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24 March 2011

Introducing my Fallout New Vegas tour!

"Fallout: New Vegas" - a role-playing videogame that uses the surreal landscape of a post-apocalyptic Mojave Desert, complete with Sin City, as its backdrop - is a stupidly wonderful game. On the basis the Yanks are forever clogging up Europe doing "Da Vinci Code" tours and the like, it's payback time ... with a Fallout tour of the real Mojave!
In a couple of days I'm setting off for Las Vegas, to find and photograph the real-world locations that inspired the ones in the game - and blog my successes and failures.

There's one rider on this tour: the Mojave Wasteland isn’t the Mojave, and New ain't Las. The game’s not set in our future, but the future as people imagined it in the 1950s – a fantastical Gernsbackian scientifiction, where the West was never quite won, a gun was your best friend, and tailfins never shrank back into the brightwork. And, er, there was a nuclear exchange around 2077. That's issue 1.

Issue 2 is that the in-game geography was designed to evoke the region, not represent it. (That's nuclear apocalypse for you.) An area spanning several States in real life had to be walkable in a day or two of in-game time; four miles of Strip can be covered in five minutes even when you're carrying 270kg. Distances have been truncated, roads are just a state of mind, and the topology's been squished and stretched to give far-off locations a visual presence on your in-game horizon. The way the game designers have done this - combined with the haunting soundtrack, solid backstory, and properly-scripted dialogue - is breathtaking.

Now here's the kicker. Since the game is ultimately the answer to a single question - if history had turned out this way, what might that look like? - many locations in the game exist in real life

So on the New Vegas Strip stands the Gomorrah Casino - clearly a reimagining of the Sahara. The Lucky 38 is probably the Stratosphere, although the geography's a bit different. The Tops may be Circus Circus (Big Top, geddit?) and I'm guessing the Ultra Luxe subs for the Mirage. Litigation may have played as big a role as imagination: one's run by gangsters, one by a dictator, and the Ultra Luxe management enjoy the most forbidden meat of all … so bear in mind I could be wrong here. About every single thing.

This blog records my trip to Vegas and the Mojave area in March and April 2011, in 34 in-game locations. Ready to start? Let's go!

1 comment:

  1. Chris, this website is very very very cool. I love it.


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