Review by iAmTheTot
"Radiation Makes The Water A Little Tangy"
Never before has a game ever made me want to play its prequels. Not until Fallout 3. I will admit that (and I'm sure quite a few Fallout 3 players share this trait with me) I have not played the first two games in this series. I will now. Fallout introduces us to a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., or as it's commonly known after World War III, "The Wastes." You're going to start your Fallout 3 career deep in a nuclear bunker referred to as Vault 101 as a baby. You'll find yourself answering mundane questions such as your gender (they can't tell?), race, facial profile, and hair style/colour. After some interesting fast-forwards, you'll continue on filling out your stat profile, and take a test to determine what your suggested job/class should be. Expecting nothing less than perfection from Bethesda, even I was shocked to encounter a character creation sequence that, although lengthy and tedious for multi-character players, was even more innovative and interactive than their RPG of the Year, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. My hopes were high.
The stunning landscape of post-apocalyptic Washington will have your eyes tearing for hours worth of gameplay. The immaculate detail that we've come to expect from the exalted Bethesda studios does not disappoint. I almost feel bad for the landscape programmers for the hundreds -- Nay, likely thousands of tiny details they put into place that you will more than likely over-look as twigs on the ground. As much as I would love to give this game the 10/10 it should deserve, I unfortunately can not. I am here to provide the truth, and the truth is there were some details that were overlooked. Although it's to be understood that this is a dark era in the world's history (literally -- Very few lights!), the lighting issues can sometimes be a hassle. You'll find yourself turning on your "Pip-Boy Light" in dark places only to find that... it's not enough. And when you're swimming through water, whether in first person or third person, you won't take a liking to it (and not because of the radiation, either). Like Bethesda has unfortunately had problems with in the past, such as both TESIII: Morrowind and TESIV: Oblivion, interaction with water is lame at best. You'll find multiple camera angles that send the water surface on a fritz, and swimming through the water just isn't as resistant as it should be. You practically float through it. But alas, trivial issues. The real problem I had with this game, leading to it's 8/10 graphics rating, is the numerous (five or more that I can remember off-hand) times I saw objects passing through each other or walls. As silly as it seems, it's just a downer. You don't want to be spelunking the desolate D.C. metro system, blood pumping, only to find the head of a man you killed in the next room over sticking into the hallway. And that, my faithful readers, sums up my lengthy graphics explanation.
When you first start up your brand spanking new game, you're going to be greeted with nostalgic music from an era that most of you gamers (Unless you're in your late 70's!) won't remember. What's even better is that your trusty wrist-bound "Pip-Boy" is equipped to play any and all radio stations/frequencies you have discovered, defaulting at game start with the two most popular ones. You can either use your Pip-Boy to listen to any of these multiple radio stations, or you can turn your Pip-Boy radio off and be swept away by the sweet simple tunes of the Wastelands. Of course, if you don't like the ambient music or the stations found on your Pip-Boy, there's always your Xbox hard drive. Apart from the music, the effects are done flawlessly. From the massive boom of a grand assortment of pistols, rifles, and explosives straight to the fantastic voice work from the cast that Bethesda pulled together, you'll find yourself enthralled by the sound work on this fantastic game.
"Up! Down! Left! Go left! No your other left!" Sick of hearing your back-seat gamer yell this in your ear during other games? Worry not. This will never be the case in Fallout 3. The controls are so simplistically complex; you'll wonder how Bethesda continues to do this game after game. The art of fitting all the most important task-fulfilling commands into the small xbox controller is often unappreciated. I hope that while you're playing Fallout 3, you'll take the time to thank the Bethesda team for giving you quick access to different weapons, first and third person perspectives, standing/crouching, zooming and firing (although let's face it, it's obvious which two buttons perform those tasks), your Pip-Boy, and the unique V.A.T.S., which I will get to in just a bit.
Here it comes, the big whopper. Gameplay. I'll tell you right now, I am not going to provide a review of the storyline whatsoever (although I personally give it a 10/10). I'm gonna talk to you about what this game is really amazing for... its open-world gameplay (REAL open-world, not Fable II "open-world").
As soon as you complete the interactive character creation and tutorial segments you will be tossed out to fend for yourself in the massive D.C. Wastes! Intimidating, I know. If you've played any of Bethesda's open-world RPGs (i.e., any of their games ever basically), you'll be familiar to this concept and you'll be well on your way. But a new player will be utterly confused. No map markers? No paths to follow? No quests to complete? Quite to the contrary! This game is completely open-ended, YOU do what YOU want. Are you even going to complete the story? It's 100% up to you. In fact, it's typically difficult to go straight through the story line, thus encouraging exploring and side-questing. Talk to ANYONE in this expansive game world, and there is a 99% chance that if they are not a shop owner (and sometimes even if they are) they can give you a quest to complete or are involved in someone's quest.
So that's it? You do a ton of quests? Sounds boring, right? Nothing new, quests. Wrong. I guarantee this will be the first Role-Playing-First/Third-Person-Shooter-Strategy-Puzzle-Horror game you'll play (I added horror cause I will openly admit there were times I was chattering my teeth). You'll encounter countless (alliteration unintended) ways to level your character up, and countless ways to apply your newly attained skills. Whether you're bickering with yourself about which skills or perks to get, I can promise you'll spend a solid three minutes per level up screen debating this vital issue: Which do you want more?!
A lot of people are hesitant about playing an RPG based around shooting instead of slaughtering with an axe (of course, some others are psyched about it!). But fear not, avid gamers, for Bethesda has us covered with their V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) feature. Now, some people will disagree with me, but I honestly feel feature is NOT essential to play the game. Some people complain that without using this feature you will experience decreased accuracy (which is only true if your skills are low), and decreased damage (which is not true at all). However, I personally played quite a hefty portion of this game, especially in close quarters, without any use of the V.A.T.S. feature at all. But that does not make it any less useful! This helpful little dohickey will turn this first/third person shooter-RPG into a turn-based strategy game (almost)! Through use of your characters "AP," you can program the V.A.T.S. to attack separate targets, and furthermore even body parts of that target. Now, it's important to understand that you can not entirely play this game through use of V.A.T.S., as the AP requirements during large firefights are tremendous, and you will either have to wait until it recovers or continue blazing. Through use of the zoom feature, I honestly find it easier to keep fighting. The V.A.T.S. is enourmously helpful while fighting from long-range.
Bethesda has always been very good at bringing us the ability to completely play our character as a role -- Be good, or evil. Be brave, or cowardly. Be strong, or sly. Be direct, or sneaky. Be a saint or a bastard, it's literally all up to you!
Beyond a doubt, buy. I bought myself the limited edition and I love my tin lunchbox case. This game is just one more game to add to Bethesda's impressive resume of games I can't help but love! I am giving it my personal vote of 10/10, BUT since Gamefaq's definition of 10/10 is "Flawless -- couldn't be better," I have to unfortunately give it a 9, due to graphical issues that do reduce gaming quality. Let's just say it's a 9.9/10, either way, it's fantastic.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/05/08
Game Release: Fallout 3 (Collector's Edition) (US, 10/28/08)
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