Fallout: New Vegas pt. 2

I’ve been debating about whether or not I should write this article for a long time. On the one hand, I am hesitant to nitpick a game I like a lot. On the other, I have never let that stop me from nitpicking other things I like, like Aladdin or Harry Potter.

You may say that this is silly, seeing as I’ve even written about Fallout: New Vegas once before. But that time, I was nitpicking a feature that had carried over from Fallout 3, namely the fact that you can’t smoke. With this, I would be nitpicking the story of a game I love, where the story is a big reason for WHY I love it.

But now, I have decided that I should indeed write about a few things that have been bugging me about Fallout: New Vegas. What changed my mind, you wonder?

Well, I’ll get back to you on that, but let’s cover the game itself first. I should warn you that there will be some spoilers involved, though.

Now, one complaint I’ve heard which I’m not completely agreeing with, is that the Mojave Wasteland is so small, compared to the Capital Wasteland from Fallout 3.

The thing is, I’m not so sure it is that much smaller. In fact, I think it’s actually slightly bigger. It feels a bit smaller, because there aren’t as many random groups of enemies spawning everywhere, and not as much open desert.

And I think that’s a good thing. After all, the Mojave Wasteland is not a wasteland in the same way the Capital Wasteland is. You can tell, because throughout the game, people switch between calling it “The Mojave Wasteland” and just “The Mojave”. The Capital Wasteland is a desolated, unkempt, hostile desert, where water is scarce and danger lurks beyond every hill. It’s name is describing what it is. A Wasteland.

The Mojave Wasteland, on the other hand, has an active military presence, thriving trade, several settlements that aren’t just tumbledown cottages made from scrap and, of course, Vegas itself. It is, while far from a civilized area, much safer than the Capital Wasteland. The name “Mojave Wasteland” is not a description. It’s just the name of the area.

So I don’t think that complaint is valid. Now, there are other complaints about the game that are more valid, like the voice acting being spotty at times, or the game being glitchy.

Personally, I never really care about either of those, unless the glitches are ruining the game, or the voice acting is truly appalling. But to others, this is a valid concern. When the character Benny, played by Matthew Perry, is supposed to be a suave, smooth-talking Vegas big shot, complete with Baby‘s and Ring-a-ding‘s in his dialogue, it can be distracting when he comes across as flat and uninvolved.

No, my personal issue with the game concerns the ending, or rather one specific ending. The game, like I’ve said, gives you a long slideshow upon completion, concerning the different factions or people you’ve met throughout the game, and how your actions have altered or affected them.

Now, if you finish the game in the Independant storyline, for example, you don’t get a slideshow about what the future will hold for NCR or Caesars Legion.

Of course, this is fine by me. We’re told that you’ve secured Vegas from the NCR, Caesars Legion and Mr. House, and from there we can make educated guesses. If you saved President Kimball, he is likely to be the scapegoat for the loss, and ousted from office, along with General Oliver.

And if Caesar is dead, which he’s likely to be, you’ve pretty much destroyed the legion, whether or not you kill Lanius. After all, if you talked the latter into withdrawing, convinced that taking Vegas is a terrible idea, he will return east. From there, murmurs will be spread among the generals of the legion, since the “unbeatable” Lanius retreated. Not only that, but he retreated from the campaign that killed Caesar, and it was Caesars will that the Legion take the dam. Is Lanius right to go against Caesars will? Distrust, doubt and infighting will likely result from this, eventually leading to the collapse of the legion.

(Probably not helped by the fact that as a result of one DLC, you have the option to drop nukes on Legion lands)

And unless you sided with Mr. House, you will be required to kill him, so his lack of ending is not surprising.

So, what ending, then, do I have an issue with?

The ending regarding the Followers of the Apocalypse.

See, when I played the Independent route, I had the option of asking them to support my cause. In exchange, I promised them protection in the form of robots patrolling the streets and to help them with supply shortages, all so they could establish a proper foothold in the region.

And when I finished the game, what was I told?

That the new, independent Vegas was even more unstable than before, and that the Followers struggled to provide even the most basic services.

