Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer
Do you remember Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords? CC2K Games Editor Big Ross sure does. And it's precisely the reason he's feeling some trepidation about the upcoming, highly anticipated follow-up to Bioware's mega-hit Fallout 3. In this letter to developer Obisdian Entertainment, he spells out why.
Dear Obsidian Entertainment,
This particular piece of sure-to-be-unread correspondence has been prompted by the recent debut of the first trailer for your upcoming game Fallout: New Vegas. First let me say that the trailer looks fantastic. Given that this is the first of what is sure to be many previews of the game, it accomplished exactly what I'm sure you intended: to instill in the viewer what the mood and atmosphere of the game will be. Toward that end I give you and your employees a hearty "Bravo!". But my commendation is not the true reason for this letter. Rather, I wish to make an entreaty.
I can recall back in 2003 and 2004 after the release of the exceptional Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic when a sequel was announced. Developed by Bioware, the first game was a resounding success, and I was elated at the chance to return to a Star Wars universe wholly separate from the one George Lucas was dismantling with the shitty prequel trilogy. When I read that Bioware was passing off development of the sequel to your company, I'll admit I was disappointed. It was difficult to imagine that another company could fill Bioware's shoes. But my doubt was assuaged by a series of trailers that promised another epic adventure with perhaps even darker tones than the original. It would be an understatement to say that I was excited.
But then, as I was playing through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, something happened. Or rather, a series of somethings. Bad somethings. Glitches. Bugs. A series of software snafus that left me feeling frustrated. But there was still so much to like about KOTOR II, areas where it seemed not just as good, but actually better than the first game. I forgave these missteps. But then I got near the end of the game, and my forgiving attitude went right out the window. There weren't just bugs, but gaping plot holes, entire storylines abandoned, and an ending that felt slapped together with duct tape and super glue. I stopped feeling frustrated and started to feel cheated.
Which brings us back to the present. Can you see where I'm going with this? Can you understand why, as good as the trailer for Fallout: New Vegas looks, I can't help but feel worried? A giant in RPG development, Bethesda Softworks, made Fallout 3, which is IMHO one of the greatest RPGs of all time. A sequel (of sorts) is announced, but accompanying the announcement is the news that Bethesda is handing off development to another company, Obsidian Entertainment. Your company.
Now, I'll freely admit that I'm being unfair, laying blame for KOTOR II at your feet. I know the blame is not (entirely) yours. I've read that your team was under tremendous pressure from Lucasarts to finish the game in time for the holiday shopping season, that you planned a much more robust ending to the game that you simply didn't get a chance to make, and that your company wasn't in the same position as Bioware such that you could tell Lucasarts to shove their deadlines where the sun don't shine; you'll be damned if you're going to release an unfinished game.
Regardless of your intentions, releasing an unfinished, buggy game is essentially what you did. Simply put, the point of this letter is to ask, no beg you not to let this particular bit of history repeat itself. What made KOTOR II such a painful experience is how brilliant much of the game was. I know you have a history of great game development, and I'm aware that for some of your employees this game represents something of a swan song, a chance to get back to your roots. With Bethesda acting as the game's publisher, I truly hope Fallout: New Vegas is everything you want (and are no doubt working feverishly for) it to be. I really hope for that, because I'm not sure I could take another KOTOR II.
Big Ross, CC2K Games Editor