4thofeleven: (Eden)
- Children are extremely rare. Most towns don’t have any.

- You need a campfire and a steak to make salad.

- Wearing Caesar’s armour will make his guards think you’re part of the Legion, regardless of your age, race, gender, or the bloody remains of Caesar right behind you.

- People will willingly bet money on a card game in which a player can discard cards from their hand and draw new ones as often as they like before play begins.

- Paper money backed by a large and powerful nation are less trusted as currency than bottlecaps.

- Being intelligent means one automatically knows Latin.

- Empty syringes weigh more than full ones.

- Lunch boxes are not reusable.

- People do more damage to the gender they’re attracted to.

- Magazines can only be read once.

- A flamethrower is basically the same sort of weapon as a laser pistol.

- Water can only be bottled in unbranded soda bottles. No other bottle will do.
4thofeleven: (Eden)
So, after a mere fifty-seven hours, I’ve finally finished New Vegas. Caesar’s Legion and New California have been forced to retreat, and the city of Vegas stands free and independent once again! Now, maybe I can concentrate on something else for a few days.

The game really harkens back to Fallout 1 and 2, setting wise – both in the return to the west coast setting, and also in a shift in focus. Fallout 3 was all about the pre-war world; you spend half the game in old museums and monuments, and the two main factions are both about preserving the remnants of the old world – the Brotherhood of Steel preserving technology, the Enclave trying to restore the United States. New Vegas is more about what arises from the ashes after the war, the struggle between the new nations that have arisen. It’s very much a western, with the Mohave as the frontier being forcibly ‘civilized’ by the expansion of the nations of New California and Caesar’s Legion.

Interestingly, this is the first Fallout game where one can actually choose sides – Fallout 1 and 2 had a lot of freedom, but in the end, you had to oppose the Master and the Enclave. Here, there’s three factions to choose from, plus the option to go for total independence. The Good/Evil karma setting isn’t as important; gaining a good reputation with the individual factions plays more of a role. The system’s interesting, if a little broken – it seems very easy to dig yourself into a hole with a faction with no chance to redeem yourself.

Cute touch – one faction is the Roman styled Caesar’s Legion. Amusingly, while most people refer to the legion’s leader as “See-zar”, members of the Legion pronounce it in the proper Latin fashion, as “Kai-zar”.

Gameplay’s almost identical as Fallout 3, though it feels like Obsidian took a look at Fallout 3’s modding community for ideas – weapon modifications, craftable ammo and an optional food system are all built into the game, which is nice – both for the features themselves, and it means future mods will presumably be more consistent in their handling of these features.

On the negative side – well, while the writing’s a lot better than Fallout 3, I felt quest design and exploration was a bit weaker. Most quests only give you money and experience as a reward, while F3 tended to give more unique benefits. As for exploration – Obsidian got rid of the collectable bobbleheads, and there aren’t many valuable items like Nuka-Cola Quantum or Pre-War Books to collect, so a lot of locations don’t really provide much exciting loot.

Related to that –there’s a lot of items that can be crafted at workbenches or campfires. Unfortunately, the craft able items often require ridiculously rare ingredients and are rarely worth the effort. Worst example? Medical stim-packs can be crafted with a few common herbs and an empty syringe. Unfortunately, in my 50+ hours of gameplay, I found precisely three empty syringes. Making things worse –stim-packs themselves are very, very common. Crafting them would be hardly worth the effort even if syringes were less rare.

Also, the game’s horribly bug-ridden – and I didn’t even get any of the really critical problems people are complaining about. It crashes fairly regularly, and some quests end up broken through no fault of the player.

I also wish the ‘hardcore’ mode features could be toggled on or off individually – I like the hunger system and some of the other difficulty increases, but I don’t like companions being permanently killed, especially since New Vegas’ companions all have unique quests and bonuses.

On the whole, though, a wonderful game. I’m already trying to work out what my next play though will be as. Either a stealthy energy weapons user, or a tough brawler. Not sure if I’ll back NCR or Caesar’s Legion this time around…
4thofeleven: (Eden)
Been too busy with Fallout: New Vegas to post for the last week. Wonderful game, few flaws, but still, excelent addition to the series.

One major issue, though: Considering this game is, if anything, bigger than Fallout 3... who's brilliant idea was it to have the radio play even fewer songs? After a few hours, one starts to long for F3's endless choruses of "Butcher Pete"...
4thofeleven: (Eden)
So, there's a Fallout Kink Meme now. As you might expect, most of the prompts are for sexy stories about... wait, ghouls?

