Friday, August 26, 2016

Best Video Game Story

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and will be writing out entries, hopefully I can get all thirty days without any breaks, and if I manage to do that (since August has 31 days) I will think of an additional entry to write about.  I have done a 30-day challenge before, it for movies, but that was a while back, feel free to read those too if you like.

            Today is day 26 and the topic is “Best Video Game Story”.
I have kind of already talked about this game in this series, and I reviewed all four parts of its DLC months ago (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) so what I have to say might be a little redundant, but whatever, this whole series of blogs is incredibly derivative.  I am just giving my unsolicited opinion on media because I need something to write about to keep the word producing juice in my brain flowing and this is easier than being original.  But, I digress.  My favorite video game story comes from “Fallout: New Vegas”. 
Yeah, I am talking about this again.  I like the setting.
Let’s start with some flaws.
When I first played this game it was bugged up the butt.  “Vegas” was constantly crashing, freezing, and even without those technical hiccups I could see the edges where Obsidian ran out of time and money to finish the freaking thing as the fast travel options were limited and there seemed to be areas the game just didn’t bother to create at all, for instance: is it too much to ask to be able to fast travel to each section of the Strip?  Or to important locations within Freeside?  Why is there only one area in which you interact with Caesar’s Legion when there is so much of the map on the other side of the river?
There were also lots of missing character/story options: No romance options even though there is a straight and gay companion option for such things whether your character is a man or a woman?  Why can’t I give the army of robots to the NCR to help them win a war for democratic ideals?  Why does my scientist pal’s loyalty mission only work when I am siding with the NCR, because his stated preference for game ending involves an independent Vegas?  Why are there only 3 casinos when actual Las Vegas has many to choose from?  Why is it there are only three tribes (Khans, Brotherhood, and Boomers) outside of the Strip that are noteworthy?  Why aren’t there more quest chains with the Followers of the Apocalypse as their goals most align with my real life beliefs in regards to how and why technology can improve people’s lives?
Regardless of these short comings the underlying premise is damn near perfect for me.  Two armies, one following the trappings of America (distorted by the irradiated mists of time), the other following Ancient Rome (distorted thru the irradiated mists of time).  Between these gather storms is a city built on luck, chance, and showmanship, led by a man obsessed with the past and a glittering view of the future cast in the image of that glorified past.  Which side do you want to choose?  Do you want to side with the democratic New California Republic whose sin is pushing out into the wild frontier and disturbing monsters in their wake?  Do you side with Mr. House, dictator of New Vegas, who is playing every side against each other in a complicated game to insure his city is run his way?  Or do you want the world to return to a state of sustainable primitivism with Caesar’s Legion, a misogynistic slave army bent not only on conquest of Vegas, but to create a Pax Romana in a world without the dangers of atomic technology that led to the fall of human civilization hundreds of years prior?  Or is there a forth option?
Yes, there is a 4th option.
Let’s move on to why I like it.
This may surprise you all but I am highly educated in two areas, American Politics and Urban and Regional Planning.  I have great interest in the management of people and resources to best utilize them for the future.  The idea of two militaries clashing over control of water and power while small local bands of people with their own needs and priorities caught in the middle is just perfect for me.  Identifying stakeholders in a situation, identifying various needs/wants and filling them as efficiently as possible to cultivate goodwill and a sense of connective tissue between communities to create a greater whole (in this case to settle a war) that is right up my philosophical alley.
When I played this game the lack of detail given about your character, the Courier (a mailman who was shot and left for dead only to rise up to being a power player in the war for Vegas) appealed to me.  Rather than in “Fallout 3” in which you are given friends, a home, a father who loves and cares about you, and you are stuck inheriting dad’s insane quest to build a really big water filter, in “New Vegas” you set out on your own quest for your own reasons, be it just for revenge or to solve the mystery of why you were “killed”.  I am effectively playing myself in a post apocalypse that speaks directly to what I want to do in the real world.
Like I listed before, the thing suffers from technical issues all over the place, but that really only makes me wish they would do a remastering of the game for this console generation.  Put in the environments you didn’t have time to finish, put in the romantic quests you didn’t have time to put in, put in more weapons and clean up the very basic modifications system, and add in a weather cycle and clean up the graphics.  As lame as I thought a lot of the DLC was I still played it all thru to the end, and I would not have balked at having more.
You know what else is kind of strange about this game?  The more I find out about “Fallout” and “Fallout 2”, games I have yet to play, the more I think that “New Vegas” was the “real” #3 in this series.  It expands upon the themes of the original games better, it feels like a natural extension of those events, and when elements from those games show up (like Supermutants, the Enclave, and the Brotherhood of Steel) they don’t feel out of place.
