Fallout 3 is a bit of a bizarre title to me. The game has sold massive amounts, more than the entire series (including spin-offs). Yet most -- whether its reviewers or just gamers -- seem to have not played Fallout 1 or 2 (regarded by longtime fans as the true gems in the series, especially 2). It's almost as though gamers have completely ignored the '3' in the title, bought into the hype, and wound up being one of the millions who bought the game.
I have no problem with hype and making something popular (I'm not a snob, really), but when people buy a game and ignore the rest of its previous incarnations, which, by all accounts, were great games (the ones made by their original developers, I mean), that's saddening. I wouldn't mind so much if, based on some of the reviews (mainly from fans and not professional reviewers, which I trust more) and many comments I've read, the third game didn't seem to muck so many things up about what made the series great. I mean, it seems to not even be so much a Fallout game as a Bethesda game with Fallout stuff in it (very different things). Indeed, I haven't played 3 yet (I'm playing them in order, nearly done the first now), so these views are tentative, but I'm definitely wary. And I'm not at all saying this makes it a bad game, just not necessarily a Fallout game, is all.
In any case, I was genuinely curious as to why everyone and their grandpappy was so keen on Fallout 3, given the circumstances, so I set off to the forums to ask just that.
The main reason which kept recurring was it was made by Bethesda, who made the Elder Scrolls titles (namely Oblivion). I haven't really played those titles (I tried Morrowind briefly and decided it wasn't my thing), but they do seem like genuinely great titles and I respect the company for them. However, seeing this pop up over and over again made me come to a conclusion: many Fallout fans don't consider Fallout 3 to be a Fallout game (at least not a true one), and neither do gamers whose only experience is with the third title. It's not Fallout 3, it's -- despite even Bethesda's protests -- "Oblivion with guns" (I'm saying this from other gamer's perspectives, as I can not yet attest as such).
And again, I have no problem with this in itself -- I'm sure I've done at least similar things in the past -- it's simply depressing to know most of these people will not try the first two titles, for various reasons, I suppose because they're not like Fallout 3 (!), the graphics are dated/not 3D, or whatever else you can think of. Or, if they do play it, like one of our readers did, they give up for these reasons. Which probably has a lot to do with why many games today seem to put graphics over gameplay and "the magic", as discussed earlier in the week. Have our values changed?
Other reasons for appeal were the post-apocalyptic world, the V.A.T.S. combat system, and the hype (which Subzer0 says lived up to it). One of my favourite responses comes from one of our mods Daedric Prince: "I bought Fallout 3 because I had a $75 gift card to Gamestop and somebody told me you chould shoot peoples' heads off and it was awesome." Damn, boy! The real kicker comes from Deadman Rules, though:
re: What made you want to play Fallout 3?
I loved Oblivion
I enjoy the thought of a nuclear holocaust and roaming/surviving the wasteland afterwords
I like seeing Washington D.C. in ruins
The 50's style
The lunchbox and bobblehead that came with the collectors edition
Now, to be fair, at least a few did say they got into the other games and did enjoy them, which was really great to hear. And some were intrigued by hearing about how great Fallout 2 is, for example, and thought they might give it a go. Heck, maybe like when Diablo III was announced and people started buying the Diablo Battle Chest like mad, a similar thing will happen here. Wishful thinking? Well, if only a small percentage play the games (or just one), that's nice to know.
Of course, I imagine part of the problem is accessibility. Obviously the games are tough to acquire in physical form these days, for those that are interested. So maybe they think about it, but then say to heck with it, it's too much trouble to try and get a copy. Well, the good news is you can find it in at least a couple spots online in digital form for dirt cheap, XP/Vista compatible and everything. As for Mac users, not sure about you (sorry), but there's always the option of running BootCamp and playing it that way (which, if you love computer games and have a Mac, you really should be doing by now anyway).
In closing, Fallout 3 seems like a great game, and to some good extent, appears to live up to the hype. Especially with the G.E.C.K. just released, I'm really excited for the community to open the game up, and heck, maybe even restore Van Buren (codename for the original Fallout 3, made by the original developers, which never saw completion) in some sense with their skills and passion for the series. Even though it may not be a "true" Fallout game, it's great it's at least bringing some attention to the series and getting at least a small percentage of gamers into Fallout and Fallout 2.