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Fallout 3 Review

Fallout 3 Review

When Fallout 3 was first announced to be in the hands of Bethesda, fans of the series were worried. After the cancellation of the "Van Buren" version of the game, the original Fallout 3 cancelled due to studio closure, the series moved on to the highly successful Oblivion developers. The series received a complete overhaul, changing it to a game to be played either in the first or third person, in a similar manner to the Elder Scrolls series. So, has this transition been successful?

Fallout 3 Screenshot 1 

The game follows the series faithfully, being set in the same universe as Fallout and its sequel. From the start it is clear that the game is different, but it retains the Fallout feel and atmosphere. The game is set in the wasteland left after a nuclear war decimated the world hundreds of years ago. Fortunately you are raised in a Vault, a bunker and safe haven that people retreated to when the bombs began to fall. However, the harmony of the Vault is disrupted when your father disappears, a feat which is supposedly impossible...

I found the opening of the game to be excellent and the approach taken to character development is genuinely unique and amusing. The first few quests and levels of the game are very well executed and really help to create a sense of immersion, introducing the characters and creating a sense of association with your protagonist. Soon after comes one of the "money shots" of the game, leaving Vault 101 and standing to stare outwards into the desolate post apocalyptic ruins of society. It is both daunting and breathtaking.

Fallout 3 Screenshot 2     

The visuals themselves are impressive and detailed, presenting destroyed concrete ruins, irradiated pools of water and decaying interiors of blasted buildings with a nihilistic style. Whilst some may feel there is a lack of variation in the graphics, with a lot of grey and brown, they represent a dark and bleak future well. The occasional flashes of colour are also nice and help to make certain locations and events really stand out.

Thankfully sound is an improvement from Oblivion with a greater variety of voice actors and more convincing dialogue. The authentic period music really adds to the game with a selection of radio stations available that you can listen to on your arm mounted "PIP-Boy 3000". The background music is also interesting, setting the scene for a bleak experience while helping to create emersion and never jarring you from the game. Sound effects are also well handled and are very effective in adding a sickening gravity to the visceral combat. 

Fallout 3 Screenshot 3

The game itself is a fascinating mixture of styles creating even more varied and open ended possibilities than Oblivion and its predecessors. Choosing your character is slightly more focused than before with a levelling system that works very well. Picking your initial skills is simple and easy, as Fallout 3 allows for any combination of abilities that you want to try out. Points can be assigned to different attributes, such as lockpicking, small guns, medicine and so on when you level up. Additionally you are also free to choose a "perk" at the end of each level which gives a benefit to your character. These perks are incredibly entertaining and varied and the ingenuity of each makes replayability an essential element. They range from having a mysterious stranger appear to land the final bullet on enemies in combat to being able to eat the bodies of your enemies!

The level cap is limited to 20, which offers an achievable goal which still requires some thought and careful play to benefit from. I much prefer the difficulty of this game, which at times was very tough on the harder settings. Instead of enemies levelling up with you, you can run into the nastiest creatures when you least expect it. Whilst there is still a slight handicap, preventing you from meeting the really tough enemies at the beginning, it is far more subtle than in Oblivion and it works nicely.

Fallout 3 Screenshot 4

What is pleasing is that now all play styles work well and require some careful planning to work in different situations. Want to play a stealthy character and sneak past? You can. Want to talk your way out of situations? Easy to do with a good speech skill. Want to blast people into a gory pile of limbs? Grab some grenades and find some Raiders. As ever, you can become either a saint and help everyone or turn evil and side with the darker aspects of humanity all of which is governed by a Karma system. If neither appeals you can earn benefits by remaining neutral and remaining impartial to many of the game's events.  

Combat is a key area of the Fallout series and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Using VATS (Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System) you can pause time and use your quota of "action points" to queue up attacks on different body parts or weapons. Then on the press of a button, the action unfolds using a well executed cinematic camera angle. Here is where the game really earns its 18 certificate. Heads explode, limbs fly from bodies spraying blood and people turn to piles of ash. The violence is so ridiculously over the top it becomes a sort of macabre entertainment, especially when you literally punch someone's head clean off using a pneumatic gauntlet.

Fallout 3 is an enormous game. Locks are picked using a screwdriver and bobby pin, health can be gained by drinking water from a toilet and you are forced to heal wounds using medical supplies. This is a game as much about survival as exploration and it feels fresh and unique. The story itself is somewhat clichéd but it works well in the context, with a few interesting surprises. Computer controlled companions can accompany you and act as bodyguards, which are especially useful later in the game. The game is just so huge there is so much to see and do.

Naturally the game has some faults, but as a whole they generally don't diminish the quality. The hacking password mini-game is far too easy when you release you can quit and try it again. The main story is far too short, with only a dozen or so quests and once done the game is over once and for all. The promised variety of endings is also disappointing with little variation between them beyond your character's karma. The general number of quests is also limited and somewhat disappointing; you cannot join the factions of the game and help them out which seems strange given the important roles they seem to have in the game world.

Fallout 3 Screenshot 5

There are also a few bugs left in the game, which will hopefully be patched shortly. I experienced people speaking twice as fast as normal, becoming stuck in scenery only to be battered to death by an enemy, having an enemies head repeatedly explode after he was dead and amusingly having NPC's get trapped in the ground. Also be warned of fast travelling; often upon arrival you will be surrounded by enemies and if you aren't prepared will likely be torn to shreds by gunfire.

However, despite these minor flaws, Fallout 3 is a staggering achievement. The game brings immersion to a new level especially when you are simply roaming the desolate wastes alone, just yourself against the world trying to survive. The sheer number of options available is breathtaking and the huge wasteland provides a huge amount to do. Collectible bobbleheads, buildable weapons and plenty of Easter eggs mean that this is likely to keep you busy for hours on end.

If you are an RPG fan and enjoyed the previous Fallout games or the Elder Scrolls series then there will be a lot here for you to enjoy. Whatever your view, Fallout 3 offers a unique and different experience which is well worth becoming immersed in. One word of advice, savour every moment spent alone in the wilderness with a single clip of ammunition and a health pack: there are some special moments in gaming, this is one of them.

9.00/10 9

Fallout 3 (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

If you are an RPG fan and enjoyed the previous Fallout games or the Elder Scrolls series then there will be a lot here for you to enjoy. Whatever your view, Fallout 3 offers a unique and different experience which is well worth becoming immersed in. One word of advice, savour every moment spent alone in the wilderness with a single clip of ammunition and a health pack: there are some special moments in gaming, this is one of them.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Christopher Wakefield

Christopher Wakefield

Writer

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COMMENTS

FatTonyBBX
FatTonyBBX - 11:39pm, 3rd April 2015

Good review. I played for a while but hated the entire introduction. It felt so pointless which is never a good thing for a character developing stage. I loved the ability to literally say f**k off to someone asking for help though!

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