Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wasteland: Prison and Place and Reverberation

Andrew Schultz's map of Las Vegas in Wasteland.

After I was sure that I had so thoroughly explored Las Vegas that there was no danger of spoilers, I Googled a map of the city in Wasteland, you'll never guess who created a whole bunch of Wasteland maps and walkthroughs! Andrew Schultz, if you ever stumble on this blog, please, please write to me. I want to send you some money in a box.

The reason I sought out such a map was to compare it to a real map of Las Vegas (and I was too lazy to draw one from the game myself). Damned if they didn't do a pretty good job. The game's version of Vegas is only a small part of downtown, but the roads are basically laid out correctly. The game skips some major roads, such as Sands Avenue, and the proportions are off (Charlestown Boulevard is way too close to Sahara Avenue), but overall they could have done worse.

The corresponding real area of Las Vegas.

The biggest problem is they've got an airport where the Boulevard Mall is located. It's been there since 1968, and it's hard to imagine what escalation of the Cold War would cause them to tear it down for an airport.

According to Google Maps, the red building to the northwest ought to be Raising Caine's Chicken Fingers.

When I left my last posting, I was heading for Vegas, but I happened to note a note in my notes that said "Darwin=PROTEUS." I thought this might be the password for one of the buildings in Darwin Village, so I returned. Not only wasn't it the password, but the guards attacked me for guessing. After I killed them, I was able to enter the building, and I found a black market which sold all kinds of cool stuff, including demolitions, anti-tank weapons, and Kevlar Suits. I spent some cash. The bartender didn't have anything to say to PROTEUS either, so I returned to Vegas.

After an apocalypse, wouldn't everything pretty much be "black market"?

Vegas was crawling with robots, mechanized tanks, cyborgs, and so forth. I had a battle at just about every intersection.

Through my exploration, I discovered that there were three basic power factions in Vegas: Fat Freddy, an underworld kingpin; Faran Brygo, a gangster-cum-community leader; and the Temple of the Mushroom Cloud, headed by the beautiful Charmaine.

A hobo lays it all out for me.

The robots had shown up recently, marching out of some underground base in the west, but preceded by a stranger named Max from the east--a brilliant hand-to-hand fighter and scientist who so impressed Brygo that he made Max his right-hand man. When the robots showed up, Max started raving about everyone being in danger, and then he disappeared. My party showed up shortly afterwords.

The house always wins, even in post-apocalyptic Vegas.

I found this all out from the paragraphs in the adventurer's journal, but only after I slaughtered all of Faran Brygo's henchmen and customers. You see, I had been running low on cash and I was rather expecting to make a lot of money gambling in Vegas. But it turns out gambling is just based on your gambling skill, not on any kind of real-world skill (the gambling games aren't mini-games; you just say you want to gamble and the game tells you how much you won). After I lost a ton of money, I wasn't feeling too happy about it. Fortunately, Brygo didn't seem to hold it against me.

Fat Freddy wanted me to kill Brygo, but Brygo seemed to be the only person organizing any kind of resistance against the robots, so I killed Fat Freddy instead (Brygo didn't even ask me to; that was a bonus). Brygo sent me on to Charmaine (introduced as the most beautiful woman I've ever seen) at the Temple, who wanted me to bring her the Bloodstaff from Needles for her assistance. (What is it with this Bloodstaff? I'm not sure the game really ever explains its function.) I got it from the temple there and returned it to her, and she informed me that Max was a robot. She told me he'd gone into the sewers beneath the city and opened a way for me.

What do you mean "even though?" Glowing purple enhances any woman's beauty!

The sewers were extremely difficult. When I first entered, I fell into an underground river and was swept out of Vegas to the Colorado River, only to find, after I shook myself off and climbed to the shore, that all my characters had "sewer rot." This required an expensive trip to the doctor. Returning to the sewers again, I found that the place was full of tough robots, and I had to keep retreating to go buy more ammo because I was expending entire clips on "auto" at them. I also spent long passages of just "waiting" so I could heal up between combats. Among the detritus of the robots, I recovered several laser pistols and energy packs (in the library in Vegas, I was able to train in the "energy weapon" skill) and a bunch of computer parts, including an android's head--presumably Max's.

I'm a little stuck here.

As I close the game for the night, I'm in a lab with several tables that seem to have something to do with putting Max back together again, but I can't quite get the sequence right.

My NPC roster was full.

I skipped a bunch of stuff in my account above because I played a lot of it last night and didn't take good notes about the order of things. There was a library and hospital in Vegas, and a jail where I rescued one of Brygo's men. I didn't have the password to enter the Temple, so I had to kill a ton of guards, who were very tough to kill but who also missed my characters with 90% of their attacks. In some building, I found a "proton axe" which turned out to be an awesome melee weapon, but it's rare that I can get close enough to use it.

