Did James have to kill himself in Fallout 3?

Discussion in 'Fallout 3 Discussion' started by Tarantulakelurk, May 27, 2014.

  1. Tarantulakelurk

    Tarantulakelurk First time out of the vault

    Apr 22, 2014
    I don't know, it's just I though it was kind of ridiculous, because when Hick-Colonel and the Enclave stormed The Jefferson Monument, James outright said that Project Purity didn't work, and all he had to do was let his Combat Armor-wearing Gatling Laser-toating Ghoul Bodyguard-leading-around son to utterly exterminate them (it wasn't hard even with a hunting rifle) through that freaking plexiglass door.
    You're given a chance to save him, but no, he just leaves you sitting on your hands because he wanted to lock the door because I don't know.
    (He was probably thinking "I may as well die here so I don't have to trek all the way across the wasteland and back to get that damn G.E.C.K., that's my OP child's problem now)
  2. woo1108

    woo1108 Vault Senior Citizen

    Sep 27, 2012
    maybe because Jame didn't think he can bear Enclave's torture.
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
  3. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    You're confusing game mechanics and world reality when you point out the badassery of the Lone Wanderer. Technically speaking, the Lone Wanderer wasn't some kind of demigod who could wipe out anyone with impossibly accurate shots to the head with his trusty Lincoln Repeater, who'd recover from all his wounds simply by closing his eyes for an hour on any mattress- or a few cardboard cutouts, for that matter -and who could otherwise go on without a wink of rest like some unnatural zombie of folklore. Technically speaking, the Lone Wanderer was just some lucky punk who ran into situations by pure happenstance (particularly the situation at GNR with the Behemoth while the Brotherhood were engaged in a firefight there) and got out of these situations by the skin of his/her teeth just barely, but enough to become legendary. .....Technically speaking. That in the GAME you're more than capable of wandering into gigantic battles like the fucking Terminator and mow down all enemies before you like the grim goddamned reaper himself has no bearing on how indomitable the CHARACTER is supposed to be. So when you're fighting your way from the basement of the Jefferson Memorial to Project Purity's control room, that's "supposed" to be a desperate flight, not some kind of manly gunfight. When you reach your father just in time to watch him die, that's "supposed" to be a situation you cannot stop, because you're just one and you're facing an army.

    Now I'm giving the game a LOT of credit when I say all of this, of course. You SHOULDN'T be able to play a walking manifestation of divine retribution because that introduces ludonarrative dissonance in the shape of, "Well I'm perfectly capable of handing as many of these pricks as they can throw at me, but suddenly I'm being presented with a situation where I'm just a scared child who has to run away? That doesn't make any sense." That's a fault on Bethesda's part that the character was so easy to groom into death itself that it just seemed off for scene to play out in any other way than "I kill everything, I always save the day". Likewise it's a fault on Bethesda's part that the scene played out the way it did at all. In FO2 the Chosen One happens upon Frank Horrigan carrying out his duties, and is dismissed as some nobody by the monstrosity, but although for the rest of the game neither of them encounters one another until their final confrontation, the Chosen One repeatedly "comes across" Horrigan in the form of video logs where he's popped up from time to time. It's plausible that this fresh-faced tribal would go overlooked at the start of his/her journey, but a seasoned wastelander who has begun to recruit a dedicated and deadly platoon for his/her own purposes, who is known to come into conflict with the Enclave over the course of their seasoning, would not be let to simply pass by from the killing machine that is Frank Horrigan, so "seeing him in action" would not be possible, from a narrative standpoint, in person. In this way the video logs make much more sense, on top of the fact that it allows the events they cover to transpire while the player is elsewhere. It's bad storytelling for the main character to show up to the dramatic scene and have an invisible wall or a coveniently transparent wall/doorway of some kind for the simple convenience of them watching said dramatic scene play out. It introduces the very dilemma you're pondering over of "why did this even need to take place?" when it could all have more simply occurred off screen. But that wouldn't be as visceral or dramatic, so bad storytelling or not, Bethesda chose to utilize the invisible wall so the player could watch these events unfold.

