so why planescape and fallout?

Original Setting. Admittedly, Planescape's setting is licensed, but still, it's one of the potentially strangest fantasy settings ever, depending on what you do with it. Nat, if you read this, imagine China Mieville, only more so. Also less kinky sex. And Fallout's Mad Max/Leave it to Beaver Crossover Special isn't completely original either, but they're both distinctive and there's no other games with really similar-feeling settings, which is more than can be said about most other RPGs. Exceptions include Deus Ex, Burning Crusade (although not the rest of WoW), and, okay, I guess FFX.

Combat Doesn't Suck. Well, Planescape has the same issues that all the Baldur's Gate engine games do. But that's an acceptable combat engine, and by "acceptable," I mean "characters can move around and combat doesn't arbitrarily take place in some magical other dimension." Fallout, as I'm sure I'll mention at some point if you talk to me long enough, has the best combat system of any RPG ever. At one point during an extended firefight with some thugs, one of their stray bullets flew into the street and hit an orphan in the eye. I challenge Final Fantasy to be more compellingly awesome.

Freedom of Choice. Bioware and Bethsoft get a lot of accolades for allowing freedom of choice in their RPGs, but, as I've mentioned before, that "freedom" is generally either allocated to two linear paths (Bioware) or completely shallow and meaningless (Bethsoft). Planescape and Fallout walk the line between those two extremes really well, giving you the freedom to pursue a lot of different options, but still making those options meaningful in the long run. That won't really make a lot of sense until you've played KOTOR, Fallout, Planescape, and Morrowind all, but if you do, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

Planescape has the Best Characters Ever. Possibly in all media formats even. I will run through the list of characters:
The Nameless One: The main character. He wakes up on a mortuary slab with no memory of who he is, and discovers pretty quickly that he can't die. One of his inventory slots is "Eye," so if you happen to find a better eye during your adventure, you can upgrade. ^_^
Morte: A wisecracking floating skull who apparently was your buddy back when you had your memory. Turns out you're the reason why he's just a skull, which leads to a recurring theme in all the characters you meet: you've screwed them over somehow. Because you used to be a total bastard. His main weapon is his teeth, and yes, you will upgrade those. Fairly often.
Annah: A half-demon thief. She sounds boring by comparison to the other characters, but she's actually well-written. And hot.
Dak'kon: A serious Githzerai with a sword that changes form depending on the mind of the bearer. Again, he sounds boring but he's well-written.
Ignus: Ignus is a wizard wants to set everything on fire. As punishment for arson, his body was made into a conduit to the Elemental Plane of Fire. So now he's on fire all the time.
Nordom: A robotic Modron who was exposed to chaos and thus tainted with individuality. He dual-wields crossbows.
Fall-From-Grace: A puritan succubus. She runs the Brothel for Slaking Intellectual Lusts. She's pretty awesome.
Vhailor: A suit of armor entirely devoted to justice and order. The best tank in any game ever.
Unlike other RPGs, these characters actually feel different from each other, with fairly different mechanics, inventory, and leveling systems for each of them. Compare to Final Fantasy, where all the characters are practically generic and identical apart from a few stats.

Also Planescape is the only thing that I will not spoil the ending to. It's a great ending. Mitch, you should play it, or give it (and a PC) to Young so she could play it.

I will totally spoil the ending to Fallout 2 though: the evil mastermind is the President of the United States. And you get to set him on fire, if you like.


fuck you, rpgs: part six

Dark Age of Camelot: I tried it for like ten minutes and got bored because it was ugly and had a horrible interface. I think you had to type "/attack" to attack.

