This article discusses how using stereotypes and genre clichés can improve the overall narrative experience, as seen in the Fallout: New Vegas DLC, Old World Blues. As describing such devices is unavoidable, there is a high degree of spoilers involved - read at your own risk.
|Old World Blues is the third of|
four planned New Vegas DLC.
The entire DLC is built around the science fiction clichés of the 50's - including mad scientists keen on making thunderous declarations of intention, semi-robotic wildlife gone mad from constant experimentation, secret underground laboratories built around (arguably) unethical goals and over-the-top contraptions that function based on quasi-scientific terminology. The initial goals, for example, revolve around retrieving the player character's brain, spine and heart, surgically removed and replaced with cybernetic surrogates at the DLC's onset; while never properly explained, the game's justification remains curiously consistent with the in-universe science and provides a mindset consisting of both hilarity and drama - helped by a running b-story about the previous Courier Six (the protagonist's predecessor), which will be the focus of a future post.
|Meet the Think Tank, the greatest|
collection of preserved brains...
While the characters come across as over-the-top (understandable, as that's consistent with the genre the developers went for), they never devolve into caricatures of their selves, as each one has certain flaws and redeeming qualities worked expertly into their backgrounds (a personal favourite is Dr. Borous); conversely, they're all given a series of motives that fall definitively outside the good/evil spectrum of standard storytelling fare - there are no black and white motivations apparent here - while the ending is predictable to a degree, it still manages to convey logical motives for each character, helping flesh them out and give an additional layer of depth (even provoking a rare case of meta-thinking in Dr. Mobious' case).
|...and face-monitors in the post-War|
Moments of drama are gently replaced by hilarious encounters, such as the "School" encounter: tasked with running a "Communist Detection Simulation" (consistent with the USA of the 50's view of the world), the player runs a gauntlet constructed to resemble a school built by Dr. Borous. During the final run, the player encounters Borous' pet dog, cybernetically modified and conditioned to be lethally aggressive. As one of the possible outcomes, the dog dies, prompting Dr. Borous to deliver a tearful speech (incidentally a great moment of character development) which is then promptly interrupted by Dr. Mobious' robotic scorpions; in the ensuing fight the player is treated to a good deal of hilarious, over-the-top one-liners asserting Mobious' supremacy over the rest of the scientists in true sci-fi "camp" style - the shift of tone is almost imperceptible and always remains true to the in-universe rules and behaviours.
|Apparently, a psychotic toaster fits|
right in with the DLC's theme...
|...as does the mandatory giant|
robotic scorpion boss.