Category Archives: Featured

Solving Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent – A Review

I love Steam. Have I mentioned that before? XBLA and PSN are great and all, but when it comes to taking risks on independent games, Steam is the king. One of the more recent indie gems is Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, put out by Telltale Games. Personally, I’ve always loved Telltale’s story, but that’s another story. At any rate, Puzzle Agent features the illustrations of Graham Annable, creator of the Grickle series. What results is a game with a charmingly hand-drawn art style that plays like a cross between Professor Layton and Fargo.

Nelson Tethers is the only agent in the employ of the FBI’s oft-neglected Puzzle Research division. The game opens in Nelson’s closet-sized office filled with puzzle-y items like Rubik’s Cubes and jigsaw puzzles. After a brief tutorial to introduce you to the world of government puzzle solving, Nelson is assigned to Scoggins, Minnesota to investigate the closing of the eraser factory that supplies the White House. Nelson realizes once he arrives that perhaps not all is as it seems, as he finds a town full of puzzle-crazy villagefolk. What follows is a ridiculous trip around the mountain town. I really enjoyed the story, right up until the end where, unfortunately, the game ends fairly abruptly. My hope is that Telltale will continue in this series, but we’ll have to see.

The gameplay is a cross between typical Telltale adventure-gaming and Layton-esque puzzle solving. As Nelson travels around the town, he’ll meet the various townsfolk, from the quaint woman running the hotel that promises to serve up some “hot dish” to the old environmentalist that just wants the town to embrace its Nordic roots. The voice acting is top notch here, especially from the town’s sheriff. As Nelson travels from place to place, he’ll find clues as to what is happening in the town, along with pieces of chewed gum that serve as clues in the puzzles (gum helps Nelson think). Every character can often be asked several questions, often leading to a puzzle (indicated by a jigsaw piece next to the topic), though some of these are optional.

The actual puzzle-solving varies from puzzle to puzzle, of course, but the system is always the same. When you believe you’ve solved the puzzle, hit submit. This will cause the puzzle to be put in an envelope and shipped off to the FBI to be either accepted or rejected. As the puzzle is shipped off, a tally of how much taxpayer money has been used is kept, going up and up as you get the puzzles wrong. There’s no real relevance of it, but it’s a nice touch that makes you feel a little bad about not getting puzzles right the first time. Of course, to help you do that, there are clues. As I said, these come in the form of pieces of gum found in the game world. There are three clues for each puzzle, with the third clue typically just-about giving you the answer (in some cases, completely giving you the answer). Each puzzle is scored on how many wrong answers were submitted and how many clues you used, giving you ratings from Top Agent to Borderline and everything in-between.

The art style of the game is fantastically charming. Annable’s 2-D Grickle style is in full swing here, and it almost always looks great. My only issue is that the characters look their best when they are surprised or insane, so the expressions are somewhat blank and bland when two characters are just having a conversation. However, that’s where the voice actors really pull their weight and give those Minnesota accents we all love so much. The soundtrack is not incredibly prominent, but the stings are there in the shocking moments, and the soundtrack is appropriately eerie where it should be.

Personally, I loved Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent. It is a fairly short game (4 hours or so, depending on how long you take to solve the puzzles), but what’s there is a lovable puzzle game waiting to be found. If you like puzzles, I fully recommend checking this out. If the price was any higher than $10, then that might be a different story, but for the price it’s a gem. At the very least, check out the trailer.

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Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is available for PC, Mac, and iPhone for $9.99.

Episode 15-The Doctor is Back

We are back this week and we are talking about the hit BBC show Doctor Who. We get deep into season 5,maybe a little too deep, and discuss the rumor of a big budget Doctor Who Movie.  This episode is just with Stuart and myself.  We do want to warn our listeners who have been watching Doctor Who on BBC America that there are some Spoilers of the end of the season. We Highly recommend you wait till you have watch the last episode before you listen. We do ask that you leave feedback. Leave us an iTunes Review, Email us at TheGeeksFTW@gmail.com , Leave a comment here, or leave us feedback on our Facebook Page. With that said we hope you enjoy another episode of The GeeksFTW!

