Weekend Recap: Falling Out

First impressions are everything.  Back in my theater school days, our teachers told us that the audition process really only took 5 seconds; that in the time it took for you to open the door and walk to the center of the room, the casting agents saw 99% of what they needed to see.  Doesn’t matter how well you prepared your monologue, or if your accents are up to snuff, or how good your pratfall skills are; it’s simply the gut reaction to seeing you emerge and present yourself.  It’s over before you even open your mouth.

This applies to pretty much everything, regardless of medium.  The first sentence of a book; the opening notes of a song; hell, even the title screen to a movie – these all set the stage for what happens next.

And so it is to my great chagrin and disappointment that the opening hour or two of Fallout 4 has fallen utterly flat for me.  If I hadn’t spent hundred upon hundreds of hours with Bethesda’s other open-world RPGs and were therefore inclined to give FO4 the benefit of the doubt, I’d be seriously considering selling my Pip-Boy edition on eBay.

The irony, of course, is that I haven’t played enough of it to properly articulate my feelings as to why I’m feeling so out of sorts with it.  Which means that I need to play more of it.  Which I don’t want to do, at all.

What I can say, though, even in the tiny amount of time I’ve spent with it, is that it looks old.  Antiquated.  Like an iteration of the Fallout 3 engine, only with a more diverse color palette.  Certain environments are clearly copied and pasted, and even in the town of Sanctuary, which is pre-fab even before the bombs start falling, it’s distressing how obvious it is. Characters’ mouths don’t match up with the words they speak, which would’ve been excusable 10 years ago.  The game feels stiff and stodgy in my hands – and while this might be because I just spent 50 hours playing both Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Rise of the Tomb Raider, where character movement is meant to be incredibly fluid, it’s still a thing that I’m feeling, and I can’t help it.

It also doesn’t help that the game doesn’t explain itself at all.  The only reason why I know about crafting and resources and scavenging is because I read a whole bunch of preview and review coverage.  There’s a workshop in the very first town you come to once you escape the Vault, and while there’s a very brief tutorial that shows you how it works, it doesn’t explain why it’s something you need to know, and in any event there’s nothing you can really do with it at that point anyway – so why bother introducing it?  I have successfully modded a pistol, but I’m sure I’m going to come across some better guns soon enough; should I bother?

I’ve also succumbed to some serious radiation poisoning already – far more than I ever received in FO3, and this is just from doing some very minor off-the-main-path exploring in FO4’s first hour – and the potions that I thought would fix that don’t seem to be working.  So either I’m doing something wrong, or there’s a bug, or… I don’t know.  Hopefully there’s a doctor nearby that can patch me up, because if I’m going to be down a full third of my maximum health for the next hundred hours, I might as well just re-roll and try again.

I dabbled a little bit in Star Wars Battlefront last night, too – just some of the solo tutorial stuff, if only so that when I finally do some co-op or general online mayhem, that I know what the hell I’m doing.  It’s gorgeous, which I suppose goes without saying.  It’s also a big shallow and a little dumb, but you know what?  That’s kinda my speed, when it comes to online multiplayer.  Mindless action, where I can just turn my brain off and blow shit up with buddies?  I can dig it.


I also played maybe 10-20 minutes of Hard West, which is best described as XCOM in the Old West, and that game is pretty neat!  It’s not optimized for the Steam Controller, though, and I’m either gonna need to find my 360 controller or just use a mouse and keyboard like a regular person.

The wife and I had a movie date yesterday afternoon and caught Spectre, which was better than I’d been led to believe.  Sure, it dabbles a lot deeper into the grosser parts of the classic, misogynistic Bond mystique than any of the previous Daniel Craig films – like basically raping Monica Bellucci literally hours after her husband’s funeral for no particular reason – and Cristoph Waltz isn’t particularly sinister or eeeeee-vil, but overall?  Not a bad way for Craig to make his exit, if this is indeed his last Bond film.  I might be more forgiving than most critics if only because this was the first time that the wife and I got to go to the movies in several months, and it was easy enough to turn off the critical-thinking parts of our brains.




