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Posts Tagged ‘Fallout 3’

Fallout 3 and New Vegas

Posted by deckard47 on November 9, 2010



Fallout: New Vegas

Raul Tejada. He's a Hispanic ghoul in a game set in the post-apocalyptic Mojave, a Mojave free of brown people! Humor!

I kind of despise Fallout 3. It’s bland, in its level design, its art, and its writing. The actors behind the characters are (like all Bethesda actors) complete villains: their voices are so completely unemotional and uninteresting that they sound like they’re acting from beyond the grave. It takes things from the original Fallout games (games I enjoyed) and updates them in the least imaginative ways possible. Turn based combat? It’s now a shoddy slow-mo combat mode, a poor copy of the kind of tactical brilliance and visual excellence found in Max Payne games, and ultimately the only thing that stops the gunplay from being a broken, unplayable nightmare. Try shooting something out of VATS in Fallout 3. I think this is what people think of when they trollishly mutter about “dice rolls” determining their bullets’ paths. Every gunshot feels wrong. The sounds are off, the animations are all wrong, and the interface can barely keep up with human input. VATS fixes the horrible controls and responsiveness, and reveals new problems: every other shot will hit an invisible barrier, or miss completely, even if there’s no chance of a miss. Combat is a demoralizing, unpleasant kind of busy-work.

Fallout: New Vegas wasn’t developed by Bethesda. It’s been farmed out to Obsidian, who really seem can’t escape from their gun-for-hire roots (unless it’s to produce the awful Alpha Protocol). New Vegas is also a better game than Fallout 3, and it’s certainly a better game than Alpha Protocol. It’s also a bit boring, despite having held my interest for 40 hours. It repeats almost all of the same mechanical and interface issues seen in Fallout 3. The new “true” iron sights mechanic feels better than the previous aiming, but there’s still the same bogus math behind the scenes. Try this out, devs: go play a game like Deus Ex. Hell, go play Singularity or Wolfenstein. Watch how those games have a base spread of fire for each gun, and how upgrades tighten that spread, depending on gun type. There’s never a time when my fire just fucking misses, if I’ve lined up the shot and my skill is high enough. That’s the problem at the core of VATS. Even when firing at point blank range, I can miss, sometimes because VATS glitches (actually, this happens quite often), or because the game’s math decrees it so. If the way you fix your broken shooting system is to introduce a broken slow-mo system, you’re well and truly screwed. The game feels like and action-shooter-RPG in every respect but the act of pulling a trigger. It’s surprising, because Bethesda’s system for To-Hit-Ratio and damage in Oblivion was strait-forward and fun. Here, melee is the best option, because as in Oblivion, assholes can’t dodge a lead pipe, but they can certainly resist its damage (though melee was useless in Fallout 3, so I have to credit Obsidian again for unbreaking it).

Fallout: New Vegas

My evil melee character. I quit playing him, because ED-E, that floating robot (who obviously uses invisible legs to navigate in-game terrain) behind me, broke my save.

But I’ve played a ton of New Vegas. I can certainly censure Obsidian for not removing Fallout 3‘s multitudinous interface issues, completely wretched voice acting, and crappy game engine implementation (that extra half-step-while moving problem is even worse in Vegas), I have to appreciate that they approached this new Wasteland with more than an ounce or two of thought and originality. There are things ingame that aren’t brown anymore. There are also trees and foliage. The world instantly becomes a few times less boring, thanks to these additions. There are more than 3 good guns. You can mod and upgrade guns in a way that’s fun, if limited to a degree I’d prefer it wasn’t. Upgrades are visually evident on every gun (that last should be a requirement for every game, EVER). There are more monsters and character models. Melee isn’t completely broken. Energy weapons aren’t completely broken (by this I mean that a player can set out to master these two tracks and not create a character destined for swift death). Water doesn’t irradiate you instantly. Cars don’t instantly irradiate you. As a result, it’s possible to explore most areas without bringing 50 Radaways.

The writing is also better, by a small measure. Obsidian does not commit the awful sin of having a 3 hour long tutorial that cannot be skipped, as did Fallout 3. They do make you answer a surprisingly annoying set of character-forming “questions,” though. Certainly, Caesar’s Legion are a boring lot (though their acting is what really ruins interactions with them). The game can feel a little small-scale (every Casino has its own loading zone in the strip, because the engine can’t handle more, apparently. It feels nothing like a city and everything like a corridor with glowing doors), and many of the locations feel perfunctorily written and designed (Primm is a complete nonentity, aside from its delightful cowboy robot). The central plot and quest line feel both inspired by and derivative of (awfully) Bioshock.

