2, Issue 3
November 23, 1999
must have got stuck,
one sunless day"
- samuel beckett
idea of apocalypse and the turning of the millennium run hand
represent a kind of dark ideological evolution: "apocalypse"
is scrawled on a door at the end of the millennial hallway. What
seems inherent in the concept of apocalypse is a radical (read
final) disruption of perception, a point from which nothing can
be easily translated.
this definition, the artwork of M.C. Escher is apocalyptic, the
starkly "biological" designs forcing a new revelation
of seeing on the viewer. Escher's work, however, has the necessary
disorientation but not the symbolic wiping away of the blood from
ones eyes. Apocalypse is not mere annihilation, but rather a wounded
throughout time have made much of an apocalypse's adumbrating
"violence." Where "the composer" of the Epic
of Gilgamesh saw a king running from the shadow of death, Pamela
Smith and Arthur Waite saw a deck of Tarot cards, where Medieval
painters saw skeletons cavorting at the hour of judgment, Alfred
Hitchcock saw James Stewart standing on the edge of a bell tower
staring down at the shattered body of the woman he loves in Vertigo.
It's quite a varied experience...all coming down to the same thing:
the revelation of the past laid waste and the future forever changed
because of it. The time between the eye closing and the eye opening
is the apocalyptic moment. The creators of Fallout, developed
by Black Isle and published by Interplay, approach it with a surprising
amount of grace.
is set in the year 2077, after a two hour war in which most of
the planet has been destroyed. Life struggles to thrive on the
surface, while deep below, buried in the womb of a mountain, massive
Vaults house families spared the ravages of the nuclear aftermath.
The player is asked to identify with one of these sheltered survivors,
released back onto the broken earth for the first time.
are divided into two sections, a rather lyrical (in its own way)
evocation of the build-up to the disaster and a more narrative
guided tour (a quick note: having already
reviewed Fallout 2, I find myself in the awkward position
of referring back to that game in comparison to the first one).
The narrator is the requisitely gruff cataloguer of man's downfall,
sounding like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Krusty the Clown.
"War...War never changes," he stoically laments, almost
whispering as grainy black and white snapshots fade in and out.
Most post-apocalyptic films have this: the VOICE with the omniscient
perspective of God and the cracked vocal cords of a survivor.
The technique veers dangerously close to cliche but unlike in
Fallout 2, it doesn't overstay its welcome.