Review by gamer4life018
"An Engaging Experience worth trying out"
Story - 6/10
The game starts off with your mother giving birth to your character. A menu screen appears prompting the player to choose their gender, skin color, facial features, and other looks for future use. From becoming a baby to a man, you begin to realize the surrounding of Vault 101, the player's home in a post-Apocalyptic Washington D.C. Taking place after a disastrously brutal war, the year is 2277. One day you realize that your father has escaped the vault, for unknown reasons. You decide to go after him, scouring for clues and searching for answers to find his whereabouts. This will eventually lead you out of Vault 101 and into a new world full of despair. The main plot line is about average, which for an RPG is atypical. This is probably the weakest part of Fallout 3.
Sound - 8/10
The team at Bethesda did a nice job incorporating a good mix of sound effects for the weapons, enemies, music, and characters. All of the weapons have a distinct sound as you hold down the trigger, each one satisfying in their own right. This is especially true for more powerful items such as the Fat Man, the Combat Shotgun, and other various weaponry.
Enemies, for which there is a great variety, have their own ways to alert and sometimes startle the player. They have a tendency to sneak up behind the player when out in the wilderness, which is not a welcoming site. From the roar of a Yao Guai to the not-so-subtle growls of Deathclaws, the player will come accustomed to what is breathing down their necks and what awaits them ahead.
Similar to Resident Evil 4, somewhat dramatic music begins to cue in the background when there are enemies nearby. It will play until all of the enemies have either been destroyed or that they pose no more of a threat at your current position. It can be helpful sometimes, especially when trekking through the map at dark. You'll get a sense of reassurance that the threat has been eliminated once the music turns more calm. Unless that is you are listening to one of the handful of radio stations available in Fallout 3. There are some classic tunes that the player can listen to, featuring songs from The Ink Spots, Bob Crosby, Roy Brown, Cole Porter, and more. They are quite catchy and can withstand multiple listening sessions. There are other stations which serve to either fulfill entertainment needs or to advance a sidequest.
Finally, there are the voice actors/actresses, for which one stands out. Liam Neeson, who plays your father, does a great job giving the character a personality. The other main characters have good voices to fill out the roles as well. The one problem lies in the fact that although there are hundreds of different characters, many are voiced similarly. So by the end of the game, you will get quite acquainted with the same voices of many different minor characters. But this is understandable, because the game world is so large and that there are a bevy of individuals to meet. It may have not been fiscally possible to hire so many unique voice talents.
Gameplay - 9/10
The most important element in any game, and coincidentally it is Fallout 3's best asset. Not only is there the main storyline to progress, but also some enjoyable sidequests to complete as well. Admittedly, the game does start off slow with its first couple of quests. But as new areas become more accessible to the user, the game increases its fun factor ten-fold.
Fallout 3 introduces a karma system, for which the player will be judged on their actions throughout the game. There are three "paths" to take: Evil, Neutral, and Good karma. Each option you choose will have benefits and consequences as the story progresses. The player will find that some unique options become available by only being a Good character, or vice versa. Each mission has multiple ways of being completed, leaving the chances of multiple playthroughs with different characters very possible.
A great aspect in Fallout 3 is the ability to play from a third person or first person perspective, switching at any time you please. This seamless transition welcomes fans who may enjoy action titles or First Person Shooters, while accompanying RPG elements as well. Although each perspective has its flaws when compared to what other titles bring to the table, they are done quite well. Another option is to enter V.A.T.S. By simply pressing a button on your controller, you enter V.A.T.S. mode, which tells the player their percentage chance of hitting a specific body part. You can aim for the legs, for the benefit of slowing down your opponent, their firearm, which they will lose at least momentarily, or the head, to quickly neutralize them. Entering this mode does require strategy(especially at higher difficulty levels), as enemies with enormous HP levels will not go down easy with just a few shots to the cranium. This is yet another dimension of gameplay that is fun to attempt to master. Entering V.A.T.S. does make it so that you are nearly immune for a small duration of time, making it easier to play the game.
The RPG elements of the game intertwine with S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and the points you gain from leveling up. Your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) is determined at the beginning of the game, where you will assign a limited amount of points to areas of interest. So if you want to create a character with the ability to carry a ton of heavy weaponry, upping your Strength is the way to go. You can specialize in certain areas or create a well-balanced character across the board. This can create a nearly limitless amount of possibilities in creating a unique character to play as.
