Retcon This! President John Henry Eden

In the ever-evolving landscape of fandom, there are simply some things that should not have happened. In Retcon This!, we examine some of the more questionable aspects of our beloved geek properties.

I know Fallout 3 is old news. Hell, at this point, so is New Vegas. Whatever, I don’t care. I’m playing it now, and I’ve got a serious bitch. If – SOMEHOW – you’re even further behind on gaming than I am, beware… there will be a major spoiler herein. But considering the game is three years old, I figure I’m good.

More or less, it’s a fun game, though the central storyline is pitifully short, and navigating certain areas is a pain in the ass. And it’s pretty glitchy, when you really get into it. But… it’s a fun playthrough with lots to do, and as I said before, the Perk system is really great. I couldn’t be more pleased that Bethesda is bringing that over to Skyrim this fall. The game has phenomenal voice acting, too, int he form of Liam Neeson and Malcolm McDowell. But that’s where things start to fall apart.

McDowell is the voice of the seemingly self-professed President of America, John Henry Eden. You hear his voice on radio broadcasts throughout the game. And then it happens… you finally meet the President, only to discover he’s an Artificial Intelligence construct. Which is REALLY fucking obnoxious, for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost? It’s been done! TO DEATH! Two of my favorite FPS/RPGs of all time – System Shock 2 and Deus Ex – BOTH feature the exact same reveal as a mysterious voice that is with you throughout the game turns out to be nothing but a ghost in the machine. Second, it’s a weak plot point that didn’t need to be there. AT ALL. There was no reason for the character to ever have to encounter the President. This entire mess could have simply been side stepped by leaving him as nothing more than a voice. Even hinting that he might not be an actual person without showing that it was true would have been better than coming face to monitor with the plot-abortion of Fallout 3.

As a side note? Bethesda originally wanted Eden to be voiced by Bill Clinton. Weird.


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Who ARE these people!?

Jason Kerouac is a co-founder of He spends roughly half of his waking life in servitude to the Giraffe. Raised in a town in New Hampshire you've never heard of, he now lives in Indianapolis, IN and is pretty sure that's a step in the right direction.

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  1. It is a tired cliche at this point. But, to be fair, Fallout has had this in their games before. It’s more of a throwback to people that played the PC Fallout games more than anything else. But yeah, it was pretty apparent that Eden wasn’t real from jump. At least they could have done some swerves to make it less obvious.

    Bill Clinton in that roll would have made that SOOO much better.

    The only thing I’m still disappointed in is no Robo-Palin in Operation: Anchorage. Missed opportunity, folks.

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