The California Literature Review has an article
on why Boston should not be chosen as the location for Fallout 4, and why Fallout 3 didn't fit the "Western" style setting of Fallout as well as Fallout New Vegas.
Part of the article is below:
Sure, on the surface Fallout seems like sci-fi and is thus defined by its unique technology. Technology derived from the McCarthy-era fifties, a time of atomic science that barely understood the effects of radiation. Of computer science that couldn’t fathom miniaturization. Of the unchecked optimism of The Jetsons dashed against the Cold War thermonuclear horror of The Day After and Them!
If taken at face value, the physical setting of any particular game wouldn’t seem to matter so much as the retro robots, archaically advanced laser pistols, or giant fire-breathing mutant ants. You could theoretically put a Fallout game in England, Tokyo, or Brazil if that’s all that mattered. I’ve heard such arguments before.
But to do so would be to miss the point more than your Facebook friend who thinks articles by The Onion are real.
All the hallmarks of the Western are there. Thirstily wandering along at a calculated pace in the waste, sleeping under the stars in the wilderness, taking the role of the unknown gunman who wanders into town to solves everyone’s problems with a hail of gunfire before drifting out like a tumbleweed, the reintroduction of tribal culture set apart from homesteaders on the fringes of societies where law is thin and it’s best to travel with a gun on your belt even if you’d prefer never to use it. Arguably (and that’s exactly what I’m doing) this gameplay is as important, if not more important than the tools used or enemies fought.
More than most games, Fallout captures the nature of rugged individualism idolized in the Westerns of old. It’s a tale of the frontier. Only it’s a new frontier built atop a forgotten history.
This is a primary reason, apart from mere physical location, that Fallout 3 and Tactics are so different from the other three Western games.
They lack a certain sincerity. A light touch of affection to the often cynical portrayals of the small town wasteland oddballs that the series derives a lot of its humor from. A sense of humor that I add, is as vital to the series as the decaying Atom Punk decorum, the retro-future tech or the gunslinging gameplay. It’s an irreverent silliness that’s incredibly necessary, as it prevents the sheer weight of the dying world the games exist in from becoming completely overbearing.
It’s not that the Eastern Fallouts weren’t funny or that they were bad, it’s just that they were missing this certain extra . . . something. In the case of Tactics, it was probably because most of the RPG was stripped out of it. But for Fallout 3, it really truly comes down to location, location, location.
Climbing through the ruins of Los Angeles in Fallout 1, it’s difficult to feel too bad. L.A.’s a city of impermanence that centers around vacuous cults of personality and vanity, and The Boneyard, a settlement replacing it, features a religious order that worships an unseen “Master” who attempts to create “physical perfection” with the Super Mutants while having no singular identity of his own. The joke is obvious – nothing has really changed.
Climbing through the ruins of Washington D.C. in Fallout 3 on the other hand, it’s difficult not get depressed. As you sift through a sacked Smithsonian and notice that the Lincoln Memorial’s head has been decapitated by slave traders? Seeing the loss of all this American History, the loss of our cultural identity – it hurts.
Spotted at NMA
. Feel free to discuss the article here or at the California Literature Review.