Spoiler Alert

I enjoy word play, I have to admit… but be under no illusion here, as this article is not just a shameless attempt at using an internet coined meme as a title… there are more spoilers here than the 2010 World Subaru Owners Convention. If you’ve not completed the main quest lines in games such as Fallout: New Vegas and Borderlands, please step away from the article before you get hurt.

At least it's not blue with gold alloys.

In order to fully express my disdain for games which ultimately ruin the enjoyment and, in doing so, negate almost every second invested prior to the endgame, I have to call Fallout: New Vegas to the stand as the most recent offender. When I wrote my Fallout: New Vegas review back in October I was only fifty two hours into the game and made the mistake of assuming that there was an incredible amount yet to do, but it has since transpired that this wasn’t the case. I spent perhaps eight hours finishing off a few of the side quests that were bugging me so that I could concentrate on the main quest and then when I opted to unlock the Explorer perk I figured it’d make sense to do what I enjoy the most and made my way around all of the unvisited locations in the hope of turning over a few rocks and finding the odd side quest here and there. Sadly, that never happened.

Instead, my idle wanderings led me to a plethora of caves, mines, camps, and all manner of aesthetically beautiful locations but with nothing to do once I arrived other than ponder the vast open landscapes from whatever vantage point I could find, in the hopes that a careful sweep through the ‘scope of my Anti-Material Rifle would uncover a distant shimmering pixel that may just end up being something else worth killing or, better yet, another quest holder. Even my trusty companion, ED-E, with his long range motion sensors ended up tuning out and started playing PONG inside his head. That’s an assumption, by the way. If I was lucky, and I mean really lucky, the cave would be inhabited by Nightstalkers or Deathclaws so I’d at least be able to practice my low light sniping, but to what end? With my level already at the maximum, the only purpose it’d serve would be to deplete my already sparse ammo collection and remind me that I needed to repair my rifle once again.

With enough caps to last the likes of Scrooge “Wasteland” McDuck for a lifetime, and no decent purchases for the last twenty or so levels, it was time to make my way back into the main quest and decide which way I’d take my character and, ultimately, the people of New Vegas. I’d already scuppered any chances of completing the game on the side of the Legion after first coming across them at Nipton and deciding that they were bastards, worthy only of death by my hand and so that particular faction decision was made without hesitation, leaving me with the option of siding with either Yes Man, Mr House or the NCR.

Veronica Santangelo, famed for her fisting

This is where the spoiling began. I’d resigned myself to the fact that there was no way I’d be completing the “I Could Make You Care” because my exploratory nature whilst playing RPGs meant that I’d already succeeded in placing Head Paladin Hardin as the new elder of Hidden Valley Bunker, replacing Elder McNamara as part of the “Still In The Dark quest”, thereby preventing the “I Could Make You Care” quest from reaching its conclusion. It left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth because I had grown very fond of Veronica and genuinely wanted to help her work towards a better future for herself rather than being led by the blinkered and outdated views of the Brotherhood of Steel. I wanted her to be happy. I know she doesn’t exist and is nothing more than a collection of textured polygons on my screen but, hell, Felicia Day’s handling of the characterisation and the scripting just pulled me in to her world and I basked in her sorrow, always hoping that I could absorb some of it through a twisted form of osmosis and allow her to flourish for once. I even went as far as scouring the wasteland for pristine formal wear so I could gift it to her inventory just in case some smart programmer had thought far enough ahead to take the “Is it a dress??” throwaway line to the point where it evoked poignancy. It did. I was warmed to the core by her reaction and it’ll forever remind me of how much I enjoyed the game up until that point.

I can’t possibly explain how much Veronica’s outcome annoyed me until I get as far as the endgame itself and so I have to take artistic license with the timeline here and move swiftly ahead to the inevitable choices facing my character and myself in what was to become the most disappointing and irritating finale to any game I’ve played in the last twenty, perhaps even thirty, years.

