Having been a great fan of Bethesda’s earlier RPG series, The Elder Scrolls, I was eagerly waiting for Fallout 3 and their decision to make it into a FPS/RPG hybrid. Not having played any of the previous Fallout games, I was not concerned with any drastic changes they might have made, so this review will come from the perspective of a Fallout noob.
Fallout 3 starts with your character being born. Your father’s face is the first thing you see and through tutorials that take you through your childhood, you form a bond with him. So when he leaves the Vault that you have lived in your whole life and that no one ever leaves, it is a dramatic shock and spurs your decision to look for him. When my pop (voiced by Liam Neeson) left, I wanted to find him and find him fast.
Until I stepped outside. After being cooped up inside for all your life and for the hour or so before it happens in-game, emerging from your insulated home and seeing the devastation of the nuclear war really is a shocking moment. It also made me forget all about dear old dad and get out there and have some fun. Which is what a real person might do in such a situation.
There lies the best part of Fallout 3: the sheer epic scope of the game. Many times, I have booted it up with the intent to do a certain quest or task only to get sidetracked by a new location or quest that I have never seen before. It happens so frequently that I am thinking of getting checked for ADD. There are so many quests, locations and just things to look at that I am already thinking of my next playthrough.
Which brings me to the other joy of this game, which is choice. So many quests have multiple ways to complete them. Save a town from a nuclear warhead or detonate it and kill dozens of people? Forge a treaty with a group of settlers and a family of cannibals or become a cannibal yourself? Or simply blow them all to hell? Usually, if you can imagine it, you can do it and that’s the kind of game I love to play. I am choosing to be a darling little angel right now, but on my next playthrough, I am going to raise me some hell.
The combat system in Fallout 3 is engaging and has yet to get old for me. It doesn’t really play like a normal FPS, although you can play it that way if you like. Instead, it plays kind of like Knights of the Old Republic, where you can pause the action and make combat selections with the action halted and then execute them in a cinematic fashion. You do this using ability points that you regenerate over time, so you can’t rely on it solely, but they recharge quickly so it does do the bulk of your work for you.
And when I say cinematic, I mean it. The graphics in this game are highly detailed and seeing the scenery of a bombed out school playground can be very haunting. On the other hand, seeing a vicious dog take a shotgun blast in the face and flip end over end in slow motion can be hysterical and I laugh just thinking about poor Fido McFlip Flip, as I have dubbed that particular canine victim of mine.
As for its shortcomings, there are a few. The inventory system takes some getting used to and the interior environments suffer from Copy and Paste Syndrome, so it can be easy to lose your way sometimes. Other than that, I have no issues with Fallout 3.
I can’t recommend a game like this highly enough. Fallout 3 is everything I hoped it would be and more. I foresee myself playing this game even a year from now. I told my little brother about it and he bought it and we just spent 20 minutes on the phone comparing notes and its amazing how different our respective games are turning out to be. Such is the power of choice and that is the strength of Fallout 3.
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