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Fallout 3 vs. Reality
July 3, 2012 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Fallout 3 vs. Reality - A fan of the video game series Fallout 3, which depicts a post-apocalyptic world, travels to Washington, DC and Las Vegas to take photos of the locations as they exist today and compares them to screen captures from within the game. (via Reddit thread)
posted by Argyle (51 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
posted by Argyle

Eponysterical!

...Assuming you're a big Daring Dashwood fan, of course. Which you should be.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:43 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Huh, so it's true that the roads are the dustiest back home.
posted by The Whelk at 4:43 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


It feels like New Vegas is the natural end for the series....

But that being said I still want Fallout: Motor City for the all Motown soundtrack.
posted by The Whelk at 4:44 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


What always bugged me about Fallout 3, New Vegas and Skyrim is that the worlds felt incredibly compressed, obviously because a realistic-sized world would have drastically different gameplay. In Skyrim for example, you could walk 200 feet and go from a barren land of constant snow to a hardwood forest. Ground contours like hills and mountains were also tiny- the Throat of the World was only about 800 feet high.

That was what I really appreciated about ARMA 2 and its mod, Day Z- the world was based on real topo maps of the northern Czech Republic. That mountain on the horizon? It'll take you a couple hours to get there.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:46 PM on July 3, 2012


But that being said I still want Fallout: Motor City for the all Motown soundtrack.

I wanted a New England-based Fallout, not only because it would be close to home, and you'd get to learn more about The Institute that was briefly encountered in Fallout 3, but because I want an NPR-inspired radio station. Still with music, of course, but with Tom Ashbrook telling me how Fenway Park has become overrun with centaurs.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:50 PM on July 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


I just pretend that Fallout 3 takes place in a geographically smaller region than it purports to as fiction. I'm happy with that.
posted by byanyothername at 4:51 PM on July 3, 2012


Oh man I totally brainstormed Fallout: Empire State
posted by The Whelk at 4:53 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why would you use your digital camera to take photos of your computer screen?? Still, cool idea.
posted by WaylandSmith at 4:55 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uppity Pigeon #2: Actually, I've been using the handle 'Argyle' online since the early 90s. I was amazed to find the name featured in Fallout and was quite excited.
posted by Argyle at 4:55 PM on July 3, 2012


I think it's on a console.

(still doesn't understand the allure of consoles!)
posted by dunkadunc at 4:56 PM on July 3, 2012


This is fantastic! I wonder if anyone's done this with the Assassin's Creed sequels.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 5:00 PM on July 3, 2012


(still doesn't understand the allure of consoles!)

In my case, it's a combination of only having a laptop when I moved overseas, having a small apartment with no real room for a desktop setup, and the convenience of being able to buy a game I know will run on my hardware.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:02 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


But yeah, Fallout 3 is the most immersive game I've ever played and the care that went into creating its environments is a huge reason why.

I'm going to go get lost in the Capital Wasteland now.
posted by byanyothername at 5:08 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


What always bugged me about Fallout 3, New Vegas and Skyrim is that the worlds felt incredibly compressed

I've played FO3 a few times now, giving myself different challenges each time. There was the time I created an MC fuelled by alcohol who punched or bludgeoned opponents (didn't do so well), sociopaths, saints and even a weird little bug I discovered where you can leave Vault 101 as a ten-year-old. By far the most daunting quest I gave myself was the Map Quest. There's over 160 marked locations in the game, and believe me - you really appreciate how huge the landscape is trying to find them. I think the game may be designed in such a way that locations of sidequests will not have you wandering very far, but if you start from a new location, swing your POV around until you see that little triangle appear and just start ... walking towards it? Yeah, it's not quite the same length of time it would take to physically walk the greater DC metropolitan area. But it sure felt like it sometimes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:16 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Previously on Metafilter (Different photographer, Vegas only, so not a double.)
posted by radwolf76 at 5:55 PM on July 3, 2012


Very timely, as I've been replaying FO:NV lately and wondering about these things. Might be time to revisit FO3 too.
posted by mollweide at 6:14 PM on July 3, 2012


They missed the interior of the National Archives. At some point I had a question about the real National Archives and while looking for that, found a picture of the interior. I was impressed by how well the game managed to match the look and feel of the space (even if it was size compressed).

