Part 39: It Was A Waste Of Time All Along!It Was A Waste Of Time All Along!
Welcome back! Last time we battled (as Dack Fayden pointed out in the thread) an evil Thomas Pynchon reference that reminded us we could be reading things that are not shit.
Today we're going to get very close to finishing the game. Forever.
Now that we have the Hazmat suit, there is no reason to go underground again. Now, there's a lot more stuff to do in the Dead City, but it all sucks, so it can remain undone.
This is where we need to go. We could hire the guys at the looter base to open the underground entrance, but this is cheaper and FAR less tedious.
This leads to a rat battle. I cannot emphasize enough how fucking tedious and uncreative this garbage pile game is.
It's clear the developers consume a lot of media, but they have almost nothing to say.
It's an adaptation of the spirit of conspiracy stories, vaguely, but you have to really break down and analyze the tedious text and once again, none of the conspiracy shit really affects the player. Sure, we had to murder the totally not evil Valya Satanovsky on behalf of some stalkers, but we were never really threatened aside from game mechanics.
What we need to do is go down this hole.
I'm not making you read all this shit. I just think it's funny that ATOM always has all the party members comment in succession and have very little to say. If you have a rope you can go down the hole.
This leads us to the last bunker, which thankfully is not full of rats.
Now, quick, I want you to think of the absolute laziest AI reference you can. Super basic. First thing that comes to mind. Ready?
It's motherfucking HAL 9000!
See it's funny because it's a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey AND to calling people Comrade! Get it! Do you get it! Ha ha!
: [Intellect] Beep-beep, you say? It seems that I am dealing with a robot...
Of course our old friend tedious narration is back.
: Beep-bop, comrade. I am VIL-a - 'Vladimir Ilyich Lenin' Atomic positronic-emission-based AI with widened machine logic.
: In that case I'll just break the lock on this door...
See? It's funny because he won't open the door, just like the movie! Ha ha! Ha ha!
: [You inspect the heavy metal door, but it has no keyhole, nor even a crevice to level open with a crowbar. The computer's voice, which you would swear has grown more serious, interrupts your fruitless conversation]
: Unfortunately, this action will yield no result, comrade. Moreover, beep, a second attempt to discover a weakness in the bunker's side doors will result in punishment delivered by the built-in PERUN defense system.
: Does that mean I need to identify myself?
: What is the UU-1 protocol check?
: Beep-boop! Vil-a refers to lines 192-198 of the Protocol - in order to regulate access to restricted sections of the bunker, ViL-a - 'Vladimir Ilyich Lenin' Atomic positronic-emission-based AI with augmented machine logic, will use its most advanced module - the EYE - facial and object recognition system based on spectral analysis.
: If the EYE module is not operational, VIL-a will use the EAR module - voice pattern recognition system based on audio-waveform analysis. Beep-beep!
: In case of EAR module failure, VIL-a will determine access rights based on the UU-1 Protocol. UU-1 protocol uses VIL-a logic. The system will ask the employee a variety of personal questions, and based on the responses decide whether to grant access.
: The UU-1 Protocol is to be used only as a last resort, since at this stage of development the system can easily be deceived. Beep-beep!
It's fucking amazing to me that you have a functioning AI in a post-apocalyptic world and the only thing you can think to use it for is pissing it away on shitty references.
: Maybe I'll just go find my employee access card, will that work?
: [The talking computer's glowing red eye suddenly looks down. Perhaps the weird device is interested in your shoes, or maybe it "lowered its gaze" because it was "ashamed"...]
: This method is not valid for gaining access, comrade. VIL-a is forced to admit that the following modules: EYE, spectral analysis facial recognition system, and EAR, voice pattern recognition system, have been restored to their original factory settings as a result of an emergency reboot, and thus are not currently functioning.
: VIL-a is currently unable to analyze access cards. At the present time, VIL-a isn't even able to determine the height, body type, race, and gender of the comrade to whom VIL-a is talking.
As you might guess, randomly picking a name gets us this:
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: I'd like to open this door.
: I can't let you do that, comrade!
: Oh fuck me, another uncreative reference. Can I bypass it?
