AI monster will discard hearts if it has full health or cannot attack or collect energy.
  • Any numbers that are impossible to get three of a kind with. e.g. There are two threes but the other dice are already being kept for another purpose.
  • Any single number not repeated (the AI monster doesn’t take risks)
  • Any pair of numbers of lower value than another pair.
  • Attack symbols when the monster is below 4 health and outside of Tokyo

Using this method the AI will generally collect energy, attack monsters, heal when necessary, play less aggressively when near death and try for victory points when a pair or triple is number is rolled.

Buying Cards

Check the number of energy cubes the AI has, if it is enough to buy a card, roll a dice to decide whether or not to purchase it.

If the monster can only afford one card, role a dice, if it lands on an energy or attack symbol buy that card. If more than one card can be bought, do the following:

  1. Role a dice until you get a number, going from left to right (or top to bootom, however you have your three cards arranged) the number on the dice is the starting card.
  2. If the monster can afford the card, roll a dice the same as rolling to buy a single card, otherwise, skip to the next card.
  3. Carry on in this fashion until all cards are bought or skipped, if a new card comes out which the monster can buy, roll for it at the end.
  4. If the monster can afford all three but buys none, it is considdered that it does not want any, in that case, providing it has 5 energy or more, pay 2 energy to scrap cards and draw new ones. Roll to buy any new cards as normal.

Yielding Tokyo

AI monsters will yield Tokyo or not according to their health

8 or more Do not Yield Tokyo.

7 – 5 Roll one dice, if it is a symbol, yield Tokyo.

4 Roll one dice, only stay in Tokyo if it is an attack.

3 or less Yield Tokyo

Using Cards

Some cards can be used at times of the players choice, so assume that the AI monster bought the card to use it. The AI should choose to use card abilities at any point that benefits them, messed with someone else, and won’t hinder themselves.

Golden Rule

The AI will do anything that a human trying to win the game would obviously do.

For example, I played a game where all monsters had 3 or less health, and the AI monsters kept trying to buy a card that would deal 3 damage to all monsters thus ending the game without a winner. I didn’t allow it, sure there would be some sadistic player who might find it fun to screw the game like this but it is not something I would encourage.

Also the AI are trying to win, so if there is a card they can afford that would win the game for them, they should buy it at the first opportunity without rolling the dice. It’s not fun to have to make yourself lose like this, in fact I have made the AI ignore the cards in situations like these and gone on to won, but I know deep down that I lost, I just wanted to play a little more.

So there it is. Give it a go. Feel free to comment if you enjoyed the rules or had any suggestions to make the rules better.

Watch_Dogs – Game Review and Breakdown

If you are wanting a review of Watch Dogs then this will suffice, but it is more of a breakdown of the game from a game designer point of view, so bear in mind that I may talk about specifics in the game that may be considered SPOILERS. I have been following the game design lectures here and making a design analysis of a game is the homework. This was my first attempt and although enjoyed making somewhat like a review, I think I can do better on the analysis department having read the brief again. so lets begin.

It's great fun to use the profiler, especially if you are an Archer fan

A world where no ones private data is safe, especially not from you

Watch Dogs is a game where you play the complex Aiden Pierce, a gifted computer hacker, driver and marksman. Essentially it is an open world action game with diverse gameplay elements from combat, puzzle solving, driving, stealth and evasion, but the theme and narrative of the game add a deeper level of meaning to the gameplay.

In Short

Positives

  • Strong Theme an narrative reinforced by the mechanics
  • Original gameplay features
  • Thought provoking theme that is highly relevant to modern life
  • A sense of power over adversity in slow plan and execute phases or in higher paced reactionary situations
  • A variety of tools for a wide array of scenarios, none of which seem redundent
  • Attention to detail bring the setting to life making all AI characters seem more human

Negatives

  • Cheating enemy AI
  • Too difficult to correct mistakes in stealth sections
  • Next to no use for the money you collect
  • Easy to find dominant strategies that can take the challenge out of gameplay

In summary – The morality of the narrative flits between good and bad in this title, but as far as the gameplay is concerned, the good far out weighs the bad. Enough to recommend this game to anyone who likes their open world, action, adventure or stealth games to assume a little intelligence of the player.

