The Benefits of A Timeless Time-Waster

Eagle-Vail airport, with it’s 5 terminals and planes that you actually have to walk onto the runway to get onto, understandably does not have much going on.  In today’s age where modern airline transportation is becoming more like space travel and less like boarding a bus, it is somewhat of a culture shock to be in an airport where you can stand in the center and see both ends.  It’s the end of spring break and we have arrived early for our flight.  There’s a small shop with no candy and a small restaurant with bad food.  The aisles are lined with sleepy parents and over emphatic kids, screaming about some card game where apparently the rules are not important in order for one to win.  With too much time to sit around, we wander the small airport, stumbling upon the holy grail of boring airports.  There, tucked between a wall and the bathroom, sits an old Pac-Man machine.  It was a curious site; the airport, like the town it resided in, was built in rustic, mountain/western fashion with lots of wood and forest green trim.  This neon colored 1970’s black box seemed like an oddity, but it was a welcoming site.  We immediately began to pool our change so we could play.  We passed the hour and a half wait very quickly, and happily boarded the plane having spent our time playing what proved to be a great time-waster.  I found that the most interesting thing about the game was the high scores.  I don’t remember if they were any more or less impressive than other games that I’ve seen, however their existence told me that over the years this game has served other bored travelers the same way it is currently serving us.  More modern airports, with their mall-like presence and endless sources of entertainment, might have been more appealing to another traveler, but we were perfectly content in that small airport playing Pac-Man, the perfectly timeless time-waster.

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Gaming Profile: Fallout: New Vegas

Hi guys.  I presented my poster on Tuesday and observed that beyond asking questions, a lot of you were curious about if it was a good game or not.  Posters are a great way to learn about how our games apply to what we are learning, but those of us who are always looking for new games to play, I thought this would be a cool way to highlight my game and review it for you here.  I know a lot of people are playing interesting games, and this might be a way for us to promote our games to each other.

Like I said, I am playing Fallout: New Vegas.  The game takes place hundreds of years in the future, after the country has been destroyed by nuclear war.  All Fallout Series games take place in some sort of “US Wasteland”; Fallout 3 was in D.C., and Fallout: New Vegas is obviously in the Southwest, called the Mojave Wasteland.  You play the role of a mysterious traveler known only as “The Courier”, who has a valuable package stolen from him at the beginning of the game.  Much of the main quest revolves around the Courier trying to get the package back, but after a few twists and turns, it becomes clear that the contents of the package are very important and also very dangerous.  The Courier must battle through dangerous gangs, unstable governments, critters, creatures and mutants in order to save the Mojave Wasteland from falling into the wrong hands.

The game can take hundreds of hours to play to completion, both because of its extensive gameplay and its emphasis on exploration.  The player can discover new areas to explore through dialog options, random wandering, and quests that require you to visit a specific location.  Some locations are small caves with weapons and ammo; some are huge labyrinths teeming with enemies.  In some ways exploration is necessary; a player must constantly search for ammo, weapons, food and clean water in order to survive the treacherous desert.  As the player proceeds further north towards New Vegas enemies become stronger and more dangerous.  A player must constantly upgrade their weapons and perks in order to stay in front of their enemies.  As you complete missions and kill enemies you gain experience points.  Those points go towards two things; your abilities, like how well you can pick locks, use energy weapons, and barter for goods, and various perks that enhance your character, like the ability to do 20% more damage against male enemies, or the ability to reload your weapons faster.

A key component to Fallout is karma; a player can choose to be good or bad based on their actions.  Little things like stealing food thats not yours are seen as small subtractions to your karma, while bigger decisions exist like whether you will use a nuclear facility for its energy or to destroy an entire army.  Your karma will change the way people receive you and also affect your dialogue options.  Additionally, the way you treat groups of people will affect your interactions with them.  If you kill members of a gang you will be banished from their territory, and every time they see you they will attack.  This attention to detail is what makes Fallout such an enjoyable game to play.

I was asked the question, “should I rent or buy this game?”  I would definitely encourage you to buy it.  It won an award for “Best Bang for Your Buck”, and also won an award for top RPG of the year.  The gameplay is long, the controls are fun and generally simple once you figure out how to use V.A.T.S. and your Pip Boy, and the story is engaging.  This will be one of the best games you have ever played, and if you really like it, the graphics and story line of Fallout 3 are very similar and would also make for an enjoyable game.  I hope you guys find this interesting and go out and get this game!  If you are playing it or would like to play it and have any questions, please comment here or come find me in class.

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