: Back in college, I had a girlfriend who could only get aroused when I narrated excessively, and I mean excessively. I could never use a word when a sentence would do, and she went absolutely wild when I described everything as tonelessly and verbosely as possible. She let me do WEIRD shit, man! But then she left me after reading a Robert Jordan book, and I was left with the desire to spew verbal diarrhea everywhere. Hopefully she will see this game script and take me back! Inessa, I love you! Oh, by the way, you have to do the dumb fake ID shit to open the door.
: Well, ok, but I'm not gonna get screwed by the cameras right?
: Unfortunately all my sensors have mysteriously rebooted so I can only rely on these insecure security questions. What is your name?
: Dick Hertz.
You need to go find notes with personal information to open the door. It's not a bad idea, but again, I have very little patience left with this game. We have a last name, Turgenev.
This is a hint at how to cause VIL-a to lockdown, as he sees Engineer Turgenev as his father. Also more identifying information.
Talking to VIL-a again gets this.
Seriously. Both of them chime in to tell you what the AI just told you. Why are these chucklefucks even here?
The rest of the information we need is gated behind... a fucking rat battle! It's the only one in this bunker, but why? It's a secret Soviet superscience bunker! We know there's weird psionic shit going on! Why the fuck can't we fight psychic mutants or anything moderately interesting?
We have a full name now.
Lastly, you need the name of Mrs. Turgenev for the security questions.
We can throw all these answers at VIL-a and open the door.
Our next guy is a general.
We have a first name.
It also looks like the gun they gave him he used to shoot himself.
We can pick the lock on the safe for some good loot, including an automatic pistol, another backpack, and some +1 AP stimulants we are going to need very soon.
There's another reference in a locker.
This hockey mask looks like it's really good for us, but it has a very stupid catch.
The melee damage bonus isn't added after the roll like in say, Dungeons and Dragons, but it's added to the maximum range of the weapon. Our minimum damage with the Cossack Sword before was 17. With the hockey mask, it's still 17 but we can roll higher on damage. Have I mentioned that every single mechanical idea this game has is bad?
So I'm going to cut this short. We need to find all the crap for the general. There's an Intellect/Personality check pair you can pass to avoid this, but I whiff it.
Do you get it yet? Do you?
I'm cutting out the party members' ineffectual pleading, threatening, and reasoning with VIL-a because it's just not funny.
We throw the general's information at it and we pass.
This leads us to a choice between another unfunny reference door and the absolute, bar none, most garbage fight in a game full of badly designed garbage fights.
: I am sorry, comrade, but I truly cannot allow you to do that. In addition, due to the crimes you have committed within the facility, VIL-a cannot allow you to exit this bunker.
: Please move away from the door, kneel, and enter what Protocol describes as "the pose of regret". Boop! Remain in this position until VIL-a is able to contact the authorities. Please stand by until their arrival. Until then, this bunker is your temporary prison.
: Well, I never! After all our friendly talks, you're going to knife us in the back like this? Your creators must have modeled your artificial intelligence on a rat.
The joke is that Alexander threatened to beat its ass at the last door and it called "threat level bull", ha ha.
: VIL-a has regained control over some of the modules which has[sic] ceased functioning. Now VIL-a understands the error of letting you through door after door. Beep-beep! No more doors will open for you here.
: My friend! This bunker is barren. There is no food, no water. I do not want to be sealed in here!
: VIL-a's spare bioreactor has enough rotten beets to feed you for 100 years, convict. Now move away from the door and kneel.
: That's right, VIL-a, my boy! You tell him! Tell this so-called child of mine exactly what you think of him! Let Grandpa Hexogen help you! I'll take this terrible man outside and shoot him like a dog! What do you say? Just open the main door for us.
Fuck it, we have 161 speechcraft. Eat it, robot.
: [Speechcraft][Lie] Did you forget you're talking to your old father, VIL-a?
: [Intellect] The sensor was offline just moments ago. How can you tell it's functioning adequately?
Ok, talking like Hexogen here to lie to the computer is actually pretty funny. Dammit!
: [Speechcraft] But in your heart of hearts you do know that I am Turgenev, your father. You know this to be true, my son. Do not believe the lies your faulty sensors whisper to you, child!
: The absence of logic and the prevalence of emotion render your statement suspect. However, your words and emotions demonstrate that your thought patterns are the same as those of Engineer Turgenev.
: Warning! Paradox found: the same logic that disallows the opening of this door leads me to open this door. Warning! Warning! VIL-a...needs...reboot. And a thorough diagnostic of his cognitive chains...