    Erring on the side of technicality once more, there is some logic to the scene. Technically James was able to take out an Enclave Colonel and 2 other troopers (though unbeknownst to him, of course, Autumn survives via his convenient deus ex machina injection) at the cost of his own life, which was almost guaranteed to have been forfeit the moment he was cornered. So technically speaking, his decision was an wise one, sacrificing few for the good of the many, in a purely altruistic sense, and James is NOTHING if not a massive altruist. Technically speaking, his sacrifice was meant to be some form of diversion that would give his son/daughter and the rest of the survivors a window of opportunity to escape. It was just directed in such a way, combined with the poorly constructed in-game character godliness, that seemed impractical.
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
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  4. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    James realized, in the last moment, that his death would mark a crucial point in the narrative progress of his son's adventure. What father would not think the same!?
  5. Tagaziel

    Tagaziel Panzerkatze Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Dec 10, 2003
    No. It's bad writing. When I watched that scene, I couldn't quite believe how awkward and forced it was, given that I absolutely hated the character. It all hinges on the player character's love for James, one that the player is supposed to feel.
  6. naossano

    naossano So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 19, 2006
    He couldn't stand the silly plot?
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  7. TheChosen1

    TheChosen1 Moving Target

    Nov 8, 2012
    The stereotypical Colonel stole his "Ultra Rad-Away"

    EDIT: It's also so that you can have an emotional talk with everyone (two people) about Daddy-Dear dying.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  8. RetroAmerica

    RetroAmerica It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Feb 18, 2014
    This pretty much sums up what the authors were going for, however due to the fact that the character never really does much with his screen time to endear himself to the player, the scene is mostly wasted.
  9. 5545Trey

    5545Trey Underground Deviant

    Jun 25, 2014
    James killed himself so he could not bear anymore stupidity from the story.
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  10. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    There are some videos and reviews which delve into this concept with more detail, but basically yeah. In Killzone 2, a particular character endears himself to you, the player, not simply the character you're controlling, because of their constant wisecracking at your side, and their integral function as a key for certain locked doors. Even if you don't take a shine to their brand of humor, you form SOME degree of attachment to the character because, without them, you're not unlocking that door, scaling that wall, or climbing that ledge. Sure, these are scripted events, but they're attributed to a character, and that gives the character an importance to you. Even something this simple makes the human player care for them, and that's enough to make you sad when they're gone.

    By contrast, James wasn't even there for the player to see when his departure from Vault 101 set the story in motion, so you can't really feel a strong connection to your character's father as someone whose actions had a major consequence to you. Depending on how you approach the Main Questline, you'll hardly see any of James at all, and by the time you finally rescue him (spending approximately an hour walking past him without realizing it, because he's not James, he's just "Doc" whom you do not recognize) you see him for a few more minutes, get sent on a few errands, and then he dies. They designed him to be cared about with the wrong approach to accomplish this. If he had ANY greater involvement with the character, his death would have had more meaning and deeper impact, but because he was just "kinda there", that's all you lost... Another face in the background of endless faceless nobodies ceases to be. No real loss there.
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  11. Legatus Nuntius

    Legatus Nuntius First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2014
    By far the worst character in the game, abandons the people of the wasteland to raise you, then abandons you. Seriously how did he not think that his kid wouldn't get killed by the overseer. Also why the hell he bring you into that madhouse of a vault in the first place, the wasteland is bad but the overseer seemed to have a bit of Jim Jones in him.
  12. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Nov 26, 2007
    Yes, because that's clearly not a battle they wanted to pick.

    One could as well ask, "Did James have to allow and endure his child shooting him in the face 50 times with the birthday BB-Gun?", and then "Did he have to give them another box of BBs when they asked for it?".

    FO3 is foremost a sandbox simulation; and its claim to being an RPG ~at best: merely coincidental. At worst: A marketing hook.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
  13. Byzantine

    Byzantine Sink me in the ocean.

    Sep 4, 2014
    I can't really be kind about the quality of that scene, let alone the rest of the game. It was poorly written, and overly melodramatic. What was I supposed to think at that point?

    "Oh, no! [strike]Liam Neeson's[/strike] My dad's dead! The Enclave is going to pay for this!"

    At least they atoned for their clumsiness with New Vegas, which helped to get rid of the horrible aftertaste from playing Fallout 3. At this point in time, I'm absolutely convinced that Fallout 3 was made simply so that crusty old forumites like us could bitch about it for years to come.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
  14. sigma1932

    sigma1932 Banned

    May 25, 2013
    Obsidian made NV, not Bethesda, so no, there really wasn't any atonement to speak of.

