Saturday, 13 June 2009

My favourite levels of all time, Part 4

Okay, another in the blog series is to follow. First off, just want to mention two games: Plants vs Zombies, and Cryostasis. The first is a tower defence game, a genre I swore to hate until the end of time (and, even worse, it's a Popcap game!). Anyway, it's good fun, the gameplay is mildly addictive and the whole production just oozes charm and character. Well worth the £6 on Steam, there's plenty to unlock so it should keep you busy for a good long while! There's a demo available too, so you've really got no excuse to check it out.

Secondly, Cryostasis is good fun. It feels reminiscent of Bioshock, but it has a strong 'adventure' element thrown in (along with the first person mêlée combat of Condemned). There are some good shocks in it, and the atmosphere is fantastic, but it's lacking polish and a bit of visual pizzazz. I haven't got too far into it yet (I've not even picked up a gun yet!) but I'm enjoying what I've played of it so far.

Anyway, on with the show!

Museum of Technology - Fallout 3

This may be slightly shorter today, I probably don't have as much to say about this one as the others…

For those who don't know, Fallout 3 is the 2008 big-budget sequel to the original 1997/98 Fallout post-nuclear role-playing games (themselves spiritual successors to 1988's Wasteland). I'm a huge fan of the original games, mainly for the feeling as being part of a living, breathing world… Well, a gasping and wheezing world, at any rate.

All games involve your character journeying out from some secluded upbringing (either living their whole life in a nuclear bunker, known as a Vault, or from an isolated village in the mountains) to follow a quest across the wider desolate landscape. The beauty of this is that you uncover stuff as your character does; you never get into the situation you could in, say, Baldur's Gate, where you (the character) knows what a Kobold is, but you (the player) don't. Neither of you have any idea what a Deathclaw is until one pounces on you and tried to tear you a new one!
The game is set in a 'world of tomorrow' future; It's not the future as we imagine it now, but the future as it was imagined in 50s America. There are nuclear cars, vacuum tubes, Forbidden Planet-styl3 robots, and the Inkspots on the radio. One section of the game sees you journey to DC's Museum of Technology, a showcase for all this retro gadgetry.

The main reason section this is in is atmosphere. I have posted my thoughts about Fallout 3 previously on my blog, but I think one of the things Bethesda really nailed was the lonely and desolate atmosphere. The main exhibit at the museum is a demonstration mock-up of a vault, very similar to the one you grew up in out in the wasteland.

The place is deserted, and has obviously been hard hit by the ravages of time and looters over the years; metal is pitted and rusted, dust hangs heavy in the air, and the floor is littered with debris and rubble. However, the displays obviously once intended for the public are still operating… As you creep through the eerily derelict display, voices chirp from hidden speakers about all the mod-cons available to residents and slide shows flicker to life as you walk past encouraging you to sign up early.

You never know if someone (or something) has made this their home, so every creak of twisted metal makes you jump. The feeling of isolation, loneliness and age has never, in my opinion, been portrayed so well in a game.

He does rush through it slightly, though...

Anyway, this has all got very serious! To sum up, I loved this section of the game… In fact, I'm very tempted to now go and play some Fallout 3!

Man, I wasn't going to write for long today!

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