The toughest robot, staking out a major intersection, was called a "Scorpitron." My characters gained a ton of levels in their automatic weapons, SMG, and clip pistol skills while fruitlessly firing shots at it--it appears that gaining levels in skills depends on the difficulty of the enemy you're facing. I only defeated it when I finally found some RPGs to lob at it from a distance. My character with high anti-tank weapon skills kept missing with her LAW rockets. Nothing like missing your shot with a $2,500 item.

Speaking of money, I realized I hadn't previously mentioned that you don't get any cash rewards or items from most regular battles. Never, it seems from random combats. It appears that the items dropped by certain enemies is fixed, which also means that there's a fixed amount of cash in the game. I'm not doing terribly, but I am a bit concerned about running out before the end, especially since I wasted so much selling excess stuff to the merchant in Quartz and then buying it back.

Some other notes:

  • I finally found a place in which "move silently" would have come in handy.

I don't think it would have been worth taking the skill for this one moment.

  • NPCs occasionally refuse to do what you tell them to do, such as using a skill or trading an item. If you keep trying, they do it anyway, so I'm not sure what purpose this serves except to slow you down.

Perhaps ACE would prefer to be abandoned in the middle of a street full of cyborgs.

  • In a couple of the Vegas buildings, I was attacked by swarms of bees, who I was able to kill with bullets. I wonder how effective shooting bees would be in real life. You'd have to be a good shot.
  • I'm finally starting to use my grenades. They don't do a lot against tanks, but they are pretty cool. I wish I'd used them more at the beginning of the game against flesh-and-blood enemies.

Grenades damage everyone in the blast radius.

  • I'm finding a lot more excuses to split my party. In one case, I had to walk through an irradiated area and only had one radiation suit. I don't know how far you can split the party; I haven't tried having three characters walk to Quartz while the other three stay in Vegas. Would there be any advantage to this?
  • My highest-ranked character, after progressing through cool-sounding ranks like "command corporal," "grenadier major," and "master grenadier," just made...sergeant. Seriously? This far in the game (at least, I feel like I'm pretty far), and all I have to show for it is "sergeant"?

None of my characters, single-handedly saving the world, are even commissioned rank.

We seem to have a main quest at last, though, and it prompted me to go back and try to reconcile what I've experienced with the Hobo's prophecies, recounted in a posting a few days ago. "Beware he man who has lived longer than the wasteland" might refer to Max who, as a robot, has probably lived a long time. "A body is only a box to keep your mind in" also has a robot-ish feel, as does "a machine's dream is everyone's nightmare." Beyond that, I'm still a bit lost.

In a couple of comments, UbAh has remarked that he thought I might not like some of these plot developments, which are fairly unrealistic and goofy in a B-movie way. I can't say that I'm overly enamored of the turns the game has taken, but I'm willing to reserve judgement until I see how the storyline pans out. Right now, the game seems headed down a track to rip off The Terminator. I hope there's a big reveal about the robots that's a little more original than that.


  1. You seem to have a lot more patience for goofy plots when it's not post apocalyptic genre :-)

    Wasteland IS pretty silly, and I'm glad they kept the silliness in the Fallout series. Too many games take themselves way too seriously!

    Oo,oo, how about a CRPGAddict special topic on humor in CRPGs?

  2. All of the Hobo's prophecies you've mentioned do, in fact, at least refer to something in the game. How useful they are is another matter.

  3. I love it. Faran Brygo = Bryan Fargo. How many times will he appear in this game?

  4. I do hope that Andrew Schultz at least knows how many people, with how many games, his information/maps/walkthroughs/etc. have helped.

    It seems like every pre 1990 RPG I've gone back to play has info from him (even my favorite from that era, Legend of Blacksilver).

    The man should write a book about that era of games. I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

  5. Believe me, he knows.

    I had the fortune of doing some searching for an old game I played as a kid for the Apple II called Centauri Alliance (it was a sci-fi version of Bard's Tale by the same guy who did Bard's Tale). I found Andrew Schultz's original page on Geocities that had complete maps and walkthroughs for it. I sent him an email telling him how useful they were and we exchanged a few emails back and forth about the game and a few others he had on that page.

  6. Not fair! You haven't even started to play TES 1 (Arena), and you're dropping hints that you will be spending time on the fifth installment?

    (Just kidding, of did say you have 2 months off. I'm enjoying your play through of Wasteland, although it does seem a lot harder [or more complicated, maybe] than I would have expected.)

