First Impression: Fallout

First Impression: Fallout

2024 is going to be called the Year of the Unadaptable Movie. Although this one is a TV show. The Fallout franchise definitely falls in this category. 

Fallout was sort of obsolete when it first came out. I don’t mean the semi-turned-based role-playing thing, Fallout started life as a tribute band version of Wasteland so the interface was kind of a necessity. Besides, that’s how mid-90s computer RPGs worked. That was what Black Isle did best, this was the studio that made Baldur’s Gate. 

No, I’m talking about the politics that inspired it. The Cold War had ended 3 years before the game went into development. The retro-future 1950s kitsch, green monitors, and analog systems everywhere, the whole “War Never Changes” thing.  In the late 1990s, all of that had been temporarily put on a shelf. 

The Cold War had been the prism through which the Baby Boomer Left had viewed the world and overnight it had been taken from them. This was about the point where Gen-Xers first started saying, “If you were a Liberal in 1968, you are still a Liberal… In 1968.”  The Russians had outlawed Communism.  The Chinese were still Communist but it seemed to be an ‘in name only thing.’ There were a few holdouts like North Korea and Cuba but it looked for all the world like those regimes would fall too when their dictators died.

Tim Cain was born in 1965 making him a bleeding edge Gen-Xer but trust me on this one, early Generation X Lefties loved to pretend they were Boomers. I remember laughing at a college girlfriend who had been saying how amazing Woodstock was and I pointed out she would have two.

The world woke up from history, but there were a lot of people that didn’t want to wake up.  There was a nostalgia for a worldview that had been taken from them.  They missed the dream as well as the lie. This is reflected in the first few seconds of the game when a couple of American soldiers in powered armor shoot a civilian in the head, ala the Tet Offensive. The game was part satire but it was at a loss to explain what it was satirizing. Nonetheless, it was a good RPG with decent replay value. Enough that it got an immediate sequel. 

And then nothing. 

Black Isle and its parent company Interplay underwent the fate of many 1990s gaming studios, early successes did not breed continued prosperity. They failed to get into the console market and finally ended up hocking (and eventually selling) the family jewels in the early 2000s. 

 The mid-2000s were a night and day different world from the 1990s.  The US had gotten itself involved in another low-intensity war that there wasn’t a chance of winning, largely because the president and his advisors had daydreamed themselves into believing it was going to be another WWII.  Lefties represented if not exactly led by John Keery wanted to pretend it was another Vietnam. 

By 2008, everyone was willing to bury their heads in the sand and enjoy the oddball retro-future post-apocalypse of Fallout 3.

I’ll give Bethesda this much, they were true to Tim Cain’s aesthetic, lore, and somewhat to his vision. Truth be told, Fallout 3 is the game most people are thinking of when the Fallout franchise comes up. This was what Amazon’s new TV series is really based on.  The timing is perfect, Fallout’s 1950s kitsch has gone well outside gaming circles.  My non-gamer wife had been asking about Fallout for a while.   

You have no idea how grateful I was when I didn’t hear it start with Ron Perlman’s voice moaning about how War, War Never Changes at the start of the show. It began with The End.  You see a 1950s-ish birthday party complete with a cowboy hired to do rope tricks.  You get a little bit of background information on the cowboy before the nuclear apocalypse kicks off.  This works perfectly for Fallout.

A century or so later we see a young woman, Lucy living her demi-comedic and somewhat idyllic life in the Vault 33.

As any Fallout player knows each Vault is kind of unique, TO THE FANDOM PAGE!”

“Vault 33 is an experimental Vault.[3] It is connected to two other Vaults, Vault 32 and Vault 31, and together they form a tripartite society, frequently trading and intermarrying. Vaults 32 and 33 were meant to be sister vaults to Vault 31, since Vault 31 was designed to preserve Vault-Tec Corporation management. As a result, Vaults 32 and 33 were supposed to house breeding pools for people with good genetics, making their descendants physically healthy super managers. Inbreeding was heavily discouraged to prevent abnormalities.

Vault 33’s primary crop is corn and all of its residents enjoy jello cake.”

Lucy is about to enter into an arranged marriage with a dweller from Vault 32. But it turns out that her new husband isn’t quite what he appears to be.  

The fight scenes thus far made most of the men look cowering and useless with women defending men.  Although, Lucy’s father does bludgeon a man to death to save her. So there is that. Lucy is going to be our Vault Dweller Explorer.

Our second POV character is a Brotherhood of Steel Aspirant. I can’t tell if he’s going to be a Mansel in distress or not.  We get some of his backstory, which is that he was found by those luddite techno-fetishist weirdos and is more grateful to be part of them, than a fanatical believer. 

Finally, we meet our most Fallout character in the show.  The Cowboy from the Apocolypse is now a ghoul gunslinger.  He is the most promising character in the show. 

Fallout is heavily Woke-washed but I can’t say for sure that it’s Woke yet and in all honesty, this IP started life as a collection of leftwing tropes set in a demi-satirical setting to being with.  However, thus far, the negro isn’t that magical and the Mary Sue isn’t infallible, and I am curious to see where the plot goes.

It certainly has the look and feel right and since the franchise hasn’t been done to death, doesn’t reek of memberries. 

If you don’t have Prime already there is no reason here to plunk down the bucks. But if you already have it, then it’s worth a look for the Apocolypse in nothing else. 

I’ll give my full review when I finish the first season.

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