What the hell!? Let’s make something clear! Vegas is not just a lawless area of violence now! It’s not without leaders! It’s just independent from Mr. House, NCR and the Legion!

Those robot guards I mentioned? There are a LOT of them, that we’re told are maintaining order and stability in Vegas now. After I made that promise, I would assume that would also include Freeside!

I didn’t just release Vegas. I took control over it, basically usurping Mr. Houses role of ruler of Vegas! The money and influence I now wield should be more than enough to help the Followers!

But now I’m told that I just took power, and completely went back on my promise to the Followers?! I had Good Karma when I finished the game! I know my fucking character, and I wouldn’t screw the Followers over like that without a damn good reason!

I was given the option in the game to enlist their support, so I assumed there would be some difference depending on what I decided, but either choice gets the same result.

It seems pretty likely that there was one ending missing here. They went to the trouble to put that choice in the game, so why the hell didn’t they add the result of the choice?!

Well…

Here’s where I explain the reason why I decided to write this article. That reason being that I found an answer to that question.

The answer, incidentally, addresses the other two complaints, about glitches and the voice acting.

You know who you have to blame for all the things missing from Fallout: New Vegas, the glitches, the lackluster voices?

I’ll tell you.

Bethesda.

And I know, I know. I sound like a broken record, saying that everything is Bethesdas fault. Here I am, saying that, had Bethesda never let Obsidian make the game, these problems wouldn’t exist, right?

Wrong.

Do you want to know why the game is glitchy, why parts seem to be missing and the voice acting is spotty?

Because Obsidian had to cut a few things to meet their deadline.

Now, this sounds like a stupid cliché of an excuse, and you would think that this is more Obsidians fault than Bethesda, seeing as the former were the developers, and they should know how to meet a deadline.

And had you given me that excuse two weeks ago, I would probably have said the same thing.

But that was before I looked into it, and found out what that deadline actually WAS!

You know how long Fallout 3 took to make? What about Skyrim and Oblivion?

4 years.

All three games took four years, from development beginning, to release.

Now, how much time were Obsidian given to complete the game? Because they weren’t given four years.

Three, maybe?

How about 13 months.

A little over a QUARTER of the time it took to make Skyrim. And of course, at least one month was just WRITING the game, and another month of gametesting!

Now, this is of course the point where I say that Obsidian, being excellent at what they do, rose to the challenge, gave it their all, and delivered the massive ball of greatness that is Fallout: New Vegas, just in time to meet the deadline.

Unfortunatly, real life isn’t a movie with a 1980’s training montage. Obsidian didn’t meet the deadline. Because of course they didn’t! It’s an insane deadline!

Luckily, the deadline was pushed back, giving them time to work out the issues. How much time, you ask?

5 more months.

What the actual fuck!?

Are you actively trying to shoot yourself in the foot?! This isn’t fucking complicated! Just give them a reasonable fucking deadline, so they can give you a great game! You don’t have to give them 4 years, but at least give them 2 years, not a year and a half!

But it turns out, those extra 5 months were exactly what was needed. The game was released, and not only equalled Fallout 3, Oblivion and Skyrim, but blew them all out of the water!

Which might explain why Bethesda took so long making New Vegas compatible on the Xbox One. I wouldn’t blame them for being a bit hesitant about it. I mean, here comes a game that proved that while Bethesda can make a world look good, they are terrible at using that world and its contents effectively.

If you were Bethesda, would you want people to play that game? They’d want people to play Skyrim instead. After all, there’s no way someone could come along and take that engine and humiliate Bethesda all over again…

That is, unless you count the upcoming “Enderal” RPG, which is taking Skyrims engine and attempt to use it properly. I have only seen a trailer, but it looks very interesting. And this is done by hobbyists, for free!

Unfortunately, it’s a mod for Skyrim, and like I said, I play on console, so I won’t be able to enjoy it even if I DID own a copy of Skyrim.

And while I am happy about the engine being used properly, it does also confirm what I’ve been saying all along. Skyrim requires mods to be good, and by the time it is good, it’s a completely different game.

This is just the final expression of that idea.

Now, on the one hand, as I’m writing this, “Enderal” has yet to be released, so I can’t say if it is any good yet. But on the other, it’s not like it could be much WORSE.

