Fallout – Victor And Vegas Vic

The Fallout video game franchise is unique in that it re-imagines real world locations that the player character can explore – except it’s two hundred years in the future and the world has been devastated by nuclear war. Fallout 3, for instance, takes place in Washington D.C. and characters can visit the crater where the White House once stood, take the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument, and pay a visit to the Lincoln memorial (among many, many other locations and landmarks). In Fallout: New Vegas, the player character can wander down Freemont Street and head up to the heavily-fortified New Vegas Strip, guarded by a fleet of advanced security robots. One of these securitrons is unique, however – his name is victor and he’s voiced by character actor William Sadler, who you might recognize from The Shawshank Redemption, The Flash television series, and Iron Man 3.

Victor is (almost always) the second non-player-character you meet upon beginning Fallout:New Vegas. He’s waiting outside of Doc Mitchell’s house when you first enter the overworld. He has a cheeky cowboy drawl reminiscent of 1950’s western films and a unique visage. This being a ‘Mojave Desert’ and ‘Las Vegas’ themed adventure, it makes sense that Victor is modeled after a real-world Las Vegas Landmark: Vegas Vic.

Vegas Vic is synonymous with Las Vegas, even if you never knew his name. He’s featured on all types of Las Vegas apparel, posters, and shot glasses, and there’s almost always an obligatory shot of him in any film that takes place in the neon city. He’s a 40-foot-tall neon cowboy that was installed on the outside of The Pioneer Club in 1951. He was designed in 1947 in response to a request from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Vegas Vic and and his famous “howdy partner” greeting was established in hopes of drawing new visitors to the city.

The Pioneer Club no longer operates as a casino, but Vegas Vic can still be seen at 25 E Freemont Street above a souvenir shop. Pioneer Hotels still owns a gambling hall in Laughlin, Nevada, along the Colorado River. A similar sign, referred to as River Rick, can be found there.

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Fallout – Red Army Propaganda

Propaganda postIn the Fallout Universe, the player character is forced to survive in a hostile nuclear wasteland, seeking out food and clean water in irradiated territories decimated by a war from two hundred years ago. Navigable roadways are rife with scavengers and bands of lawless raiders.

Because heightened tensions between the United States and Communist China preceded the nuclear conflict of Fallout, it would follow that the skeletal remains ‘old world’ city settlements, upon examination, provide clues to what life was like before the bombs dropped.

Surviving buildings are smattered with pro-America, anti-communist propaganda. The game designers took their inspiration for these posters directly from the High Soviet Modernist style from the real world. The image above is but one example of a true-to-life Red Army recruitment poster from the Soviet Union and it’s fictionalized ‘Fallout 3’ counterpart.

This is probably one of the greatest elements of the game. The designers took ‘world-building’ to a whole new level when developing the franchise. Each iteration of the Fallout Universe reveals the strictest attention to detail, resulting in an highly atmospheric and detail-rich game world for the player to explore. ‘Immersive’ isn’t a strong enough word to describe the experience of exploring the world Bethesda Game Studios has created.

Fallout – Strategic Nuclear Moose

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“And God said: Let them have beer!”

One of the least important locations on the “Fallout: New Vegas” map, Brewer’s Beer Bootlegging is the official title of a small shack located northeast of McCarran airport, due east of the Sunset Sarsaparilla corporate office. The Mojave Wasteland is a forbidding place, but no amount of nuclear holocaust will keep a good brewer down! The shack appears to be abandoned, but the interior leads to an underground bootlegging operation that has been recently used.

Complete with fermenters, crates, and consumable beer, the crowning touch is the painted shipping pallet in the corner. The white paint reads: Strategic Nuclear Moose – let them drink beer. This is a reference to real-life Scottosh brewing company BrewDog. Their attention-grabbing achievement is known as “Tactical Nuclear Penguin,” boasting a whopping 32% alcohol content.

Previously branded irresponsible for an 18.2% beer called “Tokyo,” the gentlemen behind the operation decided to thumb their nose at critics first with a low-alcohol beer called “Nanny State” before eventually unleashing “Tactical Nuclear Penguin.”

A warning on the label states: “This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whiskey, a Frank Zappa album, or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.”

I would stab a guess that somebody on staff at Bethesda Game Studio is a fan.

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Fallout – Sputnik

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One of the more obvious references in the “Fallout” universe would be the design of the game’s ubiquitous “eye-bots.” In “Fallout 3”, these little machines roam around The Capital Wasteland, clustering around developed and semi-developed human settlements. Their only apparent purpose is to broadcast propaganda messages from President John Henry Eden, a mysterious figure during a majority of the game’s narrative. The speeches themselves are inspirational, with themes of patriotism and national resolve; they borrow heavily from the very real speeches delivered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats.”

There is only one eye-bot in the following iteration of the Fallout series, “Fallout: New Vegas,” which was designed to be a potential companion character.

Of particular note is the obvious similarity to the robot’s design and a little hunk of Russian metal we refer to as “Sputnik.”

Sputnik was the first artificial Earth satellite, launched by The Soviet Union into low orbit on October 4th, 1957. It was equipped with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses. The surprise success of Sputnik’s launch precipitated the American Sputnik Crisis and ignited what would be known as the Space Race, accelerating Cold War tensions between the United States and Russia. The satellite burned-up upon reentry roughly three months later, on January 4, 1958.

Sputnik contributed to a new emphasis on science and technology in American schools. With a sense of urgency, Congress enacted the 1958 National Defense Education Act, which provided low-interest college loans for math and science students. The rise of the “missile gap” also became a dominant issue in the 1960 presidential race. Simply put, the event inspired a new generation of engineers and scientists, invigorated American aerospace engineering, and ushered in the Space Age.

Perhaps my favorite detail is that the word “Sputnik” was modified by writer Herb Caen when writing an article about the Beat Generation for The San Francisco Chronicle. Without “Sputnik,” we would never have heard the colorful term “Beatnik.”