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6:22 AM on 04.10.2011

Let Us Make Beautiful Post-Apocalyptic Music Together

I am, like many others, a musical omnivore.

I like most kinds of music, if they follow two guidelines: if there are lyrics I want to be able to hear them, and if I can't the music shouldn't be chaotic and irregular (these being the two primary reasons I dislike the more "extreme" subgenres of metal). However, beyond that pretty much anything goes. But I hadn't really gotten into the "older" kinds of music until I played Fallout 3, apart from Elvis. But hey, everyone listens to Elvis.

As you may have guessed by now, Fallout 3 got me into 50's music. I don't really know exactly how or when it happened, but after trudging through the Capital Wasteland for the umpteenth time, transforming Raiders into meat kibble with my minigun while listening to a vaguely racist song about Africa, I suddenly closed the game, looked up a few of the in-game songs on Youtube and just kept browsing. I was fascinated by this (to me) previously unknown genre of music, how many similarities I could recognise as having heard in more modern songs, and how the lyrics could be about anything. Really, everything. These days I'm hard pressed to find a song not about love, money, death, angst or any combination of these, while back in the 50's someone could make a song about a 22-year-old man being pissed off at a bunch of people calling him "boy". For reference, the song is below.


If you don't recognise the song from Fallout 3, it's included in the mod "GNR - More Where That Came From" that extends the GNR song list immensely. You can get it here.

When that song came on for the first time, I'm pretty sure that I was cowering behind some rocks in the middle of nowhere, while several super mutants were shooting assault rifles at me and one in the back was providing support with a missile launcher. I was about to die, and then out of absolutely nowhere, that song comes on. It was so bizarre I laughed uncontrollably for half a minute, which obviously led to my death. When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that not only was it a bizarre soundtrack for such a situation, but it was strangely fitting. After all, the Fallout setting is plenty bizarre even without the whole "America stuck in 50's cultural values gets nuked to shit" thing. What better to accompany its various strange and often violent occurences than some happy, dance-inducing tunes from the 50's?

Of course, contrasting battle music is far from the only application music has in the Falloutverse. I use a similar radio mod in New Vegas, called the Secret Stash (available here) that, among many others, adds the song "Cry Me A River" by Julie London:


Walking the Mojave, far away from civilisation, just surveying all the damage still done to the world outside of what's been restored by the remnants of humanity, sends a chill down my spine every time it happens. Aside from being a hauntingly beautiful song with a brilliant songstress, it also functions as a sort of a parable for the state of the world. It's like miss London is the voice of mother Earth herself, telling humanity to cry her a river - for all their troubles, what they've done to her is far worse.

There are a lot of other songs in both games, of course - both vanilla and modded. But as much as I'd like to, I can't go on reviewing every single one. Hopefully these two examples are enough to illustrate what I'd like to say: that the style of music in Fallout 3 and New Vegas serve both to enhance the silly and serious aspects equally well. I didn't mention the country music because while I think it's good and it suits New Vegas well, it evokes a wild west/cowboy theme, which is all well and good but isn't descriptive of the Fallout setting as a whole.

So if you own Fallout 3 or New Vegas, go in-game and tune in to your favorite radio, walk around a bit and just enjoy the scenery and the music. Think about how it fits together. At least if it's a serious song. If it's a happy, upbeat song, find something to shoot.   read

6:43 AM on 04.07.2011

Inauguration Day - Performance anxiety and Fallout

Well, this was certainly unexpected.

I really hadn't thought much about the Destructoid community until now. I mean, I visit the site several times a day and I love it as much as everyone else, but I hadn't actually bothered much about the community and the blogs.

But here I am, with an account and a blog of my own. Feeling a little shy, I have to admit; as special and unique I would like to think myself to be, there are thousands more like me, all vying for attention. I don't expect to be better than them in any way, though I'll certainly try. After all, conflict and competition are the mother and father of improvement.

In any case, I thought I'd talk about New Vegas today. Bethesda and Obsidian have done a fantastic job of improving upon the lessons learned from Fallout 3 (which I enjoyed immensely, by the way). I have always loved the Fallout series, even though I have to somewhat shamefully admit that my first experience with the series was Fallout 3, and I bought a pack with the first and second games as well as Tactics not long after finishing the game for the second time. However, I was greatly invested in the story and setting of the games before that; I knew who the important people was, all the endings for all the games so far, and even memorized a little bit of the universe's timeline.

Nevertheless, I kept playing Fallout 3 nearly every day for about a year and a half after it came out. I did spend time in other games, sure, but I always kept crawling back to that cruel, cruel mistress. I say cruel, because I was (and still am) an avid fan of mods, and installed every update of Fallout Wanderer's Edition and Mart's Monster Mod every time a new one was released. These mods, along with some others I can't remember, added to both the difficulty, enjoyment and replayability of the game immensely. Especially the difficulty; where a lowly raider could once withstand several 10mm rounds to the skull, he now went down in one or two shots to the same vital part of the body. Trouble is, so would the player. It really demanded much more care, especially at lower levels; after all, you were a 19 year old fresh out of the vault with nonexistent combat training. Only skill and careful planning, coupled with a few gambles and a little bit of luck, would see you through. The Super-Duper Mart became an absolute nightmare with these mods; I would reload save after save before finally managing to emerge victorious from that gloomy, decrepit remnant of the old world that crazy woman Moira had sent me to investigate. But when I did, it felt so much sweeter. I'm an avid fan of roleplaying in games, even singleplayer ones, and I always thought of the Super-Duper Mart as my character's baptism of fire, a proving ground from which only those fit to survive in the wastes would emerge in one piece.

So did New Vegas live up to my expectations? At first... not really. The game felt much more linear than its predecessor, and I was kind of underwhelmed by the map looking smaller than the one in Fallout 3. But as I kept playing, the game redeemed itself more and more: interesting characters, vastly improved voice acting, and there was no abominable green lighting filter over everything (even though I removed that with a mod in FO3, its very inclusion in the game from the start annoyed me). The Mojave felt much more alive and vivid than the Capital Wasteland, and not just because it was more populated and civilised; there is definetly an air of desolation and loneliness when you go off the beaten path. But it just seems... alive. There are plants, trees and fruit growing everywhere. Multitudes of animal and insect species are thriving, even though they are not what God intended for this fair earth that his children had so horribly devastated 200 years ago. The NCR, a republic with hundreds of thousands of citizens, are seeking to take control of the Mojave, even though both Mr. House, Caesar's Legion and dozens of other problems hinder them at every turn. The tenacity of mankind is palpable almost everywhere you go.

One of the things I like most about New Vegas, though, are the Followers of the Apocalypse. They are, explained simply, a sort of postapocalyptic Red Cross with much reduced public support. They seek to reeducate mankind, ensuring that the mistakes that led to the Great War of 2077 are never repeated. A noble goal, but sadly one that has proven difficult to attain. Many people in places of power do not trust the Followers, seeing them as sources of public displeasure and dissent at best and as anarchist revolutionaries at worst. And yet they still do what they think they must, out of sheer altruism... at least as much as their resources allow it. The Followers, more than anything else, gives me a kind of hope for mankind: that no matter how bad it gets, we'll bounce right back. There'll be hardship, true, and everything might not turn out the way we'd like, but there will always be people like the Followers. Hopefully.   read

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