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Addicted to Fallout… again

I’ve long since had a fascination with nuclear weapons, specifically the effects on Earth (and the human race) should a nuclear war ever occur.

Obviously I’d much rather it didn’t, but it is interesting to really think about just how well society as a whole would cope with mutually assured destruction.

My fascination wasn’t helped by my first exposure to the 1984 BBC film Threads. Set in Sheffield, it follows the lives of two families (connected together by a relationship between the son of one family and the daughter of the other) and the build-up of tension between the Soviet Union and the USA, triggered by the Soviets invading Iran and ultimately using tactical nuclear weapons against US peacekeepers.

It ranks as one of the most frightening and disturbing movies I’ve ever watched. It’s depiction of post-nuclear Britain is so bleak and depressing, which is no mean feat considering it’s set in Sheffield where those two emotions are commonplace anyway. There are a couple of visual images in the film that have stuck with me ever since – the first (and most obvious) is the sight of the first mushroom cloud itself, as it towers over the city, accompanied by one of the characters exclaiming "Jesus Christ! They’ve done it. They’ve done it!" while the second is of an elderly woman wetting herself out of fear.

War… war never changes.

So, when Fallout 3 first burst on to the scene, I had to check it out. I was vaguely familiar with the Fallout series already, but hadn’t played any of the games. It’s spiritual predecessor, Wasteland was a favourite of mine however.

Well, I was hooked, wasn’t I? I became an instant social recluse thanks to that bloody game. I’d go out to work, come back in the evenings and sit there playing Fallout 3 until the wee hours. The cycle would then repeat the following day. And then the day after. And the day after.

And I loved every minute of it.

The storyline, the quests, the characters, but most of all – the setting. In creating the Capital Wasteland, Bethesda Softworks had created an incredibly engrossing world for you to play in, helped along by the backstory from Fallout and Fallout 2, of course – themselves rich with atmosphere and plot details.

Like Threads, there were a number of visual images in Fallout 3 that stuck in my head. The one that everyone remembers is the first view of the Capital Wasteland after your character eventually emerges from Vault 101, but for me one of the most memorable images was simply the (heavily irradiated) entrance area to Vault 87, with a sign outside warning that a lethal dose of radiation would be received in under 0.5 seconds… scary stuff, when you consider just how much a lethal dose of radiation is.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

In late 2010, the sequel to Fallout 3 was released upon the world. Fallout: New Vegas was the name, and saw the player character (a courier for the Mojave Express, bringing to mind images of Kevin Costner as The Postman) on a quest to find the man that tried to kill him in the Mojave Wasteland.

I bought the game on release for the Xbox 360, and instantly became a social recluse – again. I’d go out to work, come back in the evenings and sit there play… well, you get the idea.

However, after a while I began to fall out of favour with the game. For some reason, it just didn’t quite strike the same chord with me that Fallout 3 did. I can’t explain it, maybe it was the way the storyline started out (many others complained that there wasn’t a similar moment to the aforementioned escape from Vault 101 in New Vegas) or perhaps it was just because it seemed like more of the same. So, I put the game away and kind of forgot all about it.

The Fallout: New Vegas Tour

Then, about two weeks ago, almost two years later and quite out of the blue, an acquaintance of mine sent me a link to one man’s effort to visit as many real-life equivalents to the New Vegas locations as possible, the Fallout: New Vegas Tour.

Reading through his blog, and seeing the real-life inspiration for many of the locations – Goodsprings, Primm, McCarran International Airport – it brought all of the memories of the game flooding back, and I decided (rather stupidly) to give it another go, this time on the PC.

And well, I’m addicted again. I go out to work, come back in the evenings…

I don’t know why, but this time around I’m getting far more into the game. I have taken a slightly different tack this time around, and headed straight for the New Vegas Strip so that I could gamble my chips away first off. With a high Luck character build, I’ve managed to win over 40,000 caps at the various casinos (until being banned from them) which has given me quite a headstart in the early game, weapons wise.

The story is also just as engaging as it was in Fallout 3, too. I can’t explain why I didn’t gel with it before, but I’m pleased to say that I’m loving every minute of it again. I’ve come across a few bugs, one of which broke a quest I was rather enjoying, but so far my playthrough has been pretty glitch free.

So, where next? Well… once I’ve completed New Vegas and played it as far as I can, perhaps I really should dig out my Fallout Collection CD and give Fallout/Fallout 2 a try.