Fallout's Ghouls, in case you're wondering, are basically humans hit with near-fatal doses of radiation, causing them to transform into, well, basically rotting zombies.

Fandom - not only weirder than you imagine, but weirder than you can possibly imagine...
4thofeleven: (Default)

And so Fallout DLC ends as they began – with a completely linear shoot-em up completely detached from the setting of the original game. I wasn’t expecting anything as good as Point Lookout, but Mothership Zeta is, if anything, worse even than Operation Anchorage!

 

The plot, such as it is: )
4thofeleven: (Default)
You might remember a while back I talked out about the M-388 “Davy Crockett” tactical nuclear recoilless rifle, aka the smallest nuclear warhead ever.

Well, it turns out that those ingenious American weapons designers, having developed the warhead for the M-388, decided to start thinking about what else you could do with a tiny nuclear device.

The obvious conclusion? Use it in an air-to-air missile! From Wikipedia: “…The GAR-11 used a sub-kiloton (250 ton) W54 warhead shared with the 'Davy Crockett' M-388 recoilless rifle projectile, rather than the larger W25 warhead of the AIR-2 Genie nuclear rocket.
Out of concern for the problems inherent in using nuclear weapons over friendly territory, a conventional version of the GAR-11, the GAR-11A, was developed…”

Seriously, a nuclear air-to-air missile? Unless you’re fighting dragons or some sort of boss mothership in a shoot em up game, when exactly would this weapon be anything other than overkill?
4thofeleven: (Default)
Wait, wait, wait. Let me get this straight – Bethesda’s released a patch for Fallout that actually fixes the problems created by the last patch and doesn’t introduce any new bugs? And then they follow it up with a new DLC that works fine right from the start and is also really really good as well? I… I don’t understand…?

No, seriously, Point Lookout is wonderful. It’s head and shoulders above the other three DLC packages – I’m rather surprised at how much stuff is here, and how much I enjoyed exploring the new areas. If you’re only going to get one DLC, get this one… even Broken Steel looks a bit dull compared to Lookout.

So, what’s it about? Well, there’s not much of an overarching plot here – You get a message informing you there’s a ferry in the Potomac that’ll take you to Point Lookout for a small fee. Once you get there, you’re pretty much on your own. Well, hell, you’re an RPG protagonist – do you really need a reason to head out into the wilderness and kill things?

Point Lookout itself is a large swamp on the coast. It’s nowhere near as big as the Capital Wasteland, of course, but it’s still a decent sized area – maybe a bit more than one fifth the size of the base game world. Big enough to get lost in, certainly – big enough for there to be plenty of interesting little areas to explore. That’s the real strength of this expansion – it’s got the same sort of gameplay that made Fallout 3 such a wonderful game. The other DLCs were very linear and had little remaining content when finished, whereas Point Lookout is the complete opposite; complete the Lookout ‘main’ quest, and there’s still plenty to do in the swamps.

The swamps offer a completely different feel to the Capital Wasteland’s desert – Washington is filled with burned out ruins and broken concrete structures, the legacy of the bombs falling. Point Lookout seems not so much destroyed as abandoned. The swamp is slowly reclaiming the last remnants of civilization here. It’s a creepy environment, with bubbling swamp gas, strange native ritual dolls hanging from trees, and inbred moonshiners with shotguns behind every tree… Swamps are, I think, a vastly underrated game setting, and it’s nice to get a chance to explore an area with such a different feel to the base game.

I don’t want to spoil the main quest, but suffice to say that it’s got a lot of great moments and ends up… weirder than I was expecting. There’s a fair number of sidequests, and a few unmarked little things to do. I found it oddly satisfying to find a replacement lightbulb for the long-abandoned lighthouse, making it operational again.

Interestingly, Point Lookout doesn’t bother throwing new weapons or perks at you like the other DLC did – there’s a few new weapons; notably double-barrelled shotguns and lever-action rifles, and a couple of perks that can be acquired through completing certain quests, but they’re nothing special. That’s not a complaint, really – a game add-on shouldn’t have to reward you with awesome new weapons just to get you to play the damn thing; Point Lookout worth getting for the experience, not just because you get a stealth suit or whatever at the end.

