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Better than Fallout 2 he said?! [Retrospective]

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RiC_David

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Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:01 am

Post Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:37 am

Better than Fallout 2 he said?! [Retrospective]

I discovered Resurrection from a single comment in a Reddit thread requesting games that were similar to the original Fallouts. UnderRail was suggested, which I was sure I'd sink many hours into, but "Fallout 1.5" was mentioned by one person who claimed to prefer it over Fallout 2. He was downvoted for this declaration.

And, in my ignorance, I actually thought the downvoting was understandable. Sure it's their genuine opinion and it's wrong to thumb a comment down just for having an absurd opinion but still - a fan made game better than the epic Fallout 2? That reeked of the old GameFaqs "10/10 Best game ever!!!!" reviews that were a reliable source of amusement. As is obvious from this drawn out set-up, I'm here to sheepishly apologise for my lack of faith because not only is preferring Resurrection over 2 a reasonable opinion, I think I actually share it now. Here's why.

Tone

Let's start with the big one. As much as I love Fallout 2, it can be far too frivolous and often tips the scale from 'dark story with elements of humour to balance things out' (like Breaking Bad) to 'comedic game with dark lore'. The first Fallout made me feel outright unpleasant when I found myself walking through the lifeless ruins of a city during in a random map encounter - the tense and depressing background music combined with the desolate visuals made me reflect on nuclear apocalypse and that poignancy stayed with me

Fallout 2 on the other hand can't wait to disarm that heavy atomsphere with wackiness. I enjoyed almost all of its wacky humour but I chuckled at the expense of a richer experience that was sacrificed for laughs, which brings me to...

Breaking the fourth wall

Unfortunately for the player/reader/viewer/listener, breaking the fourth wall is something many creators of fiction get off on doing. I use that choice of wording because it always strikes me as masturbatory - it's a cheap thrill for the people creating the fiction but aside from the short lived initial "lolwtf!" shock humour, it kills immersion for zero reward.

If you're creating comedy then this may not even be a problem. South Park or mid/late era Simpsons dropping references to "episodes" (often with the other characters quickly covering, e.g. "Of our lives! Episodes of our lives..") doesn't hurt as it's not going for emotional investment but Fallout 2 loved to throw in dialogue options mentioning skill points, game genres and generally reminding you that you're playing a computer game.

Resurrection does not do this. We don't get "Wow, the devs did a great job - you'd never know this was a fan made game!" despite how much it may have made the script writer laugh. When I enter a town and see a child shot to death while the adults around carry on without giving a shit, that moves me, if I was then reminded that it was just a cluster of pixels being coded to no longer move, there goes the emotion.

Hey wouldn't it be funny if...

Still tone related but more specific, Fallout 2 included talking plants, chess playing scorpions, scholarly deathclaws, a sentient stone head (my personal favourite), and probably a couple dozen others I've forgotten about. Again, it was funny, but the choice was made between casual lols and dramatic immersion. Comedy and drama can absolutely mix - Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad is perfect comic relief and Mike also provides fantastic dry humour but if either had a pet pumpkin that could talk, I'd have to readjust my perspective on the whole world.

It's not like Fallout 2 never got it right. Digging up a ghoul in Golgotha who was sick and tired of getting buried when he passed out was great stuff. Likewise in Resurrection, having your companions abandon you in disgust when you're so loaded on chems that you can't string together a sentence was amusing, especially when Keri's main frustration was that you didn't share the good stuff. And that takes us to the big one...

Companions

Man was this ever better than Fallout 2! I don't know if another game did the companion conversation system before Knights of the Old Republic but that's what this resembled and that is a very very favourable comparison. Not only did these characters have their own lives, which they'd return to if you left them waiting for too long, they had advice to share and opinions to express. I actually cared about their sentiments when I made decisions and on the lesser end of the scale it was just fun to see
what they had to say about new additions to your crew.

One of the toughest decisions I made was deciding whether to keep Gabriel in my group after hearing what he did to a certain adversary's children. I wanted to murder him there and then, despite my character's moral compass being flimsy at best, but I also benefited greatly from his firepower and wanted to know how his story would end. Contrast that with Cassidy from F2 whose story began and ended with you picking him up at the bar (hey!). Onto the last one now..

