Review by SlurptasticJive
"War, war never changes. But the Fallout series has made a positive one."
Fallout 3 is the long awaited sequel to Black Isle's first two Fallout games, and it does it good justice. Many changes make it a different experience than old Fallout players would remember, but the experience is still a positive one that makes up a solid game.
You were born into Vault 101, raised there, until one day, your dad escapes and all hell breaks loose. You must follow him to the Wasteland, find him, and help him realize Project Purity. Along the way, you meet many other Wastelanders and Wasteland colonies, all of which have their own story. The conflict between the Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel is also emphasized. Your ending can change based on the path you take, but (without spoiling it) the ending is underwhelming and doesn't feel rewarding for the work you've done. Ultimately, the story is nothing special. It isn't bad in any way, but it will not blow you away. It is not too confusing, but it won't be keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Here is where the fun starts. Once you escape the Vault, you are thrown into an overwhelming world, and you don't know where you are going to find the time to explore it all. The exploration is fun, you never know what you're going to find, and is rewarded by the quirky characters that you find along the way. You might be a bit bored while travelling across the Wasteland, but if you've already been to a location, you can fast travel back to that location, keeping your boredom to a minimum. This isn't available from the get-go though, so if you don't like travelling, you might feel the game is moving a bit slow.
The combat is pretty well rounded as well, but old Fallout gamers will notice that it is no longer turn-based, and rather similar to, as many have referenced it, "Oblivion with guns". It doesn't detract from the gameplay at all though. Gun usage is simple enough; aim and fire. Melee combat is harder to succeed with, but it's bloody good fun. An interesting combat feature is Vault-Assisted Targeting System, better known as V.A.T.S. Using V.A.T.S., you can get more effective kills, and nice gory death sequences. This makes it somewhat simpler to take out an enemy, but isn't completely broken, as you're limited by your Action Points. It also never gets old, especially with the Bloody Mess perk.
Where gameplay excels is your character development. As it is an RPG, you get to shape your character in not only his skills, but as well, his Karma. Skills are quite in-depth, with 13 skills for you to develop, as well as 7 base "S.P.E.C.I.A.L." stats, which are the RPG standard Strength, Agility, etcetera. For example, having a high Speech skill can get you extra items and information you couldn't get otherwise. Karma is another characteristic for you to maintain. A simple meter of Good and Evil (and Neutral), Karma is dependant on your actions. You want to be the knight in shining armour? Or the evil reaper of the Wastes? Watch your actions and you can fulfil those ambitions! Overall, the gameplay is where this game shines.
When it comes to graphics, this game is a mixed pot. The vast Wasteland maintains the barren, desolate look you would expect, and does it well. You can look across the land and see quite far in front of you. The various colonies are very well done, and they all look fresh and unique. The D.C. Ruins are chilling, but very overwhelming and amazing. Despite all of this, you will be seeing a lot of grey and brown. Not so much of a complaint as a note, because after a nuclear war, you wouldn't expect much else. Underground locations, on the other hand, seem recycled. Subway locations won't seem new at all, and neither will the caves. Character models are good, but many of the NPCs look very similar, and you will see a similar face at least 5 to 6 times. Monsters of the Wastes are, on the other hand, very creative and interesting. There is slowdown in quite a few areas though, as well as lowering of frame rate when you have a war going on. It doesn't push graphical limits like some other games do, but it is still above average.
Music and Sound
The sounds of Fallout 3 are also a mixed pot as well. Voice acting is well done, and a few well known names are involved. From the start, you will notice Liam Neeson's voice, as he is your father and mentor. As well, albeit lesser known, Malcolm McDowell plays an important role. Other important characters have fresh and vibrant voice acting, and it's all very well done. Unimportant NPCs will all have similar voices though, and while they don't play as important a role, the similarity is quite noticeable. Sounds from the Wastes, as well as from weapons are well done. Hearing the monsters attack from behind is quite an experience, and can make you jump (it did for me on occasion).
Music on the other hand is hit or miss. You only have a max of 3 radio stations to choose from (you start with one, but you will gain two more from the storyline). The music, while fun to someone like me, might not be so to others. Galaxy News Radio has reports on your actions, and it is interesting. Be warned though, there is not much natural background music at all.
Another great part about this game. The main quest might not take too long, but with all the sidequests and tidbits that you can get, you will be spending a lot of time on this game. Expect at least 30-40 hours out of this game, at least. If you're going to get the DLC that is coming out in the future, add a lot more hours to that.
...Fallout 3 is a great game. It is one of the best games released in 2008, and will constantly keep you wanting more. With the promise of future DLC (and one of those DLC packs out already), I can easily recommend this game to buy, if you've been interested.
Final Score: 8.7/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/03/09
Game Release: Fallout 3 (US, 10/28/08)
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