A few negative points, just for balance. Point Lookout’s designed with high level characters in mind. Fair enough. Unfortunately, Bethesda’s idea of a tough enemy for high level characters is just a regular enemy with far too many hit points. Adding to the problem, most of the new enemies are scripted to do extra damage to the player with every hit, regardless of what they’re armed with. It gets very silly when half-naked hillbillies with axes are a bigger threat than Enclave troops were. Stealth-based characters will be at a particular disadvantage, as even a sneak-attack headshot isn’t going to kill any of the new enemies in one go. Hand-to-hand and melee specialists will also have difficultly… Fortunately, my character minors in Big Guns and has several thousand excess units of Flamer fuel.

I also feel the hillbilly swampfolk would have been better implemented as regular human npcs with some sort of odd skin texture, not as the rather cartoonish creatures they are here. They look like characters out of Redneck Rampage, and that’s never a good thing!

And why can’t your companion follow you to Point Lookout? In The Pitt, sure, you were trying to sneak in, keep a low profile. Here, though – you’re going on vacation! Why can’t Fawkes and Dogmeat come along? There weren’t any areas that would have caused problems with companions, and there was never any real justification for not having them…

Despite those minor issues, though, this is a wonderful expansion. Is it too much to hope that Bethesda will make a few more like this? I’d love a Commonwealth-based DLC of this size…

Minor notes:

- There’s at least two pint-sized slasher masks in the swamps, if you were disappointed at not getting a real one after Tranquillity Lane.

- Point Lookout’s sparsely populated, and lacks most of the services you’ll find in the Capital Wasteland. In particular, you’ll start to curse the lack of doctors after a while. Take plenty of Rad-Away before you leave – wandering through the swampwater takes its toll after a while.

- Oddly, judging by the pip-boy display, travelling to Point Lookout takes an entire month!

- Confederate hats are everywhere; they’re presumably the low-karma equivalent of the base game’s Lincoln’s hat. No Confederate uniforms, unfortunately…
4thofeleven: (Default)
So, who’d have thought Operation Anchorage would turn out to be the DLC with the fewest problems on release? I guess in hindsight, calling this one “Broken Steel” was a bit of a warning sign…

Anyway, I managed to get it working well enough to play through the main quests )
4thofeleven: (Default)
For a game set in the anarchistic decaying ruins of civilization, Fallout’s a pretty funny game. Giant mutant mole rats are hard to take seriously. Two headed cattle being a common sight is hard to take seriously. The Church of Atom, worshipers of the Bomb are hard to take seriously.

And the “Fat Man” is hard to take seriously. For those who haven’t played the game, the Fat Man’s the most powerful gun in the game. It’s a mini-nuke launcher, and can take out any but the most powerful enemies in the game in a single shot. It’s overkill against most foes – though a friend of mine swears by it – and I assumed it was included as a joke, like how every car in the game explodes in a mushroom cloud when shot at. It’s a humorous take on the ubiquitous nature of the Bomb in 1950s popular culture, right? I mean, come on – a hand held nuclear weapon? That’s a little too silly…

Right?



Nope.

“The Davy Crockett was the smallest and lightest nuclear weapon ever deployed by the US military… the W54 warhead weighted just 51 pounds, with an explosive yield of 0.01 kilotons.”

Granted, this weapon isn’t quite as miniaturised as the Fallout Fat Man - still, a portable nuclear weapon launcher that small is a hell of a lot closer to the Fallout weapon than I ever expected to see exit.
4thofeleven: (Default)
The second Fallout 3 dowloadable quest came out a few weeks back, but it took a while before I managed to get my copy of the game stable enough to play it. Must learn to stop downloading every single mod that looks vaguely interesting…

This one takes you to Pittsburgh, which didn’t come out of the war any better than Washington did. It’s overrun with slavers and raiders, and radiation poisoning has mutated many of the survivors into savage beasts. One of the slaves has escaped, and he’s come to the Capital Wasteland looking for someone brave or stupid enough to liberate the Pitt.

Obviously, the add-on doesn’t offer such a huge area to explore as the base game does. You’re pretty limited in where you can go; only a few small areas exist. It actually feels rather like the towns in Fallout 1 or 2, with only a few key areas mapped out. That’s alright, I suppose, but it means ruined Pittsburgh doesn’t have any of the fun little secrets that ruined DC has. It looks nice, I’ll grant you that – the new areas use a lot of new textures and meshes, so the Pitt looks as distinct as the DC ruins or Rivet City or Megaton do. Still, it feels a little linear.