There is no logical reason why some things that showed up in #3 should be in Washington DC, because all of them originated on the West Coast of the US and were either destroyed or never moved out of there.  What I am saying is “New Vegas” makes more sense within the logic of the franchise and that feeling permeates down into the writing on the small scale interactions with the characters.  The whole thing feels more real.  I feel that this game is definitely worth playing, though if you have been playing 4 this one will feel a little stiff, though a lot less stiff than 3 does. 
It is still, often bugged up the butt.
Now to talk about SPOILERS when I look at each of the endings.
How you chose to resolve the story is also up to you, though I felt that one option always won out in my mind over the others and that is the Wildcard option, rather than looking back at the idealized past of Mr. House I instead chose to move Vegas forward toward a less certain and more chaotic future that still looks pretty bright.  (I should note that I mostly chose that option because the solution to the issue I REALLY wanted was not presented, in which I give the NCR the army of robots and have Vegas and the surrounding territories enter the NCR as new citizens under the protection of that army, my character then runs for and becomes President of the NCR down the line, but that wasn’t allowed anywhere but in my imagination).
As for the other paths in the game, I have no desire to play thru the game in Caesar’s Legion, it is the purest “evil” story path the game offers and when I see on message boards people trying to say, “the Legion is a surprisingly grey option, they aren’t pure evil” I just have to shake my head as I remember how many people were crucified for no reason… OR the REALLY BAD and IN YOUR FACE issue that EVERY WOMAN is a slave by default in their society and subject to BEING RAPED at the whim of any Legion soldier.
Mr. House isn’t bad, he is the Lawful Neutral option of providing order but in a reactionary way, the idea that he wants Vegas to be independent is fine, but to dress it up like it was before the war and to have him as the brain in a massive army of killer robots is concerning.
I get by with a little help from my friends.
I will continue with SPOILERS as I point out each of the companions and why I like them.
Arcade Gannon is my previously mentioned scientist friend whose loyalty mission I never managed to trigger, which kind of made me lose my shit a little at the game.  Which is a shame, because I read about it and it sounds great and gets him some cool power armor to wear which is a big step up from the lab coat he normally goes around in.  He’s voiced by Zach Levi, you know, Chuck from “Chuck”.  He was the human companion I used the least (4th overall).
Craig Boone is a tragic badass with a useful ability and having him around was awesome.  I love his backstory.  I love his motivations.  I love his grim voice provided Jason Marsden who has been in so much stuff in my life it is kind of weird.  Seriously, I think I have ascribed Marsden’s voice to characters in my literal dreams.  Boone was the character I used the second most.
Lily Bowen is a giant monster who can turn invisible and used to be a sweet old lady before being transformed into this god awful thing.  Her story is sad.  She is a tragic figure that represents ramifications from the original “Fallout” game.  She is voiced be David Pizzuto, who is not a recognizable name even though his voice seems to be in a hundred things.  I barely used Lily as a companion she was 5th on my list.
Raul Tejada is a ghoul mechanic I rescued from a crazy monster who wanted him to fix its robot.  I barely used his character because I found him constantly referring to me as “Boss” weirdly off putting and he is 6th overall.  He is voiced by Danny Trejo, one of those guys who is cool to a level that is kind of strange, he is basically the old badass in any movie that Samuel L Jackson didn’t have time to appear in.
"Who you are comes from the choices you make when life gets tough."
Whiskey Rose Cassidy is broke, drunk, and has a chip on her shoulder because her family legacy, a shipping company, has been reduced to corpses and ash.  She is the companion I spent the most time with even though her ability is almost completely useless.  I don’t know why, maybe because she is kind of a jerk; maybe it is because I seem to have a thing for red heads; maybe it is because like my character, she is also a mailman that the world has conspired to destroy.  She is voiced by Rachel Roswell who is known for… This, and only this.
Veronica Santangelo is a member of the Brotherhood of Steel and one of their harshest critics, which almost gets her and me murdered by them at one point.  She is my third favorite companion because she combines the right blend of cute and sarcastic and I generally agree with her about the Brotherhood’s failings.  She is voiced by Felicia Day, one of those rare people that could be described as perfect as she seems to have no flaws and works in and around numerous things I enjoy.
Or it is an extension of my thing for redheads.
 I can’t think of anything else to say.  Hopefully this bloated word balloon was not a complete waste of time.  I put off writing this entry till the last minute, I even moved it back a couple times in the marching order because I knew I would end up writing so much.  Yeah…  What is your favorite game story?  You do not have to write so much to express your feelings, but if you do I promise to read it.  Does the game have Batman in it?  Is it “Never Winter Nights”?  Is it “Tetris”?  If it is “Tetris” I think you might have a mental disorder because “Tetris” has no story and any you ascribed to it is probably just your own madness talking.

If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

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