    As for James... fuck him.

    First, he abandons his only living family to a bunch of bloodthirsty vault psychos (seriously, how hard would it have been to let his adult son/daughter in on the plan and take them, along with Jonas as well, when he left? to run off in pursuit of a science project that's one huge exercise in excess, futility, and outright redundancy since the technology to purify water already exists and just needs to be made bigger and more efficient.

    While working on that project, he went clear across the wasteland, into extremely hostile territory, by himself despite having connections through Dr. Li to Lyon's Pride, to looking for some magical maguffin (which is completely presented inaccurately to franchise lore, I might add) that would supposedly be the key to making his stupid water machine work, and got himself captured by a mad scientist, who you then save him from, and he thanks you by abandoning you again, returning to the same fucking waste-of-time science experiment.

    Then, he gets captured by the government remnant, who apparently wants to do the exact same thing he wants to, but for whatever retarded reason he just goes out like a punk and kills himself right in front of his own kid's eyes, abandoning them once again in favor of "protecting" his stupid invention... this time with the added irritation of knowing you don't get to blow his fucking head off yourself because he's such a hapless fuck-up and world-class prick.

    To answer the thread's topic question in non-game-mechanics way... yes, that fucker had to kill himself, because I would've made his remaining days a living hell if he hadn't.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
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  15. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite

    Jul 26, 2003
    Essential NPCs can't suffer or die, so the closest you'd be able to get him to "living hell" would be "bullet-induced narcolepsy." He'd probably just stand there occasionally scolding you and offer you more bullets when you ran out.

    Also, add "mass manslaughter" to his crimes-- I'd have to chalk it up to more than coincidence that James decides to unseal the vault without guards on hand or any sort of regard to proper protocol, and within hours, for the first time in vault history, outside threats are inside killing people.

    I'm guessing the amassed guilt from an immortal lifetime of pie-eyed shitheelery just got to be too much for him and he built Project: Purity as a last-resort suicide booth to purify the wasteland of his presence since he couldn't die any other way. The "clean water" part was just kind of a happy accident.
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  16. Byzantine

    Byzantine Sink me in the ocean.

    Sep 4, 2014
    Personally, I'm a little perplexed that James appeared to believe that purifying the water system would somehow solve everything (unless I've forgotten some of his dialogue). He was willing to put his own child in danger (after so many years living in Vault 101, he must have had some idea how twisted and fanatical the Overseer could prove himself to be) so that he could ensure clean drinking water for... who? Raiders? Slavers? Junkies?
  17. H3rw00d1

    H3rw00d1 I should, but I won't

    Jul 31, 2014
    Not the one for wanting to start flame wars here but...

    To be entirely fair, they let Obsidian make a new Fallout game, they could have easily told Obsidian to piss off in the event that they asked.

    Because I'm sure he telepathically knew the vault was run by psychos (although what like Byzantine said, he may have noticed over the years), that and he stated that he wanted his child to be safe in the vault rather than bring them into the hostile wasteland. It's like if you were in the military, would you want to bring your one and only child to the battlefield?

    Completely ignoring the fact that he not only doesn't abandon you, but encourages you to come help him with the project and finally reveals it to you.

    Because if a bunch of power armor wearing, plasma rifle wielding, scientist killing guys just marched up to your dream project and demanded complete control over it, you'd be super kind to do so. You can't even say that he had no idea the Enclave were bad because they just shot up the place and tried to kill his child moments ago, unless killing people is the wasteland version of a knock on the door.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
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  18. TheChosen1

    TheChosen1 Moving Target

    Nov 8, 2012
    But then comes the question. Does the DC wasteland need clean water if they are capable of surviving without any farms or sources of food. Not to mention the fact that the children don't need to eat and are incapable of dying (along with 75% of the wasteland's population)
  19. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    They should all stick to licking fungi off cave walls for the rest of their lives, they seem to provide all neccesary proteins and vitamins to grow into muscular people and they'll probably help them chill out for a while.
  20. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Nov 26, 2007
    FO3 is only concerned with maintaining the sandbox; we're not supposed to dig deep, or we'll find out it's a self filling hole. None of it makes sense sadly; not when scrutinized.
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