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Murderdolls UK Tour announced!

Hi everyone; quick shameless press release regurgitation while I busy myself with New Vegas and dreams of the WH40K movie!

Following their raucous reception at Ozzfest at the O2 Arena recently, the MURDERDOLLS return to level the UK this coming February on their ‘God Save The Scream’ tour.  It will be their first full UK tour in over six years.   

The band have just wrapped a three-week US amphitheatre tour, opening for Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper’s pyro-laden ‘Halloween Hootenanny’ touring spectacular, picking up plenty of new fans on the way.  MURDERDOLLS also play their own Halloween headline show in Hollywood, CA at The Roxy on 31st October.

Murderdolls pic from oblioo.com

Frontman Wednesday 13 is excited for the trip back over this side of the pond, stating “I can’t wait to bring the MURDERDOLLS back for our first UK tour since 2003.  The Death Valley Superstars are on their way!  You’ve got blood and we’ll take it”.   Meanwhile, guitarist and co-songwriter Joey Jordison adds: “There’s no other place I love to play with the MURDERDOLLS more than the UK.  It’s our home and will ALWAYS be our home.  This is gonna top anything we’ve ever done there.  Can’t wait to see all of you.  Let’s party, motherfuckers!!  I NEED THIS!!”

The band’s first album in eight years, ‘Women And Children Last’ picked up stellar reviews from the UK press on its August release, including 4/5 in Q Magazine,  and 4/5 in The Sun (‘..gloriously trashy, sleazy, punk-metal’) and 8/10 in Metal Hammer (“The Murderdolls are back -they’re pissed off and this time they mean every fucking last word of it.”).  Pick it up online at www.play.com.

The full UK dates line up as follows:

Wed 2nd Feb – PORTSMOUTH                     Pyramids             (02392 824355)

Thu 3rd Feb – NORWICH                                Waterfront         (01603 508050)

Fri 4th Feb – BRISTOL                                       O2 Academy      (0844 477 2000)

Sat 5th Feb – SHEFFIELD                                 Corporation        (0114 276 0262)

Mon 7th Feb – WOLVERHAMPTON           Wulfrun Hall       (0870 320 7000)

Tue 8th Feb – MIDDLESBROUGH                Empire                  (01642 253553)

Thu 10th Feb – GLASGOW                             O2 ABC                 (0844 477 2000)

Fri 11th Feb – MANCHESTER                         Academy 2          (0161 832 1111)

Sat 12th Feb – LONDON                                  HMV Forum       (0844 847 2405)

Sun 13th Feb – NOTTINGHAM                     Rock City              (0845 413 4444)

Mon 14th Feb – EXETER                                  Lemon Grove    (01392 263518)

Support comes from Black Veil Brides.   Tickets, priced £15 regionally and £17.50 in London, go on pre-sale from Wednesday 27th October and on general sale from 9am Friday 29th October from box offices and all usual outlets.  Alternatively you may purchase via credit card hotline (0844 871 8803) or online at www.kililive.com.

Fallout: New Vegas – Diary of the Mojave Wasteland

From the journals of an intrepid reviewer nomad, the first part of an insight into the world of Fallout: New Vegas.

 

Day 1

Looks like I’ve been shot in the head by a suited gangster and left for dead. Good job Doc Mitchell has patched me up and made sure I was still myself, through a variety of questions that allow me to also dictate my personality. His old-western voice gently guides me through tests that eventually determine that I’m a slightly intelligent guy, light on my feet, good with a gun and prone to broken bones. I’m also a courier, halfway through a delivery, that seems to be  the root of my recent death trouble. I presumably can’t remember anything. I can’t go around being called Courier, so I opt instead for Hermes. Must have seen it on a billboard somewhere.

I’m in the town of Goodsprings, where a nice young lady called Sunny Smiles, the local tough nut, has decided to make sure I know how to defend myself. She talks with a cowboy drawl too. She has a lovely dog called Cheyenne. Also met a large cowboy robot called Victor, who is the one that saved my broken body after being shot. Have decided to adopt a cowboy accent myself in order to fit in. Partner.

