With the recent release of Fallout: New Vegas, and having not yet played through the original, I decided something needed doing. I had to get in on the action and go out and buy Fallout 3, and for less than 10 pounds, why not? What’s interesting is comparing it to the more recent games of today’s market. Let’s not forget, this game was released in 2008. The game as a whole is a truly breathtaking experience. It is worth more of your time than the majority of the endlessly reeled off adventure titles of today, that are usually forgotten within a week of release.
Being the sibling to The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, one of my favourite games ever, I simply couldn’t resist Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG. The key difference between the two games for me is the new sense of survival the player has to cope with. The level of detail which the player’s character is determined by is unparalleled in any other game I’ve played. Realism is taken to a new level, with ammo conservation, the need to repair, as well as the option to create weapons from schematics. Your character can get addicted to drugs, and suffer illness and vision impairments until treated. Any damage taken by enemies is focused on different parts of your character’s body, and he can become crippled from, say, the leg, causing him to hop for his life in order to escape some mutant freak bounding towards him. The amount of detail the game delves into is astounding. However, this should not put off anybody who doesn’t want to worry too much about one extra skill point in the wrong place. Fallout 3 also allows for the laymen’s approach where you don’t have to worry all that much about what you do, just revel in the outcomes of your ill-judged decisions and get the occasional laugh from unintentionally being an arsehole.
The speech function is definitely an improvement on The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, where this time you can portray more clearly your sincerity or arrogance. Only be aware that your conversations will involve long moments of the NPC’s staring aimlessly into the screen at you. Strange and slightly creepy as this is, it does help immerse you into the role of your character and you do feel more as if you are actually there. Unfortunately, Fallout 3 suffers the same awkward third-person animations as The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Hopefully, this is a feature that will be resolved in Fallout: New Vegas, otherwise I just feel sad that you have to look at your character with the bottom half of its body running one way with the upper half rather disinterested and looking elsewhere.
One of the great features of Fallout is the V.A.T.S (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System). This new targeting system is a clever little invention by Bethesda that introduces a more cinematic turn-based combat system. Percentages determine the accuracy of wherever you aim, and are calculated by a million and one different factors. It also allows you to target any part of an enemy’s body, opening up endless possibilities for dismemberment. This is where I continuously pump bullets into necks while the head ejects in a dramatic fashion from the neck in a large spout of blood. Assuming I’ve done this well over 50 times by now you would think it would get very old very quickly. Wrong. There is endless enjoyment involved in projecting large green mutant heads into the unknown and enjoying the moment in a catastrophically slow-motion clip, although at times you can find yourself simply looking at the ground and missing all the gory action. Thank you automatic camera.
The unique feature to Fallout 3 is Karma. Good, bad and neutral. Now whilst other games such as Infamous do have karma related options, none go into as much detail as Fallout 3. If you follow the evil path for example, you can regain your good karma through certain deeds and options, and even through the way you decide to speak to somebody. The more evil you become, the less the majority of people will want to talk with you and join you on your quest. This is yet another way in which Fallout 3 leads in realism, neutrality. For example, too high karma will result in mercenaries coming to kill you; too low karma will result in mercenaries coming to kill you. However, Fallout 3 learns to reward keeping the neutral ground, leaving the player a more diverse way of playing the game. It also means that the player doesn’t have to feel left out in experiencing only one karmic reaction, but can explore their options without the worry of ruining their character.
Talking about exploring options, you no longer have to advance through the game conventionally following one set route. Here, you can use persuasion to convince someone to help you, kill them if they refuse, pick their locks using stealth or any other methods you can think of. The possibilities are endless, which makes you feel much more in control of the story, and less that the story dictates what you must do.
The look and feel of Fallout 3 is what really brings the game alive. Graphically, even for today’s standards it is very good. Set around the year 2277 in America, around Washington DC, you can sense the despair, desolation, and bleak, unforgiving nature of the wasteland. The detail put into the buildings in particular is astonishingly gritty and accurate. Throughout your adventure you encounter many different characters, which all seem to have their very own intricate back stories and personalities. Each character is accompanied by some brilliant voice acting to support these believable personas. This level of embedding the player into the world allows the seductively savage story to take hold and the narrative is then amplified through the characters.
However, there are problems in Fallout 3 such as frequent crashes, odd glitches and moments of lag. You could be one step away from your quest objective and suddenly you find yourself jumping out of your chair screaming at the screen. Nevertheless, these are minor flaws in an almost perfect masterpiece. As my experience has taught me, if you love RPG games and haven’t yet played Fallout 3, you must be crazy because this game is better than many new games out there today.
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