Yesterday, I made the outlandish claim that Fallout: New Vegas is the greatest video game of all time. Over the next few posts, I plan on explaining myself. I plan on explaining to you why New Vegas is, in fact, the greatest game ever made.
Today, I want to focus on a very small part of New Vegas: the soundtrack. It’s often overlooked, and really, you can go the entire game without hearing a bit of it if you don’t turn on your radio. But look. You should not, I repeat, should not not turn on your radio. Wait… Don’t not turn on your radio if you don’t want to not hear one of the best soundtracks ever made. Hold on. You shouldn’t ever not turn on your radio, because then… Ah shit. I give up. Just turn on your radio, okay?
You start out the game with two options: Radio New Vegas and Mojave Music Radio. Both are more or less the same radio station, Radio New Vegas just has Mr. Wayne Newton in the background giving you some nice little news updates on either A) the evil bastard that has been terrorizing the wastes, or B) the wonderfully nice person in the wastes who has been taking justice into their own hands.
But one of the great things about this soundtrack is the feeling that the music evokes while you’re playing it. The first is the feeling of loneliness. You wake up in Doc Mitchell’s house having just been shot in the head. You walk out the door, and there you are. Alone. No one else in the wastes can help you or tell you why you were shot in the head.
But the further north you get, the more you start running into larger gangs and settlements. And, sure enough, these gangs and settlements are found right in New Vegas (Las Vegas, for those who don’t know. It’s just called ‘New Vegas’ because it almost got blown up, everything around it got blown up, and Mr. House saved it. Long story short, it’s called New Vegas now), the place that was formed by ganges in the 1930s and ’40s.
Let’s do a little exercise, shall we? What kind of music do you think of when you think ‘lonely, depressed, deserted, freedom, and desert’? That’s right. Country music. And no, not crappy contemporary country music like Keith Alan or the Dixie Dudes (those are bands, right?). In true Fallout form, they actually went back and collected a soundtrack of classic ’50s country tunes. Marty Robbins, Eddy Arnold, Peggy Lee, just to name a few. They captured the feeling of being out on the open range so perfectly with this soundtrack.
And then what kind of music would fit perfectly with heading up into a ’50s style Las Vegas strip? You guessed it: ’50s Rat Pack music. It all works together so well. You’ve got dudes in suits, people wandering the strip, even the casino floors. It’s all there. You really do feel like you’re on the Vegas strip in the ’50s. Well… Except for the whole nuclear apocalypse part. That’s a little different.
What I’m trying to say is that every single bit of New Vegas’s soundtrack is so perfectly picked out. You can really tell that they worked hard to make the music go with the atmosphere. And when you sit down and play it, you find that the music actually works with the atmosphere . I can’t play this game without having my radio on, which to me, is a good thing.
This game actually made me fall in love with a whole new style of music. I’d know this ‘old’ country music was there, but New Vegas opened up a door to a world that I used to push my nose up to. Marty Robbins is one of my favorite artists now, and ‘Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs’ is one of my favorite albums of all time. I have tons of Marty Robbins and Eddy Arnold albums now, and I listen to them when I want to be in a good mood.
Yeah, I know. Even thought it’s country music that talks about losing your wife, gunfights, and affairs, it makes me happy. You know why? Because it makes me think of New Vegas. It makes me think of all the fun I’ve had in the Mojave wastes, all the people (A.I. people, but still) I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve had.
And I’ll get more into that on my next post.