For me, the best part of the last two Fallout games has been the cool map locations that had nothing to do with any main story. A couple of the little Pulaski Preservation Shelters and some of the tin shacks that contained a little micro-story written in blood stains and bones and debris were as much fun for me as any of the big plots. If Bethesda could come up with dozens and dozens of these and edit them together into a map with the feel of a real life location (even if there was no main story arc) I would play the hell out of "Fallout: Motor City", "Fallout: Empire State", "Fallout: Life on the Mississippi" and "Fallout: Great White North!"
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:33 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


(still doesn't understand the allure of consoles!)

I prefer PC games, and I prefer PC controllers. But I do almost my gaming on console. Because the worst thing in the (first)world. now that I'm nolonger a kid with lots of time on my hands, is to rearrange the universe so as to free up a massive 3 hour block of time at some point during the week, set aside purely to play a new game. Finally finishing up elsewhere and getting to that time, and then... 3 hours later... the game is still not working yet, and... that's it - I don't get to play now. My chance is gone. My week has been capped with frustration instead of R&R, and there is no way to make it better.

PCs are the best games machines there are. But I kind of learned that when you're on a tight schedule, a crappy game machine is better than an unknown aspect of the installation process.

:-(
posted by -harlequin- at 6:51 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


What always bugged me about Fallout 3, New Vegas and Skyrim is that the worlds felt incredibly compressed

Well I mean it's like that in Red Dead Redemption too, where you literally travel on horseback between an analogue of Mexico and an analogue of Southern Colorado in the course of a day in the game's internal clock (there is actually an achievement for riding from Mexico to the Northeast corner of the game world between a single sunrise and sunset).

That said, I don't find this "compression" a real issue in that the game clock also aids in the caveat that this is, in general, a compressed world. I put 30-40 real life hours into playing Skyrim; according to the internal clock and the log of all the hours slept/fast traveled, my character's adventure lasted the better part of three months.

In fact, the places where I didn't get the benefit of compression were what turned me off the most in Skyrim, as well as Borderlands- wandering around an empty wasteland for 15-20 minutes isn't enthralling to me, no matter how detailed the graphics- it just felt very isolating and unhappy.

Going back to my first point, I never had this feeling in RDR because I understood and never doubted the setting that, yes, here we are in the great American Frontier (I mean, there is literally an area about the size of a football field that represented the entirety of the Great Plains, buffalo and all), and yet I just accepted that the game was inherently stripping out, well, the boring parts. They didn't have 45 minute shots of John Wayne riding and talking to no one in between shooting varmints either. I liked Skyrim but I was not thankful to Bethesda during any of the numerous times I had to spend 20 goddamned minutes climbing a mountain.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:53 PM on July 3, 2012


Yeah, it's not quite the same length of time it would take to physically walk the greater DC metropolitan area. But it sure felt like it sometimes.

I haven't spent any real time in DC, so I can't speak reliably there, but I can say for sure that the Las Vegas in the sequel is super-compressed, kind of like a Disneyland version. Individual buildings are often surprisingly close ( as we can see in this post), but everything is basically easy walking distance to everything else, and that's totally not how the real Vegas is. It takes like an hour to DRIVE around that city, much less walk it.

So, with everything being so much smaller, they have to play tricks with perspective to make the big mountains in the distance look roughly correct... if you actually get close, they're not very impressive, but they look large from normal viewing distance.

The trickery is outstanding, actually -- it makes it feel very much like the real thing, to the point that you can recognize real places and feel like you're in the same place -- but you can walk everywhere in the game about as quickly as you could drive it in real life. I think even the Disneyland designers would have found that to be a challenge.
posted by Malor at 6:55 PM on July 3, 2012


Basically, after thinking about it some more, it's lossy compression -- they just throw out large chunks of Vegas you won't likely think about or remember, kind of like JPG does for images.
posted by Malor at 6:57 PM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you think Fallout 3 and NV are nicely immersive and can handle (or yearn for) a bit more harder-core gritty survivalism you should check out the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of PC games, but never play them vanilla. Always install the Complete Mod.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 7:00 PM on July 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


an MC fuelled by alcohol who punched or bludgeoned opponents

Power Fist + Boone (sniper) as your companion + every perk maximizing speed & melee damage = totally doable.

And you'll have oodles of caps because you can sell every weapon you find.

The first few hours are staggeringly tough, but you'll reach a point where you're popping the heads off of deathclaws with one punch and that's totally worth the grind.

Why, yes, I DID spend WAY too many hours playing these games.

