The Pacing of Mad Max (2015)

Mad Max Game Credits

2015’s Mad Max had a lot going for it: A great sense of progression, powerful worldbuilding, and excellent car combat. However, there’s one aspect that fell flat on it’s face. Mad Max has a love/hate relationship with its narrative pacing. While it works hand in hand at first, the second half of the story is at odds with the core mechanics of exploration and vehicle upgrades.

Narrative pacing is tough to get right in an interactive medium. Developers can never be sure how or when players will start a quest. That’s why, for example, Fallout 3 is designed to be completed by any player at any level with any build at any time. Developers are left with two choices, artificially gate content or make every major encounter easy enough for every player. Mad Max went with the former option. Continue reading

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5 Great Post-Apoc Games (That Aren’t Fallout)

I’ve been pretty hard on Fallout lately. Calling the series’ main antagonist stupid. Calling the merchandising insulting. Then someone asked, “if not Fallout, what post-apocalyptic games would you recommend? What other game has that same level of freedom and worldbuilding?”

Well you know what? Let’s stop tearing things down and start building up! Continue reading

Nuka Dark Rum Is Insulting

Fallout Nuka Dark Header

Alright… this isn’t going to win me any fans, but I think someone in the Fallout community needs to say it. Nuka Dark rum is insulting. It is symbolic of a big rusty nail in the coffin of the Fallout franchise.

What do I mean by that? Fallout is bigger than ever. Its games are incredibly popular and review really well. That’s kind of the problem. Bethesda has taken a Disneyesque approach to branding. The focus is not on Fallout, the video game, it’s on Fallout the Lunchbox, Fallout the doll and yes… Fallout the dark rum. Continue reading

The Enclave Is Stupid and Embarrassing

Fallout Enclave Logo

The Fallout franchise has a lot of memorable factions: The Brotherhood of Steel, the NCR, the Khans, the Institute, the Kings, and the list goes on. Then there’s the Enclave. A lot of people like this faction and I’m not really sure why. Their ambitions are far worse than Caesar’s Legion and it seems there’s a lot of misinformation about what the Enclave actually does. Chalk that one up to bad writing.

The Enclave’s end goals are dubious, their plans poorly thought out and their leaders are morons. Ultimately, they have no stake in wasteland politics. This isn’t entirely Bethesda’s fault. Truth is, the Enclave was broke from the start. Continue reading

MUTANT FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Attack of the 20ft Wez

Mutant Football League Logo

I’ve been conflicted over whether I should talk about Mutant Football League at all. This is mostly because I funded the game on Kickstarter last year when it was in pre-alpha. I also realize I’m probably not the intended audience, even within the art style’s genre. My yearly exposure to football is limited to a few Buffalo Bills games and the Super Bowl. The last football game I played before MFL was Madden 06. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not as cut and dry as previous games I’ve discussed.

The premise is pretty simple. It’s an anything goes apocalypse! The dead are rising out of their graves, a tidal wave of orcs pollutes the air with a noxious green haze, robots are leaking oil, aliens have made football stadiums on the moon, and clones of Vernon Wells are wreaking havoc all across America. But that’s not all. Blood is raining from the sky in Killadelphia and the world’s #1 pastime is sponsored by… “Monsatan Industries.” Nearly every element of NFL culture is tweaked to meet the theme. It’s silly, visually appealing, and portrays a post-apocalypse that’s simultaneously grimdark and chuckle worthy.

Continue reading

Peace, Death: Apocalyptic Sales Associate

Peace Death Header

I have a soft spot for interpretations of the afterlife, especially those subverting traditional imagery of hell. So, if you’re reading this and thinking “Rad-Lands, you pinnacle of post-apocalyptic perfection, why are you talking about a game that has nothing to do with sandy deserts or radiation?” the answer is because Peace, Death is about general apocalyptic motifs, contains parodies of Mad-Max and Fallout characters, and it’s pretty fun.

Here’s the premise: You are a reaper, one of billions living in the underworld. You can’t afford food, so you start working at Apocalypse Inc. as a customer service rep. Your boss is Death. The other three horsemen of the apocalypse are always plotting against him, sometimes inviting you to help in their schemes. On the factory floor, you have the simple job of deciding if a person goes to heaven, hell, or purgatory based on their face and personal effects.

Peace Death Horsemen

Continue reading

Judge Dredd vs Zombies: Cynical

Judge Dredd vs Zombies

Should gamers and games journalists take mobile games seriously? I think so. After all, the Pokémon series began on mobile and continues to enjoy its popularity by adapting to new mobile outlets. Mobile games hold a special place as being easy to pick up, fast to play, and most importantly, addictively engaging. That brings us to 2012’s Judge Dredd vs Zombies, a game which never really hits the mark on any of those three elements.

I almost feel guilty because I love Judge Dredd, (I even made a Typing of the Dead mod for Judge Dredd), but I’ve never really liked the official Judge Dredd games. Countdown to Sector 106 is OK in that it relied more on text and story than gameplay and while Dredd vs Death had a great opening, tone, and made you feel like a judge early on, its late game petered off into a generic sci-fi shooter. Meanwhile, Judge Dredd vs Zombies hardly feels like a Judge Dredd game at all. Before we get into that, let’s talk about the gameplay. Continue reading