As I’d been told by the NCR in no uncertain terms that placing all my eggs in Yes Man’s stainless steel basket would result in my inevitable demise at the hands of their troopers, I’d avoided taking that final step from neutrality towards any particular allegiance and so I created a save point prior to entering Lucky 38 and sending Mr House, who I have to say was beautifully voiced by Rene Auberjonois and, presumably, depicted by an early Don Ameche promo shot, on a lonely and heavily postponed tour of the afterlife. As soon as the life support system was shut down there was no turning back; I was now a pawn of Yes Man and gained immediate infamy with the NCR, although there didn’t appear to be the same level of disdain that I’d experienced from the Powder Gangers or Legion soldiers so either there was a glitch or I had done enough good that they opted to overlook my new found alliance.

Saving President Kimball certainly wasn’t as eventful as the whole Private Ryan malarky. Having to only use my repair skill on his Vertibird to remove a bomb was anticlimactic enough and yet my whole experience in New Vegas was about to become more dissatisfying than I ever thought possible, especially for a game that I’d previously expected to be infinitely better than Fallout 3. Making my way to the Legate’s camp to face my final enemy was a breeze and I was able to handle this particular hurdle in the same manner with which I had the rest of the game: single shot to every enemy’s head from a distance before they have a chance to either recognise the threat or react. This was immediately unsettling as I had a sneaking suspicion, based on the way this quest was worded in my journal, that I had already embarked on that final journey which would not only set the wheels in motion for the final boss battle but would also bring about the premature end of the game. I say premature because by this time, not including my twenty or so hours spent on pointless exploration prior to my allegiance to Yes Man, I had only spent sixty hours in-game and yet had managed to complete every (non-glitched) side quest and reach the end of the actual game.

The Legate’s camp itself was oddly vacant and the few Legion soldiers I encountered there were much easier to kill than the grunting horde of maniacs hell bent on crushing my character’s skull with their bare hands when I dared to enter their territory at Caesar’s Fort earlier in the game. This may have been something to do with the fact I was ten levels less when I ventured into the Fort but somehow I don’t think that’s the reason. I was left standing quizzically in the middle of the camp wondering where the rest of this fabled army of vile murderers were while the corpses of no more than four scantily clad musclebound Mariusz Pudzianowski lookalikes lay at my feet and I, the geeky science and repair expert with no melee skills and barely any strength, stood atop their fleshy mound victorious… and strangely alone.

My meeting with Legate Lanius wasn't quite like this!

Moving forward another fifteen or so metres triggered a group of NCR troopers to appear ahead and run towards a previously unnoticed tent on the upper left area of the camp and, with that, another two or three Legion soldiers ran out and subsequently slaughtered the troopers, turning their attention on me as Legate Lanius made his way down the slope towards me. This was it. This was the final boss battle; it was the moment where everything I’d learned and every possible perk would serve me best as I undoubtedly emptied my entire arsenal on the evil tyrant and his best soldiers. In a moment of both panic and self preservation I slipped into VATS mode and aimed my Anti-Material rifle at Legate Lanius’ head, ignoring his minions entirely, and let the first shot ring out through the dusk. To my surprise, his health went dropped to almost half and I quickly switched to my inventory to recover the action points with Jet, UltraJet and Rocket and immediately dropped back into VATS mode to let my second round loose. With that second shot Legate Lanius, the ultimate enemy in the game and the man who stood between me and outright success, dropped to the floor while his remaining minions put their Ballistic Fits to good use for a few seconds before being reduced to smores by the heavy incinerator.

After such a ridiculously easy and non gratifying end to the game I collected the Legate Helmet and Blade Of The East, looking forward to placing them on display in my meagre abode back at Novac until such times as I could use them with whatever DLC followed until yet another entry was added to my journal, instructing me to speak with General Oliver and so I made my way towards the entrance of the Legate’s Camp when suddenly the doors blew open in true Italian Job fashion and there, standing in the fiery dust along with a handful of Veteran Troopers was the General. A few sardonic words were exchanged and, as expected, it was time to send him to the grave after he refused to order the NCR away from the area. Cue end credits.

