If you ever wondered how a post apocalyptic Washington D.C. would
The Fallout series has originated on the PC, but now, it has come to the consoles. While hardcore fans wanted the same crazy Fallout game world, this game is more console orientated, it's more casual. That's not necessarily a bad thing you may say, and it isn't always but there are times when you wish you had the same crazy world from the original PC games. That's of course if you even played it. And if you haven't you won't care much. But for those who did play Fallout 1 and 2 on the PC, this game doesn't resemble the original formula at all.
The first games were just crazy, crazy stories, crazy quest, an overall crazy experience. In Fallout 3 there isn't that much craziness. The game isn't shallow ,but sometimes you just wish it had more to it. The developer, Bethesda, also made a RPG in 2006,Oblivion.Most of you may be familiar with this game, and so, will also be familiar with Fallout 3,as it's basically the same game, with some small differences, which aren't necessarily improvements.
The game is set in post apocalyptic wasteland, surrounding Washington D.C, in a wasteland full of bio-hazardous radiations and heavily mutated humans and animals. It all begins with you being born in a vault, Vault 101,where people live and die so they won't be infected by the radiations from outside the vault. As soon as you come out of your mother's belly, you're asked to choose a gender and customize your appearance. It's the same thing as in Oblivion, you have almost the same haircuts and facial customizations, with some small Fallout specific aspects, like crazy hairstyles or weird looking beards. After the whole customization, and one year later, you see yourself as a baby discovering the basic controls in the game. As your mother died at birth, you are being raised by your father, voiced by the Academy Award Nominee for Schindler's List, Liam Neeson, which you may also know as Qui Gon Jinn from Star Wars Episode I. Anyway, you go through your childhood pretty briefly, setting your stats and skills which will determine your type of character. While in Oblivion you could create your own class, or choose one from a variety of classes available ,in Fallout 3 they are completely nonexistent. You will just choose some major skills which will then lead to your minor skills, if I may call them the same way as in Oblivion, which will influence the way you play.
The story goes on with your father running away from the vault, and you trying to find him by leaving the vault. So far the game isn't that impressing, until you leave the vault. After first seeing the wasteland, you will just be amazed, by the grandness of everything and the scale at which is all realized. Also, another huge factor is the view distance, which is phenomenal. You can see miles and miles of virtual wasteland. The game-world is huge and you'll discover very soon, when following your father's footsteps along the huge map. The story continues with your quest of looking for your father by going from one city to another, in a liniar way, and finding more and more clues, which will finally bring you in the end, at, well, the end of the game.
The side quests are enough to make the casual player happy, but for those who played Oblivion before they won't be enough to satisfy. They are a little more diverse than in Oblivion but the fact that there are just not enough of them makes you feel that too much attention has been put into the main quest while the side quests were just put there to be there. The whole reason they feel more diverse than in Oblivion is because with so few of them, it's easier to think they are more diverse, while in Oblivion, the sheer number of them is impressive, and the only reason to believe they are similar is because of the huge number of them.
The best part of the game is the atmosphere. Beginning with the huge wasteland and the cities destroyed by nukes and radiations to the population living in the major cities around the wasteland. The wasteland is huge and beautiful. You may find a higher cliff from which you can see very far away and just me stunned by the whole scale of the game. The presentation is pretty well done, until you come close to things. The game uses the same engine as Oblivion. Oblivion was one of the best looking games of it's time, but by today's standards it's pretty old. From far away Fallout 3 looks great, but when you come close to cliffs, trees, buildings bridges, everything looks washed out. For a 2008 game, Fallout 3 looks pretty bad. Basically the whole terrain is low resolution. There are a few high resolution spots, insides of some buildings and the roads sometimes look really good, but mostly, if you played other games from 2008 you'll realize that the graphics in this game are outdated. Also, it looks just like Oblivion. Not the art design ,but it feels like Oblivion, the way buildings look like, the way people look like and even the water effects, even if the water in this game is a lot muddier. The whole Oblivion feel is just to much for someone who has played Oblivion before. It just seems old.
