Fallout 3 Review

Fallout 3 Is A Huge, Fascinating World

Fallout 3 arrived on the game scene with its share of controversy. Fallout purists complained that the game would be “Oblivion with guns,” and lamented the switch to a three-dimensional world. However, oblivion with guns this is not. Fallout 3 is huge – and it is gorgeous and enthralling and amazing in every way. It is not just one of the best games of 2008; it is one of the best games ever made.

The Fallout 3 game world is beautifully rendered

The Fallout 3 game world is beautifully rendered

Fallout 3 begins when you are born. Coming into the light, you see your father’s face and hear him as he whispers, “Let’s see what you’ll look like,” at which point you get to customize your character through a computer that shows how you will look when you grow up. The facial customization isn’t all that great – you’ll generally look the same no matter what you do (and besides, you never really see yourself since you will most likely play in first person); but the other modes in which you create your character are fantastic. Right from the outset, you craft what type of character you will be. A book, entitled, “You’re SPECIAL,” will help you choose your primary attributes as you crawl around your small, in-vault, apartment as a toddler. Later, as a teenager, you will take the G.O.A.T. (Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test) that will determine your skills (sneak, big guns etcetera) heading into the wasteland.

It is this claustrophobic atmosphere in which the game begins that makes your eventual escape into the wasteland even more stunning. When events take place that precipitate your need to leave the vault in which you’ve grown up, you escape and are suddenly blinded. After a short period of time, the sun’s glare reduces, and before you is a gigantic, sprawling land of destroyed trees, desert, crumbling buildings and abandoned villages.

The sheer size of this wasteland is overwhelming at first. You have the left the vault, searching for your father, a scientist who has fled into the wasteland, and yet you have no directions to follow. Nothing points you towards any particular area of the world. Simply put, you feel as though you have truly emerged from the vault into a huge world that you know nothing about. Eventually though, you’ll find your way to Megaton, a small settlement surrounding an unexploded atomic bomb. And here, you’ll find the information you need to begin your quest, gain experience, and be able to explore the great expanse that is the wasteland of Washington, DC, and environs.

The world of Fallout 3 is gigantic

The wasteland in Fallout 3 is absolutely enormous

Fallout 3 is, beyond anything else, a stunning show of variety. There are a million quests that you can set out upon, and they wildly differ from each other. Some quests only take an hour or two, and some can take hours upon hours of effort. In fact, the amazing thing about Fallout 3 is just how short or long a game it can be. You could choose to simply follow the main quest line, and you might finish the game in 12 to 15 hours, but if you choose to pursue side quests, you can find yourself exploring post-apocalyptic Washington, DC for 100 hours or more.

The main questline is the story of the Lone Wanderer (you) as you pursue your father across the wasteland to find out why he’s left and what his goal is in crossing the dangerous wastes. The main story is wonderful and your father, voiced by Liam Neeson, is a character that you want to track down.

The side quests involve such varied tasks as tracking down a boy who’s gone missing with a group of humans who thirst for blood; finding an Oasis of green trees in the middle of the wasteland; freeing slaves and recovering artifacts from the United State’s past. The side quests are exciting and fun and alongside the main quest, make for an extensive journey.

The leveling system in Fallout 3 is excellent. The decisions you make regarding your skill set truly do matter. You can be a brute who specializes in heavy weaponry and who has an incredible amount of strength or you can be stealthy with small weapons skills, able to sneak up behind a super mutant and pop him in the head before he knows what hit him. No matter what you choose, Fallout 3 will provide a challenge.

In Fallout 3, Bethesda has also chosen to eschew the leveled enemies from Oblivion. In Oblivion, as your skill went up, the type of enemies you faced changed. Not so in Fallout 3. Wander into the wrong area and you could find yourself greatly outmatched by Super Mutants and Mutant Behemoths. Not so in Oblivion where a level I gamer wouldn’t run into anything more difficult than a rat. The leveled enemies were a common complaint in Oblivion, and Fallout 3 has seen this rectified.

The V.A.T.S. system in Fallout 3 is excellent and fun as well. Allowing you to pause the action and choose an area of an enemy’s body to target specifically, the V.A.T.S. system provides not only an interesting tactical addition to what would otherwise be a shooter, but it also provides for a slow-motion capture of the bullet’s trajectory, which is especially satisfying when it hits home and sends a mutant sprawling to the ground.

The story and the side quests are intriguing and deep

The story and the side quests are intriguing and deep

The graphics in Fallout 3 are nothing short of amazing. Covering a gigantic gaming area, the Wasteland feels truly apocalyptic. The old suburban neighborhoods and crumbling city center feel like abandoned and destroyed vestiges of an older time, and the sky is appropriately filled with haze from the hot sun. There is such a variety of landscapes and areas in Fallout 3 that you’ll find yourself simply wanting to explore the wasteland; which, at a high level, is relatively easily done, but at a low level, is not recommended.

The sound is fantastic – robots crackle radio messages across the land, a DJ’s voice delivers the latest wasteland news from a secret hideout in satisfying, growling pitch, and weapons crack and pop realistically.

The few flaws in Fallout 3 are very minor. I would like to have seen a few more enemy types and also would have liked for the opportunity to continue exploring after the end of the main quest. Unlike in Oblivion, where after finishing the main quest, you were free to continue exploring the world of Cyrodill, in Fallout 3, once you finish the main quest, the game is over. When I finished the game I wanted to explore more. A flaw, but a minor one at best.

Fallout 3 is a world that needs to be explored. It is a game that has few drawbacks and provides incredible returns on the $60 investment. Buy it now if you haven’t already.

Final Score: 95%

+ Huge world to explore                                 – When the main quest is finished, the

+ Amazing variety of quests                              game is over

+ Beautiful graphics                                         – Greater variety of enemies needed

+ Hours of entertainment