Roleplaying your backstory

You come into this game not knowing your background but even when you discover your roots, nothing aside from that one detail is revealed. In F2, you grew up in Arroyo and lived there until being declared The Chosen One and leaving at the start of your adventure (see, fourth wall intact!). I wanted to play a character inspired from Breaking Bad's Mike who was once a police officer that wound up becoming a hitman who excelled at stealth, sharpshooting, quick witted speech, mechanics...yeah he was a bit of a god in RP'ing terms but he lacked charisma so there's that. Anyway, in F:R I could do this, I just made it so she was once a cop turned assassin in her old life and upon losing her memory reverted to that identity. Fallouts 1 & 2 didn't allow for this and while the forced origins were necessary for the game's plot, I appreciated the openendedness of Resurrection.

So what *didn't* F:R change?

To help balance out this glowing praise, I'll throw in a few things that I wish could have been 'fixed' from the original Fallouts.

-Forced politeness.

While I'm personally never one to play the sarcastic brat, I often find the player dialogue of Fallout to be overly gracious. If I'm playing as some post apocalyptic chivalrous knight then sure, I'll be saying "Sorry to trouble you further but may I ask another question?" and "Thank you so much for your time, I'll be on my way now", but I'd usually much rather say "One more question" or "Right, I'll be going now" but when the only other option is "Whatever, bitch" I'm going to tend toward the world's nicest guy approach.

Middle ground is sorely needed and the lack of it has always flown in the face of the game's reputation for grey areas. When either option takes us to the same response anyway, it probably wouldn't be too much to add a more neutral choice to our interactions.

When it *really* bugs me is when being submissive is the only way to progress. The mother of the lost son in the Imperial City, ABQ lashes out at you when you come to inform her of her child's whereabouts - she insults you for being a foreigner and basically tells you to piss off. While this is more understandable due to her distress, no part of me wanted to apologise to her for having the gall to be a foreigner when I was there to do her a service. Likewise, no part of me wanted to just insult her back and walk away without telling her what's happened to her child.

"If you'd listen to me for a moment you might be less dismissive of what this foreigner has to say"
"Spare me the insults, lady, I'm here to tell you about your missing son"

A few alternatives off the top of my head.

-Frustrating game engine functions

I don't know if these can even be fixed as they're part of the engine itself but here's what I've always hated in the 2D Fallouts:

-The ranged weapon idle animations; I always switch to melee or unarmed so I don't have to see my guy seemingly discarding ammo and hearing the reload sound because I stood still for a few seconds. Apparently this can be disabled in the Restoration Mod installation settings, I've never noticed a set-up application but regardless, if it could be included in the game's settings that'd be fantastic.

-The weapon holstering animation before object interaction; see above, this becomes extremely tiresome when you're examining containers, picking pockets etc.

-The inability to exit dialogue screens with the 'Esc' key; trading items with companions is a common occurrence and I'd really like to be able to tap 'Esc' a few times rather than going through the dialogue options. Instructing a whole party to wait is the most cumbersome scenario of all.

And that's all I've got to say about that! I utterly adore this game right down to the honouring of the tradition of giving us a shortened version of the old-timey song at the start then rewarding us with the song's conclusion when the credits roll. It's silly how excited I get to hear the bridge and C-section of an Inkspots song but damnit it's a winning formula and you spared no effort in making this an authentic Fallout experience - somehow more authentic than the official games...damn, guys!

Well then..my long rant, honey child, it's through. Thanks for reading.

-RiC D
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Daemon

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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:49 pm

Post Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:48 pm

Re: Better than Fallout 2 he said?! [Retrospective]

Thank you for detailed feedback!
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valcik

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Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:40 am

Post Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:04 pm

Re: Better than Fallout 2 he said?! [Retrospective]

RiC_David wrote:-The weapon holstering animation before object interaction; see above, this becomes extremely tiresome when you're examining containers, picking pockets etc.

Yep, this is annoying. I'd suggest leaving one weapon slot empty, and switching between them with middle mouse button which is one of nifty (and configurable) sfall functions.

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