Fallout: New Vegas

Cass, preparing to harrow my soul with her voice.

New Vegas also competently recreates a variety of standard RPG quest tropes and traditions. There’s a Vault full of Thorian Creepers (I mean spore humans), a vault full of radiation, a messianic ghoul leader, betrayal within a small community, and gang allegiances. It’s all competently executed, though the rigid, instantly-boring graphics and animation rob the world of any excitement I might have found in its fictions. Despite all of this, it feels like what Fallout 3 should have been: an inferior first person version of Fallout, with a host of “modern” FPS and RPG innovations thrown in to keep things from getting boring. New Vegas recaptures a bit of the wit and cynicism that Fallout 1 and 2 honestly expressed and Fallout 3 callowly pantomimed. Certain characters were written in such a way that they produce amusing and entertaining dialogue (the aforementioned robot cowboy), while others produce similarly passable dialogue that’s absolutely murdered by the actors (Cass is the worst culprit. Amusing dialogue, horrid acting).

The radio stations are alright, but there aren’t nearly enough songs. There are 27 songs in New Vegas, while Fallout 3 had 37. Somehow, Bethesda managed to make those 37 sound like double that. Obsidian also managed to make it so that the same song would play back-to-back, so that probably has something to do with my hatred for the soundtrack. Likewise, fallout 3 had the outrageously hammy Malcolm McDowell murmuring on about America in a surprisingly (for that game) entertaining way. New Vegas replaces him with a silly, one-note joke station about stupid, stupid mutants.

Fallout: New Vegas

The Strip. Two casinos of it, that is, before you load the next road/set of casinos. You can see the door down there on the left.

New Vegas is also broken in about 20 other ways. I’ve had to download patches, sneak altered .dll’s in, and mod the crap out of this game, just to get it to work. I’ve had to reload countless games, waste hours of play time, and generally cover for a mountain of shit Obsidian, Bethesda, and Microsoft QA left in the game. Really, it’s like they went in and broke a bunch of stuff and then shipped the game. It still crashes my system regularly.

I’m not sorry I’ve played 40 hours of New Vegas. It can be a fun, engrossing game, when it’s not breaking, or the engine, UI, and developers aren’t tarnishing the experience. Apparently it sold 5 million units already. I hope this means Obsidian can make another game, a non-Fallout, non-Alpha Protocol game. One that isn’t Dungeon Siege 3, also (though maybe Square Enix will make these people produce a non-broken game, so…). I’d love to see Obsidian make a game whose play is at least equal to its writing (though they really need to work on never, ever writing Alpha Protocol-quality dialogue again). I can’t say I care what Bethesda does next. probably another Elder Scrolls game with a depressingly bad and broken leveling system and wooden, awful celebrity voice-work. maybe John Carmack and company will teach Bethesda how to make a game with guns and bullets. I can dream.

PS: So Rage looks like Borderlands mixes with Doom mixed with Fallout 3. I think it’s going to better than all three games, because it won’t be hilariously, ironically character-less and toneless like Borderlands was, and it won’t be shit to play, like Fallout 3 was. Maybe if we all believe in faeries…

PPS: The screenshot save/notation system for New Vegas is really very good.


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Impressions: STALKER Clear Sky, Fallout 3, and Far Cry 2

Posted by deckard47 on May 8, 2009

Yes, from now on, it will be Stalker, none of those silly out of place full stops here. If GSC games emails me angrily, I’ll go back, but I’m saying that their games are sweet, so hopefully they won’t. Clear Sky has got me good at this point, so good that I was willing to endure some unpleasant initial moments (being pinned down permanently by machine gun fire in a story-required mission, especially) to see the rest of it. I’m in the Zone proper now, doing missions, upgrading guns and armor (and buying new ones), building my faction reputations, and being scared by the night-time noises.

I put those other two titles up there because those are games that I liked, to a degree, until I found Stalker. I dug Fallout3‘s RPG aspects, and its setting (initially), but in the long run the story was bad, the quests were boring, and the setting was monochromatic, repetitive and uninventive. Cut to Stalker‘s Zone, which feels like a real place (with arbitrary boundaries!), with its waring factions, roving and stationary mutants, and unpleasant, tempting blowouts and distortions.  Sure it isn’t a full RPG, but it has a great weapon and armor upgrade system, a cool faction favor system, and lots of interesting sights and sounds. Night in the Zone makes night in the Capital Wasteland look like Disneyland. It’s almost pitch-black, scary and spooky music and howls travel across the Zone, and you can see those damn glowing boar-eyes coming for you. This game does more in its simple audio and visual environmental and enemy cues that Fallout 3 manages for its entire length. Sure, the ludicrous tradesmen and Stalkers may not be “characters” like Liam Neeson was supposed to be, but they are much less likely to draw a snort of laughter out of me. They’re only trying to convince me that I’m not alone, not that I should care for them.