Update: killed some Geckos for Sunny, with an aptly named Varmint Rifle. Think these mutants have been given rubber limbs and very loose jaws by some quirk of radiation. Cheyenne is dead; Sunny was upset but she strangely didn’t object to me stripping his hide and eating his meat. She even went on to show me how to prepare food on the campfire. Doggylicious.

The local boss, a respected woman called Trudy who runs the saloon, was harassed by a man called Cobb, who belongs to the Powder Gangers. They’re ex-convicts from the NCR who used to build railroad and as such love blowing things up with dynamite. They came to get a man holed up in the old garage, called Ringo. I ask Ringo what’s up and agree to help him get the town to rally around and keep the gangers out. Maybe I shouldn’t be making enemies already, but them varmints needs a good lesson in manners. I ask around town and find that the locals are willing to help provided I have skills in certain areas that appeal to them. My Pip Boy has a new function, telling me when I’ve not quite got a high enough skill; a lovely addition that breaks the fourth wall a little but is very useful when deciding how to improve myself.

That reminds me; Trudy has a radio that needs fixing and Doc Mitchell has a submachine gun in need of repair. I’m not skilled enough to do either of them there tasks. I did however find a magazine all about fixin’ things. Reading that improves my skill in repair, but oddly it only does so for a short time. Maybe it’s hard stuff to remember. I’d read the magazine again for a refresher but it seems to disappear after reading, self-combusting in a fit of poorly thought out game mechanics. No problem for Hermes of course- I swot up, fix the gun, then run out of the door, down the street, into the saloon, leap over the bar and repair the radio before I can forget what I’ve learned. Yeehaw!

There's only room for one cool hat in this town

Update: the Gangers arrived. Me and the few townies I could conscript killed them. I stabbed Cobb in the face. Ringo and the Goodspring townsfolk were grateful- they like me now- but the Powder Gangers seemed upset. I stripped the bodies of their dead and wore their clothes for a bit.

Went to sleep in Ringo’s old garage. Nice town, but better head on towards Primm, where I can find out more about the job I was on. Ate mantis legs for supper. Wish I had some beans.

Day 2

Another fine day on the range, The Bighorns and the Brahmin play. Set out towards Primm to get more info about the job I was on and have apparently forgotten about. Found a skeleton in a fridge, took it’s hat.

I came across more Powder Gangers who tried to kill me. I started shootin’ them on site. Varmint rifle seems to be more effective than expected down the iron sights, with V.A.T.S targeting only being useful up-close. As if someone had tweaked things to provide a more gunslinger-orientated vibe out here in the Mojave, as opposed to, say, the Capital. The Powder Gangers drop a lot of dynamite, another desert/cowboy touch, which comes in very handy for scaring Geckos. Found a few different guns now and slowly building up a stock of ammo for them. Single-barrel shotgun comes in handy for close encounters. Never get these in the Capitol- it’s as if the Mojave is a whole new place.

After a while I came across the town of Primm. The local NCR boys say that the town is in trouble; Powder Ganger convicts have taken over. Apparently sorting it out is too much work for five armed soldiers, so I set about killing them all single handed. They are tough hombres- had to employ my surprisingly large stockpile of dynamite.

According to a nice old man called Nash holed up in a casino, the Deputy I need to talk to is in a hotel. Helped myself to a few goodies from the safes but keep finding my lock picking ability is lacking. Old timer also told me that a cowboy robot was involved in the delivery that I’m on and it all sounds like a bad deal. Maybe Victor is up to something.

Skulking around the hotel and picking off Powder Gangers was fun. I’m coming across a lot of guns and armour and doing my best to tape it all together into working equipment. Deputy is a bit of a wimp but I managed to keep him alive long enough find out that I need to go to a town called Novac. However, first I feel the need to help out the beaten up population of Primm. These poor cowboys are down on their luck. Deputy Cowardface says that they need a Sherriff.