Within S.P.E.C.I.A.L. are stats you can boost for your character to make them more unstoppable as quests and enemies become more difficult. These further gives your character unique aspects and abilities that may only be possible by inputting more points to a certain stat higher than others.
A large chunk of the game revolves around perks, which are "powers" your character acquires as they level up. As you level up, you will find some perks to be more beneficial than others concerning how you want your character to play. With dozens of perks, the game can remain fresh through multiple playthroughs by trying out most, if not all of the perks.
There is one glaring problem, which is the incorporation of a level cap, with it being at Level 20. With the release of the Broken Steel DLC, this increased the cap to 30. The level 20 milestone can be accomplished rather quickly, making your character nearly unstoppable. This can make the game rather easy, especially if done during the first half of the campaign. There are solutions to this and that is to up the difficulty level. There are five to choose from: Very Easy, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard.
Controls - 8/10
The controls in Fallout 3 are well done, making weapon switching and character movement easy to master. Weapons can be switched via the Pip-Boy 3000, a handheld device that holds great importance for the player. Not only can you switch weapons with the Pip-Boy, but you can view your quest status, the miscellaneous items that you are carrying on your back, the radio stations, and much more. It is a very useful tool. Another way to switch weapons is to set your most desirable ones to hot keys on the D-Pad. This will avoid having to temporarily pause the game to reach out for another weapon and instead your character will retrieve it in real time. You have the ability to hot key up to eight different weapons, and this is where a minor flaw resides. For example, say you have a hunting rifle keyed to the upper left position of the D-Pad. In some instances, when pressing the upper left portion, you will get either the weapon situated up on the D-Pad or the weapon assigned to left. This can happen at the most inopportune moments. The controls for the PC version are more than likely superior when concerning weapon switching.
Character movement is done pretty well also. The character runs faster when lighter weapons are equipped or when all weapons are holstered. Also, you character will react differently depending on how points have been distributed through level ups.
Graphics - 7/10
The game world in which Fallout 3 is set is so huge and expansive, it seems almost never-ending. The amount of content and detail in each portion of the game map is remarkably well done. Unfortunately, the graphics do not do this game complete justice. Don't get me wrong, they do look pretty good. Objects in the game world are well-detailed as well as some of the scenery spread throughout the map. The character models are done quite well also, although some can be rehashed and seem all too similar. But overall, the backgrounds and buildings, and vast open areas have all too familiar dull brown and gray color palettes. They are sometimes unpleasing to look at and become quite boring to the eye. It is set in post-apocalyptic D.C., so it is understandable as to why the exteriors look somewhat the way they do. But even the interiors are done rather blandly, sometimes with low resolution textures cascading unimportant areas. Many indoor settings look all too familiar and feel recycled, although they are unquestionably different by the way they are shaped. You will sense deja vu when entering different tunnels. However, although they aesthetically look the same, they are indeed different, and it only makes it more engrossing to find out just how deep you can go into the depths of underground D.C.
Replayability - 9/10
As stated before, there are multiple ways to play the game. Being a Good, Evil, or Neutral character, creating differently customized unique characters, playing with or without V.A.T.S., different difficulty modes, multiple branches in the storyline and sidequests, visiting areas of the map you hadn't visited before, and the list goes on. One playthrough of this game is not enough to enjoy its full potential. To further continue its longevity, DLC packs have been released, nearly on a monthly basis, on Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. These feature new missions, new enemies, new weapons, and new perks.
Overall - 8/10 (not based on average)
This game is constructed in a manner that caters to different genres in the video game industry. Although it doesn't perfect any of them, it does do a fine job incorporating the important aspects and to great effect. There are some flaws in this game, some graphical and some nagging bugs in Bethesda's coding of the game, but it is still a very enjoyable experience from start to end. If the game had gone through a bit more testing and a bit more polish, it would be considered an even greater gem of a game. As it stands, it is still an experience that many should at least try and give a chance. You will more than likely come out surprised at how well a game of this magnitude was done.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/03/09
Game Release: Fallout 3 (US, 10/28/08)
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