Review by Slawdigi

"Nothing this good could be long enough"

Quick notes on the author: I own 7 different gaming systems, from current consoles to ones dating back to 1985. Favorite genre type would be jrpg's, but I'm known to play a wide variety from sports to strategy to mmo's. There's no gaming company I prefer stamped on my purchase so no favoritism would be shown in that manner. With that said....

First off, my definition of a perfect game in regards to others may be totally different. It's not perfect in the sense of having no flaws or irritating features that one could find if digging deep enough. But perfect in the sense of it's everything I could want in this particular title. There's only 2 other games before this one I could don the title of perfection, those being Super Mario 3 and Final Fantasy 7. Now then, Fallout 3. Wait? There was a 1 and 2? Guess they came out in my "offseason" of gaming, which routinely fell when I was busy with work or school, or both. That or my lack of a PC. And even though Ultima for the PC was one of my first true gaming experiences back in 1987, I never owned a PC myself until the late 90's and it wasn't exactly high end. Yes, I had played Morrowind and Oblivion for the Xbox/360, and to be honest neither really held my interest like this one did. I don't know if it was the setting or the fact guns were the weapon of choice over swords, or more, but maybe this review will get to the bottom of it..?

--Open-ended role playing
--Highly interactive, enthralling world map
--Well thought out leveling system
--Intensely detailed environments / graphics
--Option of difficulty levels
--Multiple camera options
--Excellent sound / music / VA
--Interesting and fun action / menu-control battle system
--High end replay value
--Above average storytelling

--Melee/Unarmed controls leave a lot to be desired
--Nothing this good could be long enough, even with DLC :)

Story: 10/10

I don't see how the rating for this could be anything other than a 10. The story plays out the way you choose it, with many variations and random things happening along the way. Sure the plot of it is straight forward and something you could expect from a lifeless civilization following the nuclear holocaust of our planet 200 years before. Humans built vaults, underground barricaded dwellings constructed to ensure human life could survive such an attack and repopulate eventually. All but one vault was broke into or out of by this point, except yours....Vault 101. There's a fairly fun first 30 minutes of the game as you watch yourself grow up until the point your father escapes the once impenetrable hole in the ground and leaves behind a mystery you must investigate. The ride will be as bumpy as you'd like to make it. There may be feelings of confusion and even the sense of being overwhelmed. Side-quests you pick up along the way from random encounters in towns or elsewhere could begin to stack. Notes and data you collect in your travels from computers, papers, people, etc will all add depth and liven up a morbid Washington DC. This is why I rate the story a 10, because it's deep and well thought out, intriguing, and mine to toy with.

Game-play/Controls: 10/10

Before I get into it, game-play in this type of game isn't what all there is to be done IMO, it's how it plays. I will include the controls, camera angles, and the battle system in this category. If any section of the game deserved a 9.9999 this was probably it, and I say that solely due to the less than innovative melee/unarmed battle motions. This is one of the previous reasons I stated why Fallout 3 appealed to me so much more than it's big brother Oblivion. With so many of your enemies having the capability to attack from distances it makes a straight up fight with super sledgehammers rather difficult. Even when you do get a chance to pull out a melee weapon or put up the dukes it's awkward and simplistic to say the least. You swing back and forth and jump out of the way of the oncoming blows. But enough with that insanely minor gripe, let's start with the movement. It's fluid and very straightforward, but has minor tweaks to it compared to some other similar titles. For example, your player will run slower with a weapon out or if carrying too much weight/injured may be forced into a painfully slow walk. There is a crouch and sneak system, with attributes that can affect it entirely. There is also the ability to set the camera angle at any desired distance, from a 1st person perspective, to a whole body 3rd person view. By holding the LB and moving forward and backwards on the right analog, you can even recreate a Resident Evil or Gears of War type over the shoulder view. It is totally your choice and for that I commend it. The battle system is also fun and a welcomed change from the monotany that is usually present in your run of the mill 1st person shooter. You can choose to fight off enemies with ruthless gun-play and wild explosive tossing if you please, or you have AP points to be used in the "V.A.T.S" system. The VATS basically pauses the battle and gives you the estimated percentage on different body parts of the enemy to aim at. It definitely lessens the difficulty as you'll take no damage as you act out your commands to destroy limbs and enjoy cinematic gruesome deaths. Or you can play it out in stealth, silently stalking your prey.

