No RPG for Old Men

| Monday, September 24, 2012
I watched No Country for Old Men on the way back to school.  It felt like an RPG.  Of course the scenery is that of New Vegas, or rather, both take place in the southeast (though I suppose Texas is its own region, but the land looked similar enough).  The character felt a bit like an RPG character.  He wandered the desert, hunting, and scavenging.  Find a corpse?  Check for a decent weapon.  Of course there is a weight limit to carry.  But that feeling of the lone wanderer, out in the wilderness, with nothing but bandits and insufficient police to keep him company, that felt familiar.

A small bit that really increased the feeling that I was watching Fallout: New Vegas was when he fired, and picks up the casing.  Apparently brass casings in real life are expensive enough to justify that.  Within the game that happens automatically and you might not even notice, though I did because I was in the habit of making my own ammo.  Those casings were as good as loot off a corpse.

I have no doubt that they were not aiming for an RPG feel.  Yet I think the movie and the game genre aim in the same direction, of the lone almost-hero, out there staying alive and maybe slowly, slightly, getting somewhere.  The risks are great, not just from the other people around, but from the land itself.  While I'm sure the man in the truck wanted water mostly because of the bleeding, being in the middle of a hot, dry land didn't help the matter.

Later on the theme developed of the recurring enemy and that nagging question: How does the heartless AI keep finding me?  That's followed up with a healthy dose of greater forces attempting to manipulate the player to their own ends.  Going along with them may be the easiest path, but of course has no guarantee of safety.

That man alone with no allies is a recurring theme in a lot of media, particularly American set in the West, of the lone man roughing it, taking on all odds.  They might be breaking the law or just barely following it, but we set that aside and we root for them.  In America we like to talk about self-made men, a mythical creature.  Yet out there, with no one around, perhaps they can exist, and did.  Just like in real life we yearn for heroes and yet know there are no true, perfect heroes, so we make them in fiction.  We yearn for that self-creation and so we look to the place where maybe it can happen and if it doesn't, we make a fiction where it can happen in the place where it can happen.  And then we make games where that fiction in that place can happen.

I greatly enjoyed the movie.  Though I was sad that he never got that antelope.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I loved No Country for Old Men too.


The best part for me was the sudden realization that the guy we'd been rooting for was dead, and had died off-screen. We never got to see any heroic last stand or one-liner - he was a 'hero', and got snuffed out like an NPC.

Also, after the bad guy leaves his house after talking to his wife, and he's just driving along and gets totally blindsided - I think that really hit home the whole 'bad things happen to everybody for no real reason, no matter who they are or what decisions they make'. That pretty much everything is in the hands of fate.


Looking forward to MoP?

Klepsacovic said...

I didn't even think he'd died. I thought maybe it was just an ugly scene and his wife was assuming too much. The blindsiding seemed like one last confirmation that the shotgun guy was invincible and invisible.

Not looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm toiling my way through the first zone, and I gotta say, it's like Nagrand x10. Everything is gorgeous, the atmosphere, the music, the lore, it all fits.

The pandaren don't want us here. More than ever, it shows just how bad the Alliance/Horde war really is - they're rolling over everyone in their way, whether they mean to or not. I love this aspect of the game - it feels like Blizzard is really starting over 'fresh'. They've given us a whole new continent with a whole new neutral faction. We're not saving the world, we're playing getting-to-know-you with the locals, we're building up our own personal reputation, and we're fighting the true enemy - the Alliance/Horde, right-up, face-to-face, none of this 'but-deathwing-is-a-bigger-threat' or 'tirion-wants-to-have-a-tournament' nonsense.

It's low, it's dirty, it's nasty, it's a proper war - and we see just how badly it's affecting completely innocent people. While instilling you with factional pride, it also makes you queasy to be part of it.

Blizzard have done a great job of bringing it back to grassroots. I think my favorite part of the first area so far is after you do the breadcrumbs to get to Dawn Blossom (the main Pandaren village, right in the middle). Basically, you can pick up quests for most (all?) of the smaller areas/outposts/whatever at once and it's completely up to you what order you do them in, if at all. You can go south and stop a mogu attack, you can go east to an orchard to get a wedding going, you can go visit a monastery, free some lost souls - whatever.

And on the way there, you can look at the beautiful landscape and listen to the excellent soundtrack. I'm sure you'll love it - and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it in a blog soon!

Klepsacovic said...

I hate to disappoint, but you're unlikely to see my thoughts on MoP for a while, if ever. I don't have the time or motivation to justify $15 a month, let alone the $40 or so for the expansion. Maybe in the future, since I don't like to say never, but I don't anticipate spending money on the current WoW.

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