In case you missed that there, it was the end of the game. Ron Perlman’s narration kicked in to tie all the decisions and allegiances together into a single outcome and subject me to one final kick to the gonads, explaining at one point how Veronica grew increasingly irate with the Brotherhood of Steel and tried to get them to change their ways but ended up dying alone in the wasteland, living out her days as a wandering tinker. Had this been my doing then I would gladly have accepted responsibility and held my hands up at making the wrong decision, sending her to a cruel and lonely demise yet this was not my intention and the only reason this happened was because the engine wouldn’t allow me to complete the “I Could Make You Care” quest no matter how many times I returned to Hidden Valley Bunker to have Veronica impart her information to the Elder. Adding insult to testicular injury there was, as I’d expected, no way to move straight on to the Dead Money DLC without going back to a previous save point, thereby rendering the Legate Helmet and Blade Of The East redundant unless you wait for whatever DLC allows you to continue from the end of the game.

To say that I’m disappointed with New Vegas would be a gross understatement; a game which, until near the end, showed so much promise in the depth of conversation threads and character back story frittered away its chance at glory by throwing in a substandard ending with no option for follow through and a series of quests which clearly had to be completed in a particular order, negating the very nature of the sandbox genre.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’ll turn my attention to a very different anticlimactic beast: Borderlands. The main difference between the huge seething let down of Borderlands and Fallout: New Vegas is that with New Vegas you weren’t spending your entire time aiming for a face to face with Legate Lanius where you’d ultimately take him down in only a few seconds. In fact, I must have wandered around with my eyes closed as I don’t even recall any mention of Legate Lanius until the Eureka quest where the instruction came to destroy the camp. With Borderlands, however, you are immediately introduced to the concept of The Vault and every second you spend in Pandora works towards that inevitable moment where you finally reach the mythical Vault and face whatever guardians stand between you and untold treasure… or power… or knowledge… as it’s never actually explained exactly what the importance or significance of The Vault is.

The journey through Pandora is by no means as time consuming as that through New Vegas but it’s certainly more hokey and more of a rip roaring ammo fest than anything else, with more bullets flying than you could possibly count. The humour is as subtle as a brick superglued to another brick and then smashed into your face by Brick himself, but that’s all part of the Borderlands charm and one of the main reasons I enjoyed playing the game so much. By the time the game had progressed to the point where you were told by the pretty brunette flickery television lady in the black vest top that it was time to face The Destroyer, who protects The Vault from looters, the characters had managed to level up to the point where there really wasn’t much of a game anymore as most enemies could be taken down very easily.

Commander Steele, my fave albino... kinda short lived :\

This is no ordinary enemy though, this is The Destroyer; a “godlike being from another dimension” who had been imprisoned by the Eridians for “thousands of years previously at the cost of their entire civilization, in order to prevent the monstrosity from consuming the universe” so we were about to face something vile enough to force an entire race to sacrifice their kind to ensure that this beast couldn’t do to others what it had done to them. It was, suffice it to say, one of those moments where you prepared yourself for countless respawns and endless switches from one weapon type to another as this yonic demon swallowed every round of ammo within your inventory and spat the empty shells back in your face with untold disdain.

Without warning, the huge form of The Destroyer presented itself and immediately took Commander Steele and her minions out of the picture leaving you in a face to face battle which lasted all of sixty seconds and perhaps two hundreds rounds from my Cold Thanatos pistol. Whether it was Gearbox’s way of injecting yet more humour into the game or just one hell of a monumental let down, I have no idea. To make matters worse, however, there’s no treasure at the end of this purple slimy rainbow and certainly no untold power or knowledge. In fact, the opposite could be said as you’re left wondering what the hell the point was to the entire game when opening the vault brought about nothing more than an easy to kill end boss.

It has to be said though, that I have played Borderlands through three times from beginning to end and only a few days ago started a fourth playthrough as a way to pass the time with a friend. It’s a great game, it’s enjoyable, it’s hilarious at times… but the ending sucks and spoils the reward. New Vegas, on the other hand, offers no such recompense for such a disheartening ending, especially when a great character such as Veronica is subjected to a harsh and lonely death because somebody somewhere didn’t think far enough ahead that someone may just use the sandbox functionality and complete quests in a non-linear mode. It’s situations such as these that can serve to ruin the passion for a game and there is now no way that New Vegas will ever be held in such high esteem as I do Fallout 3. The potential was there, absolutely, but it didn’t follow through to the end and that, ultimately, is our final reward for investing so much time.

