Friday, May 31, 2013

A Moral Gray Area

I've started playing Fallout: New Vegas. Returning from a couple of weeks in Japan away from games, I was looking for a path back in, and nothing had occurred to me. Sure, I could play some Dota, or jump back into the middle of one of the many back-burnered games I'm in the middle of, but nothing was really calling out to me. Then I realized that another Bethesda game announcement was likely to take place at E3 this year, coming up in just about a week and a half, and that said game was likely to be Fallout 4, or whatever they choose to title the next entry in the series. That, and my willingness to lose myself to a single game for a while whilst not much else was going on in the scene, was good enough reason to jump into New Vegas.

I've noticed a trend in the way I play Fallout games. I'll play one leisurely for a long stretch, finish it in a rush, and then almost immediately quickly begin the next in the series. I wonder if the pattern will last. I like New Vegas more than Fallout 3, and I could see this being the one I return to for my wasteland fix after finishing up the main quest line and DLC modules, at least for as long as it is the current game in the series. Then again, I might just play Fallout: Tactics, which I hear is also pretty good, and which I also own. And of course, Wasteland 2 is due out sometime in the not too distant future--probably before the next Fallout, I would guess.

New Vegas starts you off as a courier having been shot in the head and left for dead by a scumbag named Benny for the package you were carrying, a platinum casino chip. The reasons why, and presumably a wish for revenge, are your primary motivation. That is, until you finally catch up with Benny and put the past behind you, one way or another. From there you find yourself as the crux of a multi-party power struggle for control of the New Vegas strip, the Hoover Dam, and the whole of the Mojave wasteland. The classic Fallout two-part main quest line is maintained.

I'm trying to get a feel for each of the various factions at the moment. I'm leaning toward helping out the NCR at this point, definitely away from Caesar's Legion, and I'm not sure yet what to do about Mr. House. There appears to be an option for me to seize everything for myself, too, if I want, but who would? It's too much for one person to handle. If you were going to go with a dictatorial approach, why not just let Mr. House take care of it? Maybe the answer to that question will be found in familiarizing myself with some of the "families" controlling the various casinos around the strip. I've already "solved the problem" with one of these, but there are three or four others to scope out, as well.

There is also the local Brotherhood of Steel contingent. I've always been on the side of the Brotherhood in past Fallout games, but I am wondering if they might not be becoming a bit misguided. I'm not sure how I want to intercede in a brewing internal schism yet, either. More questing needs to be done. There is also the question of the Brotherhood-NCR conflict over the Helios One power station, which, unbeknownst to the NCR, but likely known to select Brotherhood leadership, doubles as a powerful energy weapon. If it means siding with one faction over the other, I'm not sure which way I would lean, though again I am thinking NCR. As dysfunctional as their sort of government can be, they may be the best fit for the wasteland during this period of post-apocalyptic trial.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Treachery Most Foul

On my recent two-week trip to Japan, I played effectively no video games, but I did spend a lot of time reading Horus Heresy books on my Kindle. The first was a collection of short stories called Tales of Heresy, which featured some very cool looks into various times, places, and factions of the 31st millennium. One of my favorite featured The Emperor himself in a prominent role laying out his vision of the Imperial Truth to a religious man at the end of the Terran Unification. Another told the tale of the bloodthirsty primarch Angron taking leadership of his legion of Space Marines, the World Eaters.

After that collection, I moved on to a duology about the Dark Angels legion and their primarch, Lion El'Jonson. The first book, Descent of Angels, was decent but had no real relevance to the events of the heresy; it was just an origin story of sorts for this legion, which I believe stay loyal during Horus' rebellion. I am now reading the follow-up, Fallen Angels, which is considerably better written (many different authors write the various books of the Horus Heresy series), and will presumably shed some light on what exactly the Lion is doing with his legion while the Imperium tears itself apart with internecine conflict.

Every time I look at the Horus Heresy wikipedia page, there are three or four more novels I find that I want to read. I'm on my 14th (!) at the moment. It's a pretty epic series, with many different players with a variety of motives and many different conflicts across the galaxy, all centered around a handful of key highly charismatic figures. I don't know of much else like it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Arean Exodus

I finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson's short story collection The Martians, tonight. It is set in the same universe as his trilogy of books about the colonization of Mars and the effects thereof on both the planet and the people doing the terraforming. It was a nice series of vignettes featuring a few familiar characters and locations, a few new recurring characters, and even some alternate-timeline stories within that universe. There were also two or three stories that if they did not break the fourth wall, otherwise pulled some kind of stunt that made it so that the stories were about the author and/or his process used writing the Mars books. I'd say this book is for fans of the series only, really.

I'm really excited to read 2312, by the same author, which appears to be set again in the same universe, a little further on in time so that even more of the solar system is extensively colonized. Reviews for that book on Amazon are all over the map, which signals to me that it may be right up my alley as far as Robinson's works go.

That won't be my next foray, though. I'm going to be dipping back into the grim, dark future in which there is only war. I've got 4 more Horus Heresy novels queued up, as well as the novel Metro 2033 (the inspiration for the game series), and a re-read of Tai-Pan I have going, as well.