Posts Tagged ‘Bethesda’

Fallout 3 Appreciation: All in the Atmosphere

SPOILER ALERT FOR FALLOUT 3

Seeing as how the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim releases in a little over a week (Vote for what console you want Kat to play Skyrim on!), I wanted to take a look back at another game brought to us by Bethesda, Fallout 3.  I know that this game is old news; heck, even the full game expansion pack is likely old enough to be under $30 at your local retailer.  But I wanted to take a step back and examine what made Fallout 3 great.

When Fallout 3 first came out, I was only mildly interested, if that.  A game about a post-apocalyptic, war-torn land, with crazily mutated beings wasn’t exactly up my alley.  A friend brought the game over and showed me the gory head explosions (or whatever limb you happened to target) and seemed even less likely that I’d want to try it.

Fallout 3 Centaur

Yeah, this is really NOT what I picture when I think 'Centaur'.

Months later, the Game of the Year edition went on sale at Target.  I decided to purchase it and give Fallout a try.  After all, Bethesda had also given us the Elder Scrolls games, so that should say something good about Fallout.  Fallout 3 starts off pretty safe, with you growing up as a child in a vault that has protected you from the ravages of the radiated Wastelands.  Escaping the vault was both nerve-wracking and thrilling.  And stepping out into an eerily empty town with partially or mostly destroyed houses set a great, lonely tone.  It was a relief to finally make it to Megaton, knowing that there actually were survivors out there.  I decided to keep up with the ‘Following in His Footsteps’ quest.  I wanted to see Liam Neeson *ahem* – dad – again.  Unfortunately, since I’m such a Scaredy-Kat, going into the tunnels caused me minor panic attacks (Feral Ghouls, Super Mutants?!!!  Limited ammo?!!), and I gave up.  You have to admit, some of the creatures are very creepy.  (Centaurs!!?)

A month ago, I decided to pick the game back up, and was sucked in.  I found Dogmeat, and having a companion by my side made me feel much better about traversing the Wasteland and even… tunnels.  Once I had this confidence, I was able to see Fallout for the great game it actually is.  There are so many aspects to Fallout, so much to do and see.

Fallout 3 Couple

*ahem* This couple was clearly enjoying themselves when disaster struck. And the creepy part is, you still have the option of sleeping in that bed...

For one, this certainly is no kids game.  There’s the more obvious limb exploding and violent deaths, but there’s also a lot of rough language, sexual aspects, and just plain horrific events.  Visiting Minefield and seeing a smaller skeleton than most in a room that contains kids toys is just heart wrenching.  The whole deserted mood of Minefield is haunting (no pun intended).  Did anyone else pick up through their conversations that Jericho raped/attempted to rape Jenny Stahl?  And of course, there are the perks:  Lady Killer, Black Widow.  There are actual sex benefits to choosing this perk (at least for a woman as a Black Widow), and one being a threesome, in fact.  Nova is there for more than just viewing pleasure.

Fallout 3 Springvale

Telephone Poles: Built to Last, even through Nuclear Catastrophes!

Another is that this game, the whole Fallout series, presents a unique idea that hasn’t been explored as much as a genre like fantasy has.  And they do it damn well.  The vistas, while fascinating as a torn apart and gritty world, don’t exactly make me want to live in such a world.  But they speak strongly for what the game is portraying.  The mood created in the game is often lonely, always eerie, and deserted.  Most of what you encounter in the Wasteland is going to try to kill you.  Finding a town might be a safe harbor, but you can’t rely on that.  In fact, a lot of the towns will have something nasty lurking inside; Raiders, mines, fire ants, super mutants.  But in a world like Fallout, that fits perfectly.  It’s to be expected.

The story of Fallout is great because, while there is plenty of tension waiting around every corner, and you never know what you’ll encounter next, but there’s hope in this dark world.  There’s hope that life will continue, despite all the hardships, and that what’s been destroyed can be rebuilt.  And that’s really what keeps me playing.

-Kat

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Skyrim: It Just Gets Better & Better

Every time I hear something new about the latest in the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim, I just keep getting more and more excited for November 11th.  When the new information came out from Gamescom, I nearly screamed with excitement.  Now, with the full 20 minute gameplay video narrated by Skyrim’s game director Todd Howard himself, I can guarantee you, it was (and is) hard to hold back shouts of glee, and cry that it’s not November 11th.  I actually found myself tearing up a bit at how amazing this game looks.

Skyrim Khajiit Male

Let's see: Regal-looking cat-person wielding axe and holding glowing ball of flames? Yeah, I wouldn't mess with him.

First of all, a bunch of pictures were released detailing the Elder Scrolls’ races, and let me say that these characters look incredible.  The detail that goes in to each race (of which there are many) is amazing!  The artists over at Bethesda really deserve commending, because they do great work.  And the graphics in general are incredibly crisp and bright, with running water and shadows being cast appropriately.  I am in love with just the look of Skyrim alone.  I’m a huge sucker for good-looking games, and Skyrim is visually breathtaking.  There’s a very minimalist HUD in the gameplay video, leaving the screen free of excess clutter and nothing to block the incredible vistas.  Which I like.  Once you dive into battle, your health bar is shown on the lower portion of the screen in red, so while you can easily keep an eye on your health, it also doesn’t feel overly intrusive.

One of the gameplay video highlights was the visually dynamic spell casting.  A fireball spell swirls and surrounds an enemy in an appropriately vicious manner.  You can also choose… an uber spell.  Okay, it’s actually called dual wielding.  But if you choose the same spell to dual wield, the result is an upgraded, more powerful version of that spell, and the example shown in the gameplay video slows the action down, focuses in on the magic, and explodes against the victim, similar to a finishing move.  AWESOME.  The Storm Call ‘Shout’, a powerful magical weapon in the game, takes over the screen with dark storm clouds and rain, and lightning bolts down to strike the enemy, in this case a dragon, as it sweeps by.  And it doesn’t end with just one hit; the lightning strikes over and over in intervals, and looks incredibly powerful.

Skyrim Whiterun

The City of Rohan... err, I mean Whiterun. Got my Skyrim and LOTR mixed up.

This may be old news, but it’s worth repeating: there are over one hundred and fifty (that’s 150) hand crafted dungeons in Skyrim, each detailed with care by artists to make them unique.  The world of Skyrim will certainly feel much, much larger on just that fact alone.  Eat your heart out, Dragon Age II.  In terms of size, the physical map size is approximately the same as Oblivion, but Skyrim will be jam packed with more content, more things to do within the map, so again, Skyrim will definitely feel much more expansive.  Oh, you feel like cooking up that meat you just found on an animal you just killed to vary the effects and/or make them more potent?  Cool, have at it.  You’re going to enchant your own weapon?  Do it.  You feel like mining that ore on the wall there to eventually use to make a weapon?  You absolutely should.

Did I mention how insanely awesome everything looks?  Yeah?  Well, it does.  You should watch the gameplay videos below for yourself.  Try not to squeal like a little girl too much.

-Kat

 

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