War, war never changes.
My first sense of self was staring down at my tied hands. Pumpkin gloves as I know them. Thick leather gloves that you can use on a farm or ranch. My hands are tied and when I look up there are three men around me. One of them’s shifty, the other cold eyed and the last one dressed in a fancy suit. I look up at him as he smiles at me, draws out his gun, tells me it’s not personal and that the game was fixed and then… Then he shoots me. My vision goes white and I lose consciousness.
Or die, depending on how you look at it.
These are the opening moments of Bethesda’s fourth Fallout game, Fallout New Vegas. It’s not a sequel to Fallout 3, standing alone with its story line but the game play and graphics are very similar. It’s a role playing game/first person shooter, set in a future 270 years from now when the world’s basically been destroyed by a nuclear apocalypse. You are a character, a courier, intercepted when delivering a package and shot in the head for your effort. A good doctor, Doc Mitchell, patches you up in the first few minutes of the game, which helps you to set up your character’s attributes and sets you off on a short tutorial to familiarise you with certain elements of the game play.
The emphasis is on short.
I left the good town of Goodsprings with a wild sense of: “What the hell just happened? Where am I? And why the hell is everybody talking so much? I have no idea what’s going on… And it’s not because I was shot in the head.”
Let me take a step back.
I loved Fallout 3, FNV’s predecessor. I had bought the game at a second hand game store for a ridiculously, dirt cheap price. I didn’t know what it was at the stage but I was in the mood for something different with a little bit more game play than Mirror’s Edge offered me. Fallout 3 proved to be everything that I wanted and more. The basic story line took about 8 to 12 hours to complete, but if you allowed yourself to be distracted by all the other requests that the Wastelanders offered you and some downright dirty exploring you could set down over 50 to 80 hours of saved game play (and by this I do not count the COUNTLESS times you might die and start something over). I felt that it was great value for my money and game definitively had a WOW factor to it. More often than not you found yourself stuck on some desolate rooftop in the middle of downtown DC, looking out over the destroyed city and going: Dude, this is a site you don’t see everyday…
The character’s story was also very compelling and very engrossing. Your character starts of new to the world, which puts both of you on common ground. People’s requests are simple, plain: Please deliver this message for me. Please find a violin. Please go kill that monster…
It’s doable, and you can remember it without taking notes.
Not so with Fallout New Vegas.
I feel lost, and it’s got nothing to do with my Pip Boy not showing me in the right direction. I find myself overwhelmed by the people’s requests. “Talk to So and So, she’ll give you this and this which you’ll need for this so that you can accomplish this and then when it’s all over you must remember to take out the garbage…”
This is a made up line naturally, but the effect is the same. I find myself staring at these helpless wasteland folk and I can’t help but wonder if I hadn’t made my Intelligence score too low because I couldn’t follow what they wanted me to do. What happened to the good old fashioned: Oh, please go find me a mine… Moira Brown kind of requests?
I’m more than willing to accept that I might not be in the right mood for this game right now. So, I’m not making any judgements on it as yet but at the moment, I don’t have as high hopes for it as I had two months ago.
It’s too complicated. I can’t keep track (without making some serious notes) what kind of Ammo I must buy, what ingredients I must collect to make medicine with, who I must alight myself with and who that will piss off. Heck, I can’t even remember my original mission, save for that I want to do some serious dirty business with the dude who had shot me.
Now don’t get me wrong, the reviews for this game have been good. But, so far – I’m just not that into it. I rather find myself thinking about revisiting my Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3 and restarting the game there (I have logged over 130hours in total in it). There I know what the people want of me.
And I have my trusty dog Dogmeat as a companion…