I am frightened. I am alone. I feel like there are eyes following my every footstep, stripping away chunks of my calm, collected guise as though clawing open a Christmas present. I don't think I can keep it together for much longer, but I can't run. My legs maintain a disarmingly leisurely pace, like they're trudging through a quicksand-flavored Jello mold. Will I spot a ghost first, or will it spot me? Where? When? How? I'm like a child who's afraid of the dark. The suspense makes me want to toss a blanket over my head until a Real Adult chases the Bad Things away. Unpredictability, as it turns out, is terror at its purest.
This is my third playthrough of Dear Esther, and it's the hardest hitting yet. I still haven't figured out this amorphous, ever-shifting puzzle of an island, and I don't think I ever will. Moreover, I'm not some improbable mix between a Ghost Buster, Rambo, and Wolverine. I'm not even sure if I have hands. I feel utterly powerless – all at once breathless with both awe and fear. This world doesn't revolve around me. I am not its master. I can only speculate as to what it all means and why I'm here. In a word: incredible.
Then the peanut gallery chimes in: “Wait, I can't shoot stuff? This clearly isn't a real game. Yuck.” And now we have a very, very serious problem.
We'd be lying if we said we saw this one coming. In an attempt to market Fallout: New Vegas to a skeptical Japanese public, Bethesda decided to give Fallout 3 the time travel treatment, resulting in a project that – somewhat ironically – looks older than its target audience. As explained by Bethesda:
“What would Fallout look like if it had been made in 1987 by a Japanese development studio? Our scientists have answered that question, taking over the Japanese Fallout website with an 8-bit version of the Capital Wasteland.”
It's worth noting, however, that the demake's only available in Japanese, so you'll have to wing your way through the Wasteland for now. Or, if this really is just like old times, you could always wait for a horribly translated and borderline racist localization to come along three years from now.
Fallout 3 for the PC had a few technical issues that kept it from earning our coveted kick-ass award last year, but it was still a favorite around the office. With the sequel only slightly over a month away many of us can’t wait to get our hands on a new Bethesda open world, but those with an iPad/iPhone can get an early taste of the post apocalyptic world of New Vegas.
Bethesda has teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to release a free 12 page graphic novel created by senior designer Chris Avellone to give curious Fallout fans a taste of what is to come.
I’m not sure if Fabio (pictured above) is actually going to be a playable character, but this free offering is great for Fallout fans who are hungry for more. I would hope that this eventually gets released to the web (especially considering its free), but only time will tell.
Obsidian's taking Fallout to the wild, untamed (or “tamed but then subsequently re-untamed thanks to a nuclear holocaust,” if we're being technical about it) west, so we're doing the same with our preview. Well, kind of. In the spirit of classic Sergio Leone spaghetti western “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” we're breaking down Fallout: New Vegas' opening hour – which we had the privilege of taking for a test run during QuakeCon – into thematically appropriate, self-explanatory categories.
Before we dive into the meat of things, though, let's set the scene. You're... a person. We can say that with a fair deal of certainty. You come to in a doctor's office, which – thanks to wasteland sanitation standards – is about as sterile as your average convenience store toilet, but you've got bigger things to worry about. Apparently, you nearly bit the big one at the hands of some pretty shady customers, but you don't know why. The doc, thankfully, patched up that pesky organ leak that tends to come as the result of bullet wounds, but unfortunately, he can't fill the gaping hole in your memory. He does know this, however: the bastards who did their darnedest to turn you into Swiss cheese were headed toward New Vegas. Well, there are certainly worse places to go for a vengeance-fueled vacation, eh?
We say “Project Natal,” you say “Xbox motion control camera doohickey,” right? In theory, it’s a gamer’s geekiest dream come true. You throw a punch, and your character on screen follows suit. Buttons? What are those? Soon, you could be hugging Gordon Freeman’s crowbar and fending off headcrabs with your own two hands. Fallout 3 production director Ashley Cheng, however, thinks Natal’s true potential lies far outside the realm of videogames.