World of Warcraft: Raising a new character to 70 makes me realize how horrible the old content is compared to the new content. It's awkwardly designed, overly hard, and just really frustrating in general. Dungeons, in particular, are too damn long, so I'm glad they've broken them up into wings from now on. One time in Sunken Temple my party got lost and we went through the same path like three times, since by the time we'd looped around all the monsters had respawned, so we didn't realize it for a while. I think that accurately simulates being lost in the non-Euclidean geometry of the Old Ones, so maybe they should reuse that "feature" for Azjol-Nerub. Burning Crusade's stuff was generally a lot better, so that makes me hopeful. But since they still feel that repetition is the most important aspect of gameplay, that makes me sad. Also apparently I can't truly enjoy playing anything that isn't a protection warrior. I might not be able to kill anything effectively, but I can not die for a really long time. So if hunters can learn to kite and feign death in real life, maybe I instinctively know how to sunder armor and shield block. I do feel like I'd be pretty good at taunting.


the rpg genre has some serious flaws, which i am willing to overlook only in the case of three games (planescape: torment and fallout 1&2): part five

Chrono Trigger: I got stuck fighting Magus. Apparently I didn't get to the exciting part of the game. What I like about Japanese RPGs is the totally unintuitive way they approach puzzles. Bad translation doesn't help, but they just expect you to do things and don't tell you what they are. I like adventure games. I like puzzles. It's just that if you've got a non-linear world, you need to give your puzzle a few parameters like, say, a general idea of what you need to do to proceed.

Chrono Cross: I liked the part where it didn't have an ending unless you beat the game in a stupid, arbitrary way! To its credit, this was the only non-Pokemon Japanese RPG I've beaten. But that was mostly for Young.

Pokemon: The entire game comes down to "can I use a super-effective attack against his guy?" Also it basically forces you to level-grind, which is a pretty shitty way to pad out your game.

Freedom Force: I only really play this for the cutscenes. Boss battles pretty much come down to making the one hurt member of your team run around until he heals while the other guys use the same attacks as often as they can.

Icewind Dale I and II: It's better than Baldur's Gate, but, still, same shitty combat engine. Also I hope you like fighting the entire army by yourself, because you have to do that at least five times per game. But the army's polite and will let you chill out a few days in their base while you heal between encounters, so it's not so bad. It's the most hardcore RPG I've played, because if you don't have exactly the right party certain monsters will just mop the floor with you. In the second game at least you can multiclass everyone into Fighter for the extra HP. But there's a guy that's immune to basically all magic and anything less than +5 weapons. I gave up then because I only had one +5 sword.


rpgs suck if they don't have "planescape" or "fallout" in the title (except for fallout tactics): part three

Deus Ex: When you make a hybrid RPG/first-person shooter, basically what you are saying is, "let's make a terrible first-person shooter and then let them customize their character to compensate for it." Once you get enough skill points and good weapons, there's really no challenge whatsoever. Especially if you have a flamethrower, because nobody can attack you if they're on fire. Sometimes there's robots that you can't set on fire, though. That's why you have a rocket launcher. You can get a badass nanotech sword with a blade a molecule thick, but it kind of sounds like it's made out of paper. And it looks like a cheap plastic toy.

Deus Ex: Invisibile War: It's like Deus Ex, only with fewer abilities to customize your character and less to do. In the future everything will be oversimplified for the benefit of console gaming.

Bioshock: It stops becoming cool once you realize there aren't going to be any new enemies, and the bosses are the regular enemies, only with more hit points, and there's no challenge in the game because it doesn't penalize you for dying at all. I will give them bonus points for finally giving me the ability to murder Ayn Rand with a golf club, at least in spirit. Oh, and there's a moral decision whether to save the Little Sisters and not take their stem cells or harvest them for their precious stem cells, except the payoff's ultimately the same no matter what you do, because they leave you gifts if you don't harvest them. One day there'll be a game that forces you to make sacrifices to uphold morality. Of course, nobody would ever do that, because at the end of the day gamers would all rather save some gold than save the orphanage.

Morrowind: If I'm standing right next to someone and swinging my sword literally into their face, why doesn't that hit them? Because BethSoft hates me. The fun part is wondering when bugs will choose to corrupt your save file next!

Oblivion: Interacting with the environment would be more fun if your character wasn't the clumsiest person imaginable. He/she/furry just holds everything at arm's length, apparently, and always grips things loosely from the top. Somebody needs to make a mod that lets you break plates and stuff, since trying to move any object results in knocking over everything else nearby, but apparently they're all busy making disturbing sex mods. Props to BethSoft, though, for taking a really cool concept for a story and making it really boring. As to the scaling monsters: what part of you made you think the reason people play RPGs constantly is to have the exact same level as every monster you encounter?