Cult of the Fiver | March 2014

##Max Payne 3

Cult of the Fiver: Max Payne 3

Max is back! This time he’s taken his heavy drinking, pill-popping, noir-cliche, bullet-riddled behind to South America. After the bodyguard job he’s been hired to do goes south, Max will risk whatever tiny sliver of sanity he has left to clear his name and dish out some street-wise justice.

Max Payne 3 is worth your $5 because… this series is known for its excellent gunplay, twisty plots, and interesting characters. Max Payne 3 is no exception. There’s a lot of stuff to shoot, a lot of slo-mo bullet time dodging, and some flashy AAA setpiece action sequences. Max’s banter is as witty as ever, and Rockstar’s polished this game to a glimmering shine.

But don’t pay full price for Max Payne 3, since… it’s rather difficult and unfair at times. Despite my shooter history, I still found it very challenging even on normal difficulty. It’s also fairly one-note – you’re going to shoot a lot of bad guys, and you’re going to watch a lot of slow motion kill cams.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam

Quick Tips:

  • Explore everywhere for Golden Gun parts. There are usually at least 2 or 3 guns, in 3 pieces each per level. If you collect all the parts of a Golden Gun, it will upgrade all instances of that gun in the game.
  • Budget your bullet time carefully. You can optimize your use of it by popping out of cover, slowing time while you line up your shot, and then turning it back off as you duck back into cover.
  • Dying repeatedly on the lower difficulties will eventually give you some free painkillers, so if you’re stuck somewhere, know that eventually you’ll get some relief.

Don’t Starve

Cult of the Fiver: Don't Starve

Don’t Starve puts you in the shoes of an unfortunate character, dumped into a weird, unforgiving, and downright hostile world. Resources are scarce, the nights are deadly, and winter is coming. Can you use your knowledge and budget your limited time well enough to survive? Or are you destined to become just another corpse, littering the bleak, nightmarish countryside?

Don’t Starve is worth your $5 because… it’s an interesting take on the survival RPG genre. There’s some Fallout style hoarding you have to do, and the science/base building elements give the game a sense of progression. The art and music are both excellent, they manage to evoke both “cute” and “frightening” at the same time.

But don’t pay full price for Don’t Starve, since… it’s absolutely punishing. You’re going to die and have to restart often. Much of the time, death is permanent and kills your progress. Every time you start out, you’ll spend some amount of time doing the exact same things you did last time. You can adjust the difficulty to an extent, but there’s still a lot of lost progress and repetition involved.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Fire is your friend. You will die in the dark without some source of light.
  • In addition to food, you also need to worry about your sanity – early in the game you can pick flowers and craft them into a hat that will keep your sanity going.

Driver: San Francisco

Cult of the Fiver: Driver San Francisco

Driver: San Francisco tells the story of John Tanner, a cop who recently put away mega-criminal Jericho. However, during a routine prisoner transfer, Jericho breaks out of prison and critically wounds Tanner. Will Tanner pull through and use his expert driving skills put a stop to Jericho’s evil schemes? Probably, I mean, this is a video game, after all.

Driver: San Francisco is worth your $5 because… it’s a novel take on the “driving game” formula. At any point, you can jump from being in a car to an overhead “world map” style view, which allows you to take control of almost any car in San Francisco. There’s a wide variety of activities to take part in. Even during the activities, you can hop into other cars and use them to your advantage. Losing a race? Why not hop into oncoming traffic and cause a pile-up to slow everyone down! Or, y’know, just smash their cars up to the point they can’t race anymore. It’s still winning when you’re the only car in the race, right?

But don’t pay full price for Driver: San Francisco, since… it’s got some cheesy bits and some rough edges. Some of the game mechanics aren’t explained well. The voice acting, plot, and dialog are so over the top it’s hilarious. Cars you buy can’t be used in most of the plot missions, which is sad. Some of the activities are a lot of fun, but others are just plain frustrating.

