Friday, October 15, 2010

Fallout 3 Review

Game:  Fallout 3
Year:  2008
Company:  dev. Bethesda Game Studios
            pub. Bethesda SoftWorks, ZeniMax Media
Engine:  Gamembryo
Type:  RPG Shooter
What I Paid:  $0, Christmas/birthday present for '09


200 years have passed since nuclear war.  You have lived your entire life in a safe undergoud community known as a vault.  When you are nineteen, your father leaves the vault unexpectadly.  At the same time, giant mutated cockroaches invade the vault.  You leave the vault in search of your father, and thus learn about the Capitol Wasteland in all of its super-mutant, zombie-dwelling, bandit-infested, irradiated glory.

General Comments

I grew up in the 90's.  My favorite Nintendo games were those by Square and Enix.  I also spent time playing Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and pretty much any other shooter on the PC.  So, a marriage of the two genres appeals to me.
That being said, this is the best combination so far.  Similar elements as those in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (also by Bethesda) and the Deus Ex franchise, but more streamlined and intuitive.

A word about the Gamebryo engine, it sucks.  It looks alright, but crashes often, making hard saving a priority.  It also has some glitches that can, at times, disallow further progress


Voice actors include Liam Neeson and Malcolm McDowell.  By which I mean, holy shit!
There are also a few different in-game radio stations that the player can listen to on the go.  These play music, help cement the feel of the world, and sometimes report on the player's activities.

What is Unique?

This game is very open.  You can ignore the main plot altogether and wander about the Capitol Wasteland, looting, fighting, and taking up any of the huge amount of side quests. 

Players can choose how to build their character, whether they like sneaking around, guns a' blaizin', hacking computers, whatever.
Fallout 3 also has a karma system.  You can be good, neutral, or evil, depending on your actions.  Karma status then, in turn, influences dialog and choice of sidekicks.

The range of ways to get through quests yearns for multiple run-throughs.  The first time I played it took about sixty hours.  Every time I play I find something new I hadn't found before.  Tons of gametime.


Combat is, generally, not that difficult.  At any time, you can access the menu and use any number of healing items, change weapons, or repair equipment.
Right mouse button zooms for guns, and blocks for melee.  Fire and reload.  One thing that may be new to you though, is that weapons and armor degrade with use and have to be repaired or become useless eventually.

Fallout 3 introduces the VATS combat system, which is a unique alternative.  VATS combat pauses the game, and shows you what percentage chance you have to hit various parts of an enemy's body.  Depending on how many Action Points you have (and on how many such point a weapon uses), you can, for example, have your character shoot the enemy three times in the torso.  If you are out of Action Points, you have to get back to normal combat until they recharge.  The VATS system means, that people who are completely new to shooters can still play this game and have a good time.

If you like to sneak around, you deal extra damage to enemies that didn't see you coming.

The number of weapons is staggering.

Some of the sidekicks are basically indestructible.

Down-Loadable Content (DLC)

Broken Steel-  Ups the level cap by five and stretches the main story.

The PItt- This is a decent-length addition that involves Pittsburgh steel mill slavery and the struggle for revolution.  Or not.  Either way you want to do it.

Mothership Zeta- Fantastic.  The audio tapes really add some great horror to this.  Oh, you get abducted and fight aliens.  Your allies include a samurai, a cowboy, and a little girl.

Point Lookout- This is the lamest of the DLC.  A tribe of hippie stoners are convinced by a brain in a jar to attack a particular zombie, near an abandoned amusement park, in a swamp.  Also, there are violent hillbillies..

Operation Anchorage- This is the shortest of the DLC.  It allows for the best armor in the game, and shows some of the pre-war world.  Gameplay is different in this because, it being a simulation, you don't have your usual inventory.

Final Thoughts

If you like shooters, you should try this game.  If you like RPGs, you should try this game.  If you like games, you should try this game.  It won game-of-the-year awards for a reason.

Fallout: New Vegas is due out next week.  It's also built on the Gamebryo engine (hopefully with less bugs) and has a few improvements in gameplay you can check out in the E3 video.  A notable difference is that New Vegas is not being developed by Bethesda, but by Obsidian, the original creators of the Fallout franchise.