Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Apocalypse

I have a question for me.
Yes, for me.
There's no point asking you, dear reader, because of the indirectness of this wonderful medium.
I wouldn't know who I was talking to.

So, anyway, here goes:
What is my obsession with the Apocalypse?

The apocalypse tells a promise, doesn't it?
The destruction of society as it is (which is a fun thought in and on itself, really), holds a lot of possibilities.
When society breaks down, so do all the rules. You don't have to wear conventional clothes, money doesn't exist anymore, and is changed for a different form of currency.

In Fallout 3, money is represented as arbitrary bottlecaps, a reference, maybe, to consumerism. After all, what we have most of, and what we can use as currency, is garbage. That works both ways, by the way. If you're in an extremely anti-capitalist mood, you can easily say that money is garbage.
See where the train is going? Yup, off-rail... wait... topic... or... ehh.. Who thought of that stupid analogy anyway?

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Fallout. No, wait... currency. Yeah, dat's der bunny.

In Metro 2033 (which is basically Fallout 3, but better (I'll get into that later)) the currency is bullets. Not just any, homemade bullet, but real bullets. (You can buy less effective ammo for it, if you want more, though less effective bullets). This makes sense, again, because bullets are the most important thing in a world filled with mutants, neo-nazi's and VERY aggressive communists. If you're able to shoot your money, you can really make a difference in your little, underground world. After all, if you don't have any bullets, your life isn't worth anything. Makes me wonder if Metro 2033 is based on a book or novel. Whoever came up with the basic premise has some good ideas.

Oh, all right. The premise is this:
Basically, some time during the cold war (I think. I don't know too much about the story), we did have a global thermonuclear war. We follow the adventures of a stereotypical young Russian boy, growing up in metro 2033 (The boy's name is one of those hollywood-type Russian names. You know, exotic and pronounceable and impossible to remember).
He grew up in metro 2033 because the rest of Moscow is a complete wasteland, filled with ghoulish creatures and raiders. The only way to travel with relative safety is by using the metro-tunnels. Now, of course the metro doesn't ride anymore, so you have to walk or use handcarts.
What's amazing about this game is the detail the men (or women ;) ) who made it put into it.
You need to wear a gas-mask when going outside, because frankly, you'll choke on ash and other unhealthy things if you don't. If you put it on, you can see the edges of the screen distorted by old glass, there's specks of dust on the in- and outside. You can watch the watch on your wrist, to see how much time you have left.
While the basic premise of Metro 2033 might seem like Fallout 3, all in all, the latter was... unfinished. It was a next-gen game, and the character models were abominable.
And now, several years later, we have Metro 2033, which is what Fallout 3 should have been. And frankly, this topic has derailed so hard, I'm just gonna aim this train for a swimming pool because there are no topics or stations in sight.


The apocalypse.

Apocalypses are also very popular in movies, though, in my personal opinion/experience, less interesting. Watching the apocalypse happen is fun, I admit... but... yknow... that's not what I'm in it for. I don't want to watch the buildings crumble. I want to see civilization itself crumble, not because I don't like it, but because I'm fascinated by it. I want to see civilization crumble because I want to see people start again from scratch. Which is what movies try to do, but often, all too often, they'll either focus a lot on the material destruction itself, or not focus enough on the life of a world which is completely in waste.

Fallout 3 on the left, Mad Max on the right

Mad max did it beautifully. For the first part of the film, you saw someone, living a life in a world which was in ruins, and it actually worked out for him at first. That's what interested me. If the rest of the movie wasn't so damn good, I would've stopped caring. I like lone wanderers, I really do. But I care more about the guy you can see in scene 34, walking by with his cart full of old guns and tires (he's fictional. There's no guy with a handcart in scene 34, if there even is a scene 34). After all, he makes do in a world which is in ruins, and he does it without killing everyone, without being the hero that everyone knows the name of. He just survives, maybe even in a community, which interests me even more.

It's what I like about Fallout 3. Every time you're separate from civilization, all alone, in the wasteland, surrounded by bushes and REALLY annoying flying bees that shoot their... stuff (I don't want to know what it is, but they shoot it with their butt) at you, and I get BORED. Bored out of my head. But then you reach megaton, a town built around the one atomic bomb that didn't explode. And the people there seem to realize what it is, what it signifies, but they have a religion, based around the bomb.

The widdwe bomb in question

And that interests me. There's racism! Towards, mind you, not black people. There's racism towards zombies! There are smart zombies, and they are a repressed minority! How awesome can you be, to come up with that kind of thing.

Which brings me to the zombie apocalypse, which is another thing entirely.
If I have to choose between different apocalypses, the zombie apocalypse is the one I'd go for. If I have to choose in popular culture and media what apocalypse, I'm definitely not going for zombies. Because the threat is so constant, there's no real hope of rebuilding a civilization. Not a real one. I like the world as it is now. But if someone gave me a reset button, you'd have to chain me down or tranq me hard to keep me from "accidentally" pressing it.

I'm reaching the end of the road now. The pool is in sight. I just want to say one more thing. It's why games are, in my opinion, much better suited for that kind of thing. Mad Max aside, 2 hours isn't long enough to create a world, and create believable characters in it. It works for more far-fetched, fantasy-worlds, because they're so far-off. It's where we spend our time there in our imagination. But a post-apocalyptic world is basically this one, but harder and easier. And you need hours to get yourself lost in it.
And getting lost in it, and believing in a world is always fun. It's even better if it has good ideas. Good ideas stimulate me into writing really long blog posts.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm joining this guy.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't read this one yet. I like it. Sometimes I've got the feeling this kind of apocalypse is happening this very moment... Not in a bad way, but in that interesting way you describe so vividly.