The $5 Deal: Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Prioritize the “ability bar” upgrades, as they will make your life considerably easier.
  • The “Income Multiplier” upgrades only effect the income you gain passively every 20 minutes or so. They don’t effect activity payouts or anything else. It’s kind of sort of worth it late in the game, as you can buy all the garages, buy the multipliers, and then just let the game sit to accumulate wealth.
  • Activities can be done over and over again for easy cash. They pay out exactly the same on repeated playthroughs.
  • Don’t bother scouring the map and taking care of every activity early in the game. As the game progresses, it becomes easier and easier to get around town.

Fallout 3: Game of the Year

Cult of the Fiver: Fallout 3

War. War Never Changes. Only, it did in the transition from Fallout 1&2 to Fallout 3. Fallout 3 is the first full-blown 3D “first person RPG” game in the series. When the vault you’ve called home your entire life is suddenly a war zone, and your father has disappeared and branded a traitor, you’ll be forced into the hostile ruins of the Washington, DC area. Finding dear ol’ dad is a secondary concern to survival in this irradiated wasteland.

Fallout 3: Game of the Year is worth your $5 because… well, it was Game of the Year. It’s hard to argue with that title, either. It pays homage to the setting from the first two Fallout games while taking the concept in all-new directions. There’s tons of stuff to explore, mysteries to unravel, and a billion things to kill and/or loot. The GOTY edition tosses in all 5 expansions, which are worth starting the game from scratch to experience again.

But don’t pay full price for Fallout 3: Game of the Year, since… there are a lot of bugs and odd bits here and there. It’s a game that is quite old by video gaming standards, and it shows. Some of the DLC is pretty meh – Operation: Anchorage in particular feels very out of place against the rest of the game. That said, a lot of this can be skipped over or fixed via modding on the PC, which is a godsend in these Bethesda games.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam

Quick Tips:

  • Broken Steel adds an extra set of levels and one perk that makes all your SPECIAL stats 9. One “optimal” build for the game is to start with Intelligence at 9 (for skill points), and the rest of your stats at 5, with one at 6 to use the last point. Rush to Rivet City to get the Intelligence bobblehead to get 10 overall, but leave the rest until you hit level 30. This way, you can be the ultimate wasteland warrior. Not like you’ll need it, given the number of mindblowingly-powerful items in the DLCs…
  • “Good” characters can get a house in Megaton, the first city you’re likely to encounter. Help out around town (hint: defusing the bomb counts for a lot) and you’ll get a place to store gear you don’t want to lug around DC.
  • Play Operation: Anchorage early on. It’s mostly a first person shooter, and it doesn’t require a lot of points sunk into your skills. The gear you get from clearing it is very high-level.

Splinter Cell: Conviction

Cult of the Fiver: Splinter Cell Conviction

After the disastrous events of Double Agent, Sam is on the run. But a familiar voice promises him a lead on the death of his daughter. As he’s drawn back into the web of the spy organization he helped build, the full extent of the corruption that has grown there is revealed. Who can Sam trust, and how far will he go to save a country that lied to him and abandoned him?

Splinter Cell: Conviction is worth your $5 because… it’s a strong, groundbreaking title in a well-established stealth franchise. The “Mark and Execute” system brings a fresh, fluid experience to a genre that is generally slow moving and overly meticulous. The plot is interesting, and the stealth is still challenging despite the sophistication of Sam’s methods and tools.

But don’t pay full price for Splinter Cell: Conviction, since… it’s somewhat short, although it’s probably on par with many single player franchises. There’s also a lot of brutality. Sam’s gloves are off, and he’s not afraid to use violently interrogation methods to get what he wants. If that sort of thing makes you squeamish, it might be enough to put you off the game altogether.

The $5 Deal: Steam

Quick Tips:

  • Upgrade your pistol with a laser sight, and the game’s auto-aim will give you headshots on nearby enemies. This can be super useful in combat situations.
  • There are many environmental objects that can be marked, which will take out several guards at once when hit.