Pictured on the right is the box art of my Christmas treat, courtesy of some Best Buy gift cards from generous relatives enabling me to forbear upon a certain amount of fiscal responsibility in favor of a new toy. I honestly was still hemming and hawing for a bit on whether it was a good use of money, but it’s amazing what you can convince yourself of in the cause of “research”, even if I highly doubt the IRS would allow me to write this off as a business expense.
I’ve always loved the Fallout series of games (and its unofficial predecessor, Wasteland). Not all of them, mind you, for there have been some duds, such as whenever they tried to stray from the RPG format. But Fallout and Fallout 2 were pure, post-apocalyptic gold, combining freeform gameplay and exploration with an open morality system, and a tongue-in-cheek sense of dark humor perfectly balanced with doses of true drama and horror.
After Fallout 2 in 1998 there was a long dry spell, punctuated by the sad demise of Black Isle Studios, the abortive attempts at non-RPG games based on the Fallout IP, and finally Interplay selling the rights over to another company entirely. That company was Bethesda, and lo and behold, 10 years later Bethesda debuted Fallout 3, which completely reworked the look of the game into a first-person/third-person style more reminiscent of such games as their Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.
Was I skeptical? You betcha. So much so that to this day Fallout 3 remains something I only rented from Gamefly… but uhm, sort of a several month rental. By the end, I probably might as well have bought it, but I think it was the ending that made me not really go for ownership. Nossir, I didn’t like that ending, so that sort of took the steam out of any replay value.
Other than that, though, I had to admit: Bethesda had done a fine, fine job of preserving all the core values of Fallout, and wandering the wastes in a new, more personal fashion made it all the more immediate. The unique SPECIAL system of attributes and skills was still there, as well as the darkly cheerful atompunk environment (or what remained of it). The Vault Man mascot, who to me will always be the true Fallout Boy, was present and accounted for in all his vapidly grinning glory. They even brought Ron Perlman back to do a reprise of his legendary opening voiceover. “War. War never changes…”
I never made the actual buy, which means I also never bought any of the DLC’s that followed. I moved on to other matters (including Zombie Ranch), and it barely registered on my radar when some new DLC supposedly let you run around the Las Vegas area. Yeah, it seemed to have a lot more of a ‘cowboy’ vibe to it, but buying Fallout 3 just so I could buy some add-on that probably didn’t have much to it? Meh.
Well, stupid me, Fallout: New Vegas wasn’t a DLC but a full-on game in its own right. Once I figured that out, I knew that I needed to show the love and rectify my failure to buy its predecessor. Plus, it’s a post-apocalypse American southwest? There must be inspiration for Zombie Ranch to be had here, despite it being a different apocalypse than the zombie kind.
Anyhow, I’m not sure how far along I am in the game yet, but I’m not regretting the purchase. The cowboy vibe is mixed with a dose of classic Vegas lounge, but its all great stuff. Of course I had to create a Suzie to run around with, and she’s a right terror with her six-shooter and even her fists (alas, no lassoes to be had or I’d be hogtying folks and critters after knocking them cold).
I’m getting the sense that when I actually reach New Vegas it may be quite a vision of a Safe Zone, but we’ll see. For now it’s the Nevada desert, and I’m actually recognizing quite a few of the early landmarks from previous trips to Vegas, including the nightmarish one where Dawn’s car broke down not too far past Primm.
I actually want nothing more than to get back on and do some more wasteland wandering right now, but I’m being good and getting this blog done, as well as some more writing for the comic. Really, the environments are at least as inspiring as those of Red Dead Redemption, and maybe even moreso given such conceptual similarities like old wooden buildings with neon signs stuck onto them (as you’ve briefly glimpsed with the Sheriff’s Office in comic #48).
I’m also liking the storyline so far as well. Sure there’s a war a-brewin’, but that’s nothing you really need to get involved in unless you feel the need. Meanwhile there’s a group of no-good varmints to track down after they left you for dead.
I’ll no doubt do a follow-up after I finish the game, which may take awhile what with all these distractions like my day job and that other thing… oh yeah, this thing. Just kidding! You readers have all been great, and I love writing this yarn for you and seeing Dawn turn my dreams into purty pictures for you to share.
But hey, I gotta work in a little “research” here and there, right?