Wednesday 12 November 2008

...In which I rage against the ending of Fallout 3


This post is, of course, a rather self-indulgent, passionate rant, but I really, REALLY need to say this out loud. Plus, I think it's kind of a funny piece.

I really, really, really hated the ending of Fallout 3.

It seemed to sum up the whole rest of the game for me– sloppy, slap-dash, ill-conceived. An anecdote perhaps to elaborate.

First time through I tried to “save the wasteland” through the powers of verbal persuasion (just because I could and indeed, I did) and after convincing evil Colonel Leaves-turn-brown-and-fall-to-the-ground that he should just up and leave I was promptly stuck in a locked room with no exit and an obvious script failing to run. GG Bethesda, you cagey fellows.

So I did a bit of a RRRAAAGGGEEE and a reload back to the admittedly conveniently placed autosave which had occurred upon entering The Final Room Of The Game… dun dun DUN! So instead of exercising my charm, wit and powers of persuasion I just blasted Captain Trenchcoat in the head several times until he was dead. Did I mention I was already level 20? Well I was, and it was boring, everything was already too easy. I honestly don’t know why they even let me go past 15, as that would have been the decent thing to do to stop me form becoming some sort of super-god-man creature that explodes heads with a single look… But I digress.

So now, after blowing this guy away and instead of standing there like a poor excuse for a shop-front mannequin, my Brotherhood (Sisterhood?) of Steel compatriot Miss Lady Lyon starts her “finish the game now in the most clichéd and overwrought manner possible” script. You’ll remember this one from before, as it was obviously the one that didn’t start correctly earlier. So anyway she runs up to me and fills my screen with her waxy complexion and tells me that it’s all over and we win – YIPPEE! Then Dr Li tells us over the intercom that, oh noes, the plant is about to explode maybe from being damaged by the fighting or maybe by the sabotage that might-or-might-not have been committed before we even got here insert breath. You can tell how important it is by how breahless I am. Truly, a dreadful situation, I’m sure you’ll agree.

But wait, like a bad 90’s infomercial, there’s more. Someone maybe very possibly you will have to go into the control room which is now filled with deadly radiation to activate the purifier or it will explode!

So. That’s the 411. Miss Lyon turns to me and says “One of us will have to go in there and activate the purifier but the radiation is sure to kill anyone who goes in there!” Now I’m a smart guy, I thinks to myself – hey, I’ve got an advanced radiation suit, and I’ve got enough Rad-X and Rad-Away to walk through the reactor room of Chernobyl, I could maybe probably perhaps actually do it alright. But then I thinks to myself, hey I have a better idea- do I know anyone who could stand abnormally-high-and-sure-to-be-lethal-for-a-normal-person-dose of radiation? Oh yeah, that big green Meta Human dude who is STANDING RIGHT FUCKING BEHIND ME. *ahem*.

So I, in my most noble voice, tell Miss Lyon, with a wink and a smile, “Why certainly, old gel’, I’ll venture into yon radiation filled room and give that switch the old flickeroo. It won’t know what hit it, wot wot!” I turn to my traveling companion with a twinkle in my eye and say. “Fawkes ol’ buddie ol’ pal – I want you to go into the room with massive levels of radiation which are completely and totally harmless to you but would kill me faster than a green-snake up a sugar cane and save absolutely everyone in the wastelan. You're practically born for the job!” To which Fawkes ol’ buddie ol’ pal replies “Fuck no! You have a destiny, rah rah rah. I ain’t goin in there witchu!”

Bah! Fine, I didn’t need your help anyway… idiot. So in I go, stiff upper lip and all that, (rather chipper actually what with my advanced rad-suit and my small mountain of anti-radiation meds) rather convinced of the certainty of my own safety and survival. I enter the airlock and it opens up into the control room. See now, that wasn’t so bad was it? Rad count within acceptable levels, nothing actively killing me...Now where’s that switch I have to flick? Is it over there? (I run off round the back) HOLY SWEET JESUS THERE’S ANOTHER MUTANT IN HERE MOMMA!!!