Far Cry 2 is a fun game, and I like its sneaking/tactical/free-form aspects, but it’s a dead setting. Traveling across the fields of African Nation X (or wherever it’s supposed to be), you’d be forgiven for thinking it was also a wasteland. The odd badly implemented Zebra does little to alleviate the sense of emptiness. Maybe that’s the point, but it makes for a less interesting setting. I love the Zone, its blasted and wasted corners and expanses chock full of mutants, Stalkers, anomalies, and individually, carefully designed ruins and buildings. It feels tangible and weighty, in a way that Far Cry 2‘s artificial safe houses and quest/enemy clubs can’t hold a candle to. The combat in Stalker may be far more finicky, but it’s also more rewarding. When I go through an encounter without taking a hit, I’m always surprised, until that last enemy I forgot about kills me in one shot. It’s highly unforgiving, lacking in polish, and less coherent than both Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2, but its fiction is so much more interesting, nuanced, and affecting, I’d rather play this game for tens of hours more before I go back to the other two games.

Despite the fact that the first game is so scary and I can’t play it for long, I miss those elements in the second game. As a shooter, pretend squad game, and upgradable/expansive gameplay experience, I prefer Clear Sky in almost every way. That’s why I’m really excited by Call of Pripkyat, the next game in the Stalker series. It looks like it will blend the best of the two games, along with a lot of upgrades and fixes (and there are a lot of those that both games still desperately need). Too bad I won’t be in Russia for  the KRI Conference 2009, the annual Russian Game Developer’s Conference, because it sounds sweet. Time to go back to counting down the hours until Trek time.

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News: Now I’m Glad I Didn’t pick up Fallout 3 for PC

Posted by deckard47 on May 5, 2009

Because, look, the new DLC is broken for PCs. That’s unfortunate. I keep on thinking I’ll pick it up for PC, and use mods to make it a better game, but then I hear about stuff like this. I think I’ll be hitting up Stalker tonight. Because it’s fun (oh, and buggy).

Speaking of which, been busy lately, in a not-terribly-productive way, but I have been playing a ton of Stalker and Clear Sky. Clear Sky is really more my kind of game: it’s a bit more like an RPG, way less scary, and has less bugs. But it has its issues. More later, I hope.

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Fallout Schmallout: EVE is Amazing!

Posted by deckard47 on November 7, 2008

No, I actually haven’t played the tiniest bit of EVE Online, but you must, must check this out. EVE Online is making it so players can add customizable shops and other baubles to space stations, which in turn will be filled by custom NPCs and such. I can’t believe how attractive that sounds (as Kotaku’s Fahey says here), and how much like DS9 it is. Must resist urge to play a game that eats my money like I eat gummy bears.

The truth is, I am having trouble writing about Fallout 3. I did some work this morning, and then decided I would sit down and write something about my latest journey to the Capital Wasteland. So far, little has been accomplished. I feel like a game that has me this conflicted about whether I like it or not should be a perfect source of information. Blech. I really just want to see J.C.V.D. My silly town doesn’t have it yet.

I guess I’ll just think here and think about creating my own space saloon.

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Where’s My Louis Armstrong?

Posted by deckard47 on November 6, 2008

Time for a Fallout 3 update. I’m trying to finish “The Family” quest, which involves my character tracking down what appear to be a family of moddern day vampires. It sounds great (although it is so like Oblivion), and it’s fun for a bit, but then I realize that I’m just checking various Oblivion dungeons (sure, they’re in subway stations and mansions, but their dungeons all the same) for guys. And it is getting old.

Yet even as the specter of Oblivion rears its medieval head, a bit more fo (what I consider to be) Fallout peaks through. I keep on finding “rail spike” rounds or some such, obviously destined for some kind of “railgun.” I long for this rail spike gun like nothing else I’ve ever wanted in a game. Kind of. It’s actually amazing, how their devilish little crafting system drags me in. If I have the right materials, I can make a bottle cap mine… This means I use currency as a weapon. Nice. Also, when I buy the schematic for a gun, that’s not the end. If I find identicle schematics, my final gun (whenever I craft it) will be of a higher quality. Excellent.

