Top Ten: Film References in Fallout New Vegas

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Fallout: New Vegas has such a nauseating number of things to see, do, collect and – most enjoyably of all– murder with a piston-powered gauntlet. Though at first the maddening (MADDENING!) sense of ‘missing out’ on alternative and potentially more pleasurable paths every time you make a decision cripples the fun, frustration sooner or later gives way to awe once the player settles into a character. Mine was called Lawrence of Ara(diation)bia. It is immensely rewarding to guide the fates of the Wasteland factions in the direction you’d like for your moral compass to be pointing.

DLC included, NV has more content than Fallout 3 even, and what’s more, there’s a veritable nuclear payload of homages to sci-fi and cinema. Movie references range from the sinister to the hilarious, and are a trademark of the uniquely nerdy gallows humour that Bethesda are so very fond of. Here is a list of ten of them.

10. That Gun – Blade Runner (1982) – It’s Deckard’s! Much as the designs are alike, the one in game has just one trigger to Ford’s detective’s dual pew pew buttons. Why the missing firing mechanism, BethSoft? Maybe, just maybe, they’ve finally cracked the decades long debate as to whether Deckard is a man or a replicant. One trigger rather than two halves the firing rate, but also suggests that Deckard is half the man you think he is, as in not real, as in a robot, and robots, as we all know, are replicated. Deckard is a replicant! Thanks, BethSoft.

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9. ‘Heart condition’- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) – The teetotal Legionnaire nutjobs under Caesar’s command will enslave and rape you as soon as look at you, and woe betide anyone who takes drugs in their presence. A Legion gatekeeper demands that you hand over your game-altering substances before entering Caesar’s military encampment, but a self-diagnosed homage to the ‘Angina Pectoris’ quote from Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing lets you bypass this security measure and steer clear of a surgical bypass down the line.

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8. ‘Even a god king can bleed’ – 300 (2006) – After downloading the Gun Runner’s Arsenal pack, the player’s Pip-Boy is inundated with challenges to unlock XP; they mainly (as in all) revolve around killing or maiming Mojave inhabitants in unconventional ways. One such challenge is called Even a God King Can Bleed, a direct quote from the graphic novel and film adaptation of 300 which refers to the shaming of Xerxes by Leonidas’ magnificently well thrust spear. To win, you must cripple the head of the murderous Caesar with a spear of your own. Sticking true to the source, as soon as the projectile strikes home a thousand nations descend upon you, except with giant metal robot fists instead of arrows.

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7. ‘A group of murderous thugs in search for a heart, a brain and a spine’ – Wizard of Oz (1939)- Dr Mobius, he of the spectacular Old World Blues DLC add-on, comes out with some real crackers over the course of your time in the Big MT e.g. ‘It is I, Dr. Mobius, transmitting from my dome-shaped… DOME in the Forbidden Zone. A zone… that is, yes…FORBIDDEN to you!’ Best of all is his grim post-nuclear take on the tale of Dorothy and the Yellow Brick world. According to this fiendish Mentats junky of a brain bot, the lion, the scarecrow, and the tin man were nothing more than common bandits and organ thieves and it ‘turns out they had them all along’ anyway, so all that Predator-esque filleting was for nought.

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6. Room #101/molerat torture/book chute – Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – Old World Blues is positively saturated with literary and cinematic references, none more noticeable than for 1984. There’s a quaint cottage named House #101, an anti-Commie Book Chute that’s only function is the incineration of ‘seditious material’ (books, pencils etc) and sentience wherever it is found, and an elaborate ‘F**k off’ during which you’re calmly instructed to strap yourself into a chair beneath a cage into which will be dumped molerats, which are just gigantically mutated rodents. Has it been mentioned yet that Fallout New Vegas is double-plus good yet? Because it is.

5. Holy Hand Grenades – Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – On your many travels you may well come across these ghoul-busters in the basement of an abandoned church. If you do happen to pick them up, pay strict attention to the instruction

4. Atomised Prof. Jones – Indiana Jones and the Film You Pretend Didn’t Happen (2008) – In a fresh change from the wishy-washy fantasies of George Lucas’ dreamworld, the Mojave Wasteland has not time for physical impossibilities, only practicality. In the screen shot below, Bethesda acknowledge that, lead lining or no, the flesh and organs of a human body would be eviscerated if caught in the apex of a nuclear explosion. Tissue would be stripped and vaporised while mere milliseconds later the atomic blast would reduce the skeleton to a fine ash. Even if the metal layer protected Indy from the main damage, the overwhelming blunt trauma of being tossed around like a fleshy pinball in a small container designed to preserve food as it clatters several hundreds yards along the desert floor would be sure out leave you a pulpy and unrecognisable mess.

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3. Vault-Tec Snowglobes – Citizen Kane (1941) – Semi-mummified Vegas tycoon Robert House is an insatiable busybody, yet he remains bubbled and aloof from the troubles of those on the Strip – as for those beyond its electroluminescent borders, forget it. His obsession with collecting snow globes is a blatant allusion to Citizen Kane, yet House is even more power mad than he; all in all, he amasses eleven of the blasted things to Charles Kane’s single, paltry Rosebud. Gotta say though, some of the depicted scenes are hard to invest in; the Vegas Strip covered in a frosty blanket of crispest snow? Not likely House. Call yourself a ‘pragmatist’…

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2. The White Glove Society – Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – Masks, sinister English accents even though it’s America, thick rugs and transient classical compositions that float through marble passageways. The cannibalism of New Vegas’ White Glove Society is something new, as Kubrick never delved into that particular realm with his psycho sexual last hurrah, Eyes Wide Shut. There is, however, a sort of pseudo-religious subtext to the flesh eating in New Vegas that reminds one faintly of Scientology, a science/faith hybrid of which Tom Cruise – star of Eyes Wide Shut – is an ardent follower, so it all bow-ties up (because of the Tuxedos) neatly in the end.

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1. ‘They won’t get my vital essence’ – Dr Strangelove (1964) – This declaration can be found typed tapped into the virtual confessionals of a now long-deceased agoraphobe in small town New Vegas. Heavily boobytrapped, the home was a totally random find which linked in no way to any quest line in the game – it’s just a Strangelove reference, plain and simple, and it’s beautiful. Of course, the lore of the Fallout series is based on the underground Vaults commissioned by the government to preserve a specified strata of the general population in case of nuclear annihilation, so you might say that everything in the game can be boiled down to a Strangelove reference.

Movie Quibble is now finished with Fallout New Vegas, and the blog is back on track. Bethesda? More like BeTHEFTSda, because they’ve unlawfully deprived Movie Quibble’s five readers of their cherished triweekly blogs.
Now for a song:

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