For those of you who haven't played Fallout 1, you need to. Just for this intro.

Yeah! And for lore nerds, having a text heavy game that's 100% canon should be worth it in itself. I always rant about how brilliant the first game is on here, but I think what the first game really does better than all the other ones is the setting, and that's clear right away in this intro. I mean, the first thing we basically see of the game is an American soldier executing a bound-up prisoner or war in a bombed out city clearly in the style of a early Cold War newsreel.

And if you actually watch that newsreel I linked to, you'll get a sense of the irony here-- North Korean communists are portrayed as brutal savages because they "ruthlessly slaughter prisoners, many of them with their arms bound". And I don't think it's a coincidence or bad history or Interplay's deep communist sympathies coming out here, but a pretty radical statement that the game designers were trying to make.

Basically, my take on Fallout was that all the 1950s shit is not just a gimmick (a la Fallout 3), but is intended to harshly critique the feel-good all-American optimism of the '50s that masked the Cold War (which was really a string of incredibly violent proxy wars) and oppression at home (McCarthyism, the violent backlash against the Civil Rights movement, etc.), and the ridiculous geopolitical climate of massified ideological formations and peace seemingly maintained only by the absurd prospect of mutually assured destruction. The second game takes that theme a lot further with the Enclave -- the remnants of a distinctly fascistic US government and military-industrial complex -- as the main enemy, and I think Bethesda either totally missed this or gave a much more conservative version of it, and New Vegas did its own thing. But, at any rate, I think it's a really smart game and if you're into history or literature, this is probably a much more rewarding game in the long run.

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