November 18, 2010
Let me begin by first saying something about the term “immersion” in context to the gaming world. Immersion is the difference between the simple joys of beating things stupid with your friends in “Castle Crashers” and checking for your visibility meter in real life after a weekend spent with “Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.”
Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw describes immersion as playing “Condemned: Criminal Origins” alone in the middle of the night, and then launching your cat in the air with a stream of terrified urine as it jumps in your lap. Bethesda Softworks, makers of the hit “Elder Scrolls” series, has shot for deep, immersive experiences in video games, giving the player his/her own voice in the story and it’s outcome.
“Fallout: New Vegas,” Bethesda’s latest installment in the “Fallout” Series, is no exception.
The biggest selling point for “New Vegas” is the new Hardcore mode, an optional setting that forces the players to keep themselves hydrated, well-rested, and overall physically healthy.
When I started fighting dehydration and irradiation as I combated local gangs for survival, treating my wounds from previous encounters, I was skeptical as to how it would end up functioning and whether or not it would be at all cumbersome.
However, as time passed, I finally felt myself slipping into the game and (here comes our vocabulary word, children) immersing in the Mojave Wasteland. “Oh nay nay,” Bethesda retorted.
That feeling was very short-lived since the game decided to metaphorically shout at me and remind me how thirsty I apparently was, hurling me back onto my futon with my cat and Cheez-its.
This is partly due to the confusion that stemmed from the meter’s backward positive/negative correlation, because obviously, “plus hydration” means “you are now thirstier.”
The game’s morality system falls to pieces in Hardcore mode as well. It’s near impossible to be kind to everyone while looting them of all their food and water.
The wasteland’s inhabitants are at least courteous enough to leave their money and food behind only one lock, so I feel guilty as I help myself to their emergency supplies to sustain my life for one more day of looting other various families to continue the cycle. I suppose this is an emulation of the real dog-eat-dog world, as it is difficult to be kind and successful simultaneously.
Honestly, I am a fanboy of Bethesda, so I did enjoy the game. However, for a game that tries so hard to have depth, it spent an awful lot of time reminding me that I was only playing a video game.