Much like Torment, Fallout creates a thick web of plot and characterization by layering NPCs upon NPCs. Every village, town and city in the wastelands is chock full of unique people/mutants to meet and a lot of them want your help. Each area in the Fallout universe is discreet and coherent: Aroyo is a small primitive tribal ground, New Reno is a multi-map big city, complete with warring crime bosses and casino. Many games do this, but it’s Fallout 2 that excels at connecting it all together. Each area is related to the others through the characters you meet and political intrigue. A revolutionary in New California Republic is trying to overthrow the government of Vault City. In turn, this revolutionary is funded by gangsters in New Reno. Then there are all the small touches that make radioactive California feel like home – bottles of Nuke-Cola and Rotgut liquor, bags of Cheezy Poofs, and decks of Tragic the Garnering cards.
A modern invasion by supernatural beings is not exactly the most believable setting, but Atlus manages to pull it off. When your town is isolated and demons are prowling the streets, you find townspeople in various states of shock – some near the barrier, begging to be let out, others huddling together in the malls and school wondering what will happen next. The police chief surrenders to the demons to avoid bloodshed, while the high school students try to form a stable shelter against the wandering monsters. Your characters are somewhat calmer, but still react with wonderment at the entire situation. The dark atmosphere of much of the game drives home the reality of the setting in Persona and makes demons invading a modern day town believable.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Although the setting is only one of many great aspects of this stellar game, Silicon Knights’ GameCube epic really makes you want to become an archaeologist. The game has four different locales: a Persian temple, a Christian church in France, a Revolution-era mansion in Rhode Island, and an ancient temple in Cambodia. The interesting thing that SK did with the areas was to have the player travel to them in completely different eras in time, spanning nearly 2000 years. Each time you explore an area again, which could be hundreds of years later, you see what time can do to an environment. Some grow into huge engineering feats, but later lay in ruin. SK doesn’t even present their universe in chronological order, and you find yourself trying to figure out how everything came to be. Then add in all the accurate historical data that SK brought to the presentation, and you have one of the best settings ever in gaming.
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