Some of you have noted that I really haven’t talked about the upcoming release of Fallout 3 here on the website. It’s certainly not because the game hasn’t been on my radar, or because I forgot it was coming. Fallout, in a lot of ways, is more than a video game to me.
Back when I was in high school, I took sixteen-hundred dollars in ones and fives (tips from waiting tables… why I didn’t put it in the bank I can’t remember) down to the local Staples to buy myself a computer, because my parents didn’t want me installing tons of video games on theirs. It was my first computer (and the last pre-built I ever bought), and the very first game I bought for it was Fallout, which had just come out.
Since then I’ve played through Fallout 1 and 2 half a dozen times each. I even enjoyed Fallout Tactics a couple of times through (though I still wouldn’t touch Fallout: BOS with somebody else’s controller). Fallout just seemed to click with me. The setting, the dark humor, the depth. When people ask me what my favorite game of all time is, the answer is always Fallout.
So my silence on Fallout 3 is less about unawareness, and more about quiet reservation. When Interplay first sold the license to Bethesday, who then announced plans to restart Project Van Buren (the original Fallout 3 project), I decided right then that I would not be buying into any hype, that I would not be getting my hopes up for the Fallout 3 that I and other Fallout fans had been waiting ten years for.
Don’t get me wrong, Bethesda is a great developer, and Pete Hines is a great guy. But we’re talking about a game here that was what it was due to a very specific combination of certain elements, and now not only had Black Isle closed, but the license had moved to an entirely different company. There was a very real possibility that we’d end up with a shiny, fancy, post-nuclear game that just didn’t feel like Fallout.
So… I sat back, watched, waited. I’ve seen some stuff that made me say “Mmmm, Fallout”, and I’ve seen some stuff that made me think “This looks like Oblivion with guns…” I’m still not sold one way or the other, to be honest. And frankly, I don’t imagine I will be until this time tomorrow, when I’ve had my hands on the game for a few hours.
I’m sure I will enjoy the game either way, even if it just ends up being a beautiful shell of what Fallout was… some familiar names, places and themes slapped onto Oblivion. I see people who have never touched a Fallout game before getting excited for Fallout 3, and they won’t know if it stands up to the predecessors. And, as a stand-alone title, they’ll enjoy the game, no doubt.
However… I hope that we get a true Fallout 3. I hope that if Fallout 3 is someone’s first Fallout experience… I hope that it manages to capture some of the same magic that Fallout had when it first came out. Because it would be great if, as I do, ten years from now they could look back and think “Wow… that’s still one of the best games I’ve ever played.”