Dallas 13… Offline.

I think everyone has that one character whose ending pisses them off. A character whose plot conclusion is just fkn wat or else just completely unfair.

For me, Dallas 13 this character.

Vigilante 8 and its sequel, Second Offense, are vehicular combat games not unlike Twisted Metal. The premise of these games is that there is a global oil crisis in 1975 in which America is the last bastion against monopolized oil. OMAR, the conglomerate that owns all the other oil, hires mercenaries (Coyotes) to destroy key U.S. locations in order to cripple America's oil production. In response, a group of do-gooders (Vigilantes) bolt weapons to their cars and try to fight them off. Also, there's an alien.

The second game goes further into lolwat by introducing time travel and Drifters (neither Vigilante nor Coyote) into the equation. Basically, one of the good guys from the first game, Slick Clyde, finds some cybernetic implants one of the bad guys, Houston 3, broke herself out of. They both thereby switch sides. Houston 3 becomes just plain Houston, girlfriend to the leader of the good guys, and Slick Clyde becomes Lord Clyde, evil leader of OMAR.

Fast forward to 2017, Lord Clyde is old and OMAR is still the big bad oil conglomerate but they just caint break AMURICA. So Clyde gets the wise idea to travel back in time to 1977 and try to win the country that way. He takes with him a half-ninja, half-Marilyn Manson chick named Obake and Dallas 13, cowboy robot. The brain in Dallas' body belongs to a guy named Darius who, like Obake, was adopted as a child by OMAR, trained as an assassin, and was killed as a punishment for fucking up a job just before they left for '77. He and Obake were BFF's.

Each character in V8 has a quest in which they travel to each location on the map and a little of their story is revealed in each mission. They eventually have to fight one of the other characters as their final boss. Dallas' final boss is Houston. Much like her quest, his deals mostly with his human brain fighting with his programming. Unlike Houston, though, he is more robot than human anymore, and his later missions detail Clyde overriding his memory and overclocking his CPU. Where Houston eventually overcomes her bionics, Dallas cannot.

And in the end, because he is fighting a Vigilante, arguably the main hero of this game, Dallas has to lose.

The problem I have with this is not that he loses. Almost all "bad guy" quests end in their own demise. But Dallas is not really a bad guy. V8 is very karmic in its plot. Characters who are on the bad team may not actually BE bad (Nina Loco and Houston 3, for instance) and they get happy endings.

Dallas' whole story seemed to be shaping up in the same way as Houston's except possibly without his being able to save himself. What's disappointing is that his quest runs parallel to Obake's. Obake eventually betrays Clyde, after figuring out that he killed Darius and her father, and earns herself a good ending in which she kills him, dismantles OMAR, and starts a wind power company. In that way, especially because his quest hints that its possible he could access his own memory and exercise some control over himself, he would at least be able to stop himself when it came down to the wire. Dallas could quite conceivably come to the same redemption that Obake does, even if he is mixed-messaged mess, because he more than anyone would have reason to double-cross Clyde and be a good guy right along with her.

Instead, his programming wins out and he tries to kill Houston without a second thought. And gets his chest caved in for it. In his own quest ending even. They didn't even give him the dignity of getting to win at least until you play through Houston's quest.

I just don't like it. Where Houston 3's quest is a story about humanity winning out over robot murder programming and she's a hero for having that strength, Dallas' is about a guy who could more or less have had the same story as Obake, but instead just gets a flat ending that doesn't follow the rules of karma that everyone else's quest in this game does. I mean, that shit is really disappointing after 8 missions where you think Good Guy Darius is going to win out over Clyde. You done made an investment and you aren't getting a return on it.

I can think of several different ways in which they could have concluded his plot better. Even ones that let Houston still win. Even ones where he still dies. But no, this is the cheap shit we got.

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October 2021