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Please rate this review: Fallout 3
EDIT: Some douchebag systematically rated all of the reviews I uploaded 1*. I know this because I rated them 5 star (ever heard the story about the guy who's petition failed because he didn't sign it) and after another rating it came to three. So if you are going to rate it, actually appreciate the hard work that goes into this.
HIGH Punching a super-mutant behemoth to death
LOW being punched to death by a super-mutant behemoth
WTF A Yao-Gui flying over a house in Andale when I threw a grenade at it
Bethesda’s Fallout 3, the sequel to, one of the most iconic gaming series, received absolute critical appraisal, though it split the gaming community in two. Some loved the brilliantly realised wasteland, the deep choice and limitless freedom; others deplored the rough combat, plot holes and the ulterior direction the series took.
What constitutes a great role playing game, in my opinion, is how the environment and its inhabitants adapt and respond to the player and how this affects gameplay. The originals had separate outcomes for every city you visited, while the third game doesn’t incorporate this mechanic it matches, if not transcends the depth of choice of its forerunners. The replicated man quest, for example has nine possible conclusions, each culminating in a distinct and rewarding ending, achieved through over a dozen paths. Should you choose to detonate the nuclear bomb within one of the cities, then besides the ensuing epicness, the game goes to lengths to show the consequences. You’ll find wandering scavengers with nowhere to sell their goods who will subsequently offer you discounts, hear your actions talked about on the radio, be subject to ambushes by Megatons survivors or hunted down by the dirty Harry style Regulators.
It’s through these radio broadcasts the amusingly eccentric “Three Dog” will discuss the consequences of major actions, along with other various radio spiel. And then, in some stroke of genius the entire soundtrack composed of 50’s jazz is played using this radio. For those not in the know of the themes of the franchise, Fallout is a dystopian 50’s universe ruined by nuclear war and it uses the period to create a sense of irony and social perversion. These radio songs truly capture the style Fallout strives for, something accentuated at every turn by the exceptional art design. In the clothes, the furnishings and the personas the npc’s adopt.
The combat is usually a point of criticism namely because it’s under-developed. This is apparent in the lack of proper iron sights, prone and a decent weapon switching mechanic and hugely inaccurate guns. But regardless of these flaws the combat still manages to keep things fresh due to the sheer amount of environments you’ll find yourself fighting in, and how squads of allied and enemy npcs adapt to the scenario. The AI isn’t great by any means, or particularly good for that matter, but melee opponents will cover their advance with grenades before charging, ranged opponents will take cover, retreat and enter close quarters when you close in on them. The Vault assisted targeting system, or VATS makes a return, albeit with allot of the tactics stripped down, however blowing someone’s skull apart in slow-motion never felt so awesome.
In seeming acknowledgment of the weaknesses of this mechanic, Bethesda never prolongs sequences with arbitrary battles, instead when you enter a gunfight; it will be driven by the scenario, or contextually appropriate, like fighting ghouls in a metro, or fending off wasteland creatures as you travel. It simply never feels forced.
The games story, and storytelling is nothing too special, and the twist is as subtle as a car crash if you played the earlier games, and is forced using the most contrived plot device ever. You’ve been doing some run of the mill stuff, you have to do a final job, you can conveniently view a disaster from an observation point, however the door is inexplicably locked behind you and you are forced to go around a huge facility to save everyone, and surprise surprise, your too late.
What the game does manage to do however, is, and maybe incidentally due to the incredible attention to detail is create an environment that tells scores of microcosm like stories. Every bombed out house has its own story to tell, like the skeleton lying on his bed with a knife on the floor and drugs littered enables you to imagine him committing suicide so he didn’t have to face the wasteland.
There are hundreds of these nuggets of exposition around the wastes, but unless a player proactively decides to go out and explore then these will go un-noticed. Allot of players will miss out on these kind of things owing to an unwillingness to discover, or lack of analytical skills. These touches really enhances the immersion of the game, and makes everything feel allot more human and real.
The Pipboy makes an appearance as your main HUD, working exactly like Oblivions system. But, unfortunately the Pipboy is plagued by the exact same drawn out process of clicking through multiple tabs as Oblivions scrolls were; in fact I’d even say that the Pipboy is exactly the same, with only superficial and cosmetic alterations. It doesn’t work badly or anything, its fine, but I thought this was a great opportunity for a real time inventory like that seen in Alone in the Dark.
Given that you are traversing a world recovering from nuclear Fallout, there are traces of radiation left, and the game handles this by making tangible health giving sources, like drinking from toilets, or eating the animals you kill a radiation penalty. The penalty is staggered, ranging from minor poisoning to death, and you’ll have to take drugs and consult doctors to mitigate the effect. However, at the middle and towards the end of the game when you become an unstoppable killing machine, you’ll have no need to consume the radiation afflicted food, instead relying on stimpacks. It’s a good concept, but the execution wasn’t as good as it could have been, but at least it adds an extra layer of challenge at the start of the game.
The dialogue, while there is allot of it, the voice acting ranging from mediocre to great, feels like it was written specifically for a dumbed down audience. At times it almost feels like they’ve tried to incorporate instructions for missions within dialogue, and it ends up feeling in your face and detached from some of the other characters who are exceedingly well written.
As I mentioned earlier, a great RPG adapts to the play style of the user, and Fallout 3’s characters react to your decisions and reputation. Paradise Falls, a slaver stronghold will only let you in for a price if your reputation is little known, however you’ll go in free if you’re a murdering nutcase, and you can use your reputation to intimidate the other slavers, some of whom will bring you tributes for bringing in slaving business though this will also cause you to be confronted in the wastes by angry slavers, put out of business by you.
The game also allows for different quest paths to give concessions to your play style. A stealth based character in the Big Town quest, will not be forced to battle through hordes of super mutants, instead you can pick a lock, take a shortcut, and then defend the village by hiding the residents. If you’re a tech expert you can reactivate the broken security robots, if you specialise in explosives you can help them lay a mine field, if you are proficient with the small guns skill then you can hand out weapons and prepare for a full on battle, or you could just leave them all to die.
The game is constantly and dynamically acclimatizing to the way you choose to play, and never forces you into a corner on what you choose to do. This is something that can be said of very few games.
There is also the fantastic creature design, from the disgusting centaurs composed of multiple humans dipped into pools of viruses, to the giant rad scorpions to the super mutant behemoths the variation never lets up and every enemy variation requires specific tactics to combat it.
As with all Bethesda games there is an enormous library of player made modifications for download, and it’s continually supported with downloadable content packages, numbering five as I write this.
Bethesda has tried to imitate Black Isles original creation in some ways, and steer directly away in others, the result is a hybrid between shooter and RPG and this marriage works very well, proving to be one of my favourite games, with a total of over two hundred hours, without the addition of a single modification or expansion pack.
The shooting may be clumsy, the plot line weak at times and it may have more bugs than an ant hill, but I consider these flaws minor issues, attributing to all the good things that make me give this game a 9/10.
Last edited by FalloutMazza; 11-05-2009 at 04:34 PM.