As Damon Blake gets ready to play Catherine and Gears of War 3, he takes the time to revisit a classic game from the bygone days of 2008.
As I get older, I think I’m becoming more comfortable with the person I’m turning out to be. I occasionally try new things, I have an unhealthy obsession with fringe culture and generally prefer the company of myself to others. Don’t mind it, the being by myself thing. Being by yourself can be good. Just not too much. Sometimes you have to draw the line at when too much is too much.
That line is Fallout 3.
Back in the day when cavemen would read books that were printed on paper, they would experience magical stories about the future, of a time when you would be able to take your brain out of your head and put it inside of a computer to find out how they experience reality. Fallout 3 is a similar sort of thing. It’s a whole new, immersive world. At the beginning of the game the first thing you see is being born out of the womb, first person stylez. Fairly soon you’re grown up, walking around and then as you enter manhood you kill the neighbourhood bully with a baseball bat while his mother is killed by mutated bugs.
You know, just like how you did in real life.
Actually, let me be clear- that’s not really the most accurate description of the beginning of the game. You don’t have to kill anyone, you can make peace with everyone you meet and move on with your virtual life, like Buddha would have if he had been man enough to grow a beard. But I use videogames like other people use abusive marriages; to work out my childhood issues. And so the bully got a big helping of baseball bat goulash, with a side helping of shouts of “uh huh, that’s how we roll in Vault 101, bitches!” to no-one in particular.
To clarify, I live alone. In my apartment I have a laptop, an Xbox360, a TV and a microwave. In Fallout 3 you’re a loner making your way through a radioactive wasteland by foot. The only difference between us is obviously the amount of walking involved. Whenever my mobile phone rings I’m fairly certain that the extra bit of radiation is enough to make me sterile.
Always use protection
The game has about 70 hours of missions to play through…but that’s just when you play through itone way. Decide to help the vampires attacking a local village instead of hunting them down and bang! A whole new way to play the game opens up. Another 70 hours spent away from the proper life you’re supposed to live.
I don’t apply that sort of dedication to anything in my own life on any given day. At one point in the game when I had bought an apartment (in a town built around an atomic bomb) I was looking through different decoration schemes (retro, industrial, brothel), trying to decide on which decor would best suit my wasteland life. Abruptly during the decision I looked up from the screen and around the room of my actual apartment. I moved in four months ago and it is exactly the same now as it was the day when I moved in. Not a curtain has been changed, not a mantelpiece novelty crucifix moved.
Oh, I did bring in a potted plant. It sits in the corner. Dead.
My only friend
It’s a dangerous life in Fallout 3. Your character can get mauled, shot at, fall from a height and don’t forget the ever-present danger of radiation sickness. I like to multi-task while I play games, so in an effort to cut down real life interference I had microwaved some macaroni and cheese to keep me going in my playing. In the game I was down to my last remaining health, so I was focused on getting my character to a doctor to get him healed. Not paying attention I shovelled a large spoonful of steaming hot pasta in my mouth and swallowed it whole. It slit down my throat, searing the sides like a 14 year old arsonist high on paints fumes and dead end despair. Reeling in pain, my insides scraped by Italian lava, I stumbled to my kitchen sink and swallowed a pint of water in a vain attempt to post-combat 3rd degree burns. A few moments later when I was fairly certain the rubbery bits of skin inside of me weren’t going to start falling out like drunk koalas from eucalyptus trees, I sat back down at the game and immediately brought my character back to full health.
I WAS LOOKING AFTER MY INGAME CHARACTER MORE THEN I WAS MY OWN REAL WORLD BODY.
I was dropping Alka-Seltzer straight into cans of red bull to keep me awake but also to combat the constant stomach acid I had due to all the red bull I was drinking. You know you can buy it in bulk from Taiwan and save on postage? It turns your teeth the colour of an old pram but it’s worth it. It’s worth it.
Totally worth it
One night instead of sleeping I spent an hour ingame looking for a book on DIY so that I could fix a bridge I had to use to cross a canyon. In real life the closest I have come to DIY was when I threw a hammer at a box full of nails that I felt was being disrespectful. I hadn’t talked to anyone in my own life for a week. I would often drink water straight from the tap so it wouldn’t become contaminated before it reached my parched (burnt) lips.
That was when I knew enough was enough. There are things I want to get done with my life, priorities that I was pushing away just so I could learn how to hack a tank. I had to draw a line at what was too much.
I pulled out all the cables, put the Xbox360 into its packaging and gave it back to my little brother, from whom I had stolen it a month before. I can’t say it’s helped my productivity at all since this is still four days late…but at least now when I microwave popcorn I don’t have to worry that the extra bits of radiation floating in the air will set my Geiger counter shrieking like a banshee at an all night German rave.
You don’t need to know why I have a Geiger counter in my apartment.