In keeping with the tradition of reviewing games when I get them, I now sit before my PC screen, reviewing Fallout 3. It’s been a journey the last week, but is it a journey I’d wish to continue?
Title: Fallout 3
Systems Available: X360, PS3, PC
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Reviewed By: Chris
Online Functionality: Yes
Download able Content: Yes –
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
I have to say, Fallout 3 got me by surprise. When it was announced that Bethesda was doing a Retro/Future/Cyberpunk post apocalyptic open world RPG, I started wondering how the guys behind Oblivion could pull off something so (in my eyes) “out of their element”. I even thought they were joking. But then I saw the trailers, and it confirmed me wrong on both counts: they know what they are doing. So a year later I find myself at a blockbuster, renting a game. Torn between Fallout 3 and Bioshock, I chose the one I thought would last me longer. Fallout 3.
Fallout 3’s story is…Complicated. So I’ll just copy the wikipedia section:
The background story of Fallout (the first of the series) involves a United States alternate history scenario which diverges from reality following World War II. The transistor was invented just before the war, while vacuum tubes and atomic physics became the cornerstones to scientific progress, eventually achieving the technological aspirations of the early Atomic Age and locking society into a 1950s cultural stasis. Thus, in this alternative “Golden Age”, a bizarre socio-technological status quo emerges, in which advanced robots, nuclear-powered cars, directed-energy weapons and other futuristic technologies are seen alongside 1950s-era computers, telephones and typewriters, and the aesthetics and Cold War paranoia of the 1950s continue to dominate the American lifestyle well into the 21st century.
The federal government organizes the states into 13 commonwealths to promote economic stability, but this only divides the U.S. as they put their own ambitions before those of the nation. Tensions rise over the next century due to an increasing energy crisis caused by the depletion of petroleum reserves, leading to the “Resource Wars”: a series of events over the next few decades which included a Europe–Middle East war, the disbanding of the United Nations, the US annexation of Canada and a Chinese invasion and military occupation of Alaska. These eventually culminated in the 2077 Great War, a cataclysmic nuclear exchange that created the post-apocalyptic setting of Fallout.
Much earlier in 2054 however, the U.S. government had begun a nationwide project to build fallout shelters known as “Vaults” which would officially house privileged segments of the population within. In reality and unknown to most of their inhabitants, a large number were actually built for human subject research – a concept created by the game developer Timothy Cain and the reasoning of which remains mostly unanswered in the games, though some design documents reference possible reasons for experiment. Each was built to help test something in some way, ranging from overpopulation to deliberate radioactive contamination.
Yeah its a complicated story. And it is faithfully told in this game.
The gameplay is something unique. But at the same time, its the same thing that was played out in Oblivion. Early critics called it “oblivion with guns”. After playing it, I do sway in that direction.
The game, to its roots, is a first person shooter. But I’ll just say it, shooting from the hip normally in this game is terrible. Your not going to be causing any damage that way. The real way to do it (and the magnum opus of the entire game, really) is to utilize V.A.T.S. or Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. When you enter this mode,the game pauses and you can target specific body parts, the one being targeted highlighted in green. You can hit a part with different weapons depending on how many action points you have. Once you have exhausted your AP, or think you will cause enough damage, you can initiate your attack. The player is treated to a slow motion third person shot of his/her character mowing down the selected enemy. And this could include: head blowing of, arms blowing off, legs blowing off, or just some really cool blood splatters. You can even get a perk (I will explain these later) called “Bloody Mess” that makes enemies explode into bits more often. Yes, this game will satisfy your sadistic side. Check out this video:
WARNING: MUCH BLOOD AHEAD
That’s basically what Fallout 3 is all about. I mean, the games RPG elements are top notch too, but this was one of the gimmicks that started all the hype. And it works beautifully, as you can see. But there is more than gore here.
And thats where the Pip Boy – 3000 comes in. It serves as the menu for the game, where you can check your clothes, medical supplies, misc items, ammo, and weapons. In addition it also serves as a map and status checker. But it is presented and is used in such a way, that it completely blows away almost all menus before it. The thing is perfectly intuitive and weaves into the gameplay flawlessley. For instance, by holding down a button, you can use your Pip Boy screen to light up the immediate area of a dark room. Granted, its not extremley useful, but the fact that a menu itself can be so integral in the actual gameplay is pretty neat.
War. War never changes. For instance, weapons still have to be maintained and repaired when necessary. And war does not change in Fallout 3. Weapons must be repaired. The only really unique touch about this system is that, with a high enough repair skill, you can combine two weapons of the same type to repair one of them. The repair system is not particularly harsh: I only had one weapon actually break on me. You can pay one a merchant to fix them for you to. This is simple as you can abuse one of the numerous glitches and bugs to make loads of money. I think Bethesda tried to create a sense of atmospheric tension with the weapon degradation system, but it fails because money is so easily attainable if you are willing to be a bit dishonest.
Perks are a relatively new thing to the fallout series. They are basically, well, perks that come with leveling up (level cap of 20, 30 with broken steel DLC). You are allowed to choose one perk each level. These perks come with a variety of benefits, some of which you may not realize the full usefulness of until it’s too late. Here is a list of some:
Cannibal – You can restore some lost health by eating the dead corpses of human enemies
Contract Killer – Any good character you kill will have an ear on their corpse, which can be sold to a certain person
Night Person – When the sun is down, some of your skills increase
Nerd Rage – When your health falls below 20%, some of your skills are raised
Mister Sandman – You can silently kill sleeping enemies
Mysterious Stranger – Sometimes in V.A.T.S. a mysterious stranger will lend a lethal helping hand
Animal Friend – With the first rank of this perk, animals won’t attack. With the second, animals will come to your aid in combat.
Oh yeah, and they have cool icons:
The presentation of Fallout 3 is one of its best aspects. In fact, its the best presentation in a game that I’ve seen all year. You start the game being birthed by your mother in Vault 101. Here you choose your gender. Immediately there after, your father checks an aging machine to see what you will look like grown up, which is when you choose your final adult appearence (your father resembles yourself). One year later you stumble through your living quarters as a toddler. You read a book called “You’re Special!” wherein you choose your main attributes such as perception and agility. It is times like this that the game truly shines, and Bethesda’s work and care are evident.
Then there are not fun moments. Like deciding where to go in the game. The game world is actually so huge that it is intimidating when you first enter it, as you have nothing and don’t know where to go. Another thing is the ten hour mark. Thats when it started getting boring, because I realized that I had already played this game. It’s called Oblivion. Bethesda made a good game, but its so good because its the same game – Fallout 3 sticks with the formula that made Oblivion a platinum hits title. And its great if you haven’t played Oblivion. And if you have, there are a lot of improvements. But not enough to warrant buying it. To me, Fallout 3 could have been one big Oblivion mod. And thats not saying much, as Fallout 3 was billed as the most hotly anticipated game of the year. I think it falls a bit short on that note. I’m hoping BGsofts upcoming game “Wet” will be different.
Yes its fun. Its violent, the midnight obsession of parents everywhere. Its dark. Philosophical. Smart. Dirty. Clean. There are a lot of ways to describe it. Heres one more:
- Perfect atmosphere
- Fun to play
- Pip Boy
- Repetitive for Oblivion players
- Over hyped
- Radio gets annoying