Review by thetooks
"A devout fan with a cynical view"
Let me begin this by pre-admitting that I am a large Bethesda fan boy, so much so I'd happily let their development team systematically make love to my face for more frequent releases. With this in mind, I aim to keep an unbiased, read: Cynical, mind while approaching this review. For those of you who don't know what Fallout 3 is, and I might ask what cave you've been living in all this time, it is a post-apocalyptic action RPG, after being squeezed lovingly from your mother, she promptly dies, the game then begins to fast-forward through time till you become a much more acceptable, violent, age for when actual decent game play can take place. You begin life in a Vault, an underground 'safe-house' built pre-apocalypse to safeguard people for coming wars, life ending nuclear explosions and outbreaks of swine flu. This particular vault is almost cult like, everyone believing they have been born in the vault, and die in the vault. That no one ever enters, and that no one ever leaves. A point your father chooses to prove wrong shortly after you become old enough to look after yourself. Without delving too much into the plot, Feces, Fans and Impacts are involved.
The gameplay is pretty much the standard of any action RPG, it plays alot like Oblivion. Not that this is a bad thing, Oblivion controlled very well with what it had, only it lacked Assault rifles. Thankfully, Fallout 3 doesn't. It does involve a very strange V.A.T.S (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) system which seems to take away the very 'First Person Shooter' aspect of the game by making the computer do this for you, in slow motion with cinematic camera. One might think that seeing yet another super mutants brains splatter the room in slow motion for the 250th time might get a little bit repetitive but if you're anything like me you'll enjoy the pathetic flailing of the lifeless bodies of your slow-moving kills right up to the point you finally put down the controller and let your body sleep. So much so I'm sometimes disappointed real life doesn't have a similar option so I can go around kicking small children and enjoying the enslaught in glorious slow motion.
This system isn't a be-all-end-all of the game, though, thankfully the game developers realised having unlimited use of an insta-head shotting system would break the game slightly. Characters are limited by their amount of Action Points, each shot with a certain gun or swing of a certain weapon requires a set amount of action points and when these run out you have to wait for them to recharge in real time, usually by this point everything is dead so its not that bad of a deal. The amount of Action Points you have is determined by your Agility stat and your accuracy on your current body part target is determined by your ability with the weapon you're using, distance from the target, visibility of the target and 'how kind the game is feeling today'. If you can't stand using this system then I really wouldn't suggest even playing the game as trying to effectively take down large groups of enemies without using it makes the game considerably more difficult, though this may not necessarily be a bad thing.
My main problem with this game is ammunition. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic society where everyone is fighting over the last remaining remnants of a previous society, and yet by the end of the game it is still possibly to amass enough ammunition to make the Rambo series jealous. Post-game I picked up a Minigun for the first time and realised I'd amassed 1,400 bullets for it. 1,400 weightless bullets. I was too afraid to look at how much energy weapon ammo I'd found during my travels, probably enough to blow up a small country. This being said the only way to possibly use all this ammo is to bump the difficulty up to max, which just makes things silly. Yes all the enemies get a big boost to their Health and Damage, but also their Experience output is upped, the game rewards you for not wanting to be a pansy. I feel slightly dirty and ashamed knowing we live in a society where people need some sort of encouragement to play on a higher difficulty, other then the fact the game Might be a little bit more of a challenge, god forbid you actually use your ammo and healing items.
Like all current-gen gaming titles Fallout 3 doesn't fail to deliver in graphical lovelies, Taking that first step into the wasteland was a bit of a 'oooh' moment, much like leaving the sewer for the first time in Oblivion and being met by a large green land of joy, only now this land of joy has been nuked a few thousand times, covered in rocks and half blown up cars and the deers replaced by mutant werewolves that want to eat your face and make love to your corpse. The problem with Fallout 3 is much like the problem with Oblivion, once you've seen the world or a cave or a train station for the first time you've seen everything, there isn't much diversity or distinguishing features between the areas of landscape to make them really stand out as unique or interesting. Obviously there are a few key areas, like towns or monuments in the city ruins that hold some visual interest but these are too far and few between to really grasp. Not to mention the obvious palette issues. If you're outside everything is brown, if you're inside, everything is grey, players might want to keep a sheet of various shades of bright red, green and blue to glance occasionally so they don't forget they actually exist.
