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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-11-07 09:08:45
Laser Kitty Mew Mew !!
I'm toying with the idea of continually adding party members, until they number in the dozens like Chrono Cross. I'll then force Vargas to draw them all, in riotous action, in one panel.
I've now put in significant time with Fallout 3, and it's much as I anticipated it to be. Bethseda has crafted an amazing, sprawling, gigantic...and brittle world. It's the antithesis of Mass Effect. In that game, the main quest line gave you the illusion of a humongous universe, but if you strayed off the road to explore, there wasn't much to find. In direct contrast, Fallout 3 provides a densely constructed world that seems to go on forever. After more than twenty concerted hours of play, I estimate from the world map that I've explored less than a third of the available game! The problem is that it lacks heart. Unlike Mass Effect, I don't much care about the narrative. Instead of Mass Effect's vibrant supporting characters with their emotionally grounded expressiveness, Fallout 3 features NPCs that deliver reams of dialogue with all the warmth and personality of animatronic mascots at a kid's pizzeria.
Instead, I find myself rummaging through acre after acre of wasteland, and scouring building after building, in an effort to gather enough ammunition and spare parts to repair my gear in order to keep rummaging and scouring. Every room I enter is like a fucking Where's Waldo to find skill books or specific pieces of junk in utterly random piles of rubbish with which to create weapons with. This is further exacerbated by the fact that you need to keep acquiring said pieces of junk in order to maintain them in proper working order.
The game continually encourages you (at least my fellow Obsessive-Compulsives) to play it "the wrong way". For example, Intelligence is perhaps the most important basic stat, as it determines how many skill points you receive upon leveling. I realized that there's one collectible that raises it by one, out of a maximum of 10. So I rerolled my character with an Intelligence of 9 and went off to acquire the +1 Intelligence as soon as possible. This entailed traversing areas that a new character had no business of entering. I went through this rigmarole all in order to shift that one point of basic stat into another category. This sort of nonsense breaks the contract between game designer and player, as it shatters the otherwise compelling fiction the game presents. Sadly, just about every game mechanic is predicated on this simple flaw.
Admittedly, much of this is my fault. I don't have to play the zones out of order, nor do I need to obsess with hunting the literally hundreds of collectibles strewn in among what must be hundreds of thousands of unimportant flotsam and jetsam. I don't have to chart my progress to ensure that I don't waste any skill points or perks so I have an "optimal" character. On the other hand, Bethseda implemented these utterly unimportant yet ridiculously deep and expansive options. If I ignored them, I'd feel like I was missing out. Ultimately, Fallout 3 reminds me of elementary school. It throws reams of meaningless busywork at you to keep your mind off how little fun you're actually having.
What's even worse is, this strategy works. I can't wait to get back to it. I've been harshly critical about this game today, but the sheer amount of craftsmanship put into it makes it a Rank A game, so far. Perhaps I'll enjoy myself more on a subsequent playthrough when I'm not as obsessed about exploring every nook and cranny that Bethseda constructed for me to obsess over and explore. I'll simply run through the plot and see if the game holds up without the massive inconsequential portions. I'll have a full review up as soon as I'm able to put, oh, another forty hours into this beast.
It may be awhile, seeing as how Gears of War 2 just dropped.
Now Playing - Fallout 3 (360 & PS3)
Xbox Live/PSN/Company of Heroes Gamertag - Vawce
David Vargas: (dave-deleteme[at]-deleteme-squishycomics [dot] com) 2008-11-07 12:50:49
Dee's trying to kill me. Death by overdrawing. Plus I was disappointed by Chrono Cross.
I downloaded the early Left 4 Dead demo on my 360 last night. Man, that game is awesome. I gathered a few of my buddies who also have the demo and we played through the first two levels of the game over and over again (that's all the demo gives us). Some attempts were successful. Other attempts... well, not everyone can survive a zombie apocalypse. We only get to see a little bit of the game, but even then we were given eerie calms, frantic panics, and even the occasional "oh SHIT!" moment. I can't wait for the game proper to be released.
And yes, Gears of War 2 comes out today. Glad it's today so I can get the campaign done before Left 4 Dead releases. Plus I still have Fallout 3 to finish... crap. Dee, you're getting stick figures for the next few weeks.
XBox Live Gamer Tag: Late Customer
Fallout 3 (XBox 360)
Left 4 Dead demo (XBox 360)