“Seeing it in action, I was totally blown away by it. It seems wasted on games, really. Microsoft should open the NATAL API up like Apple does with the iPhone/iPad. Let anyone make a NATAL ‘app.’ I bet someone makes a killer app that has nothing to do with gaming,” the Bethesda developer wrote on his blog.
A couple weeks ago, we would’ve laughed at this. Then we saw Iron Man 2. Mark our words: if someone makes an app like that, they’ll become a millionaire. Even if we have to buy the app one million times ourselves.
Another day, another videogame-related legal battle. This time, it’s Bethesda that’s putting on its hockey mask and revving up the litigation machine while Interplay attempts to avoid paying an arm and a leg in return for what Bethesda calls “willful infringement.”
The gist of it goes like this: Current Fallout publisher Bethesda says that Interplay never acquired the proper rights to re-release earlier Fallout games digitally or in any other form. Interplay, who sold the Fallout series to Bethesda back in 2007, has been distributing Fallouts 1, 2, and Tactics for quite a while now – apparently against Bethesda’s will.
Bethesda’s also taking aim at Interplay’s still-unconfirmed Fallout MMO, supposedly codenamed “Project V13.” As part of an agreement, Interplay was supposed to have raised $30 million and entered “full-scale development” on the game by April 4, 2009. Bethesda contends that Interplay failed to reach this milestone, thereby terminating the agreement.
Interplay, however, claims that everything’s fine and dandy as far as the agreement’s concerned, and that Bethesda had no reason to terminate. Bethesda, meanwhile, also takes issue with Interplay’s unapproved Project V13 funding agreement with Masthead Studios. To this, Interplay simply replied that V13 is a different project, separate from its Fallout MMO.
And that’s only the short version of this extremely convoluted tale. If you’d like to know more and have nothing better to do for, oh, the next 4,234 years, you can read all about it here.
Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta’s opening scenes were absolutely out of this world. Within a span of ten minutes, I was torn from the Wasteland, poked and prodded with 100 haystacks’ worth of needles, stripped of the near-impregnable safety blanket I call “Power Armor,” and unceremoniously tossed into a prison cell. Upon awakening, my ragged, desperate human cellmate cowered in fear as some unknown force approached our cell, only to change course at the last second and perform its unspeakable act on some other hapless sap. The poor guy emitted a blood-curdling howl as his frail flesh clunked around in what sounded like a super-powered dryer.
I was absolutely thrilled. Fear, curiosity, and vulnerability hooked me. Adrenaline reeled me in. “Who are these unseen, all-powerful beings?” I wondered. “Why are they doing this?” My interest piqued when my cellmate mentioned our captors’ penchant for tampering with people’s brains. Then I actually saw them. Tiny, green, big heads, round eyes. Beaten and beamed up by God after only two strikes from my pithy 23 unarmed skill. Thrill and intrigue, it was nice knowing you.
What followed was roughly four hours of good old fashioned alien-blasting. Fun, but nothing special. No mind-blowing ulterior motives, no unsettlingly foreign alien culture; the mean, green abducting machines were just a new skin for everyday Fallout 3 enemies. Really, there was nothing "alien" about these aliens. After such a promising opening, I felt more than a little let down.
Last time on Fallout 3 DLC theater, the Enclave went out with a suitably climactic bang, and next time, you’re showing aliens why they abducted the wrong armed-to-the-teeth Wastelander. And right now? A swamp. Put up against Broken Steel and Mothership Zeta, Point Lookout’s subject matter seems a bit snooze-worthy, doesn’t it? Like, if you had to choose one of them to take to prom, Broken Steel would be the really hot one, Mothership Zeta would be the easy one (Taking you back to the “Mothership” on the first date? Yowza.), and Point Lookout would be the nerdy one with the frazzled hair and the taped up glasses.
