Sunday, 4 September 2011

If I owned a bar in the Fallout world I would call it "The Good Luck Kid"

A bit ago I wrote this really adolescent thing about how I wasn't really up for any more New Vegas. And then that game kicked my ass, and now the absolute opposite is true.

The DLC for this game has become perhaps my favourite aspect, in terms of the weird territories it takes you to, the microcosm of difficult choices you have to make, and the way it expands on the mythos and world of Fallout in a way that far surpasses any of the DLC of Fallout 3.

It's like the stuff Obsidian did with this game and it's content, what they wanted to do with it, never even crossed the minds of the Bethesda boys and girls. That's not to discredit the Bethesda team, at all. The engine of Fallout 3 is prety fantastic, and the grimy architecture of everything was, well, not the only good thing about that game, but one of like maybe three good things about it.

Having said that, the DLC for Fallout 3 was basically just a couple of standalone missions, pretty uninspiring stuff, whereas you're geared up for the DLC in New Vegas from the first time you spot some weird graffiti on some half demolished wall. There are references to it all throughout the main game, subtle things that don't get in the way. And when you get to explore them (granted, you have to pay 800 points for each) you get this sense of how well the world of Fallout is thought out and plotted.

So Old World Blues, the third and penultimate DLC realm made me love my main character again.

And I was bored of him. His build is nothing spectacular. He had guns and speech as his main skills, I can't even remember the third skill I tagged, you know? He's done so much shit and he's called Harvey From Sabrina which at the time I thought was hilarious but now is just ridiculous and I'm a little embarassed about it even.

But the world of Fallout, the world of Harvey from Sabrina, feels so vital and important, and it's not because my dad died and I purified a lot of water, but thanks Fallout 3.

It feels like it matters because people can die whenever, not just at scripted times. You can mess things up, so the choices feel much more real. It's like Bethesda wanted to tell a story, and they got so caught up in that story they didn't want you to mess with it.

New Vegas is all about messing with shit. Obsidian have faith in their players and if you kill a quest giving character then too bad, but that will lead you on to other things and the result is so much more rewarding than the limited Fallout 3.

With all that in mind, things happen at the end of Old World Blues that made me sort of reassess and everything clicked into place and felt poignant and bittersweet. That's not to say Old World Blues is a bum trip, it's funny as hell.

Easily one of the funniest games I've ever played.

And when I get back to the Mojave after all that craziness is done I don't know what to do with my guy. I've got a few side missions I could be getting on with, sure. But I'm so geared up for meeting Ulysses, I have no idea what that will be like, and it feels like it will actually be the pinnacle of these introspective and lonely journeys I've taken outside the Mojave.

But that won't be the end. I'll have to come back and fight the second battle of Hoover dam and initially I thought this was a bad thing, but it might be one of the most mature examples of mood manipulation in a game to date.

For starters the DLC, with the except of Honest Hearts, is mostly to do with itself. Like the characters you meet there, they've affected and are often mentioned by people who live in the Mojave, but the characters in the DLC have removed themselves, or been removed, from that world and it's like this weird behind-the-scenes shit you get to experience.

So it will finish up the DLC stuff nicely. Plus this meeting with Ulysses is being billed as this final showdown sort of thing, except I'll have to go and deal with Lanius after.

And that will become a joyless affair, like something I just have to do, some business-like conclusion to the whole thing. Without realising it, Lanius will become the final voice of the game, a voice of combat (as long as that doesn't sound too pretentious, which it probably does) because War Never Changes.

It's like I'll fight him, and kill him, but the greatest battle of Harvey from Sabrina's life will already have been fought against, and with, characters I can never meet again, in realms I cannot, for the large part, revisit.

And that makes Harvey from Sabrina feel sad. But now I want Obsidian to make all the games I ever play, and they have totally killed my jammedness for Skyrim.

Skyrim, it's like it's there in the Mojave, and it'll be an ok game, it'll be big and showy and it will have taken control of Caeser's army, since Caeser is dead now. But it won't be Fallout: New Vegas. My great battle will have been fought by then. But I guess Skyrim has dragons.

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