My trek through the Capital Wasteland.
After Oblivion, Bethesda’s 2006 hit, the expectations were extremely high for Fallout 3 and the game doesn’t disappoint. Although some fanatics of the original Fallouts may not fully appreciate the move from top-down fully turn-based to a hybrid of the latter and first person shooter , fans of previous Bethesda games will recognise the core movement, navigation and little secrets they have added. In fact there are a huge amount of similarities between this and Oblivion, although instead of wandering around a medieval forest you will be walking through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The two situations feel identical, but that’s not a bad thing. Fallout 3 is the third in-canon game of the Fallout series; set 30 years after the prequel and 200 years after the bombs fell and destroyed all of society as we know it and almost all life but the inhabitants of the vaults, huge underground bunkers guarded by a behemoth of a metal door and each assigned an Overseer.
The 30+ hour experience starts with the player being born in one of these vaults, as you pick your sex, race, hair and facial characteristics. Then the game jumps to one year old, as you learn to walk to your father’s outstretched arms, at which point you pick your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength Perception Endurance Intelligence Agility Luck) attributes. This governs your character throughout the game, affecting everything from health to accuracy and movement speed. After this the game jumps to various birthdays until you are 21, where you wake up finding that your father has left the safety of the vault. The entire vault is in chaos, the Overseer has initiated a lockdown in which all occupants will be shot on sight if seen trying to exit. After a few moral choices and having killed some rad-roaches you escape the vault and see natural light for the first time. Thus begins the open ended gameplay and the search for your father.
A new feature to shooters as we know them is the V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), a combat mechanic that lets you target specific body parts to make your enemies drop their guns or cripple their legs. V.A.T.S. is a fun and interesting addition that even after watching hundreds of enemies’ heads pop like a melon with their eyeballs flying across your screen in slow motion it doesn’t get even the slightest bit boring.
The world is spectacular, as you explore you can tell that each area has been designed with love and attention. That is something Oblivion missed out on. Unfortunately numerous glitches that were present in Oblivion have stayed such as getting stuck in walls, ragdolls falling through the ground and clipping bugs in general.
Navigation seems to have degraded a little. When you have a quest with multiple objectives there will be multiple objective arrows on your map and compass, but with no indication on which destination is which. This issue could have been solved by simply putting a number on each objective and then cross referencing that to your compass.
Side missions are a very large part of Fallout 3, as the main story can be completed in less than 15 hours if rushed and at the end you will not be able to continue. Early on, maybe 5 minutes after leaving the vault you should stumble upon a town called Megaton, named after the unexploded nuclear bomb that the town was built on. After entering the town bar you will be approached by a mysterious man named Mister Burke, he will try to employ you to rig the bomb to explode. If you do accept and blow up the bomb early on you will probably lose roughly 10 hours of quests, but that is what multiple playthroughs are for right?
The huge amount of content packed into Fallout 3 makes it feel quite fresh every time you pop the disc in, even after 40 hours of exploring the wasteland I am still finding new quests, areas and people to talk to. Throughout the game are scattered 20 bobbleheads, 7 for the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and 13 for the Skills. Each S.P.E.C.I.A.L. bobblehead will give you a point to the bobblehead specific attribute, as the Skill bobbleheads will give you an extra 10 points to whatever stat the bobblehead represents.
The variety of enemies in Fallout 3 is quite large. The mutations of today’s animals spawn the Mirelurk, a bipedal crab with huge claws and a protective shell. The Yao Guai, a bloodthirsty bear with huge claws and tough skin. The Brahmin, a peaceful two headed cow that can be slaughtered for meat and is used by many of the wandering NPCs for carrying goods. Then there are the fearsome 10 foot tall green skinned, minigun wielding Super Mutants that infest the Capital city. But that’s only to name a few.
Although you can change between 1 and 3 person views, I wouldn’t recommend the latter for combat. The fact that there is no diagonal movement animation ruins that entire perspective, but it can help you see enemies around corners or an objective over the lip of a hill.
There are many mini-quests for you to find throughout the game such as a Brotherhood of Steel outcast who wants all the high tech equipment you can find in exchange for Stimpacks, grenades, Rad-Away or 5.56 rounds.
The Lyons Pride faction of the Brotherhood of Steel is one of the two major factions in Fallout 3, a military-religious organisation with deep ties to the pre-war U.S. military. Lyons Pride has abandoned its efforts of finding technology, to instead exploring the roots of super mutants while helping the people of the capital wasteland. The opposing force is The Enclave, the faction that claims to be the last remnant of the United States Government. Their objective is focused on rebuilding the pre-war world, even if that means killing anyone that stands in their way.
Fallout 3 is an excellent addition to the role-playing genre and is a must buy for any fans of Oblivion. Although the mediocre navigation system is frustrating at times and there is a lack of a satisfying ending, the sheer time it takes to explore the whole map and find all the sub-quests and side missions gives you an extremely fun and lengthy experience that shouldn’t be missed.