I’m impressed to find that I can achieve this in a variety of ways. Choice is important, maybe the most important thing in a role playing game. Used repair skill on fourth wall. I had to then decide how to get a Sherriff- program a robot to do it, get the soldiers to do it, or get an old experienced Sherriff from a nearby prison to do it. This seemed a good course of action so I set off to the prison.

Let's not piss these guys off just yet...

Update: prison a mighty thing to behold, enormous towers appearing from behind the rocky hills of the desert, surrounded by Powder Ganger camps. Accordin’ to my Pip Boy, I’m ‘shunned’ by the gangs now. Seems killin’ people gets you a bad reputation with their pals. This prison used to house the Powder Gangers but they took it over and use it as a fort- fortunately they let me in and I was able to enlist Sherriff Meyers. He’ll take over protection of Primm if I can get him a pardon on his sentence from the NCR Mojave Outpost.

Firstly I went back to Primm and repaired an old robot that was lying around; a small orb or eye-like thing called ED-E. It looks like the kind of thing a shadowy right wing contingent of US government troops would use to monitor the Capital Wasteland. Fortunately, I was able to get it working by using the right parts scavenged from the hotel and town, so it didn’t matter that my repair ability was a little low. This felt like a breath of fresh air, rewarding good scavenging, providing more use for the random objects littering the place and giving more options for those with low skills. I found I could store all the crap that I couldn’t carry on ED-E, using a new, simpler and faster interaction menu. However, I couldn’t give her my faction-related armour as my Pip Boy automatically assumed that I wanted her to wear it and instead threw it on the floor. Well tested.

Set off towards the outpost, south ways. Came across the Jackal Gang, hiding out in an old highway patrol station. ED-E laser-fried a woman who was resisting my attempts to pacify her with a baseball bat. Slept the night in the cells, safe and sound.

Day 3

Eventually got to the NCR Outpost. Surprised to see that a massive statue of NCR and local rangers shaking hands had been erected. It was piece meal and simple but just seemed odd considering that someone had taken the time to make it but hadn’t bothered clearing the crashed trucks and other debris from the road.

The rangers were all a bit ornery, apart from a nice young man called Major Knight who responded well to my bachelor charms. Worked a little too well actually… starting to feel a little uncomfortable about my Perk choice and a little on the Brokeback side of cowboy fun. Still, at least I’m making friends- he agreed to pardon Meyers, so now I know that Primm will be a little safer.

Rangers Ghost and Jackson gave me some jobs to do and pointed me in the direction of Nipton to check out some fire smoke over there. It’s on the way to Novac so off I go. Also killed some giant ants. Antilicious. Saw a man called Tomas attacked by a lady just for his lucky necklace. Odd, let him get on with it. Folks sure be crazy up in these parts.

Update: Nipton had been barricaded with burning tires. When I arrived I found a Powder Ganger shouting with glee about winnin’ some kinda lottery. I went into the high street and found to my horror that people had been crucified and were suffering and dying right there in front of me. On the town hall steps was a bunch of these Caesar’s Legion guys that they talk about on the radio. They were wearing skirts, but I guess I was in no position to judge.

A total bastard with a dog on his head called Vulpes Inculta told me that Caesar’s Legion- pronounced Kai-sar (who knows how these things were pronounced before the bombs?) had done all this and I would be allowed to live in order to spread the word. Seems he found the town morally lacking, willing to betray travellers, so he rounded them all up and made them play a lottery. Everyone just watched while the losers were stuck up there like piñatas. I wanted to introduce him to my new repeater magnum, but there were too many.

Did I come at a bad time?

After he went I checked out the town hall. The Legion had left dogs in there, picking off anyone left. The mayor’s computer told a tale about his treachery and meeting with a Mr Fox- clearly my new Legion friend. Maybe the town got what was coming to it, or maybe not, but the hand that dealt this punishment was a cruel and cold one that puts a shiver up my spine even in this bakin’ heat. Turns out the people of Nipton weren’t exactly ill prepared either; One of their men was a mechanic with a Mr Gutsy in his house and one had all manner of traps and captive bark scorpions. Inspection of their houses revealed much about their insanity, but frankly this place stinks of it and I’m going while I still can. It’s clear that the Legion must be tough varmints to take a town of roughnecks like this by storm.