Mini-Nuke attack! Oh, that reminds me, I just found out that there is a way for me to pick up the schematics for a nuke grenade. I am almost speechless with anticipation.

This kind of detail is also bestowed upon repairing items found in the wasteland, which can be done to increase damage and value. Likewise, the Bobbleheads that are hidden throughout the game aren’t just gloriphied trophies: they bestow small bonuses to different skills. It’s very much like Mass Effect’s achievements, which conferred ingame bonuses. Way to go bethesda.

Suddenly, I want to take back what I said about evil characters. In my good game, I stumbled upon a huge slaving complex, which was completely off limits to me. I want to get there with my evil guy, and explore! I want that so badly.

I’m still very far from getting anywhere in the game, but I can say that it’s frustrating and fun in almost equal amounts. More missives from the Wasteland to follow shortly.

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Election, Election

Posted by deckard47 on November 5, 2008

So I’m watching the returns, hoping, as I am want to do. I just spent a lot of today doing a lot of gaming, writing, and lots of nothing. I can safely say that Dead Space rocks just as much as it did this morning. In Fallout 3 news, I’ve played a bit more of it, and I can say this: it is definitely better than Oblivion. I almost feel like it should be compared to that game, as opposed to the old Fallouts. It’s big, varied, deep, and ultimately, oddly shoddy in places (just less so than Oblivion was). What it takes from the Fallout are its setting and its tone (for the most part), and the skill-influenced conversation trees.

By the way, that last feature is one of my favorites in the whole game. I love being able to create a different conversation tree because I have high endurance. Quite awesome. So, its very fun, but I can see it petering out like Oblivion did. I’m worried that beyond the aforementioned conversation techniques, it’s going to be the same brand of bland storytelling. I could be wrong, because the writing is definitely better in places, as is the acting. I’m crossing my fingers, because I really want to like this.

The combat is just as the rest of the world says it is: stunted and finicky. V.A.T.S. helps to ameliorate the situation somewhat, but I can only watch heads blowing up for so long before I get testy. Horribly, I’m finding the evil options too harsh. I don’t like destroying an entire town, because it removes a whole batch of quests from my reach. If you could have seen me when I realized this, you would know what the deepest kind of indecision looks like. Now I absolutely must play the game twice (if not three times) to assuage my peculiar predilections. Life is tough.

Anyway, I think I’ll keep on trying with it, maybe not later tonight, but definitely tomorrow. I need to get my character beyond that initial sucky stage. Time to go watch Obama win (projected-wise).

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Fallout 3 Just Got Amazing

Posted by deckard47 on August 29, 2008

Check this out. NOW.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but that video makes my much less worried about Fallout 3. If there’s one thing they’ve got right, it’s the look and feel of a fallout world. And I don’t mean Fallout. It’s obvious that they have their own version of Fallout, and it may look a lot like the old games, but in many ways, it’s their game. The music and feel are all right, and the atmosphere in this video made me forget about some of those recent previews that said the game was boring or drab, or whatever. Maybe I’ll feel differently after having played it for a while, but I think they’ve struck a good balance between nuclear fallout brown and other, subtle shades. I’m not so sure about the combat yet, but this video has convinced me on the setting, at least. There’s a bunch of them up at Gametrailers, I’d recommend checking them out.

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I’m Suddenly Impatient

Posted by deckard47 on April 11, 2008

I know I recently, posted a somewhat skeptical bit about Fallout 3, but there are some new pieces up on news sites about it, so I thought I’d write a bit more. A lot is being made out of the ways in which you create your character (being born, growing up, learning your skills and creating your appearance), which is supposed to be organic and interesting. I’m not quite sure if that really excites me. I mean, I remember how excited people were about Morrowind’s character creation system, and then I remember what it turned out to be… Maybe I’m just less romantic about telling people where I’m from and what my name is.

Regardless of the feral screams of my newborn avatar, there is the fact that your mother dies in childbirth (I think). It’s too bad that they made it this way; honestly I’d be more interested if your mom was the one who was mentoring you and then disappeared (then again, maybe there were no famous, female Irish actors who wanted to voice a video game character). Plus, it’s a bit odd to have you start out the game being expunged from within a character that then dies shortly thereafter. It’s an uncomfortable way to take control of the character. It’s not like your father falling into the ice and dying, or your father being “killed” by an evil nemesis, or you unleashing ancient sandy undeath on your father, or any other number of early plot father deaths. I think it would have been cool to have a mother character that was someone secretive, who left, and have that be the reason you left the vault. I mean, how often have we dealt with wayward/mentor/evil/whatever fathers in games? Lots of times.

