Fallout 3: The Pitt’s story and Bethesda’s take on the continuity

Dropping $10 to head into the Pitt gives you the experience of a lengthy Fallout 3 questline, with the emphasis clearly on story and exploration. The story concerns a matter that could change the whole Wasteland, which prompted the following thought: As the new directors of it all, how exactly does Bethesda intend on handling the future of Fallout lore?

The Fallout continuity suffered through a period of stagnancy until Bethesda came to its rescue, with Fallout 3 officially continuing the Fallout universe. And it also seems, despite Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series’s lack of emphasis on plot, Bethesda doesn’t seem afraid to make waves in the universe they inherited. At least, it seems that way considering aspects of Fallout 3’s main story and the Pitt’s story, both of which address two different matters with the potential to make life in the Wasteland a whole lot better.

Fallout 3’s main questline in itself was a departure from what Bethesda had gotten used to. In addition to the expansive, explorable world that was largely the selling point, Fallout 3 could arguably be Bethesda’s first dip in a long, deep plot primarily featured in the game. And by extension, it might be their first attempt at putting their setting at the whim of a powerful storyline that stretches across games. War never changes, but the status of the world in the Fallout series may very well change, and it could be due to the actions the player takes in the games.

I imagine we may be seeing the signs of this as soon as Broken Steel’s release, if not sooner. I know I’m expecting Bethesda to handle the Fallout universe much different from the way they handle the Elder Scrolls universe, and also different from how the Fallout universe was formerly handled.

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Fallout 3: The Pitt wrap-up

The second package of Fallout 3 downloadable content strips you down to your drawers and dumps you into a post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh for a lengthy questline. And what’s going down in the Pitt? Business, that’s what. The inhabitants seem to have a rather unique mutation, and a guy is trying to build a new nation on the only working Steel Mill in the world. Oh, and apparently they’ve found a potential cure for radiation, which is what they use to rope in a certain wastlander from the D.C. ruins to a wild plot to free the slave laborers working the plant.While the size is undoubtably nothing compared to the Capital Wasteland we’ve come to know and spend a ridiculous amount of hours in, the Pitt sufficiently big, with a pretty big open area for you to explore the way you’ve gotten used to. The practical goal of exploring is gathering steel ingots, which can be handed in for items, mostly cool weapons and armor. But as usual, the Pitt’s wastes are filled with interesting little relics of the past waiting to be discovered.

Aesthetically, despite both the Capital Wasteland and the Pitt falling under the category of “irradiated nuclear wasteland”, there’s major differences between the two. The putrid yellow that seems to be there wherever you look helps to set it apart, along with the dense ruins of an old industrialized city, something not truly seen at all in the Capital Wasteland. Even the indoor areas were different enough that the re-used visuals from vanilla Fallout 3 were sparse enough that they stood out.

Of course, the Pitt also brought some new equipment into my arsenal. Obviously, the sweet-looking Auto-Axe, which basically functions as an upgraded ripper that looks a hell of a lot cooler. I haven’t yet gathered enough ingots to get the Tribal Power Armor, but looking at the stats it may be the first suit of power armor to make me put away my Ranger Battle Armor. It gives an AP gain to offset the agility hit. Cool in my book. Oh, and a favorite new item of mine is the Infiltrator. Assault rifle + scope + silencer. Awesome.

The story pits two morally ambiguous characters against each other in a conflict over a major cure for radiation. And your character, being pulled in rather weird fashion, has to start off his quest with nothing but a pair of shorts. I didn’t mind being brought back to basics after 80-odd hours exploring the wasteland, and as far as I was concerned it made it all the more dramatic when I got my gear back. Whether Bethesda planned for it or not, it was definitely one of those “I’M READY TO ROCK!” moments.

I haven’t yet played Operation Anchorage, but it seems the Pitt fits the description of “more Fallout 3″ a little closer, with a weaker emphasis on action and a stronger one on exploration and plot. And according to internet consensus seems to be that the Pitt offers more bang for your buck. All in all, I enjoyed playing through it.

Oh, and by the way, I'm just one of a few active contributors to 4thPerson.com, where you can find more blog posts like this in addition to other content. And a podcast on the way. Check it out

Music Review: Dälek - Gutter Tactics

Dälek - Gutter Tactics
Genre: Alternative Hip-hop
Rating: 4/5

If you’ve never listened to Dälek, it’s a sound that’s hard to put into words. As  puzzling as the equation “Public Enemy + My Bloody Valentine = Dälek” is, there’s really no better way to describe it. Shoegaze-esque layers of heavy heavy, distorted sounds provide a dark, atmospheric stage for MC Dälek’s aggressive, socially-conscious lyrics which subtly sneak into the mix. They stand out not for their volume, which is extremely low compared to the rest of the genre, but for the driving force of MC Dälek’s delivery.

Gutter Tactics as an album is fairly straightforward, thriving on the dense, heavy sound all the way through. The hefty industrial sounds that come blaring from your speakers (or headphones) remain different enough from each other to keep things sonically interesting throughout, while different enough from their source material that it’s nearly indecipherable. The lyrics remain serious through every line, with nearly every word advancing what MC Dälek feels is a pressing issue.

While no song veers off toward a more mainstream sound or a more bare-bones structure to show off MC Dälek’s chops, there’s enough variety on the album to keep it from going stale. Tracks like No Question and Gutter Tactics are hard and forceful, while Who Medgar Evers Was… and 2012 (The Pillage) exude a more slow, churning heaviness that naturally grows more powerful as it moves on.

For people into noisy, artsy music, or hip hop fans looking for something that does things differently, Dälek’s Gutter Tactics is a solid offering.

