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Some thoughts on the Fallout 3 article
Editorial - posted by Vault Dweller on Sun 17 June 2007, 00:26:25Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3
Fallout: Take Four
Fallout: Tactics. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. Black Isle's Fallout 3. Bethesda's Fallout 3.
So, here we are again. The details of another Fallout game are finally announced. One more time we ask ourselves a question: is it really that difficult to understand the concept of the original game? Oh well...
I think I can see fear in the orcs' eyes. Can you?!
Let's start with the writings on the proverbial wall that the fanbase mostly ignored, choosing to believe in Easter Bunny and turn-based, isometric, true Fallout game instead:
Pete Hines, 2004
There was so much more to Fallout than the angle you viewed it at, or how combat was resolved. ... At itâ€™s core, itâ€™s a survival game.
Todd Howard, 2004
Imagine a survival horror-esque version of the Fallout world...
Game Informer, 2004
Three years later we are presented with a first person, real-time, survival horror-esque Resident Evil-version of the Fallout world. It brings an end to "this quote was misunderstood / taken out of context / doesn't mean that the game won't be turn-based and isometric / nothing has been decided yet!" naive crap and many people's dreams to play a true Fallout game. Now, let's take a good look at what the Game Informer article has revealed and see what Bethesda has in store for us.
"The spirit of Fallout - we've missed it.", Todd Howard.
As usual, Todd meant it literally.
Bethesda has moved the game to another coast, which was a smart move. It could have allowed them to make their own version of the Fallout world, to share their vision with players, to make some mistake and get away with them. It was a license to be creative. For Bethesda, it was a license to fuck things up. Big time.
The neo-Fallout setting is loaded with super mutants hiding in dark places and the Brotherhood of Steel stormtroopers protecting the wasteland. Neither group should have been on the east coast, especially in large numbers, for reasons obvious to anyone who had enough patience to finish the first game. Why? Well, according to the first game there was only one Forced Evolutionary Virus (F.E.V.) research facility, that was used to produce super mutants. Since the super mutants were sterile, and most of them and the research facility were destroyed in the first game, nothing short of lame "uh...there was another F.E.V. facility" would explain the super mutants presence in FO3. As for the BoS, it was a small monastery-like organization, very similar to "A Canticle for Leibowitz" monk order, interested only in preserving technology and not being disturbed. Saviors, knights, police, liberators, and the last hope of humanity the Brotherhood of Steel is not.
This concept art illustrates perfectly the monastery-like nature of the BoS.
To show that Bethesda understands and, like, totally digs the setting, the game features exploding nuclear reactors in cars and mind-blowing "tell me it's a joke" handheld nuclear catapults. In the example described in the Game Informer article, the main character, undoubtedly inspired by the famous Baron Munchausen, kills two giant ants by shooting at a NEARBY car's nuclear reactor. A small nuclear blast destroys the car and the ants, but ignores the resourceful main character, standing a few meters away. The nuclear catapult is an even more retarded concept and, hopefully, needs no explanation. Using nuclear explosions in close combat in a survival game that watches your rad count is kinda stupid. Even for Bethesda.
Notice the "nucular" explosions in the background.
The Fallout setting is inspired by the 50's science-fiction. To put it simply, that's how people in the 50's envisioned the future. The GI article proves beyond a reasonable doubt that there is a huge difference between capturing the atmosphere in a short intro trailer and in the actual game. Other than lame "HAY! WE R FROM TEH 50'S!!!" posters and boards, there are no traces of either the 50's sci-fi influences or the Fallout art style in the game. Such a shame, and not even because I care about the consistency, but because having a certain style is always better than going with something generic. The biggest problem with the carefully chosen screens is that they lack personality and distinctive character. They could fit any game, from Wolfenstein to Resident Evil.
"It's not an action game. It's a role-playing game.", Todd Howard
Todd Howard seems to think so, but then again, Todd seems to think a lot of things. Some of them may even be true. Leaving the obvious question "why did the magazine file Fallout 3 under "action RPG"?" aside, let's take a look at what the presentation of this role-playing game was focused on. For example, how many dialogue screens were shown in those 10 pages? Zero. Wouldn't you think that dialogues are an important Fallout element that the presentation should have mentioned, if not focused on? Apparently not. How many quests were explained in details, showing the design and them moral, game-changing choices? Once again, Bethesda follows the Oblivion formula: focus on the visuals and HAWT AKSHUN, assure people that quests and dialogues are superb and awesome in seven different ways, but show nothing to back up these claims.
Charisma - the dump stat?
In fact, many of the 360 version's Achievements will be about acquiring these different titles as you progress - getting all the Achievements is almost impossible in just one playthrough, particularly due to the nature of quests in Fallout 3.
ALMOST impossible? You mean like "it will be very hard to become the head of all Oblivion guilds" right? Anyway, the article insists that the game will be loaded with choices & consequences, branching quests, and other role-playing goodness, but, sadly, no examples are given. Considering Bethesda's fondness to make shit up in order to sell more copies, caution would be strongly advised.
Let's now go line-by-line over more specific gameplay observations:
The sign above the gate reads: "Megaton." ... A massive undetonated bomb sits in the crater at the center of town, apparently the settlement's namesake. Some insane religious zealot kneels at its base, espousing the bomb as a miraculous sign from God. You push past him and head to the bar. ... Inside Moriarty's Bar you spy an imperturbable businessman, Mister Burke. He'd like to get rid of Megaton - something about "a blight on the burgeoning urban landscape." He's got a fusion pulse charge that could arm the live and ticking bomb at the center of town. You take the charge and head back outside. ... "It's about time," Mister Burke says, and hands you the detonator. In the distance, you can see the town. There's no turning back after this. The money's not really that good, now that you think about it. You press the button anyway...
Ok. Let me get this straight. Some idiots built a town around an undetonated nuke. Some guy wants you to detonate the nuke because it's a "blight on the urban landscape". Looks like the fact that a nuclear explosion would wipe out and contaminate that very landscape doesn't occur to him. Then again, in this setting people use nuclear explosions to light up cigars, so maybe it's not that bad. A well designed quest!
Anyway, did you notice that the article does not mention any option to do something differently? One would think that Todd would have illustrated or at least mentioned all the options while playing through this quest. Something like "of course, you can blow a hole in Mister Burke's head instead" or "you can talk to the sheriff", etc. So, either these options are not present and the game railroads you or Todd doesn't think that these options are interesting / have consequences / worth mentioning. Either scenario is alarming.
Emerging from the Metro into the ruins of the old capital city of a dead nation, it only takes moments to realize you're in over your head. A swarm of mutants crawl across the old marble stonework ... when suddenly across the street more shots begin to ring out. Their powered armor gleaming, a squad of knight-like soldiers begins to drop your would-be killers.... offers for you to come along as she and her fellow Brotherhood of Steel members clear out more mutants. They're heading your way, so why not?
A scripted event implying linearity. How exciting!
As the giant mutant turns its eyes on you, you pull the trigger, and the bomb hurtles over to the beast's feet. The creature crashes down in a cloud of nuclear fallout. Slipping away from the surviving soldiers, you enter the NEARBY tower...
Looks like in the future nuclear fallouts are as common and about as dangerous as farts.
When you add the new and improved combat system, the missing father who plays a dramatic and prominent role, your 19 year old character, wasteland radio stations playing 40's and 50's tunes, drinking from toilets, and other exciting details, the only question that begs to be asked is "Was it really necessary to pay all those millions for the Fallout license?"