Review by BATOSloco
"The future is here are you ready?"
As someone who played through the entire game, explored every location on the game map, and encountered every creature, faction, and item in the game, I can say with absolute certainty that this game is worth every penny and will give you an experience to remember for years to come.
On a basic level, this game is a first person or a third person shooter/RPG depending on how the player wants to focus the camera. Both are possible, and it's totally up to the player's preference. You advance in the game by completing main quests that bring the game closer to formally ending, and by completing optional side quests that award experience points, items, karma, and reputation for completing. The game world is totally open-ended, allowing the player to go and do pretty much whatever they want. This means you can kill every living thing you see (except children, I've noticed) or make friends with everyone or some combination of both. The game uses a level system similar in other RPGs with a maximum level of 20. Each level achieved grants additional points that can be awarded in numerous categories as well as "perks" which give your character some type of bonus. All in all, a very fun and customizable approach to character development.
Going down the list of EB's rating system, I found Fallout 3 to be a challenge, but not an impossible challenge. Once you hit level 20, which is unfortunately the maximum level, most creatures in the game will not pose a significant threat by themselves. In fact, I can only think of two enemies at level 20 which require some planning and thought to bring down, though in all fairness, once you reach level 20, you probably just want to experience the content more than constantly taking long periods of time to kill the occasional creature that gets in your way. There are also puzzles and mysteries independent of quests that the player can choose to pursue or ignore, such as "Why do the Super Mutants feel an attraction to the downtown D.C. area, and what are they doing with the people they capture?". Such questions are left to open-ended discovery and theorizing on the part of the player, which goes quite far into immersing yourself into the game world. I however must give
Character customization is pretty well done. You can make your character look almost any way you want, and perhaps even more amazing, the game actually creates your in-game father to look quite similar to you based on your customization choices. I assigned this section a "10" because beyond physical attributes, you are given so many opportunities to define an attitude, look, style, and feel for your in-game persona, that I think Fallout 3 may offer more customization options than any other current RPG in existence.
Controls in Fallout 3 are very well done. You move with the standard WASD keys (though this can be changed if you wish) and use a mouse to look around and point your weapon. Combat in Fallout 3 is thoroughly enjoyable because you can either freely shoot your opponent, or enter the VATS system, which allows you to pick a body part and have the computer automatically aim and fire for you, with hits being based on a percentage system that is further based on your character's attributes and the physical position of your target. This is a very fun and enjoyable system that removes the tedium of simply firing randomly, and allows you to actually express your character's abilities by taking the time to target specific areas of your opponents body. I should also add that body parts can be rendered useless, or even blown off as a result of combat on specific targeted areas of the body. Despite what one reviewer said, combat is not difficult, nor does it require many bullets to bring down a single enemy. You just have to be able to aim, and aim smart.
Graphics and animation are superb. The Capital Wasteland is beautifully rendered in great detail, with many monuments still standing in some type of ruinous form. You really feel every last bit of the current and pre-war culture as you walk the wastes and meet new people. There is just so much to see, and every little object is rendered with great care.
The interface is likewise well done. All the information you might need immediately is available on your screen, with more detailed information available via your pip boy 3000, a device that carries all your statistical information, maps, and allows you to quickly switch weapons, armor, and select items as needed. This pauses the game for a moment and manages to provide a lot of useful information quickly without a clunky interface.
As far as the length of the game goes, it could technically never end. There is a main story line that can be pursued fairly quickly if you're only interested in finding your father, but if you actually take the time to explore the game map, get to the maximum level, and enjoy forging your own destiny in the world, the game ends when you want it to end. I for example, took the time to explore every location on the game map, did all the quests I encountered, and only then did I finish the main quest line. Theoretically, I could have continued to play the game, but by the time I had finished exploring everything (and had more weapons and ammo then I knew what to do with) I decided to end my game. However I know that in the future, I can play the game again, and completely change the entire gameplay based on making different decisions in my interactions with other people. While I went down the "Good" path, it's also possible to take the other path, which one person described to me as "Stealing everything that isn't bolted down, insulting the mother of every NPC, then putting a bullet in their heads". The game really is what you make of it. Finish it in a day, or never actually finish it. It's totally up to you.
Much like the graphics and animations in the game, the sound is wonderfully done. From the sounds of the wasteland wind to the upbeat 50's era music piping from your pipboy as you explore (courtesy of a local radio station) you're never far from music and gameplay enhancing atmosphere. NPC dialogues are also quite well done, with actors such as Liam Neeson giving their voice talents to the game. This is just one more area that offers players so many wonderful options, as the responses you give affect the outcome of the game and your role within it. I've played few games in the past 20 years with such memorable music and well done atmospheric scores.
Finally, we get to the storyline. As I said earlier, the main storyline in the game is deeply enthralling. It's an amazing adventure and a bold plan that you may influence or disregard as you wish. In fact, there's a third option I will not mention between completing the main storyline as your father intended and abandoning it altogether. Of course in addition to the main storyline, there are many quests to do for the people living in the Capital Wasteland. I strongly believe that these quests are the meat and potatoes of this game, as they are most responsible for developing and improving your character prior to the final events of the main storyline. They really draw you into the game world and make you part of, rather than alien from, your surroundings. It's also quite fun to listen to the game's main radio station and learn how people are perceiving your actions. It's equally fascinating to learn how people are adapting to and surviving in the Capital Wasteland, which is fascinating to anyone interested in post-nuclear war scenarios. Despite a few graphical glitches and system freezes, my experience was next to flawless.
Overall this game is a must buy for anyone who enjoys a good single player RPG experience with an open game world where your actions have a direct impact. It's not just a game, but an experience. Something to be remembered and treasured in the years to come, and a standard by which future games will be judged.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/08/08
Game Release: Fallout 3 (US, 10/28/08)
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