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Return To Post-Apocalyptia

 

 

Some games draw you in with promises of a world uniquely different to your own. Worlds of imaginative wonderlands, where you can be drawn into a place totally impossible to be recreated in your reality, be it elves running around, magic shooting out of peoples' hands, or receiving precisely aimed archery ammo to appendages you'd rather keep intact. In case you can't tell what I'm talking about by  now, I'll just flat out say it, The Elder Scrolls. This gaming series constantly and consistently ranks on my favorite games of all time. Bethesda crafted a truly unique masterpiece of a game in the series not once, not twice, but three, count them, THREE times. But Bethesda Game Studios has a certain other license that they've acquired, went through numerous legal battles over, and tweaked and kneaded to make uniquely their own. I'm talking about Fallout, the game series created by Black Isle Studios and transferred to Bethesda after financial woes the owner Interplay was facing. More particularly, I'm talking about BGS's first foray into this world populated by Vaults, radscorpions, and angry people in power armor. Fallout 3. I recently replayed this gem and have a bit to say, as it were, on my return to post-apocalyptia.

 

 

A bit of backstory with me and the series first to show exactly what drew me into this in the first place. Skip this and the next paragraph if you find me particularly bland or long-winded, I'm sure I won't mind at all!...I think. Anyhow, Morrowind was the first game that truly got me into the allure of open worlds, and I purchased my Xbox 360 to experience its sequel and my favorite game of all time, Oblivion. There had been another game flitting around the barest edges of my peripheral gaming vision, Fallout 3, which I knew had been made by the same developer. I am ashamed to say I'd originally harbored resentment to this game due to my view of, as I saw it, this game taking away BGS's attention from the eventual Elder Scrolls V. I even swore to myself I wouldn't bother trying it. How foolish I was...

My brother ended up bringing it over one day explaining to me it felt like an Elder Scrolls with guns. Still skeptical, I popped the game in, and wa greeted with, well, something. My brother had made it outside Hubris Comics, and as soon as I turned it on I was greeted by a Super Mutant. Going through my (his) inventory, I popped out a missile launcher and blew the mutant back to kingdom come. It definitely felt like Elder Scrolls. It took only a very short time before I left Gamestop clutching a fresh copy of this game for myself. And with this, I felt enamored with a game in such a way as I had not felt in quite some time. The story, the aesthetic, the catchy nineteen-forties music, the Oblivion-esque gameplay, it all came together for me in a package tastier than a wastelander meal of fresh Iguana On A Stick and a tall refreshing glowing bottle of Nuka Cola Quantum. Ever since then, I'd had an affinity for this series, even writing at length about my experiences in Vault 11 in Obsidian's fine sequel to Fallout 3. So you can probably imagine why I popped this out of my bookshelf about a week ago and revisited the Capital Wasteland.

 

 

My first item of business was to start a new game, as I hadn't played since creating my modern Xbox Live profile, and didn't really want to hunt down my own save. So, after a quick check to make sure my DLCs were still installed and ready to use, my Hispanic male character lovingly dubbed Slenderatti was born. Like, literally, born. The opening sequences of this game are some of the most powerful ever to grace our pastime. You start off heading into the bright light of birth, and progress older and older whilst building your character through flashes of time ending with you being a nineteen year old adult. This has a strong effect on Slenderatti, as he learns the horrible truths of life, such as the fact that greasers are more than willing to steal your sweetrolls without so much as a by-your-leave. In these formative years he already shows the detachment that will plague him for the rest of his life.

Not that things are all bad of course. He gets himself a sweet wrist computer and a BB gun which I assume he uses to shoot his father in his rear as soon as his back is turned, although it also seems surprisingly useful in exploding giant cockroaches. Life continues like this for Slenderatti until the fateful day where the entire Vault 101 goes to hell. Hell has giant cockroaches and security guards out for your blood, right? Anyhow, Slenderatti uses his stealthy tactics to full effect, as he gets discovered several times, almost killed twice, and what I can only guess as many disapproving sniffs from Amata as I send bullets flying with all the grace of a ballet dancer continuing their routine with both shins shattered. On my way out I snag the Overseer's head as a trophy and head out into the harsh unforgiving wasteland dubbed fittingly enough the Capital Wasteland.

 

 

Immediately I pick up like fifty-seven quests from the DLCs I have installed, as well as the signal for Galaxy News Radio which I promptly turn on to hear the CASHEWS...no, wait, news, as well as the songs varying from a denouncement of mass pyromania to a man getting a bit too frisky with old maids and his cellmate. Anyhow, I step into the city that would eventually come to despise me, MEGATON.

First place I go to is Moriarty's Saloon to find out where James headed off to after leaving the Vault. Outraged at the fact that he demands cash for the knowledge, Slenderatti promptly forms alliance with Burke and drugs himself up with Mentats in order to blow Megaton to the stars. Rewarded with a posh hotel suite, Slenderatti promptly dumps his stuff in the safe and resumes his travels.

 

 

Now I won't bore you with too much of the rest of the main quest, as it involves spoilers, but I can tell you a couple of the more interesting things I went through. Such as, taking a break from plundering the wasteland to go to Alaska and protect the frozen hellhole from the dirty commies. By now Slenderatti had quite a bit of skill in Sneak, and put that to great effect as he sniped off the heads of countless Chinese, culminating in the final battle against General Jimgwei in which Slenderatti's silver toungue convinced the good General to stick his sword into himself before he had it inserted by Slenderatti through certain other orifices. With my prize of Chinese Stealth Armor, I moved on to go help Vault 101 through their darkest times. And by this, I mean I blew Amata's head off, kneecapped the new Overseer after accepting his reward, and failing the mission while laughing my way out of the Vault. Slenderatti is not a very nice dude.

 

 

Well, you get the picture. This game is filled with an interesting story that far outstrips Elder Scrolls. While I can joke and bring humor into my experiences, it truly is a chilling testament to the power of the atom mankind ha harvested and what can one day happen to us, may even happen in our lifetimes. Yes, there are robots mixed into a fifties aesthetic, but at its heart and soul, it shows what will happen when mankind is backed into its lowest pit and then told to dig its way out with the bones of fallen family and friends. Some people become feral, some become little more than murderers, while the few idealists get to see their ideals shatter in the grind of the struggal for survival and the chasms humanity is willing to throw down their morals into in the battle to find food, clean water, and shelter. The penchant for blood is still fresh on humanity's mind, moreso than today as you actually have to kill to live. This is the thing I noticed most in post-apocalyptia, the ugliness of the human race when backed into a corner. You have the idealists, like Three Dog, James, and Dr. Li, but for every one of those you have a raider waiting to blow your head off or Enclave looking to take over the world anyway they can. And even so, there's still beauty in the nuclear waste, though marred by a struggle. A struggle to survive, a struggle to get ahead, a struggle to leave a legacy, be it through bloodshed or progressivism. Most of all, the fading lines of the screen cutting to black are what sums up this experience more fully than anything else I've meandered about could have did. For in the words of the narrator of this whole sad tale, the path down the lonely road...

 

The struggle for survival is a war without end.

 

And war...war never changes.

 

~Stranger

 

 

 

 

 

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