Falling out for a third time

So, Fallout 3.

It is an absolutely incredible game, but not for the reasons that seem obvious from most media coverage. The combat is decent, but not mind-blowing. If it succeeds in any way, it succeeds in not becoming boring, which is quite an accomplishment considering how long I've played this game. The main story line is pretty bad, all things considered. It's decent for the most part, but falls apart completely towards the end. It just doesn't really fit with the rest of the game, it seems too... forced. If you're looking for a compelling, central story to play a game around, this is not the game for you. It has excellent sidequests, but they are surprisingly few in number, at least compared to the expansive world.

No, what Fallout 3 is really about... is the capital wasteland itself. The ruined landscape of Washington D.C and the surrounding countryside and the exploration of it is what the game is all about. Wandering the wasteland just to see what is out there, just poking around in ruins looking for anything useful. Fighting raiders or giant ants or stray robots and stripping their corpses for whatever is worth carrying. Coming over the crest of a hill and seeing the expanse of ruined freeways and drained rivers. Coming across a random fellow wanderer who agrees to repair your equipment for a few caps.

If you can't be motivated to go out and explore the world of Fallout 3, then you probably shouldn't be playing it in the first place. It is a game about exploration, and really nothing else. The vast majority of the content in the game is not connected to any quest or quest-giving NPC, it's just there for you to find and explore if you want, and it's all lovingly crafted. Every raider encampment has beds and ammo boxes and a kitchen and an eating area strewn with dishes and empty bottles. Every long-abandoned house is left fully intact (improbably) with the last actions of it's inhabitants obvious. A couple of skeletons sit in a bed with a large number of empty syringes and med-x (morphine) on the bed stand. A child't room is full of intact books and toys and... a pair of crutches and a medical brace. A skeleton is found in a bathtub with a toaster. Ancient security robots released in metro tunnels will demand tickets, and will even take them if you can scrounge some somewhere, in exchange for safety.

Or course, this is not to say that there is no merit at all to the game's more... visceral pleasures. It is incredibly satisfying to shoot one of the many nuclear-powered cars littering the streets and watch it go up in a miniature mushroom cloud, taking many of your enemies with it. Or to shoot a super mutant in the head from what seems like a half-mile away with a hunting rifle. And there's something satisfyingly ridiculous about beating a robot to death with a baseball or a sledgehammer. But there are better shooting games out there, and if that's really what you want, go and buy Far Cry 2 or Gears of War 2. If you want a quest-driven heavily-populated RPG, go buy Fable 2. If you want to explore an incredible world, buy Fallout 3.

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I suppose I shall have a blog!

And this place seems as good as any.

I will probably just write about games I'm playing, this being a site ostensibly about games in all their various forms.

I finally got past the second stratum in Etrian Odyssey 2 yesterday. I ended up over-levelling quite a bit, being at 33 when I beat Hellion. Rather, I kicked Hellion's ass, because I was able to get to it and use all of my party's force skills (except the medic), and with the Dark Hunter's binds it couldn't attack me at all! I managed to walk from the 6th floor all the way to the 11th without using a single TP from my medic, Patch Up us a lifesaver when you're grinding. Now it's on to mapping a new stratum, the coolest looking one yet (har har). Enemies seem oddly easy, but again that's probably due to my overlevelling, I'm sure things will get difficult again in no time, this game doesn't have the odd backwards difficulty curve of the first one.

Also started playing Metal Gear Solid 4 again, at the behest of my cousin who wanted to see it. I forget just how much fun the first two acts are, before the game-play goes to hell for the sake of the story. Sneaking around is better than ever, and the weapons you can get are so satisfying to use, especially the anti-materiel rifle and the shotgun. If the whole game were like the Middle East and South America, it would be a masterpiece greater than MGS3, but alas that amazing gameplay is abandoned for more gimmicky robotic enemies and rail-gunning sections after that final tracking segment. I hope the next game, which will supposedly hardly involve Kojima at all, goes back to a more traditional gameplay-based model.

Now, don't get me wrong, the plot is great, and I enjoyed the last 3 acts immensely my first time through, but they are simply no fun to replay. You don't have as many options! It's just a straight shot until the end of the game without and down-time or interesting challenges. *sigh* Ah well, next time....

Starting Dwarf Fortress... right now, actually. Generating a world in the most literal sense of any game I've ever played. It's been a while, but now that I'm back in school I need a good game for my laptop, and you can only replay Fallout 1 and 2 so many times. I think I'll try a desert fort, or maybe a coastal one, this time. Desert if I can find a nice location with a magma vent, and a coastal one with tons of trees if I can't.

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