The mother of all smartphones - Apple could learn a few things from this game

Immersion is kept at all times, you don’t pause and check a menu, you just open the app you need on your phone

Game Design Breakdown – For me the game elicited conflicting emotions in me, especially regarding my opinion of the main character Aiden Pierce. A lot of games involving physical conflict exhibit a black and white mentality to good and evil. Most often the enemy is purely represented as evil and the hero is the shining example of good who overcomes evil (There are many other ways of depicting good and evil, in the Grand Theft Auto series, almost no one is depicted as being a good person). Aiden Pierce inhabits a grey area between the two. He is neither hero nor anti-hero or villain. On the one hand he is known as a vigilante in the games Chicago city setting, stopping and hunting down criminals and the main story line follows his exploits trying to protect his family from a criminal conspiracy. However, Aiden is also a criminal in his own right, he steals from civilians, has illegal access to city infrastructure technology and is willing to kill a large number of people (not all of them particularly deserving of death) to protect his family. As a player I shared in his anger and hatred of the enemy as well as his guilt for some of the extreme actions he takes. A good example of the emotional conflict elicited by the game was the human trafficking plot. Aiden infiltrates an auction of sex slaves, the half naked girls are paraded on stage and some are shown sobbing or terrified, you can even hack the phones of the patrons to see their foul thought processes. You then meet the vile man responsible for the auction. It felt heroic in the game to save the women and bring the police to arrest the people involved. Afterwards you are informed that some slipped away and finding them becomes a side quest. Most of the men from the auction are clearly bad people and you feel good about incriminating them, one however, remarkably was able to make me feel some sympathy for him (not enough to let him go free of course), the side quest requires you find the auction patrons and hack their phones to find evidence on them and you get a brief snippet of their thoughts following the police investigation, this one man is found in a graveyard, he appears to be texting his wife, he apologises for his actions, saying he was trying to fill the hole left when she died, then instead of a reply, the phone sends back a delivery failed message. I felt sadness and sympathy for the man despite my hatred for those who would commit the same crime.

There are many example of this kind of thought provoking morality in the game. Often it is used to emphasise the games theme of issues surrounding privacy and surveillance, and exploration of vengeance and justice weighed against their cost. The game, especially during Aidens more introspective moments and his dealing with innocents like his family ask questions of the viewer. Is it OK to pursue justice for terrible crimes if it means hurting a lot more people in the process? Can your good deeds as a vigilante make up for your past crimes? Can anything you do “fix” the injustice of a murdered child. The insights into what is monitored in the city and the public propaganda broadcasts by the hacker group DedSec made me think about the issues surrounding privacy in the digital age and how it applies to the real world.

The gameplay does a good job of giving a sense that you can overcome great physical strength using intelligence, sure there are times when skills like shooting and driving are needed, and they are often exciting, however for me I found the most engagement in using my intelligence to overcome obstacles, Aiden can be killed by gunfire as easily as any enemy, but is always greatly outnumbered. The combat, and particularly the stealth combat sections are more like puzzles to be solved. There is a great sense of achievement when you can defeat enemies and manipulate them using the hacking tools at your disposal, often without ever putting yourself in harms way.

If only real hacking was as easy as pointing your phone and holding a button and not hours sat at a keyboard.

Aiden has the skills to make trained professional police officers and hardened mobsters look like bumbling 1980’s cartoon villains

The hacking mechanics are very interesting, they can be used in low tempo scenarios, where you as a player can carefully plan out and execute your tactics, or they can be used in more vigorous scenes, this particularly works in car chases when you can use traffic blockers, spikes and traffic lights to take down or evade your enemy. When say for example you manage to cause a perusing car to crash into road blockers, the game slows down and pans to show the crash, the effect is satisfying and makes you feel smart for having executed it.

The puzzles and gameplay scenarios are quite varied, they kept me interested as the game does a great job of mixing up the challenges, you have a range of abilities at your disposal and all of them will be needed throughout the game. The challenge comes from identifying the nature of each problem, assessing the best strategy and the pay off is executing it successfully.

