Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 10/28/2008
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The only way you’re going to like Fallout 3 is for two reasons. 1. You loved Oblivion and 2. You love the Fallout series. Otherwise, you’re probably going to hate the game and think it’s “boring”. I say this because the game relies a lot on YOU finding out what to do and where you should take your next steps. The game is 100% nonlinear and features a perfect balance of FPS action and RPG stat building. The game is more than just “Oblivion with guns” and the reason people say this is because Bethesda uses the Oblivion engine for this game. Just like Oblivion you take quests from people, complete them as you wish, you can be good, bad, or neutral in the world, you can find mini-encounters or free-form quests that are separate from the main and side quests to unlock achievements. I don’t want to spend this whole review comparing this game to Oblivion since its own game.
The first thing you’ll notice is how amazing the graphics are. The Oblivion engine has been refined and everything looks amazing. Step out of Vault 101 and your eyes will adjust from the dark and you’ll witness a beautiful yet desolate wasteland that leaves you wondering “now what?” Don’t be scared since the game does guide you a little bit so you aren’t completely lost. Just wander around to find Megaton and just talk to people and you’ll get quests eventually. Of course, you always know where to go for the main quests and every quest has arrows on your map that point to where to go. You may see places on your map but you can’t fast travel there unless you actually walk around and discover it yourself. This forces players to explore the vast world of DC and really get to know the place. There are two sections to the game: The Wasteland, which takes up about 70% of the game, and DC which is cluttered with metro stations, fallen buildings, and all the main landmarks like the White House, Library of Archives, The Pentagon etc.
The only way to travel around in DC is through the metro tunnels and I found this kind of annoying since it may be tough to figure out which tunnel goes where. I just really can’t express how amazing the game feels and you really do feel alone and empty when you go through stores and buildings that are completely trashed. With the melancholy music, you sometimes get a bit depressed since it’s just so amazingly surreal. Thankfully Bethesda injected a bit of dark humor to keep you from feeling this way and one way is with VATS. Vault-Tec Automated Targeting System and it is one of the main gameplay elements. Hit RB and you’ll pause time and zoom in on your enemy and there will part of his/her body you can hit. The percentage is your chance of hitting that target, your AP is your Action Points and each weapon takes a certain amount of them every time you queue up attacks. If you do enough damage you can cripple a limb and either make your enemy drop the weapon, lower their accuracy, or make them walk slower. Once you get to higher levels a few shots and you can blow their head off in a heaping gory mess and it NEVER EVER gets boring. Sniping someone from 200 feet away and watching the camera follow the bullet and having someone’s head fall off their neck is just so so satisfying. I played for 54 hours and never got bored with this.
Of course, you can fight in real-time combat, but you don’t get the advantages of VATS like critical hit strikes etc. The game has many weapons from mini-nuke launchers, rocket launchers, 10mm pistols, combat shotguns, sledgehammers, hunting rifles the list just goes on and on. You can also make your own weapons by finding schematics and collecting the items you need to build various weapons like the Rock-It Launcher which lets you shoot anything you find, the Railway Rifle which lets you shoot railroad spikes and impale limbs on walls. The game is huge amazing and awesome and all of the combat is very satisfying and there are endless ways to approach a situation. Don’t like fighting? Use a Stealth Boy and sneak your way through places and plant live grenades in enemies pants and watch them explode! Like fighting with your fists? Walk around with a Power Fist Glove and bash your way through the Wasteland. Now that combat is out-of-the-way let’s get to stats. Your menu is your Pip-Boy which is attached to your arm and features an easy to navigate interface and is really easy to find what you want. You can level up to level 20 (which is lame since you’ll get to level 20 waaaaay early in the game and be maxed out) and you have several options once you level up.
You can add points to yourself like your medicine, small guns, big guns, explosives, speech, barter, energy weapons, lock picking, science etc. Then you get to pick a Perk (say that five times fast!) and these are another unique gameplay idea in Fallout 3. There are over 40 perks BUT you can only pick up to 20 throughout the game so choose wisely! Perks range from giving you more health, increasing your regular abilities, automatically giving you another level, making animals in the world your friends, revealing every location on your map, making you a law bringer and if you bring every finger off a bad enemy to a special HQ you get caps (currency in the game) and good karma. The stats are also affected by items such as Buffout, Jet, Mentats (post-apocalyptic drugs!) etc. These add temporary effects and will get you out of a tight situation. You can trade and repair your items with people around the city and become rich. You can also just shoot everyone in the cities and get bad karma so as you can see there are 0 restraints.
You also can pass time by “waiting” which skips hours, you can heal your crippled limbs by sleeping or going to a doctor. Getting too irradiated? Take some Rad-Away! Getting addicted to a certain drug? Go to the doctor! You can eventually get your own place in Tenpenny Tower and you can buy things like a workbench, doctor stations etc. I just can’t express how HUGE this game is from the vast size to be able to pick up anything you see to use as ammo, trade, or sell. You really do feel like you’re struggling to survive in a hostile wasteland and that feeling never goes away even after 100 hours of play. Of course, you’ll eventually conquer the wasteland and not be afraid of even the strongest enemies in the game.
Now there are issues with the game, but they’re minor. There is loading between each section of the game such as going from the main world into buildings etc. The level 20 cap is extremely annoying and makes you quit trying really hard to find places to fight in, the game is really similar to Oblivion and people who played the F out of that game will feel too familiar here and that’s why this game didn’t get a 9.5 from me like Oblivion did because I’ve kind of “been there done that” with this engine. While there are so many subtle things in the game like having followers (including a dog!), to the many types of weird enemies, to all the different people you can talk to its insane. I could spend hours telling you about every location and person you meet. Just stop what you’re doing and go play Fallout 3 and you’ll spend dozens and dozens of hours surviving the vast wasteland! Go grab an Ice Cold Nuka-Cola and watch out for the hostile factions (Raiders, Talon Company Mercs, Slavers etc) and good luck out there!