It is my belief that we’re entitled to an ending worthy of the rest of the game, rather than two head shots from a sniper rifle or a several hundred rounds from an automatic pistol with nothing to show other than a bemused and vacant expression of disbelief.

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Louis says:

    Regarding Borderlands, maybe it had a lot to do with your character and how you powered-up, the weapons you had at the time, etc….. personally I felt the final boss was a BITCH and I took about an hour to beat it! It was truly one of the more gratifying boss fights of 2010 for me..

    The second time round when I played it co-op with a buddy it was much, much easier though.

    I guess what I’m saying is, I’m sure Gearbox didn’t make the boss easy to beat on purpose.

  2. Pete Pete says:

    Being with you almost every step of the way through Borderlands I felt that same anticipation and WTF? moment as you did!

    I don’t think it had anything to do with how we’d levelled up or chosen our weapons though! I mean, up til that point it had been a real slog to make it through some of the sections, most notably Old Haven! I think they just got the balance wrong myself as the final battle (well, almost final) of Knoxx’s Armoury was intense even with our much higher levels and weapons!

  3. Lorna Lorna says:

    That is certainly pretty gutting to be so let down by endings after the collossal amount of time invested. I’m no stranger to disappointing endings, but given how pleased you were with New Vegas up until the endgame, it is a real shame. I distinctly remember spending ages working through a text adventure on a Spectrum emulator a few years ago and after finally hitting the end, having it tell me ‘You Have Won.’ or some such throwaway line. And that was it. No lengthy, wordy endpiece to the game, just a few distainful words and I remember thinking “You lazy, robbing bastards.”

    As for recent years, none as bad as yours spring to mind. Shame about Veronica, it is shitty to get so invested in someone, only to have no control on their story turning out crap :(

  4. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    @Louis See that’s the thing… Bone Head was tough to kill, MothRakk was one of those hour long slogs with very little damage being done and Sledge was horrible the first time around. I think Skagzilla took a good ten minutes of running around and expending SO many rounds that it was reaching the point where it was either kill him as soon as possible or end up weaponless but it finally happened. The Destroyer though, I can’t remember what Pete was doing but I just ran up to him with my Cold Thanatos and just kept firing directly into the mouth, avoiding any hits here and there, and within something like 30-50 seconds it was dead. I believe Pete was using a sniper rifle but can’t remember which. We were both around level 34 Hunters and I had maxed out my Gunslinger skills whereas Pete had gone for the Sniper skills. As Pete said though, even though he was ridiculously easy, Crawmerax was a nightmare (at first) as were Volcana, General Knoxx and most of the baddies in the Secret Armoury DLC even though we’d managed to level up nicely. I watched a couple of YouTube videos of people killing The Destroyer this morning and most were 3-6 minutes as a single player so clearly tougher than we had it as a duo but certainly not as long as it took to kill Skagzilla, oddly enough.

    @Pete Yeah, I remember the first time we entered Old Haven… I couldn’t believe how much tougher the game had got and I’ve never died so much in my life. I played through Oblivion with only one or two deaths, probably the same in Fallout 3 and yet in Old Haven I must have died twenty or thirty times… NOT including the times I got a second wind or was healed by your character. Insane!!

    @Lorna If the game hadn’t glitched to the point where there was no decent outcome for Veronica… or at least an outcome for which I MYSELF was responsible, then I could have lived with the double headshot to kill Legate Lanius (maybe) and the abrupt ending of the game… but that priviledge was robbed from me and it still annoys me that this character had remained by my side throughout the entire game (I never once switched companions until after I’d completed it and went back for the “All The Gang’s Here” achievement) and yet I couldn’t do anything for her in return because of a ridiculous glitch. I also remember the ending for “Lord’s Of Time” and yeah, I think it was exactly that – “You Have Won!”. Ouch!

