The long and short of Fallout 3

Created on Tuesday, November 11, 2008.
Filed under .

Of all the video game series ever conceived, Fallout ranks highest in my heart. The Fallout experience: being deposited into a world where all vestiges of civilisation and civility were destroyed in an exchange of nukes, being poorly armed, poorly trained, with no contacts and little sense of direction, made the game special.

So strongly does the Fallout experience resonate that a rabid community of Fallout purists still lurks on the internet, reminiscing about the good old days and attacking any game that even tries to approach its majesty.

So when it was announced that Bethesda Softworks, developers of the awesome Morrowind and console cop-out Oblivion, had bought the rights to Fallout, a great groan of disappointment and resentment heaved up. It’s going to be Oblivion with guns, they said. It wasn’t going to be Fallout. (I am, to an extent, one of those purists. I hear Bethesda is also developing a Fallout Massively Multiplayer Online Game. Eff that crap, way to butcher a mainstay of PC gaming. WoW with guns, etc.)

I finished Fallout 3 today, and I can say they were half right. This game belongs in the Fallout series. It pulls off the right atmosphere, it has some of the black humour, and the characterisation is on par with the previous games. It’s a brilliant game in all.

But even though it belongs in the series, it’s not actually Fallout. About twenty hours in I had hundreds of Stimpacks and anti-radiation chems, and so much ammo of all types that I could have fired away for literally an hour or two non-stop and not have exhausted my supply. I had 30000 in cash and nothing to spend it on. Fallout 3 is way too easy on the player, and it shouldn’t be. I should have been conserving ammo, and been running out of it mid-fight. I should have had to limp to town with a crippled leg, and then been forced to sell my only gun to cover the medical bill. That’s what Fallout is all about; survival by any means necessary, and whether your means are good or evil is entirely up to you.

As a game I enjoyed it, but as a Fallout game, it was underwhelming. But then I would break into a house looking for loot and find myself in the master bedroom, the windows boarded up against the bombs that hadn’t fallen yet, two skeletons intertwined in an eternal embrace on the bed, two empty syringes on the bedside table. And I would think, this is the narrative power of a video game, that I can feel sorrow over something that feels so real. In those moments this was clearly Fallout.

That's all there is, there isn't any more.
© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2018.