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Veteran Member - Level 11
A common theme for many video games is what is often called
post-apocalyptic, but what does that really mean? Well, dictionary.com has a
few different definitions of the term, some referring to the Biblical
connotation and others a more generic explanation. I think we can all agree "pertaining
to the imminent end of the world" or "any universal or widespread destruction
or disaster" is a fair description.
Therefore, post-apocalyptic means...
...after the end of the world or after universal or widespread destruction
or disaster has occurred.
The very foundation of some of our favorite games resides in
this cataclysmic setting; we've witnessed the end of the world (not necessarily
just Earth either) as a result of plagues, meteor strikes, nuclear war and even
In Fallout, we're told it was a global nuclear war.
In Rage, we're told it was the impact of the asteroid 99942
Apophis on Earth.
In Left For Dead, we're told it was a highly contagious
virus nicknamed the Green Flu.
In Gears of War, we're told it was the locust invasion.
All great games and stories...
...and really just a brief sampling of the numerous games
occurring in a post-apocalyptic setting.
While in a sense it does happen, we don't seem to classify
games as "pre-apocalyptic" although the events in the game certainly seem to be
leading that way. One could argue Gordon Freeman started an apocalyptic event when
he fumbled and caused the resonance cascade. As the game progresses, it
certainly seems like it could be classified as a universal or widespread destruction or disaster. In Halo, the
Covenant seemed fairly determined to eliminate the human race as they glassed
planet after planet along the way. The same can be said for the Mass Effect
universe and the whole Prothean - Reaper - Catalyst story line. I think we were
about to witness an apocalyptic event at the conclusion of Mass Effect 3, and I
don't mean in the game. Is it still too early to joke about the Mass Effect 3
Anyway I've said it (via blog) before and I'll say it (via
I'd like to see more mid-apocalyptic games.
Now, I was going to try and make it all the way through this
blog without mentioning a certain game that has been mentioned a lot lately...including
by yours truly. But I can't. Well, I could...but I don't want to...because it
illustrates kind of what I'm talking about. But don't worry, I'm not going to
say much or dwell on it long.
In the beginning of that game, you pretty much start at the
kick off to the apocalyptic event. I think it's safe to say the citizens of
Austin, Texas where the game begins are witnessing the apocalypse. But then the
game fast forwards to a period of time later on down the road. As great as the
game is, I think I would've also enjoyed seeing it play out during the span of
time between where the intro leaves off and the game actually begins.
Okay, that's all I am going to say about it...see, that wasn't
If I look at the games I mentioned above occurring in the post-apocalyptic
time, and imagine them mid-apocalyptic instead, I think they'd be entertaining
to play too. They'd probably share some certain elements - the chaos and
lawlessness that would likely ensue when the inhabitants experienced the escalation
of emotion realizing the end was imminent.
Imagine playing a Fallout game preparing and planning for...and
then experiencing nuclear war...taking shelter in bunkers; surviving in RADCON
suits; fighting off the looters and those suffering from the effects of
radiation exposure. And the black rain - the fallout cloud that is said to
block out the sun for however long it takes the radioactive dust to dissipate
from the atmosphere.
Imagine playing a game like Rage, where you don't wake up
and start the game after the event has occurred, but instead play it from the
point where you know an asteroid is going to hit the Earth and you're trying to
gain access to one of the Ark's...and you experience the event as it happens, as well as the ensuing aftermath. This was such an amazing element of the Rage novel, it's a shame it wasn't featured in the game.
Imagine playing Left For Dead as the virus outbreak starts
to spread and more and more people become infected - the widespread panic and
the military invoking martial law. It would be a lot like when I watched The
Walking Dead television show for the first time, when the outbreaks first
started - the element of who do you trust, if anybody. How you still felt
remorse for killing an infected person since they still seem so human like. In
most post-apocalyptic games we see rusted out cars long abandoned, buildings
that have been ransacked and anything of value taken...electricity is scarce and
anything that runs off power is usually not working. But imagine midway through
the event when chaos is at its highest...when those in positions of authority are
still trying to maintain order before abandoning hope. Car horns are still
blaring, the emergency broadcast system is running in a continuous loop, reporters are trying to cover the story and the
civilized world begins to topple. Now that could be an experience to remember.
Even Gears of War could benefit from a spin off game
covering the period before the locust invasion. This event is chronicled well
in a number of the books, but by the time we start playing the game it's many
years after Emergence Day (E-Day). By this time Coalition of Ordered Governments
(COG) forces are war-torn, battered and bruised. Only remnants of the former military force remain and they don't seem to really have it together...more like, just trying to survive. Perhaps a game based around
E-Day? Gears of War: Judgment does this somewhat I suppose, but civilization seems to
have already had its butt kicked and the game doesn't really focus on anything but
the main characters and their struggles against the locusts. I'd like to see a Gears game where the military forces are sent in to battle with the civilian population watching the coverage on the news, unaware it's not going to be enough...until it's too late.
Movies and television shows seem to use the mid-event crisis
more than video games do. I never really started following The Walking Dead
until the show started airing on AMC. From the start - Season One Episode One
we're right smack dab in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. In the movie
adaptation of War of the Worlds, we see the events start and quickly escalate.
I guess technically we witness the start and the stop of an apocalyptic event
in the movie...but at least I got to see the middle of it and all of the chaos that comes with the end of the world.
I don't know why I have this fascination with playing through the middle of the events but I'm sure it has something to do with seeing what the actual
experience might be like as it unfolds. In a post-apocalyptic game, there is a good chance
you are a survivor of the event...or perhaps you were born afterwards and heard
the details via legend passed down from generation to generation. But
mid-event, it's the act of surviving that really gets me...and having to make all
those difficult decisions - not just with the source of the apocalyptic event,
but also your fellow mankind and how they deal with it...or don't.
Happy Friday (or Saturday, by the time you read this). Hope you
have a wonderful weekend.