Doctor Who related links:

Podshock Podcast

TardisBlend

2010 Series Summary

Eleventh Doctor Wiki

Amy Pond Wiki

Rory Williams Wiki

River Song Wiki

Steven Moffat Wiki

Go Go Dalek Rangers! video

Van Redd Reviews: Crackdown 2

If you can’t guess Crackdown 2 is the sequel to the original Crackdown. Unlike the original this game does not have a Halo Beta to coast on for sales, not to mention a lot of behind the scenes drama over it’s development. You see Crackdown 2 was not developed by Real Time Worlds, they are too busy with making A.P.B a massively multiplayer failure. Instead, Ruffian Games picked up the slack but only after Microsoft seemed to flip flop on making the game to begin with.

Ok now that the history lesson is over with let’s get down to the nitty gritty truth. Crackdown 2 is really just an upgraded Crackdown 1 with a few additions and oddly a few subtractions. While you lose vechiles that chagne as your driving skill improves, you gain helicopters, pinging for orbs (like Infamous), and a niffty wing suit to glide around in. Gone are a series of gangs and bosses to fight, they are replaced by a terrorist group known as Cell. A second antagonistic faction are the Freaks, the mutants who come out during the cover of night. The main crux of the game is to power up beacons to destroy these Freaks. You do this by taking over things called Absorbtion Units that are scattered thoughout Pacific City. You have to usually power up three of them in an area before you can do a beacon misson, which are bascially the “boss” fights of the game.

Ok, let’s be honest. The game is very repetitive, almost insanely so. Having played games enough I can see why Ruffian went with this model of gameplay. Someone can drop in your game at anytime and not miss out really anything. A player can drop in your game and know what they need to do with no real backstory needing to be explained. If you drop into a Coop game of Gears you could be at any point in the story and have no clue what the hell is going on, not so in Crackdown. Now I am NOT saying I agree with this choice, merely that I kind of see what they were thinking.

Speaking of repitiion, you will recognize most places as you are in the same old Pacific City. Now to be fair the city is ten years older and much MUCH worse for the ware. Buildings are in flames and/or falling over, most sections are warzones, and after dark a sea of mutants roam the streets for blood. Many will deride Ruffian for copy and pasting the city, but if you played the first game it is kind of neat to see how the city has changed. I think they should have done a lot more to make the city feel different, but in and of itself being in the same city is not a deal breaker at all.

The dealbreaker for this game is all in how you intend to play it. If you intend to play this game mainly as a single player game you will HATE it. It is repetitive, boring, and devoid of engagement with you. If you have a good group of friends to play Co-op with, you are going to have a really great time. The saving grace of this game is just how much fun it is to gang up with three other friends (double the last game’s number) and cause as much havoc as you can. Lonely orb hunts become treasure hunts with friends. Having someone to talk and goof around with really is a huge amount of fun and has kept me going back long after I completed the game.

The game is not without a large share of bugs, which to be fair all sand box games are. My friends and I have run into numerous bugs with most of them being centered around the helicopter. I have had it explode for no reason on the helipad to a being on it when a friend took off and it appearing in my game that we were still sitting on the pad. I have had abilities seemingly not level up only to leave the chopper to gain a new level. I have struggled to make my agent climb up to a hidden orb on a tricky ledge only for him to decide to ignore me so he can fall to his death. I have even had a friend get knocked into a type of first person mode which is how we got this choice gameplay shot.

Bottom Line: I honestly think Crackdown 2 would have benefited from being a $40 game. If you are more of a solitary gamer, or if your friends don’t plan on getting this game then you are better off renting. If you know that some of your friends are getting it then I feel good about recommending it to buy. Just goofing off with some buddies has been some of the best times on LIVE I have had. Just know what you really want out of the game before you commit to anything.

Final Fantasy XIII: A story in pictures!

Hey there champ! Did you just get your brand new copy of Final Fantasy XIII for your system of choice? Well you’re in for a time buddy let me tell you! Did you know you can break down the average user experience of someone who plays Final Fantasy XIII into six simple stages? Let’s take a look at them now!

STAGE ONE: Happiness (Hours 1-5)

Sucker

Here you are fresh from your store of choice. You just spent a hefty chuck on of change or traded in some really treasured games on FF. You loved all the others…even Nine…hell even Final Fantasy X2. You sit down and open up your system and with trepidation and excitement you put in your disc. The game loads up and you begin. You’re first few hours are really slow and seem odd but hey, your just getting started and a little hand holding is expected right? I bet your thinking it’s going to pick up really soon.

