Tuesday, July 17, 2012

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #1

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: By request, I've been asked to reprint my first two gamer War Journals here. These were originally written on my personal Live Journal, back in the days when I still kept one. There won't be a lot of graphics, at first, and I was far and away from adapting my usual comedic writing style to this sort of thing. This will start out more like a Let's Play in text. Still, I think there's enough funny bits to make it worth it. I hope you all enjoy it.)

I start out with the tutorial, which no only walks you through the basic controls but also lets you set your stats and determine your basic skills and abilities as you...

a) are born, named by your parents and given a computer conjecture as to what you'll look like as an adult just before your mother dies
b) set your base stats as you learn how to walk, jump and manipulate objects in order to escape from your playpen.
c) practice your socializing and fighting skills at your 10th birthday party, where your dad gets you a BB gun and sets up a secret shooting range near the reactor core
d) deal with the class bully and save your life-long crush from his gang as you take the test that determines your future career.

In my case, I...

a) named myself Matt and made a character much like myself. Brown hair - long as possible - with a goatee and brown eyes.
b) went with high intelligence and charisma. I gotta be me.
c) chose to annoy the bully who tried to push me into giving him a sweet roll one of the old ladies made for me after my birthday cake was destroyed by a robot.
d) dealt with the class bully by punching him until he begged for mercy and then walked into class with his blood on my hands like it was nothing.

I answered the multiple-choice "what job are you best suited for?" test as honestly as I could. It determined that my three "skill focuses" were Speech, Stealth and Medicine. This somehow made me ideal material for Civil Management, i.e. Politics I

protested about this for teacher, who whispered quietly that the whole standardized test was a joke and that he could arrange for me to get whatever I wanted. I opted to switch Medicine for Lockpicking. Odds are with my fighting ability, I'll be dead before I can patch myself up if I do get into something I can't talk my way out of.

One more flash-forward later and I'm being woken up by my love interest. It seems that my dad (the doctor) has fled the safety of the Vault, his assistant has been killed and now her dad (the head politician) is out for my head. Throw in that a radioactive roach swarm has somehow gotten inside the building and it's bad all around. She tells me that there is a secret passage to the vault exit somewhere inside her dad's office and that she will meet me there. She then gives me a gun and leaves me be.

After much sneaking around, shooting the guard waiting outside my bedroom door (so much for stealth) and taking his body armor, I run into my childhood bully having a panic attack. Seems he's scared of roaches and his poor mother is cornered. I really don't have time for this so I use my Speechifying talents to pep-talk the little wuss into going and fighting his own battle. Amazing (and sadly) he is not killed instantly but saves his mom, apologizes for everything and offers me his leather jacket. I also get a Good Karma point. Yay me.

I wind up saving one of the security guards from the roaches. Turns out this one is one of my dad's friends and is sympathetic to my situation. He warns me that none of the rest of the guards will give me a chance to explain and that I'd best get moving.

Up on level and I run into two panic-stricken citizens who decide to charge the exit themselves. The guards gun them down and me - not sure where I'm going - start shooting it out with the guards. I take a few hits but soon have four bodies to loot and a lot more ammo with which to deal with the roaches on the way up the one staircase I can find.

It is at this point I discover that I am so stealthy, giant roaches can skitter right past me without noticing my presence. Decide to blast them all anyway. You don't get XP for sneaking past giant bugs.

Hearing voices up ahead, I go into full stealth mode. Bad news - it's the Overseer and head Security Officer, questioning my crush in a most ungentle manner. Good news - I'm able to slide the door open without them noticing and get my gun pulled before they see me. Great news - I am able to one-shot the Overseer with a called-shot critical to the head!

Bad news - The Security Head requires five shots to the head, even after shot three produces a crippling head injury. That still doesn't stop him from swinging his nightstick and trying to kill me- now I see why this guy is head of security! Sadly, once he's down, my crush refuses to talk to me since... you know... even though I just killed her abusive and obviously now quite insane father ... he's still her dad. I opt for a reload to try more non-violent means this time.

Well, not TOO non-violent. This time I try to save the poor shlubs trying to run past the guards guarding the vault exit. I am successful - but they don't show any gratitude at all. Hell, one of them winds up grabbing a gun and nearly wings me a few times trying to shoot out the door. Idiots. Should have let them die.