The game is strong overall. It is well produced, original and I found it enjoyable throughout. I am hard pressed to point out any flaws in particular. The driving and shooting sections might have felt somewhat similar to a lot of open world games on the market, but the game adds enough extra tools to make it feel much more unique. For me one of the biggest drawbacks was the AI which felt unfair at times. The stealth sections were very strong but became almost impossible to salvage if a mistake is made. Much of the time, once you mess up, a stealth section will become almost irrecoverably a shooting section. And in these circumstances, the AI feels like it is cheating, if a guard spots you, even if you kill him quietly before he can say anything, all the other guards seem to psychically know where you are. Effective hiding places are hard to come by in a fire fight, I found when I was caught, that it was best to restart the section or fight. The AI often feels like it is cheating, from helicopters that can recognise you through the roof of any vehicle, to criminals that seem to be suspicious of you and you alone in a city populated by millions. The other major flaw that I noticed was the fact that at times you are almost given too many tools to deal with the challenges in the game, there are a lot of dominant strategies to be found that defuse otherwise difficult tasks. Another negative is the fact that money serves very little purpose, I found myself habitually hacking peoples accounts for their money (even whilst chasing down muggers which felt somewhat hypocritical) but the only things to spend money on were guns and ammo, but I was able to afford the best weapons very early on and I never bought a single bullet the whole time I played, what I scavenged from enemies was plenty. Before long I had a huge fortune and nothing to do with it. The also meant that I lacked the motivation to complete the many fixer contract side missions, as they reward you with only money and some of the contracts I found kind of annoying as they often had needlessly strict restrictions and tasks that seemed to serve no reasonable purpose like moving a number of cars a mile or two down the road in a small amount of time, as though any criminal would pay thousands of dollars for such a task.

Strike Force Kitty 2 – Artifacts Guide

Play the game Strike Force Kitty 2 now at Kongregate.com

Hey guys. Strike Force Kitty 2 is out and I have once more gotten a bit hooked. There have been some great improvements, though I was most displeased to find that it still lags like crazy on my crumby laptop. That said it is a much better game now, one very interesting new feature is the artifacts. You can collect golden lottery tickets which each give a random artifact which you have to match with the corresponding outfit set. Some are kinda obvious, and some I only found out by trying every combination. So if you are stuck wondering who that damn artifact belongs to and don’t want to go through all the 200+ sets working it out. I’ve done the hard work for you. And to help you chose which characters to use in the late game, I have tried to compile the stat increases you will get for all the oufit set/artifact combos.

kittens

The way I have listed the stat increase is as follows

Stat: Normal increase for outfit + additional increase with artifact = Total increase to kittens Base stats

Here’s the list, if the numbers are a bit iffy or I’ve made any mistakes, well… I did this late at night and I’m giving it away for free, be grateful. Anyway, message me with anything you spot and I can correct it.

Artifact 1: Awesomo head

Unlocks Character: Awesomo (Awesom-o the robot)

Character Sets: Bold-Faced – Heals +2 (Cartnan from South Park)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 9 +13 = 22

Energy 15 +8 = 23

Speed 14 +9 = 23

Other Effects: Changes from ranged attack to melee

Explanation: In the South Park Episode AWESOM-O Cartman tricks Butters into thinking he’s a robot by wearing a crude cardboard robot outfit.

Artifact 2: Wedding Ring

Unlocks Character: Uma (Uma Thurman as The Bride from Kill Bill in her Wedding Dress)

Character Sets: Bride – Double Damage 5% (Uma Thurman as The Bride from Kill Bill in her Bruce Lee looking costume)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 9 +8 = 17

Energy 5 +14 = 19

Speed 7 +12 = 19

Other Effects:

Explanation: In Kill Bill Uma Thurman plays a killer, put in a coma on her wedding day who is out for revenge

Artifact 3: One Star Dragonball

Unlocks Character: Dragon Man (Super Saiyan)

Character Sets:

Betzita – Energy Up All Kittens +8 (Vegeta)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 20 + 12 = 32

Energy 27 + 3 = 30

Speed 20 + 11 = 31

Kakarota – Invisible Objects (Goku)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 12 + 12 = 24

Energy 17 + 3 = 20

Speed 12 + 11 = 23

Other Effects: It’s over 9000!!!

Explanation: In Dragonball Z, the dragonballs grant wishes but have no affect on the saiyans ability to turn super saiyain

Artifact 4: E power up

Unlocks Character: Tankman

Character Sets: Cragman – Teleport (Megaman)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 15 + 12 = 27

Energy 22 + 3 = 25

Speed 18 + 11 =29

Other Effects:

Explanation: Not played any Megaman but I understand he gets Tank Mans abilities when he defeats him

Artifact 5: (Baby?) Metroid

Unlocks Character: Iron Lady (Samus in full armour)

Character Sets: Aran – Invisible Objects (Samus Aran)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 21 + 8 = 29

Energy 30 + 3 = 33

Speed 23 + 6 = 29

Other Effects: Changes from ranged attack to melee

Explanation: Main character from Super Metroid games with and without power armour

Artifact 6: Escrima Stick

Unlocks Character: Grayson – Teleport (Dick Graysons – Nightwing)

Character Sets: Warbler (Robin)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 14 + 15 = 29

