Review by CthulhuDreams99

"How I learned to Love the Bomb..."

Fallout. The name itself elicits imagery of post-apocalyptic fantasy and cold-war paranoia.

The series itself is one that has been respected for some time, and this reviewer must admit to really enjoying the first game, and not really having spent the time playing the second one nor tactics, I couldn't give much comparative analysis. And be forewarned that I still have yet to complete the third incarnation, but I felt I should try to review it. There are plenty of reviews for it, so why add another to a long list?

Quite simple.

This title deserves recognition.

Story: The story is what you would expect from a Fallout game. Nothing too surprising, and I can't really delve into the overall storyline having not completed it yet myself. But I can say, the karma system is back and an integral part to how the world you play in evolves. You are the one that has complete creative control over your character, and you take into the game what you wish.

Graphics: The graphics are really quite something else. Very finely detailed models, backgrounds a beautiful, the landscapes really drag you into this post-apocalyptic joy-ride. The opening cut-scene was quite impressive and foreshadowing towards what you must expect. Bethesda has really used the engine from Oblivion quite well here. No complaints at all. and of course the images for the menus and icons remains contiguous to prior installments of the series, which is always a pleasure. I have noticed some clipping issues in different areas, but overall, the graphics are quite fitting into the overall setting.

Sound: The ambient music is non-invasive but does help set the mood of the game. You will experience wondering the blasted and burnt wastelands with an excellent background ambiance. The radio option from your pip-boy unit is also something fun as well, because again Bethesda did their research, and several radio stations provide tunes very fitting towards the images used for most menus. They all refer back to the sort of feeling apparent in the 1950's, and the music fits in accordingly to the style of 50's pop music.

Gameplay: This had good and bad points. Let's digest the good first. The leveling system is still relatively unchanged, you gain experience for using skills in little tests, as well as for simple mayhem and murder. Of course you also gain experience from completing quests. The quests provide a guide for going about the game, but it isn't required in the sense that you strictly need to do them, although it is encouraged for getting rewards and experience. You really do have complete control over what kind of character you'd like to make, whether it is a heavy brawler, a smooth talker, or an overall misanthrope. It really is all up to you. Now, that leads me to one of the bad points of the gameplay. The game does try to nudge you towards using only distance weapons in design, so the close combat could use a bit of work. Another more subtle point, the stealth function is achieved by depressing the left analog stick...which also happens to control movement. This can cause some frustration when you are trying to strafe and shoot when suddenly you begin ducking and crawling rather than running from side to side. But here's the silver lining...the combat can be treated as real-time or in a sense "turn-based." I felt the combat did provide an extra touch of realism in that you can't just keep lobbing missiles at people. You need to think about blast radius, loading time, etc. The combat is a delight in that it does require just as much thinking as the rest of the game. Another good point of course is that you can completely avoid combat altogether if you like.

Overall: Buy or rent? Buy, buy, BUY!!! If you feel disappointed and tired of what passes for role-playing games in today's market, do yourself a favour and give this game a go. It has great replay value with all the varieties of perks and character builds you can experiment with. Some people complain that it is a "FPS." I say that is absurd. You have the option of doing the game in first person perspective, but Bethesda has used this system with their Elder Scrolls series ever since the beginning with Arena and the much lauded Daggerfall.

Is the game action based? Yes, but that provides realism in a genre stifled with "choose your own adventure" type games.

I give it a strong score of 9/10. Definitely worth your time if you miss having games that actually are what their genre says they are. I couldn't recommend it for people who think role-playing games should be entirely linear experiences with no real input from the player other than an occasional button press.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/28/09

Game Release: Fallout 3 (JP, 12/04/08)

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