Review by Gojomez
Fallout 3, prepare for the future of RPG's
Since Bethesda bought the license to make Fallout 3 and announced they were using the basics from the Oblivion engine, hardcore fanatics boycotted and renounced Fallout 3. But so far anyone with a stable computer seems to love it.
"Oblivion with Guns" is the common nickname, although the description applies somewhat, there is a lot to Fallout, that oblivion is not. F03 uses the original SPECIAL (Strength, Perceptions, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck) stats system from the Interplay classic, with a slightly condensed version of the skills tree. Medicine has replaced first aid and doctor, and you'll notice a few other minor changes to the leveling system.
The original fallout had a level cap of 21, and fallout 2 had no level cap. Fallout 3 sports a level 20 cap, and changes the way the perk system works. You now get a perk for every level, instead of every 3. There are many new perks, though most of the old favorites are back, most are changed to apply to the new combat system, a combination of realtime shooting, and the VATS (Vault-Tec assisted targeting system) in which you stop time and queue up attacks on different body parts of different enemies, but more on that later.
Perks like Action boy, which gave you bonus AP to use for any combat oriented action (movement, reloading, attacking or accessing inventory) is now only used to queue up more attacks in VATS. Unlike fallout Tactics, all actions taken in real time no longer use AP.
The traits have been slightly altered too, the old favorite 'Bloody mess" is no longer a trait, because it had no negative or positive effect on the game or your character. Bloody mess is now a level 6 perk, that grants a damage bonus to attacks and rips ragdolls apart when you kill something in VATS.
The combat system is perfect for FPS version of fallout. As said before a combination of real time and VATS combat, fighting is constently exiting, and consistantly leaves you with a sense of violent accomplishment. They really couldn't have done better in this matter. Old school fanatics preferred the old turned based combat, but in a game where there is no floor grid, and its FP driven, that system wouldn't work.
Developers also have to cater to casual console gamers, with their ADD driven fury and lack of ability to play long drawn out games. Expect people to brag about beating the game without using the VATS system over on the 360 fallout board, and expect the VATS only people to talk about it on the PC board. The realtime combat isn't a bad thing in the least, it forces you to think quickly, adjust tactics on the fly based on your targets. Throw mines down to cover your 6, switch to shotgun when in tight corners, get behind cover and snipe from a far. All the things you could do in the old game are still possible, but now your own skill as a gamer comes into play when surviving. Its not a game of just rolling dice anymore.
People who want to rush through the game, running and gunning are free to do so, but I hope you buy a lot of ammo, cause without VATS you're going to be running out of it frequently. When you use VATS, you're only betting against you're weapon skill and the range of the target you're attacking, if you choose to shoot in realtime, you have to worry about you're OWN aim (and this isn't Halo, you do not get any autoaim assist) and you STILL have to worry about you're weapon skill throwing off the shot.
No "accuracy cross-hairs" showing how far off the bullets can be like in Call of duty. Also, who wouldn't want to see bullets rip through limbs and heads in slow motion. Watch the raider you just plugged fly backwards over a fence as the one next to him takes buckshot tot he face.
Though sometimes the slow-mo really drags things out and it would be easier if you could opt to speed things up in the longer battles, it almost ALWAYS looks cool, and its almost always more of a tactical decision to use the VATS. With that said, there will be plenty of combat in Fallout 3.
Ok, enough about combat, lets talk about story. In general, the original two games didn't have a lot of "story". Just the basic facts. Vault needs water, village needs GECK. Go get it. And then the situations within each town or village that require your attention filled in gaps. But there really wasn't any plot twists or situations that make you angry, Though you you did like some characters more than others, all of the hated characters were technically bad guys.
In Fallout 3 all bets are off. Depending on who you are and what you do, you will get quests from some characters to kill other characters, and though there are no true factions or guilds for you to join, you will definitely be picking sides left and right. You're moral decisions doesn't just show up on the Karma meter, but who's left standing at the end of the game, even before the ending tells you what happens to each town after you interacted with it.
The main story it self is about you, and how you leave the vault to find your father, and the path you take following after him through the wasteland and downtown DC. You'll meet cool people, and people you'll want to hate, hurt, kill or even just abuse. And depending on the character you make, you will be able to do some of those things, but probably not all of them. hacking, stealing, smashing and threatening, all of those things are possible. In every conversation you're given the opportunity to lie about things, and depending how good you are at it, you can make your life very easy. Although sometimes breaking things over peoples heads is still the way to go about it.
Graphically the game is amazing. Slightly modded version of the well known Oblivion engine. With less grass and foliage to destroy you're graphics card, the game seems to run easier than Oblivion. But More structures and actual geometry that needs to be drawn counters that so don't expect to run this on your dads old Packard bell.
You'll see some similar looking people in the game, but there is much more variety than the 9 different faces you saw in oblivion, and the same goes for the voice acting, much more variety.
There is a slew of armor and gear, scraps, tools and weapons for you to collect. some useful, some really only useful if fired out of the "Rock-it launcher".
Finding old weapons and repairing them by salvaging other weapons is also something new. Got 4 pistols, and they all seem kind of busted? Use them all to repair 1 semi solid pistol and get to shooting. Same with armor. The better your repair skill, the more you get out of them, and the further along you can repair items. All you're old favorites are back, The Magnum, the Minigun, the flamer. Nuko-cola, Mentats, Psycho, all of it. Remember offing jet dealers in new Reno and selling the stuff back to their dealers, well you can do it again, just try not to get addicted this time.
All in all Fallout 3 lives up to the name. Oblivion with guns it is not, FALLOUT in realtime, with an amazing expansive world, a wonderful story and a kick ass new combat system it is.
Now we just have to pray Bethesda releases a construction kit so we can have some remakes of the old games.
See you in DC.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Fallout 3 (US, 10/28/08)
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