I've started a second playthrough of Fallout 3, which continues to delight and dazzle with its joyful brilliance. But it's all gone a bit pear-shaped.
My first playthrough was on the Very Good side of the Karma meter. I was lauded far and wide, people ran up to me to give me stuff for free, etcetera. So this time I thought I'd be a villainous villain and go Very Bad. I've even come up with a reasonable in-game excuse: I've made my character Asian in appearance, the little meta-narration in my head explaining that she's from a dynasty of cunning Chinese spies.
That sounds kind of racist. I should explain that in Fallout's backstory, the world has been reduced to a crispy post-nuclear wasteland as a result of a bit of argy-bargy between the U.S. and China. So the idea is that my girl (who I've named Ziyi in honour of Zhang Ziyi because a) she was the first Chinese woman I thought of and b) I really fancy her) is the latest in a long line of craftily planted agents designed to keep on screwing Americans over long after the war. Hence, villainy.
Annnnnyway, it ain't happening. I'm on level 5 or 6 and still on the Good side of the meter. I'm finding it genuinely hard to be a bastard. The worst thing I've done is told Bryan Wilkes, the little kid who kicks off the "Those!" quest (the one with the giant fire-spitting ants) to naff off and stop bothering me. And I would've done that anyway 'cos "Those!" is a really annoying quest and I vowed never to do it again after my first playthrough. And I gave Three-Dog a bit of lip, but since that was after I already helped him out with repairing his radio broadcasts it didn't do much. I did try to nick some of his stuff while he was sleeping, but he woke up, took the stuff back and then instantly went back to sleep again. Git.
So yeah, I apparently don't have it in me to be a wanker. Actually, this is a thing about Fallout which is one of the reasons I love it so much: there aren't enough games that let you be nice. Most open-world, "do anything" games translate "do anything" as "shoot anyone". (Hi, Grand Theft Auto!) It's kind of the standard response in gaming, so to come across a game where you can persuade people not to fight you and give up the vital keycard or whatever willingly is so refreshing that I find it hard not to choose that option. (On a smaller scale, the fact that in Bully you can wander around giving people thumbs-ups and compliments always delights me.)
I am going to try and kick off in Fallout 3 though, honest. I'ma nuke Megaton and everything. Although I need to get my lockpick skill up high enough to rob Sheriff Simms' house and find the Bobblehead that's apparently in there first. Then I'ma nuke it.
Although actually, now that I think about it, another reason I'm holding off on the bastardry is that I don't want to disappoint my in-game dad. Because he's Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson. You don't let Liam Neeson down, for heaven's sake, he's a talking Jesus-allegory lion Jedi that leads the A-Team. And I think he had a beer with Homer Simpson once.
I guess I'm going to have to keep reminding myself that the game's main bad guy is Malcolm McDowell. I'm not betraying Liam Neeson, I'm teaming up with Malcolm McDowell! No jury would convict me.