Oh, and by the way, I'm just one of a few active contributors to 4thPerson.com, where you can find more blog posts like this in addition to other content. And a podcast on the way. Check it out


Pearl Jam - Ten rerelease: The Big Day

Pearl Jam’s debut, Ten, was about as big as it gets. And rightfully so, as it blended the early 90’s grunge sound with stadium rock about as well as it could be done, with solid drum beats, poignant basslines, Eddie Vedder’s wild screams, and a pretty frequent instances of guitar solos. One of my favorite rock albums ever, Ten delivers killer track after killer track from start to finish, keeping a cohesive personality all the way. Pearl Jam’s introduction deservedly garnered a ton of attention, and introduced Eddie Vedder as a rebellious, politically-minded social figure with a serious oedipus complex. And he really reminds me of that weird guy on the subway that you just kinda ignore. You know, the one who you know doesn’t have a gun because he hasn’t shot anyone yet.

And now it’s being remastered, and re-released in a number of formats with B-sides, different cool collectables, and other stuff. But my favorite format it was released on today is Rock Band DLC. The original track list, including hidden track Master/Slave, came out on the Xbox Live marketplace today for either $2/track or the whole thing for $18. A bunch of fun tracks for any instrument, they’re sure to become mainstays in mine and many other setlists.

Apparently, Pearl Jam is going to be re-releasing the rest of their albums, too. But Ten is by far my favorite of theirs.

Oh, and by the way, I'm just one of a few active contributors to 4thPerson.com, where you can find more blog posts like this in addition to other content. And a podcast on the way. Check it out


Sony feeling publisher pressure on PS3's price point

The publishers seem to not be happy with game sales on the PS3, which is bad news for Sony. They’re threatening to pull some of their funding on PS3 games and dump it into Wii projects as a means of not being hit too hard by the economic climate. Sony already spends more money manufacturing a PS3 than they make in selling it, and seeing as how the PS3’s source of profit comes from publishing fees, the money a publisher must pay for the right to release a game for the PS3, this is serious business.

Hopefully it comes as a good enough wakeup call for Sony. The PS3’s only current SKU is  priced a bit high for a two-year-old console at $400, and is even moreso when compared to the Xbox 360, which shares a very similar game library with more exclusives and a similar online service. Not to mention, the only available PS3 SKU lacks any backwards-compatibility, which was available in previous  SKUs.

I’d expect a PS3 price cut in the near future. Or, if Sony decides it’s a better idea, they may go exclusive shopping. No matter what happens, though, I’m expecting a general, overall noticeable shift in publishers’ development dollars from the PS3 to the Wii. It’s only a matter of how big this shift is.

Oh, and by the way, I'm just one of a few active contributors to 4thPerson.com, where you can find more blog posts like this in addition to other content. And a podcast on the way. Check it out


Lost and Damned Wrap-Up: Where this DLC style takes GTA

Needless to say, a DLC expansion such as the Lost and Damned is quite the change of pace. Last generation, the Grand Theft Auto series reached a new plateau of critical and commercial success with an adventurous and well-done 3D sandbox adventure, and had three iterations — each their own disc-based, full-price game, with their own city, and their own sandbox, with each new title bringing more toys into the mix. This generation, however, Grand Theft Auto IV took things back, stripped things back down to the basics, and shifted the focus from expanding the sandbox to creating a realistic and moving story. Not to mention they spent an obscene amount of time and money creating Liberty City. I know I wasn’t the only one who would’ve been disappointed if Liberty City would have been the home for vanilla-GTA4 alone.

And furthering the post-IV GTA franchise, rather than another $60 title in a new city, is $20 expansion 9 months after the release. The main event in the Lost and Damned is the new story, with a new main character, new missions, and a bunch of additions to the cast. It also adds new vehicles, weapons (including the Assault Shotgun, which is possibly the most fun ever), music and things to do around the city, as well as new multiplayer modes, all retaining the same Liberty City introduced in  GTA IV, which definitely had and continues to have more potential as a video game stage. Also, I’m not gonna lie. I like that I don’t have to buy three different $60 GTA games this generation. I think Rockstar really got GTA IV’s Liberty City right, and I know I’d personally be down to play endless episodes in it. Of course, I am a native New Yorker, so I can’t really speak for any collective on that particular extreme.

While I’ve fessed to being rather fond of  GTA IV’s representation of my hometown, I’ll also mention another particular aspect of Rockstar’s approach with the Lost and Damned that I’m personally fond of. They used the story of Niko Bellic, a powerful story with a beginning and an end that stands on its own to establish a continuity and a setting (effectively a universe), and are now expanding on what they’ve created through the eyes of other inhabitants. Johnny’s story and Niko’s story have different tones to them, and they definitely show Liberty City in two distinctly different ways.

If I do have one complaint, it’s the price point. I definitely feel like I’ve gotten my $20’s worth, but this is the kind of thing that I think, in a dream world, would be $15. But like I’ve said, I got my $20’s worth, and considering that it’s an experiment, the first of it’s kind, and it’s friggin GTA IV, the highest selling game of the generation, they can charge $5 higher than I would’ve wanted. After all, what’s $5 anyway?

All considered, I think GTA’s new direction works out for everyone. It’s cheaper for Rockstar while allowing them to play to their strengths, cheaper for the consumer, and it was awesome to have a brand new GTA story without having to leave my house. I’m pretty eagerly looking forward to the next episode, and I hope The Lost and Damned was a big enough success that this sort of release model is proven to be viable and is applied to other games.

Oh, and by the way, I'm just one of a few active contributors to 4thPerson.com, where you can find more blog posts like this in addition to other content. And a podcast on the way. Check it out.