2, Issue 3
November 23, 1999
2, the role of the narrator was expanded to include recapping
the first game. As a result the voice, by having to drone on,
only served to drill into the viewer just how overused a tool
it was...Fallout needs no elongated introduction. The creators
limit the use of the narrator to add just the right amount of
atmosphere. Underneath the voice, photographic stills punctuate
the story, tortured black and white prints as silent evidence.
In one painting, a nationalistic poster, Uncle Sam stands, shirt
sleeves rolled up, huge American flag billowing out behind him
like a manmade cloud, in front of an armada of planes, all flying
in formation in the aesthetics of war.
cities and tunnels, burning ships and wrecked oil fields, antiquated
machines and massive structures. In these images scale becomes
a horrifying thing, like when looking at people standing next
to the base of a ship in dry dock fills you with an unexplainable
fear. There is a sense in these images of industrial projects
designed to negotiate a teetering earth, ghosts leaking out of
its bending axis. The images appear taken from the 1930's, and
perhaps it's appropriate considering that the third decade of
the 20th century was a time when the future seemed to reach back
and pierce the present. The Depression and Flash Gordon, pagan
rituals as politics and airships docking with the Empire State
building...2077 might as well be 1939 in these snapshots taken
just before an apocalyptic opening of our eyes.
seen things fall apart many times; in Fallout the world
ends to the tune of a 1920's pop song.
you'll think of me, when you are all alone," a melancholy
voice sings while, on a television screen, newsreel footage records
the coming end. Animated characters, straight out of Disney Studios,
make the idea of having to live in underground vaults more comforting
as soldiers shoot civilians in the head, laughing and waving to
the camera. The image slowly pulls back, revealing a burnt out
city in the distance. The television is playing to a dead world,
the very house it's in shattered to a ruined wooden iceberg. The
song, a lament for lost love, becomes a mass for a broken earth.
"Maybe you'll sit and sigh, wishing that I were near..."
but there's no one left
only hope that the team working on Fallout deliberately
crafted this opening to their game with full intention of leaving
the player with a slightly haunted feeling. Fallout 2 seems
proof of this as it continues the same basic structural ideas.
In both Fallout games, the creative team at Black Isle
has shown commitment to maintaining a sense of humor and style
in presenting a darkly graceful vision of the end.
Joshua Vasquez is the resident film critic here at loonygames.
He also writes for the Internet film site Matinee
note: the preceding is a revised version of an article that originally
ran in Volume 1. Josh requested this revision, as he felt the
piece to be one of his best. A brand new edition of Pixel Obscura
will run next week.)