Regardless of that concern, on to how the actual gameplay sounds. I like how the new turn-based (partially) combat sounds, and that they’ve given you the option to play encounters in real-time or in TB mode. The effects sound pretty extreme and bloody, which is good: I think that it would be weird for Fallout not to be extremely violent (plus I love how inventive the death animations were). I like the fact that you’ll get Dogmeat back as your companion, although I don’t know how useful he’ll be in the long run (it’s obvious he isn’t meant to be as integral as a certain other canine). I like the screenshots of regular mutant (the super mutants look a little orcish), but I hope we’re going to be seeing more than mutants and BOS guys (radscorpions, robots and deathclaws, please).

As some commentors have pointed out, the game seems to be focusing on mutants = bad, humans = less bad. In the games, there may have been evil mutants, but there were always good mutants or neutral mutants or sympathetic mutants to round things out. Just like most of the humans you met were hideous people.

As regards the 500 endings or whatever, that could rock. I like the idea of them taking a ton of elements, and working them into a final cutscene or montage. That way we feel that all of our actions actually did make a difference, not just the big ones. I hope they do that well, because it actually sounds like it could make for amazing game endings.

Finally, their idea of mixing 30s and 40s stuff with modern weapons and style is cool. Sure, it might seem like cribbing from Bioshock, but remember, Fallout and Fallout 2 were mixing Mad Max, Louis Armstrong, and other elements long before Ken Levine and his team showed up.

In the end, I am much more excited than I used to be, the inclusion of a companion (who better not get lost), the idea of mixed endings and mixed art, all of them sound good, and in keeping with certain aspects of the Fallout cannon. They seem like they’re on the right track to paying homage to a great game while creating a unique new franchise of their own. I wish them all the best of luck.

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Posted by deckard47 on April 8, 2008

I’ve resolved to be a better blogger, end of the semester be damned. This might mean I have to write coherent posts, which is scary. Right now I’m wrestling with some Zizek and Lacan (arg!), but on the side I’ve been getting back into Oblivion. It really is impressive how they can make me forget that their game’s plot is worse than “Harry the Handsome Executive’s” plot. By the way, if you knw what that last reference is about, you earn major points. Anyway, Oblivion is fun, my fighter/mage/thief Dunmer is having fun.

I really want to play a magic-heavy character though, even though I know that woul take a huge chunk of time. Plus, I hate Timber Wolves that can kill me when I’m level 15. What!? Oh, and is it just me, or is it hard to picture Bethesda making a good game without mudcrabs. I know, they’ve made some soso Star Trek games, but those games didn’t have mudcrabs. What I mean to say is, I’m worried about Fallout 3. All of the good press in the world doesn’t stop me from being very afraid of those new screens they keep putting up. I guess that just makes me a loser diehard fan. Oh well.

To borrow from someone else on the intertron, if the game at any point has me escape through the caves with the leader of the vault, only to see him die, for him to give me a mission of great importance, and for me to see the outside world for the first time… And suddenly, I see the “Vault Tower” rising above a nearby city… Now I’m just being childish (but it better not happen).

Bethesda, make it rock, hard. And use at least 6 voice actors this time. Maybe 7? Oh, and if you make it so female characters can only be played strongly as mages or persuaders or something like that, I will never buy your game, and I’ll think up of horrible ways for your company to fail every day, inside my frightening head.

And yes, that title is very much an allusion to child wizards. And Oblivion.

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Fallout 3 or Space Siege?

Posted by deckard47 on January 23, 2008

Two things. First, there are two screens up in the photo area from Space Siege, Gas Powered Games’ and Chris Taylor’s spiritual sequel to Dungeon Siege (I still have to finish the second DS by the way. Shame on me). I know, it looks like Dungeon Siege in space with a slight graphics boost, but I’m ok with that. Except they say there will be an emphasis on story? Um. Maybe. Next, IGN has a blog entry up from Todd Howard Executive Producer over at Bethesda, and thus someone who will be extremely important to Fallout 3, which I am refraining from posting photos of until they have new ones, that don’t remind me too much of Oblivion. Anyway, it is an interesting post, and I like how he posts the original Fallout team’s goals for the first game. Hope, hope, hope for an awesome game, and hope that Liam Nesson doesn’t get murdered by Dark Assassin’s in the first 20 minutes. I’m so cynical and predictable.

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