WTFAW: Star Wars

It’s time to talk about one of the most popular franchises in cinematic history. We are tackling a fan theory about Star Wars.

Surprisingly, there aren’t that many fan theories on this subject, but I have no doubt that Dave will deliver something both substantial and insane, in equal meassure.

Dave: The theory I’ve got for you is that Jar-Jar Binks is a sith lord.

Yeah, very funny, Dave. Tell me the real theory now.

Dave: That is the real theory.

Oh dear god, this is going to suck. Ok, despite it going against all common sense and reason, I will ask you to explain the arguments.

Dave: Well, the expanded theory is that Jar-Jar was originally intended to be the big bad in the prequels, but when George Lucas saw the backlash at the first movie, he changed it for the sequels. But you can still see evidence for this. First off, Jar-Jar shows jedi-like abilities, namely the amazing jump he makes when diving, as well as having a suspicious gift for fighting, escaping a battle with a droid army completely unscathed.

Ah, I see. Anything you want to add, or should I start explaining why this theory is stupid?

So, the idea is that Jar-Jar is secretely a sith lord, and the evidence is that he makes something that looks like a force jump…

Dave: Exactly.

Right in front of a pair of Jedi?

Dave: uh…

If he is a sith, why the flying fuck would he do a force jump in front of a pair of jedi!? Palpatine kept hidden for a long time, mostly because he didn’t go around doing shit like using the force in public! Because if you’re trying to keep a low profile, that’s fucking idiotic!

The only way that could make sense is if it’s some kind of demented reverse psychology. He did it because only a force sensitive person can jump that high, and no sith would be stupid enough to do it in front of a pair of Jedi, which is exactly why he SHOULD do it, because they would think he couldn’t possibly be a force sensitive person because if he was he wouldn’t do it in front of them and oh dear god my head hurts now….

Anyway, doesn’t it seem more likely this is an ability common to gungans?

Dave: Maybe, but what about his part in the battle later on? He came out of that completely unharmed and destroyed several droids and tanks! Clearly that proves he’s secretely badass!

No, it proves that he has more luck than brains! One of the defining traits that we are given about him is that he’s clumsy. It’s the reason he was banished from his home and it’s something that carries over throughout the movie. The battle is meant as a reversal of that, where his clumsiness finally comes in useful, as a weapon against the droids!

And if the audience wasn’t so absolutely bored out of their skulls or pissed off, they might have found it funny.

Dave: Aha, but he was the one to suggest they grant Palpatine emergency powers! He created the emperor, and is solely responsible for the empire!

First off, I thought you said the idea was scrapped after the backlash of The Phantom Menace? The granting of emergency powers was in Attack of the Clones. Second, as I’ve said in an earlier article, that whole argument is a load of crap! Jar-Jar is not responsible for the Empire! He was acting as Padmé Amidalas representative, and he only urged the senate to grant the power to create a clone army after the idea was planted by Palpatine and his aide!

Padmé left an inexperienced buffoon in a position of power, and he ended up being manipulated by Palpatine to suggest the creation of a clone army! It’s not proof that Jar-Jar is a sith, it’s proof he’s easily manipulated and Padmé is a complete fucking moron to leave him in charge!

And finally, you say that Jar-Jar was originally intended to be the big bad in the prequels? Now, do you have any solid proof at all to support that, beyond conjecture? Nothing? No first draft or commentary?

Oh well, let’s go with it anyway. Because after all, it makes so much sense, now that you think about it. Clearly, the comic relief in the movie was the proper villain, because it’s not like there’s someone else who’s the main villain in the prequels. Someone who benefits from the events and clearly is manipulating things to help him.

That is, unless you count Palpatine, of course.

Remember him? The fucking EMPEROR?! Palpatine is the one aiding the trade federation in The Phantom Menace, in order to claim the title of supreme chancellor. He wasn’t a side character in that movie! He was still the main villain, and remained so throughout the prequels!

Dave: But if Jar-Jar was intended as the villain but it was changed, it would explain why Count Dooku was suddenly introduced out of nowhere! If Dooku was so important, why wasn’t he brought up in the Phantom Menace?