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: I'm afraid I can't do that, comrade!
: I say, can we interject unfunny commentary?
: Oh, you can't? Well, I'm Engineer Turgenev, your maker. Listen to me talk like Hexogen, my child. Also, 161 Speechcraft, BITCH!
: OH FUCK
Excellent! But let's say I hadn't been dumping all those points into speechcraft?
So this robot is in the other room. It's the same model as the one we found back in Bunker 317 where the game wouldn't give us a sick ass battle robot so we could take...Hexogen and Alexander instead.
Do you see those two heavy machineguns?
So we have 123 HP and the best armor in the game.
We, of course, cannot reason with the robot (fair enough, your chance was at the door) or fuck him up here, all we can do is make a lame unfunny Asimov reference.
Oh, and Dr. Who of course. I do not understand how these people probably put hundreds of hours into this game only to do it in the laziest way possible.
So we get the alpha strike off and the robot takes 168 damage. This is a massive amount, and it doesn't kill this robot. "Ok, TheGreatEvilKing, you finally found a boss who can put up a fair fight, what's the big deal?"
Well, this fucker has taken nearly 200 damage and it's not dead for one thing. Ok, it's a battle of attrition, right? Our party members can come in, and -
Yeah, the robot outspeeds the entire party except a competently built player character and deletes one person per turn. Remember, this is not a game where you can resuscitate downed characters, when someone hits 0 HP they are permadead. The Neoseeker guide recommends that you shoot and scoot the robot out of the room, but again, the robot goes before your worthless party members! Can you beat the robot? Yes, you savescum until you do enough damage to kill him with the chainsaw/sword OR he rolls low on damage and you miraculously survive. Is this an interesting boss fight? FUCK NO!
FUCK this robot, and FUCK this game!
So we're speechcrafting the door. I know this isn't the pacifist run, but again, that robot fight is cancer and you cannot make me do it.
Despite the mushrooms being kind of important to the plot, you cannot interact with the mushroom tanks in any way, because everything about this game is inept and lazy. I'm really running out of ways to say it.
The game isn't being coy about hiding the Mushroom Cult retrieval squad anymore.
: Wait-wait-wait! I know some of these guys! They're from ATOM!
: Oh, long time no see! A date with strangers...
: Don't quote me! But I have a hunch something's wrong here.
Why do I keep you people around?
: [As unanimously as they turned, people now speak. It sounds as if they had been rehearsing this many times for this very occasion]
Yeah it's a spooky hive mind!
: What's all that supposed to mean..? Are they all hypnotized?
: And who are you guys...?
: [People speak simultaneously, in one voice]
: Sample? What sample?
This is the ultimate sin of the narration. This SHOULD be unsettling and disturbing, but the prose is so dull and formulaic that the reader does not care. This is a crowd of people mentally enslaved by a psychic mushroom so they all move as one organism, and it is boring because the writers do not know what they are doing and cannot evoke any emotion other than a dull disconnect.
Bonus points for not even bothering to animate the models.
: The destiny of humanity?
: Yes. We do not know all the details but we know this must be done. This is of paramount importance. There is no other way. The sample must reach Krasnoznamenny.
: Is this all you can tell us about the situation?
: How did you get here, guys?
: [For a second the people disrupt their unanimity and look at each other, talking over each other]
Okay, the hatred of that fucking computer being powerful enough to disrupt mind control is actually kind of funny. Not laugh out loud funny, but I can see how one might get a chuckle.
: Okay. I thought it all over, and decided...
: You're really creepy, guys. What's your problem?
: I don't understand what is going on here so I'll kill you just to be on the safe side.
: What a shame! The Mission is too important. We need to stop you.
Those fiends! They summoned the narrator!
I just want to point out that Stalker does this much better with the controller mutants. Those are actually freaky! However, once again, the developers do not understand how to convey emotion, so they resort to the time honored tradition of just telling us we should be scared.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Despite the fact that you can see models in blue uniforms, I need to tell you they're in blue uniforms! They turn in dull realistic prose despite being a mind controlled hive mind with eyes made of green flame.
: Hey, these are ATOM guys!
: I am also in this conversation!
: Hmmm... something...wrong?
: We are a psychic hive mind. We must get this mushroom back to Krasnoznamenny to save the world.
: How did you even get in here?
