darkskywatcher (darkskywatcher) wrote,

Fallout 3

Possibly minor spoilers.

I've mentioned this before, but I've now played enough to know: I find the setting for Fallout 3 deeply, deeply flawed. This doesn't mean that I haven't enjoyed the game, and there are even individual missions that have been fun. But every time the game mentions dates, or I have to look at one too many of the loading screens, I start getting upset about what they're trying to sell.

The premise of the world is that there was a nuclear apocalypse...in 2077. But Fallout is devoted to a very particular aesthetic style, one often called retro-futurism, drawing on imagines from the 50s and 60s to shape the technology and a lot of the background art. So, basically, the game is setting up an alternate timeline where that style dominated not just the immediate years after WWII, but an additional century beyond. Culture isn't that stagnant, and there would have been sufficient changes over time that the style would feel outdated to most people. Certainly, a company like Vault-Tec could easily have used that stuff in its advertising, but that doesn't mean I should encounter it everywhere.

The other obnoxious part is the date post-catastrophe. This one always makes me roll my eyes, because it's supposed to have been 200 years since the bombs dropped. And yet, every time I open a new medkit in a building that is full of human raiders, it's got some stuff in it. Not everything, granted, but at least something worth stealing. Vending machines standing out in the open usually have a bottle or two of soda left. Every time you get addicted and go to a doctor to have your system flushed, they tell you "it's going to cost you, but I've got pre-war stuff that will clean you out". Excuse me? What kind of stockpiles did everybody lay in, huh, that can last for 200 years without going bad?

Now, I haven't finished the main plot, much less done everything in the game, and maybe it will reveal that there are a dozen tiny manufacturers spread across the wastes that do turn out new products according to old recipes. And they don't advertise because they don't want to be taken over by raider hordes. And nobody wants to talk about them for fear that they'll get cut off by the paranoid recluses. Uh...yeah. Like I said, still worth playing, but many do I wish Fallout 3 and TES4: Oblivion had been made in the other order.
Tags: games

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