Wrapping up the Knight, and Looking Ahead to the Fall

1.  I’ve been toying with the idea of reviving my personal WP blog, which I’d impulsively shut down a few years ago for reasons I can’t quite recall anymore.  But I did want to revive two specific lists – my top 50 albums of the 80s and 90s.  I liked writing those lists, and they still feel more or less accurate, and I figured they ought to resurface.  (Speaking of which – please let me know if, for some reason, those links don’t work for you; I’m not 100% sure I’ve figured out how to mass-edit privacy settings.)

2.  Unlike games, which I have no problem giving up on if I’m not enjoying them, I am debating giving up on Joshua Cohen’s “The Book of Numbers“.  It’s a difficult book, but usually that’s not that big a problem; it’s more that I started reading it right before work got crazy, and I put it down, and when I pick it up now I’m totally clueless as to what is going on and, to the extent I remember any of the characters, why I should care about them.  I’d like to get back to it at some point – he’s extraordinarily gifted with words and phrases – but I think I need to read something a little bit less obtuse.

3.  I finished the main Scarecrow-centric Batman Arkham Knight storyline the other night, and yet I’d only completed 64% of the game.  I took a much-needed sick day yesterday and ended up finishing almost everything else – there’s only one or two more militia-themed sidequests to finish, as well as some kidnapped firemen to track down – which brings me up to around 91% completion.  That said, I’ve only found 25% of the Riddler’s question marks, and if I have to find all of them in order to fully activate the Nightfall protocol, I’ll just watch it on YouTube.  Can’t be bothered with that bullshit.

Overall – I think it’s fair to say I liked it, though I did find it tedious and repetitive at times, and almost all the militia-themed quests are straight-up filler and get super-ridiculous towards the end.  (The bomb quests in particular, where you eventually have to fend off 50+ drones, are just flat-out stupid.)

It’s hard to discuss the story without spoiling everything, but I did find it both effective and affecting; if this is indeed Rocksteady’s last Batman game, they went about as all-out as they possibly could, and I commend them for that.  I don’t know that I’ll find myself itching to play it again, though, the way I did with Asylum.

4.  Speaking of what to play next…. I’m looking at the release calendar and it looks pretty goddamned depressing.  Next week is the new EA golf game (which I can’t not call Tiger Woods, just out of habit)… and then:

  • Mad Max (I want to hope this isn’t terrible – there was an interesting-looking preview video a little while ago that suggested it was a bit more ambitious than you’d think – and the fact that it’s telling its own story and isn’t necessarily a naked licensed cash grab seems promising – but I haven’t seen any coverage about it since that video in April, and its September release date isn’t that far away)
  • Metal Gear Solid V (I’m renting this and I fully expect to send it right back.)
  • Forza Motorsport 6 (I missed Forza 5; I’m curious as to whether or not I’m going to like this, given how much I prefer the Forza Horizon games.*)
  • Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 (wouldn’t it be great if this game didn’t suck?  I miss the old THPS games like crazy.  I have little faith that this won’t be a piece of shit, but little > none, so…)
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (I’ll play this for at least a little while, I suppose.  It’s gotta be better than Unity, right?  I just need to figure out its nickname; AssSyn?)
  • Halo 5: Gaurdians (I’m at least renting this because I own an Xbox One and I feel obligated to, but I haven’t enjoyed a Halo game since maybe Halo 2.)
  • Fallout 4 (I cancelled my PipBoy preorder, mostly because I couldn’t figure out which system to get it for – has anyone confirmed whether the PS4 is getting mod support the way that the XB1 is?)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (This and FO4 are the only two games I could see knocking Witcher 3 out of the top spot in my GOTY ranking.  For some reason – perhaps simply my desire to play a good, fun action/platformer – I think I’m going to like this one more than Fallout 4.)
  • Star Wars Battlefront (I’m not really a multiplayer shooter kind of dude, but I loved the original games, and I’d like to think this would be fun enough for a little while)
  • Just Cause 3 (sure, why not)

And then there’s a bunch of remastered editions which I may/may not check out purely out of graphics-whore-ishness, like Uncharted, Gears of War and God of War.

* I forgot to mention that I tried the PS+ edition of Driveclub the other day; I did about a lap and a half of the first race and couldn’t figure out whether it was meant to be arcade-y or a sim, and while it’s pretty it didn’t grab me, and I promptly uninstalled it to make room for future HD installs.  Much ado about nothing, I guess.

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