: FUCK that computer!
: Yea no I'm not letting a mushroom that can mentally enslave people go to the city, are you insane?
: Psionic attack initiated.
: You are very afraid. I would like to convey the terror of this unnatural psionic attack. Unfortunately I can only use dull realist prose to describe the fantastical. Thus I will tell you, you are afraid. Then, you are angry. It is convenient. The mushroom cultists are preparing for combat.
: Oh crap! Do they have some kind of mental attack like the guys in Age of Decadence?
: Ha ha fuck no.
Now, you might be thinking "TheGreatEvilKing! You're in combat with a psychic hive mind composed of dudes! Are they going to use telekinetic attacks or mind control your party members, or something cool"
To which I reply "what game do you think we're playing? This is ATOM RPG!"
On a solo melee playthrough you can lure these guys out into the hallway and kill them. Unfortunately, because I did not order all the useless companions to go hide in the other room, Hexogen gets machinegunned to death.
So we break out the chainsaw and run in.
This just gets you machinegunned to death. Don't do it! I most certainly didn't overestimate my tanking abilities and totally wanted to show off for this LP, honest!
So I figure, ok, this training grenade has a 40% stun chance, we can knock down a bunch of these guys and go after the remaining ones.
NOPE! Turns out, it only applies the stun chance to people in the middle of the blast radius. What a shit combat system.
These guys are not positioned well enough for us to stun more than one, with predictable results.
I finally get a rush of brains to the head and inject Bear with enough stimulants to kill a fully grown orca whale. This raises his AP to 13, which lets him perform turbo criticals against all three of these idiots. The game's love of huge damage variance once again screws us here.
Our party members all waste all their AP running into the room while Bear spends turn 2 decapitating Mushroom Cultist #4.
We grab Fidel's SMG and use it to destroy the mushroom so it won't mind control any more people.
We also grab the second door code for the Mycelium Bunker. Yes, we went to all these new places just to get the numbers to open up the doors in the Bunker. The developers got pissy that people were lockpicking the doors, so if you try to go there early the Mushroom Cultists attack you with automatic weapons before you get a turn.
We begin our trek to the harbor. I try to rest off the drug withdrawal so we can haul all our loot.
This game just revels in tedium.
Captain Gorton the lying food provider once again takes our money. We're never coming back here! We're free! We're almost done with this awful game!
Hexogen has a whole spiel about how the party are his long lost children... wait a minute! That means he was gonna hire prostitutes to rape Bear, Fidel, and Alexander! What the fuck, game?
Whatever. Let's go tell Ariadna the Mushroom Cultists were gunned down by a robot and then she'll tell us to go into an active volcano or some dumb shit.
Well, this is new. Good to see the Krasnoznamenny militia folds at the slightest sign of real combat.
Also, what the hell? The game uses grey text for narration and green for dialogue.
: [You're not the only one to recognize a familiar face though. The squad fighters recognize you one by one and go quiet, as if facing a threat - or a legend? The apparent leader of the noble gathering speaks first, taking the awkward responsibility of starting the conversation off your shoulders]
It's Alf the tutorial guy! Remember him? No?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
They even gave him a new portrait, which is a shocking amount of effort for the developers of this game.
: Where else should we be? And what are you doing here?
: Ahem... which bosses sent you here?
: Our bosses from ATOM! The sane part of them, those who didn't switch camps. I'll explain...
: So, while you were searching for Morozov and Co, there occurred some changes at the base... It turned out that some of the bosses, as well as some agents, had been members of this organization, 'Mycelium', for quite a long time. All hell broke loose! Arrests, shooting... Someone even hanged himself.
: These were necessary measures as they'd been recruiting new members in their ranks for quite a while! Right under our noses! The agents would go on an assignment in the Wasteland and be brainwashed into joining them. You know, "enough hiding in the shadows, it's time to help people and take credit for this" and so on. Our own agents did it, can you imagine?! Traitors.
: And if this was not enough, the bastards really started working for these...
: [The agent looks at the Mycelium building with undisguised resentment]
The part that gets me about all this is that the Mycelium are the closest to being actual communists this game has, and they're literally Ayn Rand moochers who want to steal not just your property but your free will.
: ...these God knows what they are, cult followers? They disclosed secret information to them, revealed the base plan, names of our agents. It was a real flow of shit.
