Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Fallout 3's ending
(Spoilers: This post discusses Fallout 3's missions and ending.)
Versus CluClu Land discusses the nature of our "domination" of games. Why can't I be this smart?
The articles got me thinking. Did Fallout 3's ending incite such ire because it violated the player's dominance of the game? The majority of mission outcomes are very much under the player's control.
Before reaching the end of the game, players decide the fate of Megaton, consider President Eden's ultimatum and make countless other choices. Is there any doubt players came to expect complete control over their game? But the ending effectively stripped all of that control from the player. What was a game so easily dominated and at the whim of the player suddenly and linearly forces him into death for sake of the story. What was such an ending doing in this game? The ending is so at odds with the open ended nature of the game that, even if the player possessed an unavoidable alternative to dying, the game bends over backwards to force you to die.
I can imagine meetings where developers argued about this ending. It makes sense, poetically. One could argue, perhaps pretentiously, that sacrificing the player’s character symbolizes the significance of his sacrifice and the impact of death. And the way the G.E.C.K.’s code was used managed to illicit an emotional response from me. In that way, Fallout 3’s main quest line succeeds. But we have to wonder if it was in the right game.