  5. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    PS… thanks for the comments guys, I don’t expect many people will read this in case it ruins New Vegas for them… shot myself in the foot when I wrote this one ;)

  6. Louis says:

    @MarkuzR I think that might have been my problem… I completely maxed out my Bloodwing so I didn’t really have the weapon power ups that you had, that’s the only thing I can think of (was a while ago). But MAN my Bloodwing was baddass… I could just let him rip and he would instantly obliterate an entire group of scags in seconds. Good boy, hehe

    But you know, that’s what “replayability” is all about! Next time I’ll play the game as a siren, or even play as the same class but just choose a different path when leveling up my skills. Either way it will be a completely different experience.

    Great game, and probably the coolest couch co-op experience I’ve ever had.

  7. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I agree on all three counts… Borderlands has that replay value that I haven’t experienced since the first XCom game and it’s the only game in recent years that I’ve actually gone through four times, each time with the Hunter and once with the Siren. I also cashed in my skill points on the third playthrough and assigned them all to the Bloodwing and laughed my arse off in Moxxi’s Underdome as Bitey (my Bloodwing) bounced his way from enemy to enemy, taking them out with ease while I waited at the side and rushed in to finish any stragglers off. I was originally a sniper but when I picked up the Thanatos pistol I got the taste for rushing in at the enemies rather than hiding in the background and so I switched almost exclusively to pistols, with my four weapon places having a standard Thanatos pistol, a corrosive pistol, incendiary pistol and shock pistol. Never really the need for an explosive pistol though. I played through single player until I got to Arid Hills and then Pete got himself a copy and I invited him into my game, and the rest is history… been co-op ever since! If you ever want to join us, hit me up on XBL :)

  8. Ste says:

    I was massively let down by the end of Red Dead Redemption. I was looking forward to John Marsden finally being free to live with his family only to get shot to shit at the end. I was massively pissed off. I was looking forward to finishing off all the treasure hunts and challenges with him but didnt bother after that.

  9. Louis says:

    @MarkuzR I wish I could but I’m on PS3!

    Question, I’ve never played with the siren because at first glance she seems weaker than the other classes… since you’ve finished the game with her, how is she in comparison? What cool things can she do if you really max her up?

  10. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    @Ste I just couldn’t bring myself to finish Red Dead Redemption – it didn’t pull me in as much as I expected it to, although I really did think that Marston was a great character and excellently voiced. The campaign itself was just boring for me, with elements of Farmville thrown in for bad measure. I didn’t realise he got killed in the end… just as well I didn’t finish it as that would just have hacked me right off.

    @Louis I got Millie (Lilith) up to level 61 but didn’t bother completing the Vault with her, I mainly used her in the Knoxx DLC (my favourite DLC for Borderlands) and she was actually pretty cool. Her melee attack, which is basically a facepalm lol, was fantastic and could take down Badass Bullies in a couple of smacks. Also the phasewalking was great if you were running out of juice and needed a quick recharge and didn’t have a health regen shield or class mod in your party. I played as Roland briefly and didn’t enjoy it, was far too easy, then played as Brick for a few levels and didn’t enjoy that either. I’ll always stick to Mordecai but Lilith is worth a shot even if it’s just to experience it from a different angle.

  11. Lorna Lorna says:

    Great. Just had the end of RDR spoiled for me.

  12. Ste says:

    Spoiler Warning!

    Lee did the same for me if I’m honest. Just passing it on!

  13. Lorna Lorna says:

    Of course…that makes it perfectly okay…

  14. Ste says:

    Sorry though, I didnt think!

  15. Lorna Lorna says:

    ‘S okay, I had a nasty feeling that something like that would happen in the end :( Must crack on and get it finished.

  16. Mark MarkS says:

    My mate Iain has been trying to talk me into buying New Vegas and honestly after Fallout 3 and how much….fun i guess i had with that i was tempted. Now i dont need to, thanks gaming lives! :D

    I honestly cant remember the last time i was overly disappointed with the ending of a game, RDRs ending went on too long in my book, i wont go into any more spoilers but it dragged on, then got good and then into sandbox.

    Fallout 3 i found to be horribly short when you dont bother running through the wasteland exploring or doing side quests. Got to find your father, visit around 6 places in the wasteland, end of game….oh ok. I have enjoyed some of the DLC but i dont think ive done any of the side quests and i dont think i ever will.

