Sunday, January 24, 2010


First, I'd like to apologize to everyone for using "good" five times in the first seven lines of my last entry. I will refrain from posting at 3 AM from now on.

Fallout: New Vegas

I've already given Obsidian a blowjob in the last entry, so I'll keep it down here. I like Bethesda well enough, I didn't mind them getting the Fallout license, and I enjoyed Fallout 3. They do atmosphere very well; all of their games are immersive and fun. Their weak point is writing. In Morrowind it was terrible, in Oblivion it was slightly less terrible, and in Fallout 3 it had upgraded all the way to serviceable with moments of okayness. Perhaps some day they will hire a couple of writers. A man can dream.

However, Obsidian is the opposite. Of the three surviving major RPG companies, they have by far the best writers. They take risks, they expect a certain level of engagement from the audience, and they're willing to overreach. They often don't quite make it, but I respect the attempt. Knights of the Old Republic 2 was the best thing Star Wars has ever produced (yes, including the movies), and if they'd had more than a four-day weekend to complete the game I think it might've even knocked Planescape: Torment off its throne as the greatest RPG of all time.

The other thing Obsidian has going for it is the team. Many of their people came from Black Isle, who made... Fallout! And Fallout 2. And the original Fallout 3, which was sadly killed when Interplay went bankrupt and got rid of Black Isle. Fallout: New Vegas is being designed by JE Sawyer, the man in charge of that original Fallout 3, and Chris Avellone is writing for it. He did New Reno, the most fun part of Fallout 2, and the Fallout Bible.

So the announcement that Obsidian was doing a full, honest to god Fallout game, with complete freedom and Bethesda's blessing... well, it was something I never expected to see and it made me unreasonably giddy. We have no information about the game yet, but I believe the first article is due next month. I'm very impressed that Bethesda would do this, especially since New Vegas will likely outclass Fallout 3 in every way; it's a big risk to let a better company into your toy box. Perhaps it'll force Bethesda to step it up on Fallout 4. And the possibility of getting a new Fallout every couple of years, going back and forth between Bethesda and Obsidian...

Starcraft 2

For most people, Starcraft is still the pinnacle of the RTS genre. It had an epic storyline (less impressive than it was in ninth grade, but well-presented), great single-player, and multiplayer that became a phenomenon no one had ever seen before. It introduced us to the twelve-year-old South Korean kid who shouts KEKEKEKE FAGGORT ^_^_^ while schooling you in your game of choice. And it's gone twelve years without a sequel.

The decision to break it into three games sent people screaming. I don't mind it. I love single-player, and the idea of each race having a campaign as extensive as the entire original Starcraft excites me. And it's Blizzard—when have they steered you wrong? I don't like World of Warcraft, but that doesn't make it bad. The rest of their games sit on my shelf, and most of them are still installed.

What else is there to say? It's Starcraft 2. About fucking time.

Deus Ex 3

Oh, boy.

As you have probably gathered, I love Deus Ex. It is, to me, the greatest game ever made. Planescape: Torment tops it in the story department, but as a whole experience Deus Ex is unmatched. No one's even come close.

Like every successful game, it got a sequel. Deus Ex: Invisible War took the Deus Ex formula, removed all the good parts, then shit in a box and charged $50 for it.

Okay, I'm being unfair—my real opinion is Invisible War wasn't that terrible. If it had been its own game, with no Deus Ex connection, it would've been a solid seven and people would've forgotten about it within a year. And I sympathize with the creators. Making a sequel to the best game of all time is a tall order; I wouldn't expect them to top or even equal it. Something reasonably close would have been fine. It's hard to pull a Terminator 2. However the fact is that it was a massive step down. This was the beginning of the era of simplification, where a game being complex and having a learning curve suddenly became a bad thing. Simplifcation isn't all bad—Civilization 4 was simplified yet deeper and better than any of the prior games—but bad simplification is, and that's what Invisible War did.

Invisible War had a lot of good elements (I still love the Templars) that it combined with stunning ineptitude. It removed most of the side content, like books and datacubes and extra areas. There weren't as many branches, nor as much content. Deus Ex is so massive and complex that I've always found new things on each playthrough, despite the fact that I've done at least ten. One run through Invisible War gets you most of the game. It's also a bad sign when the side-plot involving the coffee shops is as or more interesting than the main story.

Hell, just compare the box art.

So, now there's a Deus Ex 3. I'm expecting nothing from it; I can only handle so much heartbreak. Plus, the messages so far are mixed. Originally the lead developer sounded good. He talked about how the original game worked and seemed to get the concept, and endeared himself to the community by saying that they were using Invisible War as a blueprint of what not to do. Sounds good so far.

Then he said the original game had no memorable moments. What. Stepping out of the MJ12 prison for the first time is one of the greatest mindfucks in gaming. He discussed the need for more action. Some of the augmentations came out, such as the FIST OF DOOM THAT PUNCHES THROUGH WALLS or whatever in the fuck. And then there's this guy:

I like the mech-aug thing, I like some of the stylistic choices despite them not making any sense. I know I'll play it, and I'll probably hate myself for it. But why must you do these things? Presumably, you're doing a Deus Ex 3 instead of a new cyberpunk game because of a love of Deus Ex. Because you recognize its greatness, because it's a great setting and the design was amazing and it gave people something they'd never seen before. Why do you then decide to make a sequel and start tearing parts of the original out? Wouldn't you understand that people love the original for a reason and keep the sequel as close to it as possible?

I'm not encouraged. I hope I'm wrong about it.

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