Checked out the Nipton store to restock before I left and met a Powder Ganger called Boxcar. He wasn’t too keen on me, guess I must be shunned still. He got second place in the lottery, so they just broke his legs instead of killing him. That loony who won the lottery got to run away. The luckiest losers got decapitated, then the next group were crucified. Third place runners up were taken as slaves. The mayor was burned on one of the fires. One thing was painfully clear- I’d found the main plot.

I headed back to the NCR outpost, told them what I knew and squared things off with the rangers I was working for. I was about to find a place to bed down for the night when an old man called Malcolm came and told me that the blue star caps I’d been finding from Sunset Sarsaparilla drinks were so highly sought after that people would kill for them- as Tomas had suggested. Apparently they lead to some kinda treasure. Could be that collecting all these special caps will be quite an adventure, comparable in scale perhaps to, just as an example, collecting as much Nuka Cola as possible.

The Mojave Wasteland seems to be largely comprised of slightly different versions of things that are seen in the Capital Wasteland. The place certainly has more character and is an ironically colourful desert. I could even say that the whole game ran off the back of the sequel-construction effect, where everything feels like an improved version of something else, which of course is no bad thing as it shows that developers have taken on board feedback about everything that was lacking before.

I re-repair the fourth wall, settle down in my bedroll and go to sleep. Tomorrow, Novac and glory.

Fallout: New Vegas First Impressions

(Contribution to noaddedsugar.ie)

War… war never changes. Games, however, do. The progression between games from the developments in graphical technology to the exploration of new game types and mechanics is a tricky thing to measure, growing organically as each new game release appears, between both indie titles and benchmark blockbusters.

These changes in gaming are seen most clearly between sequels as comparison is easier and natural to draw between two games in the same franchise; this is something that came to the fore of my mind while playing the opening of Fallout: New Vegas. Don your best faux cowboy voice as we delve into the Mojave Wasteland…

More than an expansion pack but not quite a whole new game, New Vegas is a curious extension of Fallout 3 and indeed some people have been reticent about parting with their hard earned bottle caps to play it. Well, my first impression is as follows: break the piggy bank. New Vegas is a whole new beast and has plenty to offer to both Fallout veterans and those curious about the series.
The first marker of a good sequel is response to feedback. Good developers consider what people liked or didn’t like about their previous attempts and build on it; play a few minutes of New Vegas and you will see this in action. As the camera pans over the Mojave Wasteland (as opposed to Capital Wasteland from Fallout 3- getting all regional on us) we’re smoothly introduced to the hero of this instalment. Not the only thing to link this game to Fallout 2, this title departs from the vault dweller protagonist and gives us a wastelander to play with; a luckless courier left for dead after being shot by a mysterious gangster.

Yeehaw, etc

After being patched up by the kindly Doc Mitchell, you get to go through a familiar system of picking your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes and a little psych profile to determine what skills suit you. Here we see the arrival of a new skill called ‘Survival’ (Fallout 2 reference number 2, more on that later) and get to pick two Traits. Traits harken back to the original Fallouts and operate like Perks, but they give something both good and bad- for example, I took the Small Frame Trait which makes one more agile but prone to breaking limbs. Our brave courier finds that he was in the middle of delivering a mysterious oversized poker chip and thus the plot thickens to a nice gravy-like consistency, before allowing the player to run around the initial town of Goodsprings first if they so choose. My first impressions are limited to this town but it certainly does give a nice sample of the new game mechanics introduced in New Vegas.
Residents of the town will give information about the Mojave Wasteland and New Vegas, which is run by the wonderfully named Mr House, who presumably always wins, and fought over by the New California Republic (Fallout 2 reference number 3) and Caesar’s Legion. No doubt their struggle will be a centrepiece later in the game. Until then we get to run around Goodsprings helping out the residents and now we get to grips with some of the changes. One of the first encountered is the introduction of special ammo types and gun modifications. I feel that these may be an unnecessary complication but will be very welcome to those who like to find every edge in combat. The weapon mods at least encourage players to keep one prized weapon and work on it until it becomes a thing of beauty with bolt-on silencers, scopes and the like.