So yes, this is why Alexander and Bear weren't issued radios. They were never supposed to find Morozov, they were supposed to fuck around endlessly until they ran into the Mushroom Cult and got recruited for this shit. The player is super lucky they happened to be mugged outside the one town that had seen Morozov's expedition.
: Exactly! Needs some serious brain racking. Their level of secrecy was truly amazing, better than ours.
They even had sexy lady recruiters!
: Crap, guys... I don't even know what to do now.
: No need to worry, Alex. Our guys will win eventually. It's only a matter of time.
: To be honest, I didn't pay attention to what you were discussing, young man. But I think the only way out of this situation, just like of many others, is immediate shooting of everyone found guilty! Merciless shooting!
: Right... And how did you expose this plot?
: We intercepted their secret conversations. Totally by accident! Vasily, the communications specialist, tried to tune in to the concert of the <<Atomic Love Gurus>> on the Wasteland-86, a Trudograd musical station. Instead, he tuned in to the traitors' roll call. He handed the recording to the department of internal investigations, the conspirators were arrested and questioned, and disaster followed.
The Night of the Long Knives was Hitler's purge of the SA. I am not sure why the hell they made this reference when the game already referenced Soviet purges. Are we to believe that Alf and co are secretly Nazis?
There's also the idea that the purge was orchestrated by the real mastermind against any ATOM loyalists who remained and secretly the last "boss" is manipulating the whole situation, much like Hitler purging his loyal Nazis because they were no longer useful, but who the fuck knows?
: How many of our agents have been recruited by the Mycelium? Approximately?
: Do you know why the mushroom cult recruited ATOM fighters?
: So what are you planning to do now? In Krasnoznamenny...
: [The agents look at each other, uncertain]
: Well, after what had happened, the bosses decided to take the horse by the horns and sent us to Krasnoznamenny to deal with this sect. The problem is, the mushroom lovers have apparently heard of it and fled...
: Now we're thinking... If we're here already, perhaps we should seize the power in the city? What do you think? Seriously? If these freaks were right about one thing, it was that we need to come in the light. The Wasteland is in trouble, and we keep working from behind the scenes.
: I've heard you liberated some village. Now we have something like a hub there, with this devil Gozhin looking after it. But why should we content ourselves with it? The time of commotion is the time to get one's act together!
: Just imagine Krasnoznamenny as our new base! All the new opportunities! We'll put everything in order in these lands and encourage the residents for fruitful work...
: I'm not sure... I don't think the bosses will be happy to learn about this unauthorised takeover on your part.
Fidel loves Krasnoznamenny and will kill you if you attack a citizen, so this makes sense for him. Presumably he realizes he's bluffing, because we have no idea what these bosses really want and Alf might be lying on their orders.
: It'll be fine. They have more serious problems now. It's time to act! And when they learn of it, why, they'll give us all medals!
: You're a brick, man! As they say in Georgia, you have my respect!
: Ahem... in Georgia? Alex, are you alright...?
: Ahem... Let me interfere! Listen to these young communards. You know your old father is never against good prospects! I'd gladly join bees in the hive just to be in a good team! And this is an exceptional team! It's a wonderful opportunity! A revolution!
Incidentally, if you don't have these guys Alf rants about how there's a male prostitute here instead.
Decisions Lie Before Us!
Are we supporting or opposing Alf's coup against the Krasnoznamenny Chamber of Commerce?
Pros: The Chamber of Commerce are a bunch of corrupt and useless shitheads who want to do genocide. The militia is corrupt to the core and extorts bribes from honest citizens. Alf and co are on team ATOM (supposedly) which we are nominally a part of. We can probably force Captain Gorton to give us a refund for the food he defrauded us out of.
Cons: Alf is going to probably force the members of the city to work for him, and is maybe a Nazi if I'm not reading too much into his Night of the Long Knives line. It'll be a military dictatorship, albeit one we get to be pretty high ranked in.
Flip A Coin: The main plot was a waste of time no one needed done where the intent was to manipulate us into helping the Mushroom Cult. We were supposed to wander the wasteland of Pizzagates and incest bunkers until Ariadna... I dunno, mind controlled us or something? This was to be accomplished by sending us to an obviously suspicious massacre site linked to the Mushroom Cult on the Cult's orders. Literally every quest we've done has had us be manipulated by terrible people.