I would love to play a game like Fallout or Skyrim that had an enormous expansive landscape littered with those little tableaux Bethesda so excels at. Very little combat, lots and lots of wandering around looking at stuff. Maybe a pure wilderness survival game, or urban spelunking after a killer plague or something. Last Man on Earth kinda stuff.

Of course, I've also always wanted an RPG that let me play as a stable hand who mucks out the stalls and waters the mares while epic conflict unfolds around him, so I suspect I'm not exactly game developers' target market.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:02 PM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


urban spelunking after a killer plague or something.

I would love that game!

The stablehand game sounds amazing, too. I wish studios would make more games for people like us.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:04 PM on July 3, 2012


I think it's on a console.

(still doesn't understand the allure of consoles!)
posted by dunkadunc at 4:56 PM on July 3 [+] [!]


Errr...some of us can't afford the kind of PCs needed to run a game like this? With a console you don't have to buy an additional monitor as well?
posted by The ____ of Justice at 7:23 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I loved Fallout 3 's urban environments but I really fell for New Vegas' character, which is longer lasting for pure fandom gushing. I miss the urban Scavving ( and better music, be honest ) and desperate nature, but I'll trade it for a spunky young lady who just loves to punch things and wants a dress like she sees in magazines cause sitting around a trading depot is boring ( or a sarcastic doctor with dreamy glasses who flirts with you constantly to hide his tragic past or a robot who wants to be Lassie or a matronly super mutant death machine...) . They're both good, like I really like both, but New Vegas works for me work on a character/story level, even the DLC ties the themes together wonderfully.

And the DLC has Doctor Venture in it. I mean c'mon!
posted by The Whelk at 7:29 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe a derail, but re: the Whelk...

Empire State.

can't stop hearing it now, arg
Also, Guster soundtrack for Fallout? Yes please.
posted by timfinnie at 7:39 PM on July 3, 2012


Honestly the only problem I had with f3 locations was that DuPoint circle didn't have this like impossibly long, steep escalator down to the subway station.
posted by The Whelk at 7:46 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


... I want an NPR-inspired radio station. Still with music, of course, but with Tom Ashbrook telling me how Fenway Park has become overrun with centaurs.

"From WBUR Boston: I'm Tom Ashbrook, and this is On Point. Some of them are our neighbors and friends, shopkeepers and caravan guards; others roam the highways at night, praying on unsuspecting wanderers. Some see them as miracles of nature, shining examples of human adaptability, yet others, a skinless menace! Ghouls, what do you think? You can join the conversation: Are they the next logical step for humankind, a glimpse of hope that we will someday adapt to this fallout? Or are they just, as many would lead you to believe, another faction fighting for domination? Are they just like us? Can we trust them?

Joining me today in the studio is Brotherhood of Steel Scribe Linda Helmsford. Thanks for joining us, Linda."

"A pleasure to be here, Tom."
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:22 PM on July 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


Uppity Pigeon #2: "I want an NPR-inspired radio station. Still with music, of course, but with Tom Ashbrook telling me how Fenway Park has become overrun with centaurs."

And they can have news spots where they tell you the Enclave is doing so much for the Wasteland, the truth is really somewhere in the middle! Augustus Autumn will naturally have the last word.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:33 PM on July 3, 2012


The demon that lives in the air: "This is fantastic! I wonder if anyone's done this with the Assassin's Creed sequels"

I showed a friend of mine Assassin's Creed 2, and as it happens, she's spent a lot of time in Italy. I was in Venice, and she was able to tell me where to go, and we ended up at the building she expected, which seemed very cool to me.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:19 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I put 30-40 real life hours into playing Skyrim; according to the internal clock and the log of all the hours slept/fast traveled, my character's adventure lasted the better part of three months.
Of those thirty hours, I would wager that ten of them were spent waiting at loading screens. My only possible explanation is that every building has a long TSA security line to get in, which is why it takes several minutes to enter even the smallest shop. No cameras are allowed in the line, of course, so that is why there is a generic title card instead of footage of your character removing his or her shoes and belt yet again and being harassed about having more than 100 mL of potions/stimpacks and not putting them in a ziplock bag.

Why there is a security line to get back out of the shop is an unanswered question. They clearly are not checking your receipt for shoplifting.