Times of the game when it is actually dark, are actually very dark. This may not bug some gamers, but for people like me who like being able to see whats going happening on their tv screens without playing it in a pitch black room with the gamma turned to max may also end up hating the built in 'Torch' your wrist mounted computer adds you with. It's so useless the game doesn't even tell you its an option, I had to actually look it up in the manual before knowing it was there. Holding down the menu button will turn on a small light from your wrist computer, when I say small I mean small, you may as well be wielding a mobile phone with its screen brightness set to low. I sometimes forget I even have it turned on, and end up turning the thing off when I feel I need it because I haven't even noticed its effects. This makes drudging through the games cluttered dark environments awkward, there are a lot of these environments.
Yet another visual aspect of this game to let me down mentally is the sheer untidiness of everything. While I appreciate that we are living in a world where society has crumbled and that the mankind are pretty much a cesspool of backstabbing money grubbers who would sooner shoot you then split a bottle of water with you if you were dehydrated, but does this really mean everyone has to live in such untidy homes? Yes I may spend my days out wandering the wastelands throwing frag grenades at giant mutated scorpions, and after a long hard day of mutant hunting I'd like to come home to somewhere that doesn't look like it would smell worse then the crotch of something I'd killed the previous morning. Everywhere is littered with... well, litter, every house, building, nook and cranny is filled with filth. Apparently neat freaks have a severe disadvantage to radiation as none of them seemed to survive the apocalypse. Everyone seems quite content to leave their filing cabinets strewn over the floor, garbage piled in the middle of their living room floors and animal feces rubbed all over their walls. If this is our future I hope the apocalypse kills me, I imagine the future smells.
I always find sound a really hard thing to critic in a video game. The guns all sound like guns, heads squelch with a satisfying...well, squelch and explosions, when hooked up to a decent surround sound system, do deliver a satisfying rumble along with them. The music however I found a bit not there, I never really noticed any form of background music at all unless I switched on a radio, which I all found rather annoying. There is a noticeable change in music when you're under attack by an enemy. Noticeable if you're really trying to pay attention, kind of like noticing someone who previously had 73 grey hairs now has 74, unless you're paying too much attention it slips by. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, as the only time I recall hearing the music of the game, after hearing it for 3 minutes I wanted to slit my own wrists and pour the blood into my ears to try and make it stop. For anyone who thinks this is a little extreme, recall the music played in the "VR" section of the main quest. Now hum that tune for 20 minutes. I'll go get you a razor blade.
Another aspect of sound I never really understood about Bethesda is their ability to obtain rather famous voice actors, this time in the shape of Liam Neeson, and then killing them off quite early in the game. Granted in Fallout 3 Liam gets a few more dialog lines and a bit more screen time then Oblivion game Patrick Stewart, but it does often leave me wondering if Bethesda have some sort of odd fetish about killing famous voices, perhaps it gives them an odd sense of power. Possibly the best thing about the voices in this game is that there is, unlike Oblivion, some variety in voice actors, and their voice actors can at least act, a little bit. Anyone who's played Oblivion will remember the same 6 voice actors who did the same voices, for everyone. Six people playing a cast of about four hundred, it got a bit tedious in the end. Fallout 3 does at least have enough variety in cast that you can run around a town in the game without encountering the same two voice actors, while this shouldn't be a plus point, for Bethesda it is, knowing their past difficulties with cut backs like this.
This is an awkward subject for me. While I love Bethesda products so much so I'd be willing to dip bodily parts into ice water while praying for future download content or releases, I really don't know if I'd consider replaying this. Now this isn't completely true, as I have beaten the game twice, once on PC, and then once again on the 360, but in all honesty once I've ground myself to level 30 and beaten all the quests I'm really not sure there is going to be anything to keep me coming back for another trip. Sure there's a whole 6 Achievements from getting to 30 as the other two karma standings, and how we all know how important it is to get as much gamer score as possible, everyone needs a bigger internet ego, I seriously doubt this is enough to bring me back for another 10 hours of head exploding fun. Maybe I'll come back for some stupid fun, like bumping the difficulty up to full and running around naked with a 10mm and specialising in all of the social skills and see how far I can progress without getting my face chewed off... Or maybe I'll just set my balls on fire and throw myself into on coming traffic, however the mood takes me.
Needless to say I enjoyed Fallout 3, once. Much like Oblivion I feel like this is a game you can really get lost into, and then once your done, it will sit quietly on a shelf gathering dust for quite some time, only to be picked up once again in about 10 years when you've forgotten half of the quest details enough to possible find something fun there once again.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/04/09
Game Release: Fallout 3 (EU, 10/31/08)
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