Monday, August 6, 2012

RETRO: Fallout 3 War Journal #21

Right. So, last time, we had just gotten out of the sewers and into the Citadel of the Brotherhood of Steel - i.e. what's left of the US Army a.k.a. a bunch of grunts in mecha suits.

Thankfully, I do get to meet the leader- Commander Lyons right away. Well, it turns out he was friends with my dad and hey - the whole reason he cast out the Outcast Brotherhood members is because he thought it was more important for The Brotherhood to be protecting the weak and innocent people of Washington D.C. rather than following the Prime Directive - grab the fancy technology we don't have and run. I also get to meet his daughter Sarah (yowza!), who is head of the elite corps of the local chapter's warriors, aka Lyon's Pride.

I also get special permission to be trained in the use of their special strength-enhancing, power armor and permission to trade with the quartermaster. And just when I think it can't get any better...

Woman in Power Armor: Hail!
Uh... yeah.
Woman in Power Armor: I am Star Paladin Cross. I had the honor of guarding your father during his travels in the Wasteland.
Me: Is that a fact?
Woman In Power Armor: I would be honored to guard you as well in the hard times to come.
Me: Ah... well, that's swell. Really... but I wouldn't want you to get in trouble with Commander Lyons.
Woman In Power Armor: He has given me leave to aid you as best I can.
Me: Did he? Well, I kinda move quickly, quietly and travel light...
Woman In Power Armor: I promise to be the soul of discretion.
Me: Discreet as a 6-foot tall robot with the head of Grace Jones can be, eh? Oh, what the heck... you're the first person who actually has wanted to join me.

Eventually, I find the head scribe who can give me access to the Vault-Tec computer archives so I can find out what local Vaults MIGHT have gotten this GECK Instant Eden kit. After reading a bunch of records, I discovered where it was (Vault 78) but still had no idea where it was. The Scribe, who is kind of a dick, shows me where it is on a map but tells me that it's in the middle of a radioactive waste that would vaporize me as soon as I got near it. Of course there IS a way there... through the tunnels of Lamplight Caverns.

Yes. I have to go back to Tiny Town. Little Lamplight. City of Children.

I stop off at Megaton on the way back. Figure I can get myself and Grace a good night's sleep before I have to deal with the rugrats. And that's when my radio picks up a distress signal from Vault 101. Seems Amata - my childhood sweetheart - is calling for help. Daddy Dearest, the Overseer, has gone mad with power and the rebellion she is leading is in dire straits.

*sighs* A hero's work is never done.

Luckily she changed the password to the Vault door, so I'm able to get in. And even luckier, the guard watching the door is kindly Officer Garza who "forgets" to inform the Overseer that I've returned... these things slip your mind when you get to his age. :)

Well, I manage to walk through The Vault without incident. And guess who I run into in the hallway?

Butch: Well, well. Look who came back.
Me: Oh hell... the roaches didn't get you?
Butch: You've got to get me out of here! I'm sick of this place. I wanna go out and make my own gang... take over the wasteland!
Me: Yes, I'm sure the gangs of cannibals will be terrified of you what with your mad cowering-in-terror from giant bugs skills.
Butch: Screw you, man! I'm not staying here! What kind of life do I have here? They want me to be a barber!
Me: Actually, I seem to remember your test pegged you as a hairdresser.
Butch: Screw you! I'm a barber!
Me: Okay. Can I get a haircut?
Butch: ...Sure.

(Yes, the game actually let me enter the "change your appearance" interface at this point)

Eventually I find Amata and - big surprise - she wants me to deal with her dad but try not to kill him, even though he just tried to kill one of her friends and has them pinned down by armed guards. Still, I promise to try. Luckily my speechifying skills are up to the task.

Overseer: So, you returned. Well, I hope you realize you can't sneak in here like a teen violating curfew.
Me: Relax. I just came to settle a few things with you.
Overseer: Oh really? So you believe our mission must be compromised?
Me: What mission?
Overseer: The true purpose of our vault! All of the vaults had a secret project. We were meant to be a control group. To be uncontaminated by outside influence. To be purely human!
Me: Yeah, but you've only got like... what, 10 people in here under the age of 50 at at this point? You've got maybe two generations left, if that, before inbreeding kicks in.
Overseer: My God, you're right! We'll have a bunch of two-headed babies without letting the radioactive freaks in here. Clearly I must step down in favor of my daughter immediately.

