A gritty, post apocalyptic masterpiece
The Fallout series has been 11 years in the making. Fallout 1 set the bar for role playing games, and is still looked upon in great favor as a classic to the general gaming community. Not only did it have a compelling story with very interesting open-ended game play, it was the first game to use the character creation system SPECIAL, which stood for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and finally Luck.
One year later, Interplay then released Fallout 2. The game was very much like the first, although fan reception wasn’t nearly as high. A big complaint was the sheer difficulty of the game. Even the tutorial vault dungeon had a very steep learning curve and it wasn’t rare to see a veteran gamer have to save his game after each scorpion was killed.
This leads us to Fallout 3, the third installment of the series. The game takes place in the year 2277, 116 years after Fallout 2. It is set in the East Coast of what used to be the United States of America after the The Great War, between the US and China. The Fallout Universe is a very grim one. It is the post apocalyptic wasteland seen through the eyes of citizens of the 1950s. The atmosphere has a very sci-fi feel to it, with robots, ghouls, super computers and lasers, but with a very grim desolate back drop, which I couldn’t wait to explore.
Even though the main quest is shorter than I would of liked, the side quests were more than enough to keep me interested.
You play as a Vault Dweller, a person who has been raised in an enclosed underground dwelling their whole life to protect themselves from the harsh wasteland that the nuclear war had caused. The game begins with a scene of you being born. This is where you chose your name and your sex. The attention to detail and the sheer craftsmanship of these beginning scenes is quite amazing and a big step in the character creation process. The game then swiftly moves throughout your childhood where you are able to customize your SPECIAL statistic and through your teen years where you can decide your skills through a test called the G.O.A.T. During this time you also receive the Pip-Boy 3000 which serves as your guide throughout the game.
When the childhood sequence ends you are thrown right into the game. Alarms are sounding inside of the Vault, and you hear that it has been opened by your father. The inhabitants of the Vault have been sheltered in it for years, and they do not like what has happened. It is now your job to leave the vault in search of your father, even though you have never left the safety of the Vault.
As you leave the vault, the atmosphere is absolutely breath taking. The vast wastelands and ruins of America are amazing to look at. There is hardly any life to be seen and most of the buildings are rubble, with very few still standing. It clearly is the definition of a post apocalyptic wasteland. As you travel further away from Vault 101 you can soon tell that it will be hard to survive. There is radiation everywhere and the nuclear war had created raiders who were not very friendly. Everyone in the wasteland is just doing their best to survive.
The first “dungeon” that you come across is called the Springvale School. Unexpectedly, this place really scared me when I made my way through the rubble. The design was much better than any dungeon I had ever traversed in Oblivion. These areas have many spoils, including weapons and medication that the raiders have been stockpiling in this safe haven. The Springvale School was also the first place I was able to try the new VATS combat system. Unlike Fallout 1 and 2 this game was mostly real time, and not turn based. The VATS was a system that allowed you to pause the game at any time, depending on how many action points you had, and aim for a certain part of the enemy such as the head. To my dismay, they removed the option to shoot the crotch. This makes the combat a little more interesting then normal and allows for more variation on how you are able to play the game. Unlike normal first-person shooters, just because you have your cross hair directly on the enemies brain does not always mean death. Your attacks are still determined by a roll, or a percentage to hit. This percentage is dependent on a number of factors, including your skill level in the weapon you are using. If your small guns skill is 90 you will have a much better chance to hit an enemy than if you had 20, but luck also comes into play here.
The next thing I noticed as I moved through the game was you couldn’t do whatever you wanted without consequence. Karma plays a huge role in Fallout 3. If you shoot a beggar in the face, you will receive negative karma. If you decide to give him a water, you will get positive karma. These decisions you make throughout the game will shape your character to be good, evil, or neutral. Each path will open up new options in the game, such as companions you can have tag along with you to choices in the quest story line. In almost every instance, you will be given a choice in what to do and karma will be distributed depending on your choice.
Unlike many of the other games out there, Fallout 3 is extremely open ended. There is no set path and you are free to roam the wasteland. Be careful though, because the enemies don’t scale as they did with Oblivion. If you aren’t mindful you can end up running into a few nasty ravagers or even a super mutant that you weren’t ready for. The main quest on its own was unexpectedly short. The average gamer should be able to complete it in about 12 hours. Although the main quest is short, it does not in any way disappoint. Depending on your skills such a speech, you can even change the outcome of the game and can skip certain parts of the main quest! The game is extremely flexible.
Even though the main quest is shorter than I would of liked, the side quests were more than enough to keep me interested. I would even go as far as to say that the side quests are more interesting than the main quests. Exploring the wasteland and finding these desolate towns in which to do quests was actually very fun, although they do not have the deep story that the main quest has. I am 30 hours in and lets just say I am no where near finished with this game.
To add even more depth to the game, Fallout 3 has a very well designed level system. You gain experience by killing enemies in combat, picking locks and finishing quests among other things. Each time you level you are able to pick a perk which adds further customization to your Vault Dweller. All of the perks provide some kind of buff to your character, whether it be somewhat useless, like the perk bloody mess which always makes your enemy die in the most gruesome way or mysterious stranger which will randomly spawn a person to help dispose of your enemies when you use VATS. The level cap is 20, but you in no way have to be 20 to complete the game. The level cap encourages players to restart rather than playing the same character forever.
Fallout 3 is one
of the most engaging and fun experiences I’ve had in a game in a very long time. The Xbox 360 version looks fantastic, and even with the few bugs it has, it is very easy to overlook them because of the sheer size and scope of the game. If you are a fan of Role Playing Games or First Person Shooters, then I recommend you pick up this game.
The Bad: The Main Quest is too short, Some Bugs.