Well, why would he get involved in a conflict on Naboo? The only jedi we see who are involved are Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon!

The events Dooku are involved in concerns the separatist movement, which involves several major groups throughout the galaxy and an intergalactic war! He’s got better shit to do than to worry about what’s happening on Naboo!

This theory really doesn’t work.

Dave: But the actor who played Jar-Jar approved of the theory!

Of course he did! Jar-Jar Binks is one of the most hated characters in cinematic history! Did you expect him to go “No, Jar-Jar is not actually one of those mysterious, powerful people with red lightsabers that everyone is scared of”? It’s the character that’s stupid, not the actor!

Dave: Hmph… well, that’s great. You’ve just ruined a way to improve the character of Jar-Jar Binks.

Oh, I did, did I? In that case, would you care to answer me this:

If Jar-Jar was a sith, what exactly would that improve?

See, this is a theory that is missing something vital. A motive.

If Jar-Jar is a sith, is he working with Palpatine? That sounds pretty unlikely, since he’s clearly not Palpatines apprentice, and Palpatine is not the kind of guy who accepts potential rivals. Which would mean that he is opposed to Palpatine.

But if so… what is Jar-Jars goal?

Dave: What do you mean?

Suppose Jar-Jar really is a sith. If he’s a sith, what does he want? Does he want power? Because he doesn’t gain a whole lot of power over the course of the movie. He’s a general and then a diplomat. If he can control minds like Jedi, that could be accomplished without ever leaving his home city. So he must have left for some other reason. But this theory does not provide a good motive.

And after he becomes a politician, he doesn’t really advance further. If he’s manipulating events to serve his purposes… what are those purposes? Is he satisfied with his current position as a senator? Because if so, he’s a pretty terrible sith.

Just compare him with Palpatine. Palpatine manipulated people and events to gain power, and did so throughout the prequels. He didn’t use mind tricks or jump around with the force, because he didn’t need to! He stayed hidden, and because of this, ended up establishing the empire, with himself as its emperor.

And while Palpatine was orchestrating a plot to become supreme chancellor, Jar-Jar almost got his face kicked in by a professional pod-racer, got his hand stuck in a jet engine, and got zapped in the head by an energy beam that temporarily numbed his face, all for… absolutely no reason? Either he’s doing all of that by accident, which means he’s an idiot. Or he’s doing it on purpose for no good reason, which means that he’s an even bigger idiot! Either way, his character is not improved at all!

He’s the comic relief, the annoying, obnoxious cartoon parody that was created by Lucas in an attempt to pander to small children, with poop jokes and silly faces.

And you’d rather have THAT… instead of Christopher Lee with a lightsaber?!

I know you, Dave, and I refuse to believe you are that stupid.

 

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The Lion King II: Simba´s Pride

I’ve mentioned on previous occasions that The Lion King is my favourite movie of all time. I would list reasons why, but if you’ve seen the movie, you know the answer, so I won’t waste your time more than I need to.

Now, with that in mind, it should of course come as no surprise that I would eventually write about the 1998 sequel, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride.

So, what say we begin the violent, detailed rant where I break down exactly how this movie is a worthless waste of cinema, and that it has forever tainted the original for me?

Well… No. Let’s not do that.

Because it isn’t true.

This is NOT a bad movie. Nothing in it actively hurts or really diminishes the first movie. The animation, acting and story are all good and while the songs aren’t as memorable or great as in the original, none of them are outright bad. In short, The Lion King II is far from a bad movie. If I was being cruel, I would say that it is better than a direct-to-video sequel has any right to be.

But since I am not cruel (at least not in this instance) I will instead say that if it’s not the best sequel to a Disney movie ever made, it is easily in the top five. Granted, it’s not an amazing competition. You’ve got Jafars Revenge, which was pretty much a pilot for the animated series. There’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2,Mulan 2, Tarzan 2… Really, The only other serious contender would be The Rescuers Down Under, which got a theatrical release rather than being direct-to-video. And honestly, out of the two, I’d actually say The Lion King II is the better movie.

Now, those of you who have recovered by this apparent blasphemy might be asking a perfectly reasonable question right about now.