Me: Hey! Your dad just put you in charge!
Amata: Me? Well, I suppose it's for the best.
Me: So... buy you a milkshake?
Amata: Well, actually... I have to ask you to leave and never come back.
Me: What?!
Amata: Well, a lot of people still blame you for the roach invasion and the people dying when you left the vault in the first place.
Me: But... can't you explain to them? You ARE the leader.
Amata: No, no... it's better this way.
Me: So that's it? I save your life and now I'm shunned. Is that the shape of it?
Amata: Yeah, pretty much. But maybe we'll run into you someday outside of the vault.
Me: Don't bet on it.

*sighs* Well, that was half-an-hour wasted. So where were we? Oh yes. Little Lamplight.

Mayor McBratty hasn't changed his tune much about me but he's willing enough to open up the gates to the Vault for me, though he warns me that none of the kids go there anymore because of the big green guys. More Super Mutants? Easy Peasy.

Eventually I find the Vault, more Super Mutants, a secret lab IN the vault filled with even more hideous freaks and... this.

Fawkes: Hello! Is there somebody there? I wish to talk.
Me: Holy crap! A smart Super Mutant!
Fawkes: Yes. The other mutants imprisoned me for being a mutant freak because of my intelligence.
Me: Ha! How ironic.
Fawkes: Yes. How nice to meet someone who can appreciate irony.

Fawkes makes me a deal - spring her and then clear a path through the rest of the monsters for her and she will get the GECK for me from the high radiation area that will kill me instantly if I set one foot in it. Well, I uphold my end of the bargain... she upholds her end and I'm ready to go back to The Citadel and save the world... until a bunch of Enclave punks jump me and take me in for questioning.

Well, the questioning doesn't last long. The President of the USA - John Henry Eden - tells his head grunt and "guy who killed my father" Colonel Autumn to stand down because he wants to talk to me in person. Of course, no sooner do I get to the door to Level 2, Colonel Autumn gets onto the PA and starts telling everyone to belay The President's last order and everyone starts pulling guns and looking for me.

Lucky for me I'm so stealthy and the Enclave base is so filled with curves and alcoves that I'm able to get to the President's office without having to fire a shot.

Computer: So... at last, we meet face-to-face.
Me: Except, being in a computer, you don't have a face per say.
Computer: Indeed. You are... unsurprised at my status?
Me: Mmmmm... let's just say I'm not shocked. I was expecting a severed head in a jar but hey - super-intelligent A.I. with the voice of Malcolm McDowell works too.
Computer: Indeed, well, I have a proposition for you regarding this Project of yours. I have an additive that should work with your GECK system. It will not interfere with the cleaning of the water but it will make the water deadly to... unpure humans.
Me: You mean Super Mutants and Ghouls, right?
Computer: Ahhhhhh.... probably yes. Do this and my final goal for America will be complete
Me: Really? Well, in that case... there's no reason for you to stick around, is there?
Computer: You know... you have a point. I will blow up the base after you leave. Now go. Colonel Autumn will not be happy. In fact, he is sending what men he hasn't already sent to Project Purity to kill you. I will redirect the automated systems to aid you. But even then, surely, it will be the ultimate test of your fighting skills.
Me: Or I can just use one of these Stealth Boys and just sneak past all the guards.
Computer: ... there is that, yes.

So, yes. Base goes boom. I sneak out rather than fight all the guards with a lot better armor than I have. And on the outside, I run into an old friend.

Fawkes (mowing down Enclave soldiers with a Gatling laser): My friend! You escaped!
Me: Yeah! Not that I'm not happy to see you, but how...
Fawkes: I followed after the soldiers who took you.
Me: And where did you get the -
Fawkes: I took it from one of the soldiers. It is a most fascinating weapon.
Me: It is at that.
Fawkes: Anyway, I owe you much and have nowhere else to go. May I join you in your journeys?
Me: Since my other life-long bosom buddy and eternal friend seems to have buggered off, sure!