Seriously, Bethesda: WTF? We can roam for days through these enormous external maps with no loading screens, but the moment our characters open a door the game slams to a halt. It's one of the worst possible game experiences imaginable for what are otherwise some of the best engineered games available.
posted by autopilot at 10:39 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just installed it on an SSD, loading is very quick
posted by Iax at 10:45 PM on July 3, 2012


I have it running on my old-fashioned 7200RPM HDD and it loads almost immediately. But I'm also running a quad-core i7 and have 8GB of RAM.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:10 AM on July 4, 2012


I dare anyone to claim that Fallout 3 is in any way better than New Vegas. Story-wise, characters-wise, and choices-wise, at least (hence nullifying "in any way").
posted by Apocryphon at 12:43 AM on July 4, 2012


But that being said I still want Fallout: Motor City for the all Motown soundtrack.

How could you tell?
posted by empath at 6:15 AM on July 4, 2012


A dare is it? I shall rise to your challenge sir!

First, to let you know where I truly stand, yeah, there was a lot of stuff in New Vegas that was way better than in Fallout 3. But to be fair, Obsidian had the advantage of having the complete Fallout 3 engine in their hands when they started, so they could spend a lot of time in the local coffee shop, sucking down java and saying, "you know what would be cool...?" while the folks at Bethesda probably spent a lot of time thinking it would be cool if the characters would actually go up and down stairs without hanging. In related news, this stuff was probably the result of the most productive week at Bethesda Softworks ever because they already had a working game.

All that said, where Fallout 3 takes New Vegas out behind the barn and kicks it's lily white ass is in the characterization of one particular character: The Capital Wasteland itself is roughly a zillion times more awesome than the Mojave.

Remember the Pulaski Shelter outside of the Arlington Library? The one where someone was hiding out with a lot of canned goods, some boxes of ammo, a .38 and a copy of guns and bullets? Only nuclear devastation lasts longer than three flats of canned goods, so they ended up leaving a big circle of empty cans and a bloody stain on the wall at about head level there inside the shelter? Remember the shack with the skeleton in the tub with the toaster? Or the shack with the hasty barricade of tables and the laser rifle and shotgun on the floor amid all the bones and big, bloody bear footprints. Those little incidental things that had nothing to do with anything made the Capital Wasteland feel like what you might get if you took a thriving metropolis that was actually part of a semi-consistent world and then drizzled on the black humor.

The Mojave didn't lack for things to do, but it would have helped if everything was spread out a little and more tertiary locations that made the wasteland feel like the wasteland were inserted in between. As it was, even in the places in New Vegas that seemed ripe for a little back-story or atmosphereification, it seemed like they were content to let the random loot generator stick some crap in the various crap receptacles and call it good. I mean, in Fallout 3, while coming up through the dry sewers to get into Our Lady of Hope Hospital and wading through piles of knee braces and crutches I had the realization, "Oh, sure. This world was stuck in an eternal 1950's and never got it together to put any real effort into eradicating polio (or maybe even inventing a vaccine)." Those kinds of "fridge logic" revelations were much less common in New Vegas.

It's like the environmental bird songs in Skyrim. You might never consciously notice them but if they replaced them all with one sound clip of a cardinal, it might save them a lot of effort development wise, but it would cost me a lot of immersion.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:20 AM on July 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


I dare anyone to claim that Fallout 3 is in any way better than New Vegas. Story-wise, characters-wise, and choices-wise, at least (hence nullifying "in any way").
Example: Instead of wasting my time with any of the following phrases:
"Drive safe"
"Get home safely"
"Talk to you later"
"See you soon"
"Have fun on your vacation"
"I'm sure you can find it on Google maps"
"Yes, I'm sure it's your turn to go grocery shopping"
"I'm almost certain your sister's wedding is not going to be as bad as you're thinking it will be"
"Wear a rubber!"
I now use the much simpler and all-encompassing:
"TRY NOT TO DIE!"
posted by sexyrobot at 11:05 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm thrilled that Fallout escaped death by obscurity or death by awful offshoots (FO:BoS, I'm looking at you), but I still think something got lost in the process. Text was a big part of what attracted me to Fallout even though I understand that a right-click description of every object wouldn't bring so much to the table when the new games use a 3d engine. On the other hand, the dialogue between characters seems more laconic and slightly blander*. I'm complaining halfheartedly because we still got two great games and a Wasteland sequel is forthcoming, but had I a boatload of time, I'd be all modding FO3/NV.

Punch me with a power fist if the vaults in NV weren't amazing though.