Astute observation and correct but only insofar as there is a mutant in here, rather than another. Fawkes, by virtue of me not telling him to “stay where he was” outside, has followed me INside thanks to the miracle of the spawning distance. Yah rly. GG Bethesda, you cunning, cunning linguists, GG. /sarcasm and all that.

Okay fine. Whatever, it’s a bug. I’ll pretend he’s not there. Input the code, purifier starts, everything is honky dorey. Wait, what’s this? I’m swaying slightly. Now I’m keeling over! What the FRAK?! I feel fine! Seriously! Those Rad-Away’s I took make me less irradiated than I’ve been for days! And now you’re SCRIPT killing me?! Awww man!

Bah! I’ve had enough of being forced into the binary dichotomy of being a self-sacrificing hero or a treacherous villain in games! I’m going back to Far Cry 2 where no one judges me for being a complete fucking asshole as long as I get the job done. Fuck yeah.


Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by the level of rage displayed here!

I admit that might have gotten a bit lost in the netspeak here :), but I think the gist is that you're upset that you were killed as part of a scripted event, right? That you couldn't survive the radiation even though you should have been able to, given the tools that have allowed to survive radiation in game situations?

If an that's accurate assessment, I'm wondering how you feel about, say, about characters getting killed off in JRPG cutscenes when you would have been able to resurrect them during a battle.

More precisely stated, is it ever acceptable for plot elements to exist outside of the mechanics set forth by the gameplay? (I'm not advocating one side or the other here, just playing devil's advocate.)

Ben Abraham said...

Interesting question Dan, and I'd like to tentatively reply saying that "Yes of COURSE plot elements should not exist outside game mechanics... except for when they should."

I loved as a kid the Final Fantasy games, and I could accept stuff like (lol, more spoilers!) Aeris' death because I was already drawn into the story, etc, etc.

The ending of Fallout I refused to let "suspend" the game rules in order to deliver a dramatic story because I was already passively raging at some things that were already really annoying me.

The ending was just the last straw, and it made me want my money back. =(

Unknown said...

Yeah, offering you a radiation-proof sidekick and then not considering how that could impact the big ending was an EPIC, epic fail. I loved the game but I wonder if that wasn't a GOTY-disqualifying mistake.

The ending is corny, but nobody talks about the scene before that, with the giant fucking robot that's shouting about Communists. That's pretty fantastic. They should've stopped right there.

Ben Abraham said...

Chris, you're right! That bit was really fun (even if it was mostly just walking along behind a giant robot - it was a *fun* robot).

I think the knowledge that eventually the SDK/construction set will get released for FO3 and then people will start to fix some of the more "what were they THINKING?" aspects of FO3, but it still annoys me that they can put it out there in such an unpolished state. If I had any say in a GOTY vote, I'd say a big F-U to Bethesda. Oblivion was my favorite proper game ever for a long time, so I'm mighty disappointed.

Oh, and thanks for reading Chris! I love your reviews and stuff. =)

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a theme with Bethesda, though, doesn't it? I like Oblivion a lot, but I shouldn't need half a dozen mods to fix the design flaws and get the thing to work properly. If Fallout 3 needs similar fan attention to be a polished experience, that worries me a bit.

Fashigady said...

I think you're somewhat right, it's corny and lame, and doesn't really make sense. BUT I've still really enjoyed playing FO3 - especially towards the end. The balance between the insane overpoweredness of high levels and the moderate increase in difficulty on the hard setting created a weird effect where I always felt vulnerable, but it still wasn't killing me more than a few times.

I think also the way in which you go about the dialogue trees makes a significant difference. Because I had a fairly high Science skill, I was able to point out the flaws of Adar's programming - much more convincing than your use of Speech.

All in all, I think your being overly critical - but hey, its all subjective, so it doesn't really matter X)

Unknown said...

@Ben, thanks - I love your blog, and your tweets! So touche!

jtgamer said...

hahaha i loved the last 6 paragraphs i felt the same exact fucking way!!! the game was good but the ending just made me wish i never played it. i dont see why you cant just turn the purifier on, walk out of there, and go bang that hot ass chick. i even went back and played it with good karma to see if i would survive but guess what i didnt... peice of shit