Saturday, November 01, 2008


I've got another, longer post in the works, but my damn laptop (which is an excellent desktop, but a very bad laptop) shut off while Google was glitching up, resulting in me losing the entirety of my progress on it today. So here's something completely different.

I've been playing a lot of Fallout 3 over the last few days - it's a lot like Oblivion, if you've played that, but better. (Oblivion was an excellent game, so that's a hell of a recommendation.) The setting, in brief: Washington D.C., a hundred years after nuclear war plunged the world into darkness. Mutant animals, mutant people, a mix of crude and spectacularly advanced technology... all that stuff. Plus a lovely faux-retro look.

But I digress.

My character was creeping up on a Raider camp. (Not the football team, just murderous bandits.) It's a moderately big place, fenced in with aluminium siding, set up on the edge of a steadily-degrading highway clogged with rusting cars and trucks. I could easily take any two or three of the raiders, especially if I used my most powerful weapon, a completely irreplaceable plasma rifle given as a reward for helping Rick Deckard. (Long story.) Problem was, one of the scum had a missile launcher. This made things trickier.

I decided not to use the plasma rifle - I was planning on hitting the enemy from long range, and I could afford misses with my other weapons much more easily than I could with the precious plasma rifle. Instead, I crouched down with my laser rifle and opened up. My long-range "marksmanship" didn't do much more than annoy the Raiders, sending several charging at me, and others tossing grenades into the fray. I backpedaled swiftly, trying (with minimal success) to avoid harm from the missiles being fired my way, and managed to get behind the cover of a ruined highway overpass. I reloaded and bandaged my wounds, noting with surprise an Enclave Eyebot passing by. A sort of floating orb with a gigantic speaker to blare propaganda and a small laser mounted underneath, they appear intermittently throughout the wastes, broadcasting the words of John Henry Eden, self-named President of the United States that no longer exists. He's crazy.

But I digress. (Again.)

The Eyebot zoomed along, firing on the Raiders with its underslung laser. I followed at a safe distance, attacking the now-distracted Raiders. The Eyebot didn't last long - a barrage of grenades blew it into shrapnel. But I managed to score a pair of kills while it distracted the foe, and afterward ran a merry circuit around the clump of ruined cars that filled the highway, killing the Raiders as they pursued. The last one I slew with my Combat Shotgun, spectacularly and gorily. (Rather more gorily than I would've prefered - let's just say that he didn't end life with all the limbs he started with, or even, well, his head. Ow.)

Then I noticed that a nearby car was burning. I'd discovered this a while earlier, in a fight with a lone Raider - if cars are damaged enough, they'll start to burn, and then explode, doing massive damage to everything nearby. I turned and ran, stopping when I thought I was at a safe distance. The car blew up, I took a tiny amount of damage, and, with the battle truly over, quicksaved by force of habit.

Then I looked again.

"Wait. Is that car still burning?"

The next explosion - composed, as far as I could tell, of every nearby car detonating at once - blew me five hundred feet away, coincidentally killing me in the process.

I quickloaded, turned, and ran.

Boom. I died again.

Quickload, run away.


I had managed to lose all my progress since the last autosave owing to a poorly-timed quicksave. A story as old as the quicksave button itself, but still possessing a classical capacity to dismay and alarm.

I've got one last, largely unrelated note to relate before I head off for lunch. Fallout 3 seems to encourage the player to stockpile weapons. There are many, many different types of ammunition: .10mm, .307, .338, 5.56, 50mm, and that's just the bullets. There's also energy cells, microfusion cells, flamer fuel, missiles, darts, railroad spikes... each type of ammo compatible with only one or two types of gun. Ammo is always scarce, so it's practically required that the player carry as many guns as they have types of ammo: pistol for the 10mm, assault rifle for the 5.56, laser pistol for the energy cells... This results in a very, very interesting style of play*: every single time I get in a fight, I find myself wondering which weapon to use: the shotgun or flamer for close range, scoped magnum or hunting rifle for long range, any of half a dozen weapons for in-between; and that's not even counting the possibilities of explosives...

But I've talked for long enough; so, off I go!

*Or maybe it's just me. I'm crazy, you know. It's well established in the literature.

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