*Whoever was in charge of the NV DLC apparently agreed with me. Robot army of DOOM.

posted by ersatz at 11:10 AM on July 4, 2012


also...great post!...just spent a week in Las Vegas after mumble mumble too much time spent playing New Vegas and found it greatly enhanced the experience, particularly driving into/out of town...tho it was confusing to the BF at times...
"We're not staying here are we?" "why not? "oh, it's just this part of town is full of jet-heads and cannibals"
"Oh, look, it's that dry lake bed where I killed all those giant ants!" "wait. what?"
"Those mountains are so pretty...such a shame the'yre full of deathclaws and giant wasps..."
and etc...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:15 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


also also...though 'motor city' would be awesome, i'm hoping for a future sequel set in (mostly/partly) submerged florida because FL=>Cape Canaveral=>space station/moon colony/mars outpost
posted by sexyrobot at 11:35 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Florida allows you do Disney World.

Think about that for a second.
posted by The Whelk at 12:59 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


correction: partially submerged Disney World
posted by sexyrobot at 1:07 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


while the folks at Bethesda probably spent a lot of time thinking it would be cool if the characters would actually go up and down stairs without hanging

Bethesda, as publisher, was responsible for catching bugs in New Vegas. Obsidian was robbed by MetaCritic, Chris Avellone is my homeboy, etc.

Your post does lay out some good defenses for FO 3, and a good alternate perspective.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:12 PM on July 4, 2012


I recently finished Fallout 3 (Inadvertently, that accelerated & abrupt ending caught me off guard and means I have to go back and explore a lot more), but it got me wondering how people play it: Do you ignore the main story and complete the sidequests first, or try to alternate? As a non-gamer, the openness of the game was so appealing and exciting, but at the same time, sort of intimidating in a 'UR DOIN IT RONG' way. I realize that flexibility is a huge part of the game and its appeal, but I'm curious about other people's approaches.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:49 PM on July 4, 2012


I usually do a few steps of main quest, then let myself get broken out into side quests for a while, then cross a few more things off the main quest. Incidentally, if you get the Broken Steel DLC, it negates FO3's abrupt ending and lets you continue with your character after the main quest. While I consider the other DLCs to be optional, I really don't feel FO3 is actually a complete game unless you have Broken Steel installed.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:47 PM on July 4, 2012


I was warned about the "and then it ends!" super short main quest, so I just wandered around doing pick up quests until I was reasonably sure zi had done the bulk of them and then went for the main storyline which was a bit anticlimax as I was King Shit Of Fuck Mountain by then and it was a breeze. New Vegas integrated the main quests a bit more fully, so I advanced along them at a more reasonable clip.
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 PM on July 4, 2012


And yeah, Broken Steel is not DLC, it is the actual ending, it should come bundled.
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 PM on July 4, 2012


I really should finish Broken Steel. I have this habit of stopping games very close to the end. I'm pretty sure my New Vegas game has been waiting for months at the door to the Legion half of the Hoover Dam -- and I know I can speech my way through everything that follows. My most recent run through of FFX is halted just before entering Sin. Chrono Trigger is held at the last save point before battling Lavos. GTA IV waits at the last mission, as do Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, and at least one Puzzle Quest game, if not both PQ2 and Galactrix.

This may be indicative of a larger problem.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:30 AM on July 5, 2012


Do you ignore the main story and complete the sidequests first, or try to alternate? As a non-gamer, the openness of the game was so appealing and exciting, but at the same time, sort of intimidating in a 'UR DOIN IT RONG' way. I realize that flexibility is a huge part of the game and its appeal, but I'm curious about other people's approaches.

The first time, I went with the main quest and was like "Huh. Neat." So after that I just started picking up sidequests and purloined as much of the main quest as possible, and had a LOT of fun. Then, like I said, I decided to do a map quest - just starting some place, picking a compass direction, and walking until I saw a little hollow triangle somewheres, and walking towards it. Map quests have the advantage of absolute game freedom, but the disadvantage of sometimes missing sidequests if you step into the middle of a plot point out of order.

So in short, it's a game you can play any way you want, really. There's no doing it wrong.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:40 PM on July 5, 2012


And you can always play it again!

I have tons of fun playing stealth-action games like Deus Ex and Thief: The Dark Project, trying to break the game in various ways, climbing out of the bounds of the map to bypass stuff, et cetera. In Deus Ex it was amazing what the mods had thought of sometimes.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:17 PM on July 5, 2012


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