  7. Alright, here are the weapon tips for vegas:

    ECT-7 - Gur zbfg cbjreshy NG Jrncba

    Ynfre Cvfgby - Hfr gur nzzb va gurz, gura fryy gurz. Nffnhyg Evsyrf ner whfg nobhg nf cbjreshy ohg qba'g jnfgr cerpvbhf Cbjre Cnpxf. Ynfre Cvfgbyf unir gur terngrfg qnzntr vasyvpgvat cbgragvny bs NAL jrncba. Xrrc gung va zvaq.

    Ynfre Pneovar - Hfr gurz va gur Frjref, gura fryy gurz yvxr Ynfre Cvfgbyf

    Ynfre Evsyr - Gur znvafgnl jrncba yngre va gur tnzr Hfr Fvatyr fubgf hayrff lbh'er va qrrc gebhoyr.

    Punvafnj - N tbbq zryrr jrncba.

    Cebgba Nk - Gur orfg zryrr jrncba.

    Punvafnj - Ehyrf va pbzovangvba jvgu oenjyvat; qba'g or fhecevfrq gb vasyvpg 100 qnzntr cre ebhaq jvgu guvf yrguny pbzovangvba. Gurl arire eha bhg bs nzzb. N grzcbenel svk sbe punenpgref jvgubhg chtvyvfz. Bapr lbh trg chtvyvfz
    yriry 3 sbetrg nyy bgure zryrr jrncbaf naq pbapragengr ba envfvat chtvyvfz.

    And more random things I thought you might like to read: While I really think you should read the above, this is more on the ehhh, might want to, might not. I removed a couple to make it less spoilery before posting actually, why don't other readers give you an opinion on if you should read it?

    Hfr ebcrf gb pebff gur evire naq punfz. Fjvzzvat jbexf gbb, ohg ebcrf ner zhpu zhpu rnfvre.

    Hfr n fubiry gb oernx guebhtu nyy gur ubyybj jnyyf. Rkcybfvirf jbex gbb, ohg gung'f xvaq bs jnfgrshy.

    Tb jvyq jvgu lbhe pbairagvbany nzzhavgvba. Nsgre lbh svavfu gur Frjref FZTf ner nyzbfg hfryrff naq Nffhnyg Evsyr nzzb vf snveyl purnc.

    I'll post the post-vegas weapons tips after you leave Vegas if you want.

  8. I have really enjoyed reading your walkthrough of this game. It was my favorite growing up and honestly spoiled me for RPGs moving forward. If a game doesn't have skills, I tend to like it less.

    I can tell you every skill has a place to be used (Except for combat shooting). Although, there are 1 or 2 with only 1 place to use it. And of course, these aeras usually have several ways to pass through. Why move silently past the guards when you can throw a grenade in the room?

    Flamethrowers rock but are expensive. Chainsaws are great Melee Weapons too.

    Stick with the game, I am enjoying your fresh view and thoughts on this game. It's liek I'm 12 again heh.

  9. Anyone who loves Wasteland would really enjoy mynameisnotlilly's Let's Play of it as well. I actually know him personally, having had him in my D&D group back in `03. Seems like a lifetime ago. Anyway, as far as this LP, he made a real production out if it, and his radio announcer voice doesn't hurt things either. Here's a link to the first video:


  10. Kennon, I realize you were kidding, but that's a little unfair. I've slammed Medieval-style games for their goofiness, too. It's not the humor that's the problem; it's the constant disassociation from the integrity of the game world. In this, Wasteland isn't nearly as bad as, say, Ultima II, or even Might & Magic II in places. I prefer games that believe in their worlds rather than constantly winking at you as you play.

    Andrew, thanks for the update on Andrew. Any chance you have a more current e-mail address for him? The last one I can find is at Earthlink or something and no longer exists.

    Duskfire, as you'll see from my second Skyrim posting today, my "two months off" turned into one month and will probably be whittled down to three weeks by the time it's over. I need to learn how to say no.

    Canageek, I appreciate the hints. I waited until the final area (or what I think is the final area) before I read them, so they weren't blatant spoilers, but they confirmed what I had somewhat figured out. I don't think it makes sense, though: why should automatic weapons suddenly stop working against nuns?

    Amy, thanks for that link. I can already tell that when I finish this game, I'm going to want to consult LPs and walkthroughs to see what I missed. I feel like I'm missing a lot, if for no other reason than I keep having to use plastic explosives in places where people ask me for passwords.

  11. They don't stop working, they just don't do enough damage. You can hide a lot of armour under a habit...


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