It seems natural and inevitable to describe New Vegas in these terms; the terms of comparison to Fallout 3. The new robots have that usual Fallout 50’s imitation splendour, almost camp sci-fi creations with bendy tubes for arms, though these new models have a very strong Borderlands vibe to them and foreseeably could be very annoying. The return of Geckos was something I had been keenly anticipating and they are introduced very soon, in a tutorial mission. Like their Fallout 2 counterparts (reference 4…) the Geckos look somewhat like odd rubbery monsters and at first can appear a bit silly with flapping arms and wide open mouths, but I realised that they actually move and act a lot like real world lizards and it quickly goes from silly to scary. Almost.

Ten points for getting a bullet into the mouth...

Geckos of course are just one of a set of new monsters to hunt and players will immediately recognise their scheme in things, such as overgrown Mantis that replace the old cockroaches. They come at you fast and are admittedly more interesting to fight. Bark Scorpions put a new spin on Radscorpions and coyotes are the natural choice for new desert dogs; minor changes but all part of the new scenery which has gone into giving New Vegas a distinct flavour. Plus, now we have birds!

Part of the tutorial, aside from killing Geckos and wondering why one of the side effects of nuclear war appears to be speaking like a cowboy, is getting ingredients from around the town to make healing powder at a campfire. A variety of items can be made such as drugs, medicines and food, provided the character has adequate Survival skill (the new skill coming immediately into play here) and the right ingredients scavenged from the wasteland or taken from dead foes. This system feels like one that will get tired quickly, not unlike the workbenches in Knights of the Old Republic which became irrelevant once the player had plenty of items, but it does give the player a strong interactive dynamic with the environment and adds towards something which I feel is very key to New Vegas; it makes the Mojave Wasteland itself a character in the game, as much as the NPCs who populate it. I can’t stress this enough- thanks to new mechanics like this and the myriad additions of new things, the Mojave Wasteland itself is presented as one enormous new character to enjoy. This is vital to giving this unusual not-expansion but not-new-game release an injection of substance and the ability to stand apart.

Loading screens, colour schemes, weapons and clothes all have a same-but-different vibe that makes New Vegas just new enough to be refreshing. Naturally there are new Perks too: for example Lady Killer from Fallout 3 is joined by Confirmed Bachelor which adds dialogue options and bonus damage when dealing with men. Rapid Reload does what it says on the tin.

Early conversations and quests, such as helping a man called Ringo (Help, I need somebody…) fend off a marauding gang suggest a well-developed reputation dynamic. This is very welcome as the reputation system in Fallout 3 was sometimes disjointed or lacking completely. After bailing out Ringo, the player becomes liked by the town of Goodsprings and disliked by the Powder Gangers; a simple example but indicative of a more intelligent community system. This even goes as far as letting you use faction-related armour as a disguise, so it’s about more than just protection and looking badass. On the downside of course this means you have to think twice about donning what you take from your enemies, but this is another factor that adds to the realism and richness of the Mojave Wasteland.

Everything in the game from the dialogue, the equipment, the scenery and the new functions has a big Mojave stamp on it, adding to the character of New Vegas. This subtle effect made my first impressions of New Vegas shine; it justifies the development of this side-sequel and thankfully replaces the usual ‘ooh, new game’ vibe as something to draw the player in. If there was any danger of New Vegas just not being new enough to grab the attention of fans, I believe the danger has passed. The Geckos have sunk their teeth into me and I’m certain they will do the same for the next weary traveller.