If I have no problem with this movie, why am I writing about it?

The answer is that I DO actually have a problem when it comes to this movie. It’s a fairly simple problem, and it has nothing to do with the acting, the music or the animation, but rather something tangentically connected to the story.

My problem is this. The people behind this movie were cowards.

Be it the writers or the producers, someone decided to play it safe when they made this movie. Let me explain.

As you probably know, The Lion King is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s a very loose adaptation, I agree, but it is an adaptation.

Now, at the end of the movie, Simba has claimed his place as ruler of the Pridelands and is presenting his newborn child to the other animals, completing the Circle of Life, which is one of the major themes in the movie.

So, the new status quo is that Simba is the king, and he has a child. The question is, then, what Shakespearian stories can be told from that?

The people who made this movie presumably asked themselves that question, mulled it over… and decided “Of course! Romeo and Juliet”.

And the entire world collectively groaned with frustration.

Because Romeo and Juliet is fucking dull! EVERYONE does Romeo and Juliet! It’s been done to death! Two years earlier, there was the Baz Luhrman adaptation Romeo + Juliet, a movie so crap, pretty much the only good things you could say about it was A) the guns looked pretty and B) it left the world sighing in relief, since surely nobody would ever make another adaptation of that fucking play again!

(Of course, here we are, two decades later, and Gnomeo and Juliet is a thing that exists. There is no justice… )

Now, for this idea to work, you need a rival family, a Montague to Simbas Capulet. Trouble is, there was only the one group of lions, with Scar being assisted by the Hyenas. Because of this, they had to retcon the idea of Zira, Scars mate who, despite never being seen, referenced or mentioned, was so loyal to Scar she would betray Simba. And of course, she has an entire entourage of followers, also loyal to Scar.

THIS is the closest the movie gets to harming the original movie.

So not only is it an overdone and clicheéd idea, but it’s such a waste of potential! You have Simba being a king now, and he has children. Let’s see. What other story could be told from that offset? What other Shakespearian story could be told, with a king, and possibly the children of the king being the major focus?

Let’s see… Oh, right! King Lear!

I mean, I’m just spitballing, but let’s take this as a setup. Simba has two children. The older is to inherit the throne, and the younger is not. The older is also privately very arrogant and petulant, with the younger being much more noble. Simba, meanwhile, is haunted by Scars betrayal of Mufasa, and is worried that history would repeat itself (perhaps as a subversion of the circle of life).

Because of this, he grows increasingly distrustful of the younger one, blinding himself to the behavior of the older. The older child takes advantage of this, and manipulates Simba into casting out the younger child, and Simba realizes his mistake too late when his older child deposes him. And then the younger child returns, restores Simba to the throne, eventually inherits the kingdom and everyone is happy.

That is the most basic, barebone setup of an adaptaion of King Lear, into the medium of a disney movie. Is it perfect? No. But then, I’m not a professional movie writer.

I’ve just given the outline, the base structure. It really wasn’t that hard. Surely a highly paid writer for one of the biggest companies on earth could do that?

Or you could do Romeo and Juliet, the boring, done-to-death choice instead!

Now, you might be saying it wouldn’t work, seeing as King Lear was a tragedy.

First off, the Shakespeare play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain. In that story, Leir regained his kingdom and was succeeded by his daughter Cordelia. In other words: the original story wasn’t a tragedy! Shakespeare made up the sad ending.

Secondly, if you think it wouldn’t work because the Shakespeare play was a tragedy, let me remind you. SO WAS HAMLET!

Spoiler alert: at the end of hamlet, EVERYONE DIED! That didn’t stop The Lion King from having a happy ending, to widespread critical acclaim!

So, to summarize, my main issue with The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, is that it’s a wasted opportunity. If the same effort had gone into adapting King Lear instead of Romeo and Juliet, the movie could have been truly great.

I know. It’s shocking. No nitpicking the movie, no hatred, no rabid rage filled rant about how it’s a mockery of everything that made the original great, how it’s a shameless and disgusting cash grab and how it’s very existence is poisoning my memories of the original.

No…

After all, that’s what The Lion King 1½ is for….

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