Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vegas, Baby

I don't really do reviews, and I really don't do Video Game reviews, but I just "finished" Fallout New Vegas, and well, It's good, but not the all-time classic champeen that Fallout 3 was. So, I'm going to talk about it, so as to talk about what I like about Video games as an Art.
See, my primary enjoyment is derived from how immersive the world is, that the game designers have provided. I was a fan of Lode Runner back in the day because you could make your own levels, and thus, interact, and make the game into a world, albeit a very limited world. Then, I really loved Doom because you could explore, and hunt around, as if exploring a new world. Then, along came Bethesda, and things like the Elder Scrolls series, and Black Isle's "Fallout" series, and Grand Theft Auto, and the Rockstar games- and it was like a role playing game, but one that interested me, unlike Dungeons and Dragons. Still, I didn't get the feeling I was living in some kind of alternate world until Morrowind, which still amuses me as much as the later successors, like Oblivion. But then, Fallout 3. People called it "Oblivion with Guns" and there's some truth to that, but between the enhanced graphics, the "roman a clef" styled modelling on the actual Washington DC, the more complex stories, and the voice acting, and it really hit the sweet spot for me. I've spent hundreds of hours playing it, and it always feels like a little "adventure/fantasy Vacation in some bizarre alternate world. Part of that was that if you got all the add-on packs, the game was truly open-ended, even after you had beaten all the bosses. It was a place to interact with, and in. Unlike MMORPG there wasn't the feeling that the game was a veil between you and other real people, which was my problem with role playing games going all the way back to Dungeons and Dragons- it's just you and this strange alternate world.
So, what makes New Vegas a little bit less? Because you're ultimately a pawn of the the story. It's like a 'choose your own" adventure fantasy- You have free choice, but there is a "god" in the machine who directs you, and you end up being made into part of a story they want to tell you. On top of that the graphics are a bit of a step back. A bit more cartoony, a bit less photo-realistic. The characters are a bit more free, but the glitches that all of Bethesda is prone to having reduces that freedom greatly. Also, while the gameplay is more challenging, that, too, takes away from the feeling of immersion because you have to actually play the "game' aspects, like spinning a wheel of choices in order to have a conversation with what is supposedly your 'companion".
See, ultimately, what I'm looking for in a Video game is something akin to a painting you can have a conversation with. This is more like a book that you can re-arrange. But, it's also not that other metaphor I hear bandied about for Video games- a Movie you can experience. I'm not a fan of that, and I think that Video games actually make poor movie substitutes.
Yes, those are some pretty jumbled thoughts, and that's why I don't do video game reviews: because my thoughts aren't clear on the subject. Still, I do enjoy Fallout 3.....

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