There’s a few odd choices. The quest makes a big deal about you having to disguise yourself as a slave and give up all your gear – yet once you’re inside the Pitt, you can loot some decent armour and weapons almost immediatly, and nobody looks at you funny. Slaves aren’t subject to much scrutiny, it seems…

You also get a nice new melee weapon, the Auto-Axe; a large chainsaw axe type thing. Almost immediately after receiving it, you get a perk that lets you do +25% damage with it. Why not just have the weapon do more damage to start off with? Or there’s the arena – where you have to complete three fights to advance, and that’s all there is. Why not let you go back there? A few random arena opponents can’t be that hard to program, and would give you a reason to go back to the Pitt once the quest is over.

And why aren’t there any shops or bars in the Pitt? The main quest makes a big deal out of how many people are there and how the Pitt’s leader wants to make the city a major industrial power, yet all the residents seem to be slave labourers or raider guards. There’s nothing to the Pitt other than the things directly related to the quest. It doesn’t feel like a real settlement, just a place to go through once to get some experience and loot.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun little side-quest – but it feels rather incomplete. There’s some nice touches early on – you can try to deal with some slavers, but they recognise you and are automatically hostile if you’ve already attacked Paradise Falls. Also, one character finally explains the reason there’s so many slavers in Fallout 3 but so few slaves is that they’re being sent to the Pitt. That sort of detail really highlights how bare and almost unfinished the rest of the quest is – you end up either destroying the slavers or crushing the slave rebellion, but nothing seems to change. You’re the big damn hero who saved the day; after that, the Pitt should be your home away from home. Give me a house, a guy who sells rare weapons, a reason to come back here. Instead, the survivors of the quest barely treat you differently, and all that’s left worth visiting is an ammo maker to turn scrap metal into bullets. Useful, sure, but not what I was hoping for.

I find myself actually rather warming to Operation Anchorage after the Pitt; sure, it was linear and didn’t add much – but it didn’t overreach and prove ultimately disappointing.

I do very much like the ‘tribal power armour’, with a cow skull replacing a missing shoulder pad, though.
4thofeleven: (Default)
Well, that was underwhelming.

Operation Anchorage is the first of a planned three downloadable add-on quests for Fallout 3. This one focuses on a virtual reality simulation of the ‘Battle of Anchorage’ – part of the war between the United States and China that escalated into the nuclear exchange that forms the backdrop for the Fallout series.

And… well, it does what it says on the box – and little else. Plus points – it fits into the established game world well. There’s a new Outcast base on the main map, and I couldn’t tell you how much of the base was there before the addon. When you show up, there’s a full scale battle going on between Outcasts and mutants. You help them out, and they explain they’ve uncovered a pre-war weapons cache. Problem? The only way in is to convince the computer you’ve completed your ‘training’ – ie, the VR simulation. Not a problem, except the Outcasts can’t access the VR program. Only you can, because you’ve got a Pipboy computer that’s compatible with the VR system.

So, you agree to do the VR, and in exchange, you get a share of the goodies in the base. You plug in, and away you go with the meat of the quest.

That’s where things fall apart. The actual Battle of Anchorage is pretty linear. You shoot a bunch of simulated Chinese soldiers, run through some bases, and blow the things up you’re meant to blow up. The problem is, the simulation doesn’t have the depth or freedom of the ‘real’ wastelands, but doesn’t really do anything with the concept of a simulation either. Hell, it doesn't even really do much with the concept of Anchorage! Simulated Alaska looks and plays a lot like the regular Capital Wastelands, only with snow. Effectively, you go from a computer game to an inferior version of the same game.

It’s a real shame, because the Tranquillity Lane simulation in regular Fallout was one of the highlights of the game. Off the top of my head, I can think of two ways they could have massively improved Anchorage. They could have played the simulation as being a US Army training exercise, not a pure historical recreation – make it a full on propaganda piece, with your character taking down thousands of enemy soldiers unscathed at the head of an army of clean-cut, newly liberated Alaskans ready to give their lives for the American way. Throw in a guest appearance by the Liberty Prime robot and a diabolical Red Chinese villain to thwart, you’d have a simulation the Enclave could be proud of!

Alternatively, they could have gone with the idea that the simulation is malfunctioning. You defeat the Chinese, only to have it reset itself, over and over, with increasingly bizarre variations of the scenario. You’d have to work out what was wrong and find a way to shut down the scenario – with bonus options for characters with high Science, Repair, or Speech. Ideally, you’d only get out when you completely break the scenario by siding with the Chinese forces…

But instead, we get neither. The scenario is played completely straight, and feels like a rejected level from a rather dull FPS. There’s some fun details here and there – you can pick your own squad of simulated soldiers to take with you, with five or six different types of soldiers and robots to choose from – but there’s nothing very memorable.

