Written by  :  MasterMegid (902)
Written on  :  Jan 29, 2009
Platform  :  Xbox 360
Rating  :  4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars

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Prepare For The Future

The Good

Fallout 3, the game that I have been waiting for since I finished Fallout 2. Why back in 1998. Some 10 years later, and Bethesda finally makes good and releases Fallout 3 upon us. After so many false starts, can this be true at last? Am I really writing this review. Or am just dreaming that I am a man writing this review?

Oh sorry for my metaphysical meltdown just now, I haven’t slept in days. When I first heard that Bethesda was making Fallout 3, I felt elated yet not. I mean it could have been worse, what if Square soft had made it? It would have spiky haired goobers, teenage melodrama, kindergarten philosophy, and gasp, a contrived plot.

Can Bethesda’s unusual style of games live up to the classic imaginings of Black Isle? (And am I crazy or is everyone stealing my use of casual asides?-MM-)

To say that I was intrigued would be a bit of a misnomer. I preordered the game, the special edition, and went to the midnight launch. I did not sleep much that night, I can tell you.

Set about 20-30 years after the events of Fallout 2. We find that the wastelands are in worse shape than ever. Humanity has made little progress in turning back the tide, and reclaiming it’s past. Things really are worse than ever.

It is into this cruel world you are thrust. Will you help man’s progress or hinder it? Or maybe you don’t care either way.

Fallout 3 starts out very interestingly, and oddly it starts off with you as a baby. With simple objectives like “walk to dad”. It continues as you grow up in a Vault. Until on your 19th birthday, the game begins in full.

Your dad has gone missing. And Vault 101 is in uproar. Some of your friends are dying and the Overseer blames you, for the troubles, this leads to one of your first moral choices. You eventually make into the harsh wastes, leaving behind all you knew. Your goal is simple to find your dad. From here things get more complicated, at the fate of humanity will be on your hands.

There are tons of quests in the world of Fallout 3. Besides the main ones, there are a good number of large ones, from the world spanning, Nuka Cola Challenge, to helping, Moria complete her “Wasteland Survival Guide”.

There are also a slew of other things to do. From finding as many of the mini-encounters that you can. To collecting bobble heads, killing all the super mutant behemoths, the list goes on. Furthermore the Capital Wastelands are huge. And to see all the game has to offer will take quite a bit of exploring.

The setting is interesting as well. Instead of the West Coast of the USA, it takes place in the ruins of DC, the “Capital Wastelands”. Having walked those same streets myself in the real world, I found Fallout 3, chilling. Particularly when walking down Pennsylvania Ave. I have also been to the west coast, and did not find it invoked the same feelings. Perhaps because Fallout 3 just had better graphics, or perhaps it is because you do not see any real world places in Fallout 1&2. You can even travel to Bethesda, MA!

Fallout 3 takes place in an alternate reality. In which technology is largely based on nuclear power. Yet everything still has that 40’s-50’s art deco thing going on. This installment also keeps the series dark humor in tack. From the ridiculous notion of the coin-operated bomb shelter, the stupid grin of Vault boy, or the slogans like, “When the world ends, your life doesn’t have to!”

Now I would like to talk about V.A.T.S., and Fallout 3’s combat system. No V.A.T.S. is not a strange cult that worships a dead sci-fi author, or a special interest group, or a new age diet. It is the Vault Assisted Targeting System. Or VATS for short.

V.A.T.S. plays very much like the turn based system of the previous games in the series as well as Arcanum. During combat you can pause the action, and enter how many shots you want to take and what parts of the body you want to target. Head shots can kill the quickest. But a well placed leg shot can cripple your enemies, an arm shot can greatly reduce there aim. The amount of shots you get is based on your AP, which is based on your level, more on that later.

There is also standard FPS style combat, which is much more challenging that the V.A.T.S. And does not include to wicked cool death animations. The boys at Bethesda, took the Burnout franchise’s concept of realistic damage, and transferred it from cars, to super mutants. These animations are fun to watch and never get old. What better way to finish off a pesky mutant, than by blowing it’s head off, and seeing his eyeballs fly off. The gratuitous violence reminds me of the old skool shooter, Rise Of The Triad.

But wait there’s more! With the plasma gun you can turn your foe into a pile of goo! Fun for the whole family!

There are tons of guns and weapons in Fallout 3. There are of course the standards, like pistols, machine guns, and shot guns. Which are all fun to play with. But it is the absurd weapons that steal the show. Like the Fatman launcher, which fires mini-nukes. Be warned that there is a limited number of the mini nukes in the game. The is also the shiskabob, a flaming blade, that will slash and burn some super mutants. Other favorites of mine include the rail spike gun, which does exactly as it’s name implies, and fires rail spikes. And of course the junk gun, which fires well junk. These last three have to made on one of the workbenches found in the game.

Leveling up in Fallout 3 is your more standard system. You gain experience, and when enough is gained you level up. Each new level you can pick what skills you want, as well as a new perk. You gain perks quicker this time around. You can also supplement your levels by finding magazines. Guns & Bullets, raises your small guns skill, Lying Congressional Style, increases your charisma. And Grognak: The Barbarian, raises you melee skills.

There is also the Karma system. But fear not it goes beyond the good and evil thing.(Hey I’m philosopher and don’t know it!-MM-) There is good, bad, and neutral karma. Which lead to different perks, as well as different endings. There are also special perks which are quest related.

The graphics in Fallout 3, run on a modified Oblivion engine. And it’s looks fantastic. The world of Fallout is bleak, and terrible, yet beautiful, at the same time. (It’s like Detroit!-MM-) And the lighting effect are superb. As is the overall design. From the humans and non-humans of Fallout, to the places, you will go.

The sound and music excels as well. From the music composed for the game, to the licensed music. It’s all from the 40’s and 50’s and like Bioshock, fit’s the game wonderfully. A lot of reviews claim that the voice acting is not that good. How can that be when Ron Perlman, and Liam Neeson, and Malcolm McDowell, all lend there talents? I think what these reviewers meant to say was that all the minor characters do not sound that good. (Have these people played Final Fantasy X? They could not have if they think that this is bad!-MM-)

And that is not even entirely true. It is not that they do not sound good. It’s more to do with that you hear the same voices over and over. There is only one voice for the ghouls for example.

Another nice little effect is the radio. During the game you can hear Three-Dog, the non fascist radio personality, recount your heroic endeavors.

The Bad

For some reason Bethesda decided, that the level cap would be Lvl 20. Why? By mid game I was already maxed out! And the non-VATS combat tends to get a little clunky.

Venturing the seemingly endless subway systems gets old. The good news is once you have already discovered an area you can just zip there via your fast travel.

The A.I. can act oddly at times. And the bugs do not help. But they are not as bad as some may want to believe.

Exploring the wastes is not as fun as it should be. At least later in the game. When giant rad-scorpions ambush you constantly. And the enemy re-spawn rate is way to high!

The Bottom Line

Overall, Fallout 3 was worth the decade long wait. And while it is not the same as the other ones that is kind of the point, to re imagine the Fallout universe for today’s game market. If your PC can run it, or you have a Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3, you are required to play this game! Seriously, I know where you live!

Here to Fallout 4, not taking another 10 years!