The gameplay is good throughout, but you will have some moments of frustrations from time to time. You can play either from a first person perspective, or from a third person one. Just as Oblivion ,Fallout 3 is meant to be played from the first person perspective, because the 3rd person view looks creepy, and the character just slides over the terrain, as if he were on ice. First person is the way to go. Combat is essentially pretty easy. You will encounter plenty of enemies, starting from humans, to zombies, mutated humans, mutated bugs, rats, dogs and all sorts of mutated beeings from the radiations of the wasteland. The combat is pretty simple. You have two options of playing the game. The first one, is the one from Oblivion, only this time you have guns. You have a button to attack or fire your weapon, and another one for blocking, if you're not using a range weapon. The other option of combat is VATS.VATS is probably the best thing in Fallout 3.It is a combat mode, in which you are le to pause the game, select an enemy, select a body part and spend some action points to attack the desired body part. These action points are gained by engaging into combat without the VATS system. After choosing the body part of your enemy, you'll witness a gory and brutal attack. If you for example use a shotgun, and choose the head as the enemy's body part, you will see how likely it is for your character to hit the chosen body part. When using VATS the camera changes into a cinematic one and let's you see the carnage, that if you even hit your enemy, cause it does happen not to hit him, at least at the beginning of the game, when your stats are lower. The combat in Fallout 3 is very satisfying, but it's also very rewarding. The multitude of weapons and objects to collect are just as many as in Oblivion but they look better, and the weapons are also a lot better realized. You will encounter tons of enemies across your journey through the wasteland, and with great guns, the kill of every enemy will be satisfying.
The game progresses in a real simple way. When you kill an enemy you gain experience. When you finish a mission, you gain experience. It's not like in Oblivion, where heavy use of a skill will result in gaining more experience for that skill. The progression here is a lot more simpler, and to be honest, just seems a little rushed. You can however continue through the main quest despite you having a low level. This is a more casual approach from Bethesda, also used in Oblivion. In older and more serious RPGs you had to do many side quests to gain experience and then be able to advance through the main quest, as you needed higher skills level to be able to further the game. This approach is very casual, and works well for the casual RPG fans, but for the hard core and classic ones, it will just be annoying and without depth. The best RPG element of the game is however, the choice making. You will be able to choose from a pretty large variety of choices which will affect the way you progress though the game. This is one aspect of the game that is perfect. Even if it's obvious sometimes which choice is good and which is bad, the choice is all yours and that is very well implemented. As you make your way through the game, you'll gather either good or bad karma depending on your actions.
The sound design is adequate throughout, with small good performances like Neeson's , as the father or the DJ, Three Dog. In comparison to other games, like Mass Effect and of course Oblivion, the voices are pretty weak. There aren't many notable performances, and even if there is a ton of voice in this game, the performance doesn't rise to the level of other similar titles. The character animation is one of the most disappointing aspects of the game. While the characters in Oblivion seemed very real and full of expressions, in Fallout 3, beside the fact they are all ugly, they also look the same and the animations and facial expressions are almost not there. You will meet many notable characters through the game, but unfortunately none to be remembered, even if their importance is high, the bad voice acting will make them look inappropiate with the scenery. A good thing though, is the in game music. You have a couple of radio stations you'll be able to listen while playing. They all contain old music, from the 30s and 40s introduced by the local DJ's. The DJ's, most notably Three Dog, will comment on your progress through the game, many times saying what you've done or where you're headed, calling you most of the times "the kid from vault 101" . The music is great and fits the game perfectly and brings a lot of depth to the entire experience.
There is a lot to do in Fallout 3. Exploring is one of the few but probably the most satisfying one. Just wondering through the huge wasteland, killing mutants near the Washington Monument is just plain fun. The side quests are enough to satisfy the casual player. The minor faults can be overseen if you fall in love with this game, it doesn't really matter in a game how good it is, most important than everything is the fun you have with it. So even with it's many faults, Fallout 3 can be a lot of fun.
Fallout 3 is a hard game to recommend. But it all comes to two things. If you've played Oblivion or not. If you have played Oblivion before, you probably won't like this game, as it lacks the depth and the beautiful story and is also the same game as far as gameplay goes for. You'll just want something else from this game, a new experience, something to suck you in like Oblivion did two years ago. If you however haven't played Oblivion before, you won't know this is just a copy of that game, and you won't care. You'll enjoy Fallout 3 a lot and well, I would recommend it to someone who hasn't played Oblivion. But with Oblivion in your collection, you'll most likely not like this game.
My Score 8.0