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Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Vegas, Empathy And Lovable Characters: A Discussion (?)

Posted by Earnest "Nex" Cavalli on Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Warning: Extremely minor Fallout: New Vegas spoilers ahead.

... wretched hive ... scum and villainy ... etcetera, etcetera ...

Last night I was playing slots in Gomorrah when one of those Followers of the Apocalypse people ... an "Emily" something ... approached me with a proposal: Since I was the only person to see the inside of the Lucky 38 casino in 200 years, maybe I could bug Mr. House's data network so the Followers could strip mine it for valuable medical information.

"It could save lives," she told me, obviously hoping my good nature and history of not indiscriminately murdering her pals — like I do with those White Glove Society freaks — might convince me to help her spy on my boss. I took the packet sniffer she offered, said I'd look into it and politely excused myself. She seemed grateful for my help, but that's likely because she didn't realize I was headed straight to Mr. House's penthouse suite to tell him all about her plan.

Yeah, I was going to drop dime on her, but who is she to ask me to betray my boss? House literally brought me back from the dead and currently provides me with room and board and the information necessary to take revenge on the bastards who shot me in the head in the first place. In a wasteland full of two-faced pricks and duplicitous scum, he's been straight with me so far and hasn't once asked me to eat someone, build a sexbot, or bring him tools for twisted science experiments.

In my book, that goes a long way.

And that's where my inner monologue stops.

Why? Because that's the point where I realized I'd actually developed a bit of affection for this fictional character, Mr. House. I mean, I still know he's fictional and don't intend to smooch him or write creepy fan fiction about having his monitor-headed babies, but the idea of betraying him, even to the Followers (a group I'm generally pals with), actively angered me to the point where I was excited for a chance to run back to House and spill the Radbeans.

Then that got me thinking: Is this a trait unique to Fallout: New Vegas? Is developer Obsidian Entertainment just so good at writing conversation trees that they are the only game maker capable of engaging players at this level?

For that matter, is this a trait unique to me? Am I the only person wondering how Benny will feel when I finally put a .50 caliber Incendiary slug into his brain pan, or thinking that Cass is going to love all the Whiskey I lifted from the bar at the Tops?

This guy is one of my better pals.

Luckily the 'net is a far more conversational medium than print, so I can throw this to you readers: Do you feel the same way about your friends and enemies in New Vegas? Do you empathize with them? Revile them? Want to hump them?

I won't judge. Much.

If so, are there other games that elicit the same reaction?

Did you find yourself fearing for Nathan Drake's life during his adventures in Uncharted 2? Do you lie in bed at night wondering how scratchy Solid Snake's beard would be during a hardcore makeout session? Do you still want to stab Sephiroth for what he did to Aerith?

If that last one doesn't wring the salty, adolescent tears out of you, you're a goddamn liar.

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