My First Date with Fallout: New Vegas – Dead Money
If you are unfamilar with this new feature, here’s the jist; Alexander Page has volunteered, for reasons no one can explain, to go out on dates with pop culture of various forms in an effort to understand them and know if you should spend the time to buy-sorry, I mean date them yourself. If you haven’t seen his efforts with Rihanna’s Loud, you can see it here. That’ll also explains the underwear thing which, we’ll admit, is kind of weird.
There’s something more than a little incestuous with me dating the new downloadable add-on for Fallout New Vegas. I’ve been a huge fan of the Fallout series since I first dated Fallout, a Post Nuclear role playing game, in high school. I spent a lot of quality time with Fallout, and for a time I even dated Fallout 1 and 2 at the same time, hey, I was young and hot-headed. After a few years we agreed to go our separate ways, they were content to continue living in Windows, and I had to move away to Mac OS for work, so the long-distance relationship wasn’t something we wanted to pursue. We stay in touch. When their younger sibling Fallout 3 came into my life, it was a whirlwind romance. Those irradiated giant scorpions looked AWESOME in real 3D, and even though I was scared to try first-person, I had a couple of drinks one night and have never looked back since.
I’ve agreed to meet Dead Money in a subway station and then head into town and see where our night takes us. Fitting with the post-apocalyptic theme, I’ve gone for an outfit that just screams scavenging in the ruins chic. Hardy materials that will last a lifetime and never go out of fashion, black jeans, bandanna, plain sweater and a choice of leather jackets. I almost head out with my old-school looking jacket with one sleeve missing, but then realise that was a gift from one of Dead Money’s older relatives, and that would be a little weird. I’ve also gone for functional plain grey boxers and just a tiny dab of Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport.
I was expecting dark and dirty, and it felt good, but when it came I had no idea just how dark and dirty we’d get. Without spoiling it for a future date for you, I can tell you that we headed from the train station straight to a Casino, very plush and cool. Bit of a dodgy crowd, and then Dead Money introduced me to some of her friends.
The first guy we bumped into was a super mutant (Think Incredible Hulk without the charm and elocution.) Great. He’s not just your ordinary 7 foot mutated green killing machine though, he’s a self harming schizophrenic. With multiple personality disorder. I don’t mind sharing a few drinks with this dude, and for the most part his heart and other organs are in the right place, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit intimidated. I carefully suggest to Dead Money that maybe we head over to the bar,
At the bar we met one of her girl friends, a skinhead. A mute, scarred, distressed skinhead. Great. We can communicate by a series of charades, but I kind of get the impression I’m not smart enough to really make myself understand. I tried to use hand gestures to communicate “I work (Point to self, make marching motion) for an invoice finance firm ( A sort of writing motion, then the gesture for money) would you like a drink (The universal tipping of the hand to indicate a glass.). She seems to think that I’m in some sort of adminisitrial role in a concentration camp that poisons people. Close enough. I ask Dead Money to ask her how she got the gnarly looking scars on her head and stuff, she stops charading and starts glaring. Maybe we should just go dance for a bit instead, or play some roulette.
At the roulette table Dead Money introduced me to one of her guy friends. He used to be a pretty famous Lounge Singer. A hideously mutated, hundred-year old, double crossing lying violent lounge singer. Great. Again. I’m beginning to see the ongoing theme here that Dead Money’s friends are a little unusual, and very unpleasant for the most part. These guys certainly aren’t the hokey bunch of Cowboys and Samurais that her older sibling Mothership Zeta liked to hang out with, these are some interesting cats. Maybe I’d feel a little better drinking with them, but on a date I can’t help but feel they’re killing the mood.
This is all a bit more explicable when you think about her upbringing. I’ve been told by someone who knows games better than I that there are groups of people who work on Fallout games and another RPG franchise, and the teams alternate between one game then the other. The chaps and chapesses who made New Vegas, and possibly it’s expansions (Would have taken me five minutes to look it up, couldn’t be bothered, not paid enough. Ed: Fallout 1 and 2 were developed by Black Isle Studios and Fallout 3 and New Vegas were developed by Bethesta Softworks. And that’s why we don’t pay you) are the same chaps and chapesses who made Fallout 2. Fallout 2 was released in 1998. That’s the same year as the original Baldur’s Gate, a good RPG but not that dark (Ed: Also, coincidently, developed by Black Isle Studios…ok, I’ll leave) and Grim Fandango, a sadly overlooked graphic adventure and a little bit dark. Fallout 2 was a lot dark. You could kill children with explosives, splattering their tiny forms into paste. You could target the specific limb on the younglings tender frames that you wanted to smash with a hammer. You could win a ball gag after spending the night as a Super Mutants gimp. You could rape, you could sodomise and you could sell your friends into slavery. The same minds who cooked that up got together for New Vegas. You can tell. (Ed: Ok, some of them di-I’m going, I’m going!)
Aside from the somewhat distressing company she keeps, and somewhat dark sense of humour, Dead Money suffers from a lot of the issues that her family has suffered from for years. I mean I’m not the sort of guy to just write off someone’s chances for success based on their background, but the home-life of glitchiness and weird scripting errors has rubbed off on these kids and really had an effect on them in later life. It’s sad in a way, but tonight I was certainly able to see past the flaws and have a wonderful night, but I think more shallow guys might have been turned off.
The date is coming to an end, and I realise that I’m up on the evening, I have more chips than I can really spend! As we leave the Casino arm-in-arm and a little tipsy, she whispers in my ear and I feel like I’m on a promise for a good time, but instead she’s telling me that I can’t tell any of my friends about her. When I get back to the wastes I just want to tell my chums about the fun I had, maybe recommend the venue, and return to expand those chips even more. Sadly, I can’t. I can’t tell my friends I’ve seen her, she explains, and as I look over her shoulder, the Casino is permanently and inexplicably closed. Weird.
We share a cab, a friendly kiss on the cheek and promises to catch up again soon, but not too soon.
New Vegas itself is a long-term relationship, I think even more than the rest of the Fallout series, simply because of the different ways to move through the main quest-line, let alone the little nuances and side quests you can take your custom made hero (or sociopath) along, and I’ll be discovering new things for a long time. I’m not sure the same can be said for the expansion packs that the Fallout series has now. I’ll definitely go out with Dead Money again, and the Sierra Madre resort has a lot to offer, but in itself, it’s too insular and shut-away (Just like Fallout 3′s Mothership add on.) to really give it the flesh of long term dating. I also get a little disappointed that I can only pop back to the same Casino if I want to start dating Dead Money all over again from scratch, she’s kind of clingy and weird in that way. Still, her younger sister will be along shortly, I’ve heard she likes it hot…