STAGE TWO: Confusion (Hours 6-20)

When do I get three party memebers.

Well you would be wrong! In fact, dead wrong! You’re going to be going straight hallway after straight hallway with only two members of your team for a long…long…LONG time. Oh and you best get used to nothing making a bit of sense. You see in past Final Fantasy games too much time was wasted on explaining things like plot…or why the characters decide to take the actions they take. FFXIII is far to concerned with making speeches that don’t really make sense but try to illicit emotional responses that are unearned.

STAGE THREE: Anger (Hours 21-55)

At this point your getting pretty steamed. Even though the game was nice enough to give you a small bit of fun when you finally get to do some side missions, your fleeting joy saddens when you realize that eventually your going to have to go back to the pointless story. They combat is so fun, yet they never give you a break from it so you can savor it and take a breather. The characters you enjoyed at first, then later put up with, are now gnawing on your last nerve with their stupid stupid over dramatic dialogues.

STAGE FOUR: Hate (Hours 55-85)

Destruction and Mayhem

You get to the end of the game and have had enough. The harsh realization that your never getting all of that $60 back begins the eroison of your soul that the idiot characters chip away at all though the game. Things you like about the game fade, like the combat, fade into the mist of your white hot rage. You have had enough of Snow whining like a bitch, enough of Vanille sounding like she has diarrhea every battle, and you certainly can’t take any more jackassery from the plot that refuses to go anywhere.

STAGE FIVE: The Reckoning (HOURS N/A)

Hammer Time

You are now a slavering beast. Things like conscious though, showers, and hygiene are meaningless in your new world of blind venomous rage. You slam on the eject button, rip the DvD (or Blu-Ray) out and proceed to do things to it, that if it were a person, would land you some serious jail time. Your at the point that you print photos of the characters just so you can burn them and stomp them to bits of ash.

STAGE SIX: Catharsis (HOURS N/A)

The evil vanquished at last you begin to go about your life again. You will never be what you once were. The scars will always sting. You have been forced to bear a greater weight then even Frodo. Your only recourse is to clense your spirit wish something that can sooth your pain, but only one thing can make you believe in good JRPGs again…..

Van Redd Reviews: Metro 2033

http://videogames.techfresh.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/metro-2033.jpg

Metro 2033 is a weird game. It is rare in the sense that it is based on a novel rather then a comic book or movie. I’m not sure if this works in favor of the narrative but for better or worse I had some memorable experiences. It gets stranger as the novel in question is from Russia and came out in or around 2005.

This game really feels like the Russian counterpoint to Fallout as you exist as a young person in a ruined world. Life as we know it has been burned away by nuclear fire and all that is left is a mutated wasteland with the buildings serving as tombs. I think Metro actually upstages Fallout as it makes the surface world seem like an absolutely horrible place and you ARE risking your life anytime you go up to it. You see the air itself is poison so you have to wear a gas mask at all times when outside, and too bad for you that the mutated life that survives up there is not going to just let you waltz by.  Neither are the various factions that control various areas just going to let you go by. Life for the most part exists underground in the old Metro stations. You get the feeling that Russia did not have a Vault program so this is the best they could do. Life is cramped and bleak but people are trying to make the most of it.

Your character will only speak in monologues between levels and realism is at a premium here. You get no map, there just aren’t any. You get a flashlight you have to manually pump up with a generator. Money is worthless, you buy things with bullets. Your gas mask can break, and if it does you either find another or you will die. It gives it a very Half-Life you against the world vibe that I sort of dig.

If that sounds harsh don’t worry, it never is too much to bear and the game seems to know just when to let you take a breather to recharge. These little things really help immerse you in the world of the Metro in the end and make for a unique experience.

The game also takes from Bioshock in a way as there is a mysterious “other” faction that seems to speak to you. Something supernatural is going on while all the human vs. human vs. mutant drama goes on. I found it mostly uninteresting though and ultimately this thread never gets quite enough explanation to really make much sense.

The graphics for the game are passable, but nothing is going to WOW you here. This is not to say the game looks bad it is just that nothing really looks that good either. Character models look very much the same and have “dead eyes” like some games from last gen. The lighting effects are nice and the texture work is good, but again, nothing is going to knock your socks off.

