Monday, October 2, 2006

The Fallout Series's Soundtracks

Anyone who's moderately familiar with me will likely have noticed that I extoll the virtues of the Fallout RPGs to anyone who will listen at any time it is relevant to do so, and many times when it really isn't. So while I'm going to try not to get too carried away with heaping praise on the games today, marvelling at their excellent and incredibly well-written and detailed non-linear plot (how often do you get a NON-linear plot that's been created with as much care for every last detail as a Suikoden game) or its great side characters or...well, everything, I can't promise I won't. In fact I think I just did anyway.

Okay. On topic here. I love the Fallout series for a great many reasons, not the least of which is the innovation in so many aspects of Fallout 1 and 2. One of the most original aspects of the series, however, is its music. Or rather, its lack thereof. By and large, each area of Fallout has no background tune being repeated perpetually, which I don't need to mention (but will anyways) is a marked difference from just about every other RPG in existence. At certain times, a difference that seems very preferable, because I dunno about you, but I don't think I've EVER met an RPG with a minigame theme that didn't drive me out of my mind.

This isn't to say that Fallout doesn't have any background theme, though. It definitely does. Its background, however, is usually a collection of far-off sounds put together with an occasional few seconds of musical notes (I wouldn't call it a "song" any more than I would those little Ocarina tunes in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time). It's almost always unobtrusive, and it really helps to quietly emphasize the general mood and post-apocalyptic setting of each little town, technological ruin, and radscorpian-infested cave you crawl through. The effect that the simple background notes and noises of each location you visit is incredibly effective in pulling you into the setting somehow, far moreso than almost any regular game music I've encountered.

Trying to describe sound and music in words, of course, is more often than not a futile gesture. You have to experience it to understand it. Which is just another reason of many for why you should all go find copies of Fallout 1 and 2 to check it out--it's refreshing, skillful, and excellently effective.