    I also could never get into Borderlands. So now that i know the ending i know i wasnt missing out on much :P

  17. Ben Ben says:

    I quite liked Borderlands from the little I played it but Fallout is a game that just does not click with me. I try to like but no matter how many times I do so, I get past the GOAT and then I just phase out of interest. I really enjoy sandbox games, so dunno what it is perhaps it’s a little bit too open.

    Been quite lucky recently with games I’ve been playing all having fairly decent endings.

  18. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matthew Sylvester. Matthew Sylvester said: RT @GamingLives: Spoiler Alert today on gaminglives, well kind of it doesn't spoil anything so its safe to read http://bit.ly/fllzFg [...]

  19. Lee says:

    @ste did I ohhh sorry mate.

    I’m still yet to play fallout new Vegas and now I can’t be arsed until they fix all this stuff (which is a shame). You need some games with good endings in your life. Try mass effect, dead space, assassins creed 2, halo 3 (but I would say that) gears 1 and 2 (gears 2′s last boss wasn’t really a boss though) ermmmmm oh bugger I’m running out of good endings

  20. Louis says:

    @Lee I heard they released some patches that fixed loads if issues, but I haven’t played it myself (yet) so don’t take my word for it!

  21. Me says:

    Legate Lanius has 920 health when I played the game. (There’s actually a perk that shows his hp.) If I remember correctly the Anti-Material Rifle does about 150 damage, maybe a little more, and about double damage with a critical hit. Since damage is halved on very hard that’d take 6 shots to kill him getting criticals every shot and with full repair and gun skill. So it’d probably take a little more than that when it boils down to it..Since criticals aren’t insured. (Though vats does give a higher chance for them.) Add head shots into the mix, which doubles damage…it’d be more like 3 1/4 shots to kill him with criticals every shot.

    Take all this into account and I think your character is either a god with insured criticals hits every shot and probably some pretty good ammo or you’re playing on a difficulty that doesn’t really suit you. Of course Anti-Material shoots extremely slow and a hit from him usually knocks you down and does massive damage, not to mention he usually has guards with him. I think it’s a pretty damn tough encounter.

    I’ll admit he could have been better defended but in terms of sheer toughness (health and DT) lanius is the strongest enemy in the game.

  22. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I played Fallout 3 in the highest difficulty because I found that it got far too easy at a really early stage of the game, plus I liked being rewarded with the additional XP from the highest difficulty whenever I made a kill. With New Vegas, however, a lot of the enemies did take some genuine effort to kill and so I kept it on the normal difficulty until such times as it became too easy, like if I found myself having to use only single shots to kill enemies, and then I’d switch to a harder difficulty… but it never happened.

    The thing is though, when I went into Caesar’s camp I was being utterly destroyed! I had to resort to the heavy incinerator and constantly running backwards to get as much incendiary damage done to the approaching horde as possible. It used up an insane amount of flamer fuel and I eventually found myself with almost no fuel left by the time I’d finished them off. I was too busy avoiding death at the time (unsuccessfully, as I had to respawn several times and reattempt Caesar’s camp!) but there must have been twenty or thirty enemies in that camp (not including Caesar himself) and it was TOUGH but there were only a few enemies in the Legate’s camp.

    It’s also noteworthy that the Legate hadn’t come down from his walkway and triggered the conversation scene where he confronts the character, and I’ve since gone through the camp again (which is when I triggered the conversation) and he was much more difficult to kill, but still with very few soldiers.

    So perhaps the first three times I killed him, for the different endings, he hadn’t become “boss level” yet as the conversation hadn’t triggered… but then I didn’t know to wait for any sort of cut scene to appear in order to ramp him up to being a more powerful character… I knew that I had to kill him, saw the NCR run up and force him to start making his way down… and so I killed him. A flaw in the game mechanics, perhaps? I don’t know… but either way he was easier to kill than Caesar and his camp was a walk in the park compared to Caesar’s camp.

    I did see that HP perk but wasn’t sure it would add value to the game as I could see the health bar dropping anyway. Perhaps on the next playthrough I’ll go with that one just to see how powerful each foe is. Thanks for the comments!

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