Obamacare Notes

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I have to assume that Obamacare’s just hunky-dory now.  Well, except for:

Skyrim vs. Fallout 3

I just finished Fallout 3’s main storyline yesterday, so I wanted to compare Bethesda’s two great games. I heartily recommend both, incidentally.

Better graphics: Skyrim. No surprise — the latter is a new title — but even for its time, Fallout isn’t that visually impressive. Visually APPROPRIATE, yes, but not visually impressive. Moments at Skyrim made me stop and just stare at the scenery. I never felt that in Fallout 3.

Better sound: Fallout 3. The relatively sparsely populated landscape in Fallout means less repetition in voice actors. I also think Fallout has the better Hollywood names — compare Liam Neeson, Malcolm McDowell and Ron Perlman to Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, and Michael Hogan. There’s not much of a contest there. (Wes Johnson was AWESOME as Sheogorath, but he is completely negated by the horribly annoying Cicero, who I kill every time just to shut his freaking facehole up. The sound effects are appropriate, but not overly memorable.

Better music: Push. Both games have soundtracks, but they are very much background noise most of the time. The radio stations would put Fallout over Skyrim, but Skyrim’s soundtrack just feels more epic. I can’t choose.

Better story: Fallout 3. If you’ve finished either of the first two games, you know that Fallout tends to end games well. There’s a coherent story throughout the entire game, it’s well told, and there’s just the right amount of exposition. Skyrim does none of those well.

Better world: Skyrim. I think it shows that both games have different design philosophy. Exploring Fallout 3 was occasionally irritating. Completely apropos, but irritating. Interiors are especially bad in Fallout 3; Skyrim outshines in almost every conceivable way.

Better leveling system: Skyrim. It makes sense — the more you stuff, the better you get at it. Fallout gives you XP for killing, discovering, and finishing quests. The level cap is much lower in Fallout 3 — 30 as opposed to Skyrim’s theoretically infinite one — but each new level in Skyrim still feels meaningful.

Better combat: Skyrim. As much as I enjoyed punching somebody so hard their head exploded in Fallout 3, Skyrim has the more fun and challenging combat mechanics. Fallout 3 is a third person shooter with tactical elements; the Rock-It Launcher (it will fire literally anything you put in it, from toasters to packs of cigarettes) is a fun little gimmick but not a serious weapon. Fallout does have nuclear weapons, but you can kill stuff with dragons in Skyrim.

More replay value: Skyrim. Because combat has a sense of sameness in Fallout 3, you’re really replaying to see how the story turns out different. That’s got value, but I will play Skyrim just to play Skyrim.

Most fun: Skyrim by a nose. There is stuff to do in Skyrim. A lot of stuff. The incidental dialogue is funnier (They’ve got curved swords. Curved. Swords.), and the companions more memorable. However, Fallout 3 has a giant robot that spouts anti-Communist propaganda while it kills stuff. The factions in Fallout are more well developed, too. Apart from The Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood (to a lesser extent), I didn’t care too much about the factions in Skyrim.

Difficulty: Fallout 3. Both games have inverted learning curves — they are harder earlier on. However, Fallout 3 feels more balanced. Past a certain part in Skyrim, the challenge is gone and you’re an unstoppable killing machine. That’s a lot of fun, and your play style will obviously make a big difference in the challenge, but Fallout is more reasonable. Cheap deaths are also far less common in Fallout 3 (no instadeaths, in other words). Fallout is slightly more difficult in the early game, but once you’re around level 7 or so, you’re through the tough spot until near the end of the game.

DLCs: N/A. I haven’t played the Fallout DLCs yet. I’ll do a mini-post for that later.

Overall value: Skyrim. If the two games cost the same, I’d take Skyrim every time in terms of bang for your buck. These days, Fallout 3 is slightly cheaper, but it’s still a slightly better deal in terms of the sheer quantity of playing hours.


Top thirty crime procedurals, #2: Psych

IMDB link.

Basic premise: How to con the police into being a cop without all of that training (or carrying a gun).

Why it’s here: I hate some of the new portmanteaus the English language has invented. I especially hate anything with the word “bro”. But there is no better term to describe the relationship between Shawn and Gus than “bromance.” It is the core of the show, and it is what makes this show the absolute best television program on basic cable. Hell, it does “Twin Peaks” better in its parody episode than Twin Peaks did. It is the very finest program the USA network has ever come up with.

Why it’s not higher: Because something has to be #2? If I had to nitpick, the show borders on the edge of too flippant at times. Still, it’s kind of the point, isn’t it?