***Warning this review contains spoilers and hardcore nudity! Please be advised!***
Imagine a world where it feels like the 1950s, but in reality it's a post-apocalyptic future. A world where everyone is forced to live in underground vaults because of nuclear war and you eventually escape, sent forth to explore the ravaged wasteland. A wasteland filled with huge monsters, crazy assassins trying to kill you, a government run by a computer and your trusty sidekick, a dog named Meat. Enter Fallout 3.
Storyline and Gameplay (10/10)
Fallout 3 is one massive game, sometimes even overwhelming to explore. There is the main quest, side quests, optional quests and, of course, DLC. All of these are spread across two cities and a simulation. If you liked The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion then you will like Fallout 3.
You start off as a child wandering around Vault 101 and are joined by your father played by none other then Leem Neeson. Eventually, the game jumps forward a few years, your father has escaped the vault and your initial quest is to find him. When the game starts you are given many options to customize your appearance, a staple in these large Bethesda games and then set your first S.P.E.C.I.A.L. abilities by taking a G.O.A.T. Oh and then there is the V.A.T.S. Confused yet? Yeah, I know too many mnemonics. Basically, S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is a skill set that is initially determined by taking the G.O.A.T. test and then points are added to these skills as you advanced throughout the game. You get a primary combat specialty (Melee Weapons, Unarmed, Small Guns, Big Guns, Energy Weapons, etc.), two support skills (Lockpicking, Science, Speech, Barter, Repair, etc.), add to the stats that support those three skills, and then choose perks that further complement those skills. At a certain age you also get a small computer attached to your arm called a Pip Boy. The Pip Boy is a menu system within the game that has a map, shows your current skills and a quest/objective screen, oh and it’s a radio. This is very useful throughout the entire game and is mandatory to use in order to complete anything. Without going into too much detail, other major factors pertinent to your character’s survival include karma (determined by how many good or bad deeds you perform), radiation, lockpicking, pickpocketing (two words: exploding pants), computer hacking, item repair, looting items (this is key to creating custom weapons and finding items for side quests), sneaking and chems (health and other enhancing drugs).
The game throws a plethora of enemies at you from the start and the higher your level the harder they are to beat. This can be annoying if you just want to walk from point A to point B and are constantly attacked by giant scorpions, mercenaries and other creatures. To aid in your fighting ability Bethesda has introduced a new V.A.T.S. system. Alongside the games standard FPS shoot ‘em up combat, The V.A.T.S. is a turn based combat system that allows you to use acquired AP in order to strike your enemy with gunfire or grenade throws. It sounds complicated, but its quite easy once you get the hang out it. The cool part is that you can target multiple body parts and multiple characters if you have enough AP. Once the enemy is targeted and you fire you are forced into a 3rd person view and a slow motion scene of your character firing at the target. The not so cool part is that while in V.A.T.S. enemies can still hit or shoot at you, but now that’s in slow motion and you cannot move until the cut scene is completed. I think V.A.T.S. provides a nice balance of accuracy and actually kills your foes quicker then the standard FPS control.
Sound and Design (9/10)
The graphics of Fallout 3 is what you should expect from this generation of FPS. It’s no Bioshock, but the developers have done a nice job of rendering characters/objects and lighting. The green apocalyptic glow can get a bit monotonous and the terrain does get a bit repetitive. Again, this game is massive so don’t expect insane detail throughout every blade of grass or piece of hair. I have also encountered the occasional glitch with people’s limbs going through walls, objects floating in midair and the annoying “oh no I’m stuck in this corner and can’t jump anywhere”, but otherwise the transitions from location to location were smooth. I especially love the ability to jump around the map by just clicking on a location. This was also present in Oblivion and with games so big it would get really annoying to have to run everywhere.
Voice acting was pretty good throughout the game. I’m not really an expert at determining if someone is a good voice actor, but there is one character that sounds like Sarah Palin and if she wasn’t part of a quest or could repair my items I would have killed her long ago. The music is all right, it’s the standard dunt dun dun when an enemy is attacking and calms down when you are not in danger. I’m not really complaining about the music, but it could have had a little more thought put into the selection.
As I stated before, this game can be overwhelming. The map has well over 100 locations, maybe even 200, I don’t know I’m too lazy to count and haven’t even discovered them all. But, that is what adds to this games playability. The map on your PipBoy is well organized and labels every location for you. The trick is to try and remember where everything is. The quests at least provide arrows from one location to the next. The local map can get a bit confusing when you are looking for a certain door or train station and rubble is all around. Certain games start off with a bang and then sort of fizzle out and end way to quickly. Fallout 3 maintains a consistent excitement and that is important since I easily get bored and distracted…ooh shiny.
Besides the main quest, which in itself takes a couple hours, there are side quests, which give you certain goodies and help to advance your level significantly. Each quest has it’s own puzzles or objective, but most aren’t too complicated. Sometimes I looked over the online walkthroughs, but don’t expect the Resident Evil type wtf is that puzzle. The one annoying thing is that your level cap is 20 and if you have completed a lot and still have some side quests you will not advance anymore. I will say that the original ending is a bit disappointing but that is remedied with the latest DLC and your level cap is raised to 30. I will save that for a future review.
I love this game. It has a great storyline, vast landscape to explore, substantial variance of enemies and the replay is only enhanced by the DLC. I would recommend this game to anyone who liked Elder Scrolls 4 and doesn’t get too frustrated with traveling around to many locations. The graphics could have a bit more detailed, but with all the excitement of killing various enemies I doubt anyone will really notice. There is also the repetiveness after playing for many hours, but that can be remided by killing enemies with different weapons and targeting different limbs in the V.A.T.S .
I will be reviewing the 3 DLC expansion packs in the near future. Stay tuned!