Holiday Video Game Buying Guide Part Two: The Apocalypse
Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like wandering through the deteriorated wasteland that used to be a familiar setting. Decaying and destroyed memories of the past in a post-apocalyptic future. It’s a cozying thought, really…well, if done in a video game and not actually having to live through it yourself, that is. And the games we feature this time around are as good as they get for post-apocalyptic wasteland survival. They may not be very ‘festive” but they sure are fun, and actually are front runner sfor some of the best games of the year (in my opinion, anyway).
Want to see what you should have asked for in your stocking? Hit the jump to read on about these “after the end of the world” scenarios.
First up is the sequel to my favorite game of 2008, “Fallout: New Vegas”. Bethesda Softworks’ helming of the series took it in a new direction, control-wise, and had you controlling your character in the vast open world of the ruined Washington DC (aka ‘The Capital Wasteland”) after emerging from a underground vault where you’ve spent most of your life, away from the outside world after the nuclear war. Here, however, developer Obsidian takes you on a different path. As a courier, your story begins with your near-death, as you get hijacked while attempting to deliver a package. After your rescue, you set out on the Nevada pathways, seeking those who wronged you, as well as maybe some fame and fortune.
One thing fans of the previous game will notice is that, while the game controls EXACTLY like the former RPG, there’s actually a lot more people around. There are large factions in each area, and disguising yourself as them early on will help you form getting shot at every turn. From gangs like the Powder Gangers, to factions of the New California Republic, there are many stories to follow.
The sense of “karma” that influenced your decisions is stronger here, and decisions you make for one faction influences heavily how the others perceive you, gaining you notoriety amongst the groups. With this comes a wide variety of side missions to get lost in. I started playing and after 16 hours, had only touched TWO missions from the main story. I was lost in the world, and I loved it.
There’s so much to do and see in the world. And while the Gamebryo engine it’s built on isn’t perfect (there’ve been two patches released since the game came out in October) it still functions well at delivering a compelling story full of humor and intrigue. Companions also help out, and control of your partner characters is made easier through a guide wheel, lessening the chance that they’ll just run off and get killed, leaving you alone through the wastes.
It’s hard to describe a game this deep without just wanting you to play and experience it for yourself. So, that’s what I’m going to do. From the control of the V.A.T.S. targeting system to the companions, to the feuding factions, to the ENORMOUS set pieces, this game has it all. To do everything in the game, side missions as well as story, would take you close to 100 hours to complete. It’s huge and a wonderful spectacle to be involved in. And if that’s not enough, on Dec. 21st they release new downloadable content. “Dead Money”, the first expansion for teh game, is exclusive to the Xbox 360 version and adds even more mysterious circumstances to the story.
If you’re looking for a rich, full experience for your gaming console this holiday, you need look no further thn here. Absolutely recomended.
Rating: BUY IT!
For a different take on the future, though, “Enslaved: Odyssey To The West” is also worth checking out. Here, rather than a roleplaying game, this is more of an action platformer. As Monkey, you’ve been captured by a slave ship in a world where mechs have taken over society and enslaved humanity. As you make your escape (in one of the coolest opening sequences ever in a video game) you come across someone else making their way out of the slave ship clutches…and getting in your way at the same time. Trip crashes the ship, and as you come to, you find that she’s placed one of the slave headbands on you, allowing her to control you.
Now, she’s not a vindictive sort, she just sees your brutish ways and figures she can use you to get her home. Thus, an uneasy alliance is formed, with Monkey, the acrobatic toughie watching out for the smart but small Trip. The game as a whole is essentially on giant escort mission, but thankfully the control keeps it from ever approaching annoying territory.
For once, the partner AI isn’t like a walking box of bricks. Trip is actually very capable at following you, and can even hold her own in a fight. She has an EMP pulse that dispatches foes until you can get to her for the full rescue (if necessary) and the command wheel helps as well, telling her when to stay behind, or pop up a distraction for you to sneak by enemies.
Monkey is a beast of a character, and with his power staff, takes out foes with grace and style. It also has a plasma attack, and can be upgraded along with his shields and combos. What sets him apart though is his grappling style. He really is a monkey as he jumps and climbs about the environments, scaling old buildings in their quest to get Trip back to her colony.
Speaking of the environments, for a post-apocalyptic game, this one is surprisingly vibrant. While most titles would go the “dark and grey/brown/black” route, the dilapidated buildings in “Enslaved” are actually overgrown with greenery and foliage. The bright color is a stark contrast against what is essentially the fall of mankind, and the Earth returning to it’s natural glory, deep within the former metal confines of a American city.
While this story isn’t as long as our previous title in this column, it too has an expansion as a download. “Pigsy’s Perfect 10”, featuring one of the most entertaining characters in gaming, expands the story a bit for that character, and even upgrades the game to being 3D capable…if you’re into that kind of thing.
Gorgeous graphics, fantastic control, expert character AI and a plot loosely based on the “Journey To The West” story and you have one of the best Apocalyptic titles of the year. Not to be missed.
Rating: Buy It!
Whew! Two parts down…more to come.