Friday, August 5, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas's Ending

I really did love Fallout 3. It's got a simple yet epic plot, some neat characters, the events that move the plot along are well-executed, there's oodles of creativity to it, and there is, as in any Fallout, just tons of symbolism and references to the USA's culture, ideals, people, history, and place in the world. It was a reinvention of the series and yet a very faithful continuation of it, and there are few things I can really say weren't done well with it. But I do have to say, if there was 1 thing that disappointed me, it was...well actually, I guess it would have been the lousy, pointless Mothership Zeta DLC package. But if there were 2 things that disappointed me, then they'd have been the Mothership Zeta DLC package and the ending.

Now, I already made a rant about how stupid part of Fallout 3's ending was, and I soon after had to retract that rant as the Broken Steel DLC fixed the nonsensical part of the ending. So I don't have any complaints about the part of the ending where the Lone Wanderer must decide who goes in to fix the thingy any more. But the basic ending sequence was still disappointing when compared to that of previous games.

See, in previous Fallout games, the ending would be a sequence of scenes of people and places you encountered in your quest, with a voice-over in which the narrator explained what ended up happening to these individuals and locations after the game's end. In most cases, the future of many people and civilizations would be heavily influenced by your actions in the game. A few things didn't change no matter what you did, like the fate of Myron in Fallout 2, but overall, the game's ending was a chance to hear about the fruits (or ashes) of your labor, and even with the stuff you couldn't change, hearing about what happened later on was still neat.* In Fallout 3, however, you got an extremely brief sum-up of your character's actions that basically amounted to, "The Lone Wanderer was good/bad. The Capital Wasteland was changed for the better/worse because of The Lone Wanderer. The Lone Wanderer decided to purify/poison the water. The End." Not exactly the detailed summary of a quest that took 100+ hours of play time that I would have hoped for. Hell, not only does it not include any proper details for the fates of the places and people of the game, but it also doesn't even do a good job with what it DOES summarize! I mean, you're probably aware of whether or not your main character was a good or bad person, since, y'know, you were there for all the moments that would have determined that!

Thus, I am very pleased that Fallout: New Vegas has returned to the traditional Fallout way of ending a game--by listing off what happens to all of the settings and characters of importance after the game's conclusion, most of which are influenced by the protagonist's actions throughout the game. It's a very rewarding and interesting way to end a game, and is particularly appreciated when that game has taken as much time and attention as a Fallout game tends to.

I'm also pleased that Fallout: New Vegas goes 1 step further than the older games, too--it has more than 1 voice actor doing the narration. See, in Fallout 1 and 2, the ending narration was all done by the same voice actor, Ron Perlman. This was fine, as he's basically the vocal soul of the franchise, and he added a pleasant sense of depth and significance to the fates he was describing. But Fallout: New Vegas goes further: each part of the ending that details the future of a place or person is narrated by a character who had significant ties to it. For examples, the eventual fates of your party members are each narrated by the voice actor who played that character, while the description of what happens to, say, the Kings gang in Freeside, is narrated by The King, leader of the gang. Having narration by the characters relevant to the people and places described in the ending is a nice touch, makes the ending's story come more alive to me. And you still get Mr. Perlman in there for the summary of the Courier, so nothing is lost with the change.

So yeah, kudos to Obsidian and Bethesda for correcting the mistake made in Fallout 3, and not only that, for going above expectations to make the ending's telling even better than hoped for. If they keep making Fallout games in the future, I hope they do the same things for those games' endings as they did did for Fallout: New Vegas, because it's everything a Fallout fan wants and more.

* Of course, there were a few parts of Fallout 2's ending clips that were glitched up and didn't allow you to get the ending you should have due to programming errors, too. There are, thankfully, some fan-made mods out there that fix this, the most notable and worthwhile, of course, being the Fallout 2 Restoration Project patch, made by the most dedicated fan I've ever encountered, Killap. Yes, I know I already advertised this patch in my last Annual Summary, but I feel it really bears mentioning again that you can have a chance to play Fallout 2 the way it was meant to be played if you go here: and download it. It's a must-play for any Fallout fan, one of the series's true classics as it was meant to be.

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