For all the good it did me, I probably should have let the Overseer die too. I eventually wind up pick-pocketing his keys and security password off of him as he cowers in the corner after his daughter runs from the room and the security chief is dead - this after I try and talk some reason into him and am given no options but a promise that my crush won't be hurt anymore after today and an offer of mercy if I surrender now. I say no way to the second and then opt for the pick-pocket.

Eventually, I do get to the office and the secret passage, after a brief-stop off where I find a recorded message my dad left for me, begging me not to follow him. My crush shows up and thanks me for sparing her father. I invite her to come with me but she says she may be the only one who can talk reason into her dad. Two guards rush out, are deaded (never bring a baton to a gun fight) and with nary a look back I stepped into the outside world, tripping over the burned skeletons and strangely intact signs of the many protesters who were apparently picketing outside The Vault when the bombs came down.

A bright, blinding flash as I make my way into the outside world for the first time. My wrist-mounted Pip-Boy PDA alerts me that it can start picking up radio signals. I opt for the first station I can find and am treated to a radio address by the President of the United States talking about the need to rebuild. For some weird reason, the President of the USA sounds British. In fact, it's Malcolm McDowell. 10 to 1 The President turns out to be a bad guy in this...

His voice keeps me company as I head east and stumble across the remnants of a small suburb. Garbage everywhere. Bombed out wreckage and burned out cars. I finally see one house that seems to be in good repair and go inside.

I am greeted - rudely - by an attractive woman of older years who asks if I was sent by the local mob boss. Seems she used to work for him "doing favors" for people at the casino in the big city but that she wanted out, took what was owed to her and that she just barely escaped when the boss decided he didn't want her leaving. Not sure what I'm getting into, I offer to go tell the boss that she's dead... for a small payment. I'm heading toward that big city anyway (best guess is that is where my dad is heading) so I guess it won't hurt.

I wind up heading north, exploring this small ghost town and wind up finding the local school. I go inside and quickly find out two things - first, that the school is the base camp for the local gang of raiders. Second, they are either cannibals or avaunt guarde artists as their foyer is decorated with the remnants of various bloody, chained-up corpses.

I wind up confirming that it IS in fact the first option as - when a fire-fight breaks out between me and three of the raiders, two of them shout out the following exchange.

"I get his heart!"

"I get his ass!"

Charming. But I managed to survive the fire-fight so nobody is eating anybody tonight!I loot the school of what gear I can find, restock my ammo, repair my gun using the parts I scrounge from their guns and even find a journal the leader kept. Seems they were planning to break into the vault using a tunnel under the school, but the giant ants kept them from progressing too far. Also, they didn't have enough explosives. I file this away for future reference. Never know... I might need to go back home someday in the most violent way possible.

I wander around a bit more north of the school and have my first random encounter with a giant mutant mole-rat. I wind up killing a few more of these and make Level 3. And then as I crest the hill over what looks like a collapsed highway bridge, I see what looks like flashes of laser fire. Eventually, I find another small hamlet… all of which looks relatively empty and harmless until I suddenly find myself face-to-face with a big green monster. No, it isn’t The Hulk… it’s a Super Mutant. And my little pistol doesn’t do a whole lot of good, even aiming for the head. I give it a try though and with the judicious application of some healing potions… er, Stimpacks…. I survive. And that’s when I hear the shouts from up the hill and nearly get killed in a hail of gunfire coming from what appears to be some sort of bunker.

Ducking for cover, I circle around. Eventually I find my assailant – another super mutant carrying what appears to be a giant gatling gun. I press my advantage and try to take advantage of my stealth and mobility verses his strength and superior weaponry.

It is in the midst of my running battle around the sides of the building (he refuses to leave the shelter until I get two critical hits to the head and disappear… at which point he comes looking for me) that I discover two things. The first is that large trees can block gattlin-gun fire at close range. The second is that rabid mutant dogs don’t like super mutants and I soon have another monster fighting the super mutant, distracting it from me and my pistol.. Eventually the beastie is dead and I rest up, out of healing and nearly out of ammo. It is at this point I decide maybe I should stop exploring, get to a city and sell some of the extra armor and guns I am carrying around.

Checking the map, I realize that my goal is to the south. I use the speed-travel option to get me there a little bit closer and start walking to the big metal walls to the south. Along the way, I get attacked by a mutant wolf, a mutant mole rat and then get jumped by two mole rats at once. And it is here that I died my first death… not the most heroic thing after taking down a super mutant with a pistol… but it could have been worse. I could have been eaten by the raiders.

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