Energy 18 + 2 = 20

Speed 14 + 11 = 25

Other Effects: Gets way cooler

Explanation: The original Robin grew up and claimed his independence by becoming the solo vigilante Nightwing and often uses Escrima Sticks

Artifact 7: Pokeball

Unlocks Character: Monster Level 2 (Charmeleon, Wartortle, Raichu, Bulbasaur)

Character Sets:

Fire – Power Up All Kittens +2 (Charmander)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 7 + 10 = 17

Energy 10 + 6 = 16

Speed 7 + 9 = 16

W-Turtle – Removes Obstacles (Squirtle)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 5 + 10 = 15

Energy 12 + 6 = 18

Speed 7 + 9 = 16

Electro-Rat – Opens Chests (Pikachu)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 7 + 10 = 17

Energy 12 + 6 = 18

Speed 5+ 9 = 14

Plant – More Fish

Stat Inscreases:

Power 6 + 10 = 16

Energy 12 + 6 = 18

Speed 8 + 9 = 17

Other Effects: Final Evolutions whould have been cooler

Explanation: Evolved forms of the pokemon

Artifact 8: Diamond Pickaxe

Unlocks Character: Notch (Minecraft Steve in full diamond gear)

Character Sets: Pitman – Breaks Barriers (Minecraft Steve)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 10 + 20 = 30

Energy 15 + 7 = 22

Speed 7 + 11 = 18

Other Effects:

Explanation: Diamond is the strongest substance in Minecraft for crafting armour, tools and weapons. Notch is the online name of the now billionaire who created the game

Artifact 9: Triforce thingy

Unlocks Character: Hyrule (Princess Zelda I think)

Character Sets: NotZelda – More Fish (?)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 20 + 20 = 40

Energy 29 + 13 = 42

Speed 22 + 21 = 43

Other Effects:

Explanation: Not played much Zelda games, Hyrule is where they take place. Cannot explane the bandages.

Artifact 10: Shuriken

Unlocks Character: Gaiden (Ninja Gaiden in blue)

Character Sets: Shadow – Double Damage Chance

Stat Inscreases:

Power 11+ 20 = 31

Energy 9 + 12 = 21

Speed 10 + 11 = 21

Other Effects:

Explanation: Again, not played much Ninja Gaiden. I’d guess it’s different outfits of the ninja dude

Artifact 11: Nuka Cola Bottle Cap

Unlocks Character: Warrior brotherhood (Brotherhood of steel armour)

Character Sets: Depot Boy – Breaks Barriers (Pip-Boy mascot)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 22 + 20 = 42

Energy 20 + 13 = 33

Speed 14 + 21 = 35

Other Effects:

Explanation: In the Fallout games, pip-boy is a figure that appears on the pip-buy 3000 mini-computer, bobbleheads and menus. The brotherhood of steel are a group that mostly wear power armour and carry big guns, can be very useful kit in the games. In Fallout’s world, Nuka Cola Caps are used as currency.

Artifact 12: ? (Possibly a Metal Gear mech or come kind of cyborg implant)

Unlocks Character: OldSolid (Old Solid Snake from MGS4)

Character Sets: Solid Man – Teleport (Classic Solid Snake)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 13 + 17 = 30

Energy 21 + 12 = 33

Speed 16 + 19 = 35

Other Effects:

Explanation: Only just got a PS3 and MGS4 and not played yet, I understand that Snake is old in it.

Artifact 13: Black Hat

Unlocks Character: Black Pit (Venom)

Character Sets: Pit – Teleport (Spiderman)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 13 + 13 = 26

Energy 23 + 6 = 29

Speed 11 + 9 = 20

Other Effects: Not sure if he loses his ranged attack

Explanation: This one is weird, one of the last I figured out. I think it is in reference to Spiderman 3, when Peter Parker gets taken over by Venom and goes all emo. I think the hat is refering to a scene where Peter Parker is dancing down the street, I seem to remember him putting on a hat, I dunno. And why call it Pit, it’s only vaguely similar to the name Peter.

Artifact 14: Uzumaki Swirl Symbol

Unlocks Character: FlameFox (Nine-tails cloacked Naruto)

Character Sets: Fox – Invisible Obljects (Naruto)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 6 + 13 = 19

Energy 6 + 14 = 20

Speed 4 + 12 = 16

Other Effects:

Explanation: Uzumaki is Narutos family name which means whirlpool, they have a spiral as their family crest. I would guess the artifact is the seal on narutoes belly that he has opened in the story to let him utilise the Nine-tails chakra inside him better.