The voice acting is pretty good buy WHY do Russians always have to sound so stereotypically Russian in games. I salute games like Metal Gear Solid 3 for not doing what Metro does. The main character is not so bad but you literally will feel like you are talking to the spies from Rocky and Bullwinkle at points of this game. The pacing is excellent. but I was hampered by some very unclear objectives at certain points but nothing even close to game breaking. The game is fairly short though, and once you beat the game there is little reason for a repeat play. The game has a very weird morality system that never seems to come into play enough to make any sense and really should have probably just been scraped.

Bottom Line: Metro 2033 offers some great atmosphere and some unique takes on realism without being annoying, but the short length and general “Meh” -ness of the graphics places it in the rental category.

Dead Rising 2 Practice

If you can’t wait for Dead Rising 2,like me, and you prefer traditional slow moving or shuffling zombies which take a shot to the head to go down then you’re in luck.

I have put together a list of 10 Xbox 360 zombie games which is more than enough to keep you occupied until the zombie fest that is Dead Rising 2!!!

Bare in mind these games are put in order of how well I think the zombies are portrayed and how the overall experience of killing them…… again is.

To give you an idea of how I think zombies should be portrayed here’s a list of what I think zombies should and shouldn’t do:

1. Zombies can’t fly, climb buildings or anything else supernatural for that matter. Think of the human body as a tool kit. A virus only has the same tools we have at its disposal. So there is know way for a zombie to fly unless the human it used to be could fly

2. The only way to kill a zombie is to “shoot em in the head”. The brain is the engine which drives a zombie without it the zombies can’t function.

The however can live without limbs and internal organs as their reanimated body no longer needs them

3. A zombie’s brain power is similar to the slime which first crawled out of the ocean. They operate of pure instinct and not by using intelligence

So now you know the rules I hope you enjoy my video sorry if you don’t like the order or disagree with it remember it’s just my opinion

I’d love to hear your favorite zombie game or what your top 10 list would be so feel to comment =]

Episode 14- The Dark Passenger Returns

After a longer then expected holiday break we are back! In this episode we get up to date with Dexter. We talk about season 4 in detail as well as make predictions about season 5. We welcome back Matt aka Patriot1030 from OpenForumRadio.com . So sit back and relax with a shorter episode of GeeksFTW! Expect a much longer episode next time as we discuss season 5 of Doctor Who.

Hulu Plus is on the way

Well, it’s finally come. There are now reports that Hulu plans to launch a subscription service in the near future. It’s been rumored for months, but now there’s confirmation. The subscription will cost $10 per month, and will be rolling out to select users as early as later this month. Obviously, if people are going to be paying for this, they’ll want more content, which is why Hulu is reported to be in talks with CBS, Viacom, and Time Warner to add their shows to Hulu’s already sizable catalog. Along with the traditional computer environment, Hulu claims to have options in the work for iPad and, as rumored, video game consoles, along with set-top boxes. Could this herald the end of cable television as we know it? It’s already happening to music purchasing and movie rentals, what’s stopping it from happening to television as well? We live in the internet age, and it seems that cable providers either need to recognize that and form some kind of counteroffensive, or embrace obsolescence.

Source: Wired.com

UPDATE: It’s been all over the place for the past couple of days, but now it’s officially confirmed. Hulu Plus membership invitations will start going out gradually over the next couple of months, starting now. For $10 a month, Hulu’s prepared to offer you an extended catalog that will be available on iPad, iPhone, and select television services. There will also be a PS3 version rolling out in the next few months (possibly exclusive to Playstation Plus subscribers), as well as an Xbox 360 version available to Gold membership subscribers sometime in early 2011.

Episode 13-Red Dead Round-table

This is our Round-table for Red Dead Redemption. We are joined with Jason aka Faitios from the Talking About Gamers Podcast and Jbird360 from the Scarcasm podcast. We go in detail with this game. And we spoil the hell out of it. You have been warned. We hope you enjoy this episode. As always you can leave feedback by commenting here on the website, email us at TheGeeksFTW@gmail.com, or DM us on twitter @GeeksFTWPodcast.

E3 Day 2 Impressions

This is our 2nd day of E3 impressions. We talk about Nintendo’s Press Conference and the Big announcements they made. We also discuss what Sony brought to the table. Many great announcements were made and we not only recap but give our input on how we feel about what all was said.