Review by DarkLazarus

Reviewed: 11/02/09

Immerse yourself in post-apocalyptia...

"War. War never changes."
Ah, Fallout. I have to confess I always had a thing for post-apocalyptic scenarios, and I loved the first two games in this series and their neatly woven plots and settings, but how does Bethesda's attempt stand up to the originals? Lock up your brahmin and hang on to your bottlecaps, it's time for a review.

In its essence, the game is an action RPG with clear western sensibilities. You play the game either in first person or in third person view and combat can be played out either in real-time (think FPS game) or, with the press of a button, you can enter "VATS" mode in combat, pausing the action, so you can aim your weapons at specific body parts of your target in exchange for Action Points - this feature harkens back to the old Fallout turn-based system. While not stellar, the combat is pretty solid, even if it tends to force you to use VATS as the real-time combat lacks the necessary precision in some cases.

Typical to an RPG, your character gains experience from killing things, completing quests, and doing a multitude of other tasks (such as successfully pick a lock, for example). Like previous Fallout games, each level up gives you an amount of skill points to improve certain proficiencies you character possesses (such as lockpicking, using small guns or medicine skills), you also earn the choice of a "perk" per level, which is a static ability that enhances your character somehow (like opening up new dialogue options with child characters or regenerate health while under sunlight), this system is pretty much like the classic Fallout level system and allows you great character customization.

You can also recruit certain characters to be your AI-controlled companion on your journey, helping you spread the mayhem through the wastelands. Another layer of the cake worth mentioning is the Karma system. Your actions will affect your alignment and the NPCs will react accordingly. Unfortunately, most major settlements will forget all about your evil deeds after three days in-game and the impact of your karma (save for a few cases) doesn't change the gameworld all that much.

On the other side of things, the game suffers from some bugs and glitches (some very minor, others major full game crashing bugs), from quests getting bugged and becoming impossible to finish to NPCs getting caught in some loop. Heavy saving is recommended, as a save reload usually solves the problem. Usually.

Now, I'll be honest, I love the setting and the massive game world, but Fallout 3's story is nothing to write home about. It's completely competent, but that's about it. I thoroughly enjoyed more of the history of the locales woven into the sidequests than the story of the main quest. Basically, you've lived your whole life in one of many underground shelter "Vaults" and one day your father leaves the Vault for unknown reasons, which causes much chaos amongst the populace - you decide to leave and look for dear old dad. The rest, as they say, is a game for you to play.
As I said, in my opinion the meat of the story telling in this game is done by sidequests. It's a very rich world, with many quirky characters and interesting locations. Explore it.
STORY - 7/10

Fallout 3's graphics are gorgeous. The sceneries are so well conceived it actually gave me chills the first time I played. You play your game in this massive real-time post-apocalyptic wasteland DC ruins. Toppled cars, fallen bridges, collapsing buildings, it really is a sight to behold. It feels real. This immersive feeling is enhanced by a minimalistic soundtrack that lets you take in all of the dread of the wasteland. You do have a radio on you that you can use to listen to some of the very few broadcasts going on, sadly these could use some variety as the music that plays over the airwaves are only a handful.

The bottom line? This is a massive and rich world begging you to explore it. A very solid adventure, and a pretty fun romp with enough customization and in-game choices to have a very good lasting appeal and future replay value. Unfortunately it's plagued by some glitches that can hinder the experience from time to time.
It gets a very high 8, but misses the mark mostly due to these glitches and some game concepts that deserved better exploration.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Fallout 3 (Collector's Edition) (EU, 10/31/08)

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