Washington DC vs. Fallout 3

When I was in college, I played a lot of Doom. For those of you not familiar with Doom, it was an early 3d first person perspective video game, and used very basic textures (graphical patterns) on the walls. One night after a long session of Doom, I walked out into the academically inspiring hallway of Wean Hall and turned quickly to face the wall, where I thought I saw a secret door… before realizing I had been playing games for a really long time.

This weekend I had similarly odd experiences almost everywhere I went in Washington DC. You see, I played maybe about 70 hours of Fallout 3, which is set in a “postapocalyptic radioactive wasteland” version of Washington DC and its environs. I already knew they did a really good job of copying the look and feel of Washington DC: so good that Metro passengers complained about the graphic depictions of a post-holocaust DC in advertisements. But going to DC, and having Deja Vu from in-game events really drove the point home.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes to provide a bit of a comparison.

DC has done a pretty good job of cleaning up the Mall. They filled in all the trenches, though not all the grass has grown back yet. There was only one fallen tree, and the only Super Mutants left were caused more by overeating than radioactive mutations.

The Washington Monument was patched up really well, you can hardly see the cracks. They’re getting a lot more radio station coverage all over the city, so I expect they must’ve put in an even bigger antenna up there.

The metro stations haven’t really changed since the game. The trains are back on the track and running again, and they took most of the sleeping shelters out. They also removed all the vending machines and Nuka-Cola machines. But other than a little cleanup and replacing the Protectrons with humans, there’s not much of a difference: there’s only so much you can do with bare cement.

They removed all of the Pulowski Preservation Shelters, but apparently they’ve learned from the past: there are “Evacuation Route” signs posted prominently along major routes next to the street signs.

The air and space museum was bigger than it was in Fallout 3, but not as interesting. They mostly only had space ships and airplanes which actually existed in real life. The only other museum we went to was the Natural History museum: I’m not sure if it was represented at all in Fallout, but if it was I never went there.

Overall, I’m inspired to go back and play Fallout 3 some more. I’d like to see a few of the locations I don’t remember seeing in game, such as Dupont Circle. Maybe I can remember the location of one of the vaults in case I get bored on our next road trip.