I never do see Star Paladin Cross again.

We high-tail it back to The Citadel, just in time for me to be informed by Sarah of the blonde-hair, sexy voice and big-armor that I have been officially inducted into The Lyon's Pride in honor of everything I've done. Which makes my conversation with the old man all the funnier.

The short version is that we don't have the GECK anymore, The Enclave does but they can't do a lot without the code to my dad's equipment and that it's all a moot point as The Enclave have taken over the Jefferson Memorial and put big force-field fences up on all the roads to the memorial.

Thankfully, we do have one ace in the hole - a giant Chinese-bashing robot that the Powers That Be Just Got working, which is capable of destroying the force-fields as we take the battle to the streets of DC. And let me tell you that THIS is an awesome moment. You finally have your own power armor (I chose the stealth suit, naturally), a giant robot is stomping down Enclave soldiers in front of you and an army of similarly armed soldiers, a hot blonde babe and your super-smart, super-mutant buddy is at your back to help you pick off the remnants. There's no way to make this any more awesome.

Well, perhaps one way.

*runs to get his Black Sabbath CD*

*sets "Iron Man" on endless replay as the robot trashes the Enclave*

Eventually, we make it to the memorial. Of course, things never go smooth and some jackass has to try and get the last word in.

Colonel Autumn: Well, well, well. You're in a heap of trouble, son.
Me: I don't think so. I'm not the one with no helmet taunting a man with a drawn plasma rifle.
Colonel Autumn: Oh spit!
Me: *pulling trigger, focused head shot vaporizing the Colonel where he stands*

Sadly, it is only going to get worse.

Dr. Li: Can you hear me?
Sarah: We're both here Dr. Li! What's going on?
Dr. Li: For some reason - possibly to do with a forced ending - there's a problem with the system. If we don't start it now, it won't work and it will have to be turned on now from the radiation-soaked command room.
Me: You mean where my dad died?
Dr. Li: Exactly. One of you must enter the room and sacrifice your life in order to activate the machinery.
Me: Why? Fawkes here is immune to radiation. She can just go in...
Fawkes: I'm sorry, my friend. But this is obviously your moment of destiny. I cannot deny you your chance to prove yourself.
Me: Well, I have like 40 tubes of Rad-Away here. Surely I can just run in, type in the code and run back before my skin melts off.
Dr. Li: No, no... it is far too dangerous to try that. One of you must die.
Sarah: We could draw straws...
Me: No, you heard the lady. Clearly the game is expecting me to do the noble thing.
Sarah: Which you've been doing the whole time anyway.
Me: Yeah, but I haven't been that happy about it most of the time...

And so it was that the Lone Wanderer ventured forth from Vault 101 intent on discovering the fate of a father who has once sacrificed the future of humanity for that of his own child.

The Capital Wasteland proved a cruel inhospitable place, but the Lone Wanderer refused to surrender to the vices that had claimed so many others. The values passed on from father to child – selflessness, compassion, honor – guided this noble soul through countless trials and triumphs.

But it was not until the end of this long road that the Lone Wanderer learned the true meaning of that greatest of virtues – sacrifice. Stepping into the irradiated control chamber of Project Purity, the child followed the example of the father sacrificing life itself for the greater good of mankind.

Thankfully, when selected by the sinister president to be his instrument of annihilation, the Wanderer refused. Humanity with all its flaws was deemed worthy of preservation. The waters of life flowed at last – free and pure, for any and all. The Capital Wasteland at long last was saved.

So ends the story of the Lone Wanderer, who stepped through the great door of Vault 101 and into the annals of legend. But the tale of humanity will never come to a close, for the struggle of survival is a war without end, and war – war never changes.

So yeah... now I see why so many people were upset by the ending. Everything you do and it all gets reduced to a few quick slides with no specific narration regarding your great (or not) deeds... unlike the first two Fallout Games. And ultimately, what you are remembered for comes down to the last two minutes of the game, your race and gender and whether or not you were mostly good, evil or neutral.

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