Review by Chaingunmaster
"This Vault hides a great treasure"
Oblivion was a difficult game for me to rate. On the on hand, it was a vast, sprawling world with beautiful hills and meadows that looked just as good up close, and it had the rare surprise that just about anything you saw, from an imposing tower in the distance to the top of an impressive mountain peak, could be reached. It says a lot about the game that the views from such high vantage points were even more impressive.
On the other hand, it had some crippling design choices; leveled enemies felt bizarre, ecspecially when the rats you had killed at the start of the game put up just as much of a fight 30 levels later. Leveled treasure however is where I truly drew the line. No matter what the developers were thinking, there was no justification whatsoever in receiving the same 13 gold and a hunk of cheese from the depths of an ancient catacomb that I could loot off a lowly bandit. It didn't help that there was a dire number of voice actors, working with some terrible dialogue to draw me out of the experience.
So, does Fallout 3 fall into the same traps? Some yes, but mostly no. Whilst Bethesda has definitely left their trademark calling cards here; a vast world, although strangely not as vast as Oblivion, with memorable quests and many, many hours of gameplay. It should be noted that there are several improvements you may notice from the off. Firstly, the dialogue and voice acting have ascended from merely tolerable to actually quite good, even compelling at points.
The music is again decent, though there is plenty of silence which would feel out of place in most games, but fits the atmosphere perfectly for a devastated nuclear wasteland.
Much like the dog in Fable 2, there are countless distractions from the first moments you emerge from the vault, your eyes adjusting to the natural sunlight you've never experienced before as a vault dweller. Simply listening to the ironically cheerful radio stations as you plunder the darkness of a dank subway can give you a feeling f the contradictions of the world. The simple naivete' with which the inhabitants of the world once regarded the future and the harsh reality that awaits the player has always been one of the key themes of the franchise, and while it may have been better realized in the series's previous installments, Bethesda should be praised for attempting to be as true to the game's atmosphere as possible, if not it's gameplay style.
Visually the world of Fallout 3 is striking and gorgeous, though for different reasons to Oblivion. Oblivion was a world of meadows, hills and endless green as far as the eye could see. The "destroyed beauty" elements from Gears of War stand out here; rusted signs, chairs caked in dust, broken windows... the game creates an air of sorrow and menace that pervades every area. The only complaint I have with the art style is that many of the game's areas have the same "post modern ruins" look. Keep in mind that this is a criticism that could be levied against Oblivion, and many gamers were happy to overlook it then.
The quests are perhaps the most discordant note in the game's bittersweet symphony. None of them ever come that close to Oblivion's best quests, such as working for the Dark Brotherhood.I do however appreciate that the lines between good and evil are blurred somewhat. After all, what's the point of being good when the world the game portrays is such an evil place?
Overall, Fallout 3 is a contradiction; a step forward but whilst looking back, uplifting yet depressing, darkness and light in a way that will unsettle you in many ways.
8/10 definitely worth a rental, not quite a must buy.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/13/08
Game Release: Fallout 3 (EU, 10/31/08)
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