Graphics/Performance: 10/10

Outstanding. Truly nothing was wasted in this wasteland. Of course there are areas with nothing but quiet gusts of wind and dilapidated trees, but trust me, there are tons of explorable areas on the world map. All unbelievably detailed. It's just a sickeningly realistic vision of a post-nuked DC, filled with all the mutated toppings one could ask for. The lighting is awesome, I don't mind the darkness, it feels more real. (there is a brightness option in the menu as well). The draw-distance is also heavily impressive. From a cave that hosts a town full of kids that use more profanity than I do to an ant-infested car factory, the attention to detail can not be overly applauded. Now we get to the usual case of a hiccup or two when it comes to a game being graphically brought to life, but Fallout 3 strays from that. Sure, in my 100+ hours spent being engrossed with this I've seen a few half-second, whole second lags and experienced a game resetting glitch or two, but that's nothing given the monstrosity of space this game incorporates. Hands down, 10/10.

Sound/Voice Acting: 10/10

The ambience is perfect. Insects here and there, trying to re-evolve themselves. Some that already have buzzing in your ear like a chainsaw on metal. The gusting wind and dust clouds whipping by. A mellow theme plays throughout most of the wasteland, until something not nice spots you and then you feel the drama through the music. That's how you know a game has good music, and Fallout 3 presents an intense mood most of the time. The guns all sound authentic. Then there's a strange variety of Wasteland radio stations which will undoubtedly catch your ear at some point. This leads me into the voice acting which once again is top notch. All the story or quest involved characters have incredibly real voices that add color to each of their personalities. It's even funny to sit back in hiding and just listen to some of the super mutant conversations. All in all Fallout 3 does a great job presenting the mood and keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Fun/Replay Value: 10/10

Addictingly fun. It absolutely takes what I like about the role playing genre and the action adventure genre and molds them into a masterpiece. As you level up in this crazy world and evolve your character you'll get choices of "perks" which could range from simple handiness with small weapons to killing people in their sleep. You also get full control over what attributes to level, and with only 20 levels in the main game (pre DLC), you have to choose wisely. There are books scattered about that raise attributes automatically, but are somewhat sparse. There are also bobbleheads which can raise a stat permanently when found, but aren't screaming to be discovered either. Of course, it's open ended meaning you choose your characters demeanor. Blow up the city or deactivate the bomb? Or somewhere in between? That's all your choice which will lead to some very humorous conversations with other inhabitants of the wastes. I mentioned the sheer size of the map earlier and the abundance of quests. This will tie into fun and replay value. Some decisions may affect a quest and it's capability to be finished. There's 4 different difficulty settings, and it can be changed at any point in the game, so the battle system also adds to the fun factor. You can make your own weapons, decorate your house with preset themes or random dead bodies, or explore for what seems like an eternity of space. Not to mention 3 confirmed DLC, and at the time of this review, 2 of which are out and well done IMO. They both add a combined 10ish game-play hours of quests and exploration, and also some well received items to use throughout the game. The next DLC is supposed to expand upon the level limit of 20, so I would expect harder enemies and possibly new locations to come along with it.

Bottom line: You can't go wrong. My biggest concern when buying a game nowadays is "Will this game last me long enough to warrant 60 bucks?" My desired hours of game-play is set at a minimum of 50. This far surpasses that and I've only played it/owned it for a little over a month at this time. In my opinion it actually played out more like an RPG than a shooter of any kind IMO, couple that with the free roaming exploring and great mechanics and you have yourself the epitome of perfect. That's why I say, nothing this good could last long enough. Bring me Fallout 4, quickly....

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/08/09

Game Release: Fallout 3 (US, 10/28/08)

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