Artifact 15: Batman Logo

Unlocks Character: Bryce (Bruce Wayne as old school Batman)

Character Sets: Bat – Power Up All Kittens +4 (Movie Batman)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 9 + 3 = 12

Energy 11 + 5 = 16

Speed 13 + 8 = 21

Other Effects: Batarang becomes a big bomb

Explanation: Looks to be the old version of Batman, Possibly cartoon Batman or Adam West’s TV Batman. The Big bomb I’m guessing is the big bomb from the TV show now popular as an internet meme (some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb)

Artifact 16: Fire Flower

Unlocks Character: Mr. White (Powered up Mario or Luigi)

Character Sets:

Plumber – More Fish (Mario)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 28 + 9 = 37

Energy 19 + 3 = 22

Speed 13 + 6 = 19

Brer – Speed Up All Kittens +8 (Luigi)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 19 + 9 = 28

Energy 25 + 3 = 28

Speed 19 + 6 = 25

Other Effects: Replaces melee attack with fireball ranged attack

Explanation: Collecting a fire flower in Mario games gives you fireball throwing abilities and turns your outfit white.

Artifact 17: Chaos Emeralds

Unlocks Character: Gold Hedgehog (Super Sonic)

Character Sets: Hedgehog – Heals +2 (Sonic the Hedgehog)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 13 + 11 = 24

Energy 26 + 5 = 31

Speed 16 + 13 = 29

Other Effects:

Explanation: Collecting all the Chaos Emeralds in a Sonic game lets your turn into Super Sonic

Artifact 18: Mortal Kombat Logo

Unlocks Character: Pupil of Shao Kahn

Character Sets:

Come Here! – Double Damage 12% (Scorpion)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 13 + 17 = 30

Energy 26 + 17 = 43

Speed 11 + 19 = 30

Tundra – Energy Up All Kittens +8 (Sub Zero)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 12 + 17 = 29

Energy 28 + 17 = 45

Speed 12 + 19 = 31

Lizard – Speed Up All Kittens +9 (Reptile)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 11 + 17 = 28

Energy 27 + 17 = 44

Speed 12 + 19 = 31

Whiff – Speed Up All Kittens +9 (Smoke)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 12 + 17 = 29

Energy 20 + 17 = 37

Speed 8+ 19 = 17

Indigenous – Heals +3 (Nightwolf)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 20 + 17 = 37

Energy 27 + 17 = 44

Speed 20 + 19 = 39

Lightning-guy – Teleport (Raiden)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 12 + 17 = 29

Energy 34 + 17 =51

Speed 15 + 19 = 34

Other Effects:

Explanation: All I know is Shao Kahn is the bad guy in Mortal Kombat games

Artifact 19: Ironman Mk1 Chestplate

Unlocks Character: Tincanman (Mk1 Ironman)

Character Sets: Metalman – Removes Obstacles (Ironman)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 12 + 13 = 25

Energy 21 + 5 = 26

Speed 17 + 9 = 26

Other Effects: Changes from ranged attack to melee

Explanation: The grey, clunky looking iron man was the original armour Tony Stark made when he was held captive and forced to make weapsons, he used it to escape.

Artifact 20: Return of the Jedi Special Edition VHS Cassette Tape

Unlocks Character: Jedi (Anakin Skywalker as portrayed by Hayden Christiansen)

Character Sets: Darth Father – Double Damage 15% (Darth Vader)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 36 + 10 = 46

Energy 22 + 8 = 30

Speed 15 + 14 = 29

Other Effects: Fanboy rage

Explanation: I think this is poking fun at the Lucas remastered versions of Star Wars. In Return of the Jedi, Luke sees the ghost of his father, Darth Vader, as an old man, how he may have looked had he not become Vader. In the newest versions though, the old Anakin has been replaced by the younger version from Episodes II and III.

Artifact 21: Axe

Unlocks Character: Reverend (Agent 47 dressed as a priest?)

Character Sets: 47 – Double Damage 7% (Agent 47)

Stat Inscreases:

Power 12 + 10 = 22

Energy 8 + 4 = 12

Speed 7 + 14 = 21

Other Effects:

Explanation: Agent 47 from the Hitman games likes to dress up to blend in. Not sure how good a disguise a priest outfit and an axe is though, might look conspicious.

Thanks for reading. My laptop is going into meltdown from trying to run the game all day and I need sleep.

Play the game Strike Force Kitty 2 now at Kongregate.com