What Point Lookout lacks in appearances, however, it makes up for with personality. In fact, thanks to an excellent, well-paced plot and some fairly meaty side missions, I’d say Point Lookout is Fallout 3’s best piece of standalone DLC yet. Here’s precisely why Point Lookout is so great, arbitrarily broken down into four convenient points!
1. Location, location, location – Back in my day, DLC reused asset after asset – enemies, buildings, weapons – from its respective main game, and I liked it! But Point Lookout’s approach ain’t half bad either. Most notably, the swamp and the Wasteland are distant cousins at best, with the swamp containing more green in one plot of land than the Wasteland has in its whole 16-ish mile span. On top of that, the foggy bog is littered with brand new enemies (malformed, inbred locals that spout all sorts of campy dialog), weapons and clothing (double barrel shotgun + Confederate cap = the Mickey Mouse souvenir hat of the South), and characters. It’s also all very pretty in an “I’m really glad they haven’t invented feel, taste, and smell-o-vision yet” sort of way.
You've come this far! Why quit now? Read the rest after the break.
In honor of the fact that yesterday was Memorial Day and next week is E3, I decided to hold off on… Aw, screw it. This article’s a bit late, and I apologize. However, if you think there might be a DLC-shaped hole in your Wasteland-wandering experience but need to be absolutely sure that your $10 is going to a better place, here’s a rundown of why Broken Steel is the best piece of Fallout 3 DLC yet.
1. It’s not broken – Fallout 3 has had a bit of a tumultuous history with DLC launches, and – unfortunately – Broken Steel fits that mold perfectly. In fact, on day one, it decided to pull a Groundhog Day and peek its head out just long enough to get everyone riled up, only to let them all down. Upon attempting to download the DLC, users were met with a head-scratcher of an error (cryptographic what now?), and Bethesda had to remove the malfunctioning content from Games For Windows Live altogether. Now, though, it’s back with nary a glitch in sight. Good thing you waited to buy, huh? See -- patience really is a virtue.
Continue reading for Tesla Cannons, giant robots, and Deathclaws -- oh my!
When they strap me to the chair, I won’t fight it.
The man was frail and frightened. All he could do was drop to the floor and beg for a quick death from his much more physically imposing enemy. And I gladly obliged. His name, when highlighted by my cursor, was red, after all. He was one of the bad guys, right? Right?
The above scenario occurred while I was playing through Fallout 3’s Broken Steel DLC, and would’ve been just another day in the Wasteland if not for a few key factors. First up, according to my Pip Boy, I’m Wasteland Jesus, doer of all things selfless and just, hands sparkly clean and free of innocent blood. Second, my enemy – a scientist – wasn’t the violent type. He ran without giving me any sort of trouble, yet I gave chase. I was the schoolyard bully, and he the undeserving nerd. Sure, his red name tag told me that perforating his fancy future lab coat wouldn’t yield any karmatic consequences, but I had no way of knowing if he was actually evil. But I still killed him and, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t the least bit sorry.
Really, what does such a scenario even say about the habits videogames foster in us? Sensationalists would, of course, say that this is just another example of the big, mean gaming industry’s trivialization of death, regarded by many as the de facto Serious Topic. To which I respectfully reply: You’re dumb.
If you take a few moments to sift through gaming’s ever-expanding walk of fame, you’ll quickly notice that many of our hobby’s biggest, most memorable stars and starlets are, well, dead. SPOILERS. Aeris (or Aerith, or whatever Square’s calling her these days) from Final Fantasy VII. The dog from Fable II. The baby metroid from Super Metroid. And my personal, though lesser known favorite: the random helicopter pilot from Resident Evil 4. In the cases of many of these deaths, players mourned for these characters, and even tried to – for the most part, unsuccessfully – bring them back to life. Gamers still experience death like everyone else. Game designers know that, and use it to make their games more emotionally affecting.
So why, then, are we still capable of callously capping “enemies” that can’t or won’t fight back? My guess? It’s that darn good vs. evil meter doodad so many new-fangled games present us with these days.
Continue reading for the battle between good and evil