In general, Operation Anchorage just plain lacks polish. It feels like a moderately well-done user mod, not a commercial product. The voice acting is below average, and there’s more than a few bugs. Oh, and Bethesda? Your official mods don’t need to bellow their existence the moment they’re installed. I already know I’m using it, there don’t need to be pop-up boxes the moment the game starts.

It’s funny, because I just found a whole bunch of free user mods for Fallout 3 that add so much more to the game as a whole – for example, ‘Explosive Entry’, which lets you use grenades and mines to open locked doors and crates, making land mines more useful while rendering lockpick less of a must-have skill. That strikes me as a hell of a lot more exciting than a half-assed linear quest mod.

To be fair, the other two downloadable missions sound a hell of a lot more interesting than this one ever did, and Bethesda can do decent downloadable addons - the Knights of the Nine questline in Oblivion was one of the best in the game. Here's hoping the next two are a hell of a lot better than this one.

4thofeleven: (Default)
Yay! Bethesda's confirmed they're going to release a free Fallout 3 editor soon! Plus some downloadable expansions, but who cares about them? Fallout 3 editor!

I've never been one for modding, but I might try my hand at making a few Fallout 3 edits - the game's awesome, but it could do with some minor changes. I'm thinking it shouldn't be too hard to make it that some of the raiders are ghouls. And, in the interests of balance, replace some of the feral ghouls in the subway with feral human cannibals...

I'm thinking you should also be able to make Molotov Cocktails from all the bottles of beer and vodka you find around the game - grenades aren't as common as other sorts of ammo, so it'd be nice to be able to make one of your own out of common components. Hmm - maybe sacrifice an item of pre-war clothing to get a bunch of 'rags', then combine it with the beer to make the weapon. Probably do less damage than regular grenades, but benifits from the Pyromania perk...


4thofeleven: (Default)
Finished up Fallout 3 last night; haven’t found all the Bobbleheads yet, and I suspect there’s still a few areas of the map I never really explored – I never found the crashed UFO, for example. Still, that gives me some stuff to look out for next time – I’m thinking of trying a melee specialist who uses lots of grenades… Grab the Animal Friend perk next time around too – those mutant bears are nasty!

The ending seems rather abrupt – there could easily have been another couple of quests in between retrieving the GECK and the final showdown. Scouting out the Enclave’s positions or tracking down parts needed for Liberty Prime, for example…

And the ending itself – storyline hint here, guys: If the resolution of your story revolves around the hero having to deal with a massive amount of radiation, you should probably first make sure your hero doesn’t have access to at least three possible allies who are immune to radiation…. Well, the robot might not be immune, but I imagine RL-3 would still last longer than a human. If nothing else, don’t draw attention to the problem by having a previous quest be dependant on you getting the assistance of a radiation immune ally!

I kinda wonder if the followers were added at the last minute – in addition to the end-game plot problems, there’s two other areas in the main quest where you get captured, and both times no mention is made of your followers – they just wander back to where you originally recruited them. Well, if they’re not going to help rescue me from the Enclave, screw ‘em! I’m happier as a lone wanderer anyway!

Still, I enjoy the game immensely. I like that they kept the Fallout tradition of letting you talk your way out of the boss fights – President Eden struck me as a fairly reasonable man, all things considered… though the fact that I’d maxed out my speech skill probably played a role in things. I also liked that your skills and perks seemed to play a role in a lot of dialogue – I got a lot of extra options because of my “Robotics expert” trait, which I’d only picked to get a damage bonus against ‘bots. Of course, this does render somewhat useless perks like “Lady Killer” or “Child at Heart” where the main or only benefit of the perk is to give you extra dialogue options…

Well, there’s always room for improvement and I hope a proper editing tool will be released soon – I’d love to see more radio stations added, and maybe a bit more diversity to the raiders – different gangs with different styles of combat, maybe sometimes you run into two gangs fighting each other or something.

Also, there needs to be a way to get the cool sheriff’s outfit and cowboy hat without having to kill the Sherriff in Megaton!
4thofeleven: (Default)

Man, I’ve been on an RPG kick these last few months… Oblivion, Mass Effect, and now Fallout 3.

Alright, so Fallout 3’s your basic first person post-apocalyptic RPG shooter. )

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