Fallout 3 Retrospective
Return To The Epic Post Apocalyptic Wasteland With The Fallout 3 Retrospective
With the amount of role playing action games on the market vying for your hard earned money, it’s hard to find value in a bulging genre. However, you can’t go far wrong with Bethseda Studios’ big post-nuclear apocalypse marquee series, Fallout. With the super and well-deserved “Game of the Year” edition of the third game still floating about for an easily affordable sum, here’s a look at why Fallout 3 should be in your games collection, even if it is a few years old.
The game kicks off with you being born and killing your mother in childbirth. You are born into Vault 101, a paradise built underground, away from the radioactive fallout of the Washington D.C. wasteland outside. After your dad (Liam Neeson) forces a “what if” machine in your face, seeing what you look in the future, you play through a couple of key life moments in tutorial mode. After “graduating” Vault school, you wake up as an adult to find your dad has busted out of 101 and you hurry off after him to find out what’s happened! What occurs is a wild chase, always in Neeson’s footprints, trying to play catch up.
Gameplay basically revolves around your custom character roaming the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Washington D.C., completing quests and slaying enemies to find out more information on your dad and his goals. You gain levels like any good RPG and earn new skills, perks and attributes for your character. You seem to gain news levels quite quickly, so you can do some customisation quite early on. There are many ways and styles of character skills, so you have a fairly individual creation. Being a nerd, I went for science, medicine and lockpicking skills in the early stages so I could complete some quests early, but there’s opportunities for you to go gung-ho and create a brutal war-machine strong guy or a sneaking lord equivalent to Solid Snake!
You have a wrist mounted computer called a 'Pip-Boy', which keeps track of your character, quests, weapons, armour and items in a neat console screen. There is a karma system where you get rewarded depending on how good or bad you’ve been during the game, but it always seems easy enough to balance the two: e.g. You can save a town from a nuclear bomb, then pickpocket all of them for it to equalize.
Since I’m not a sexist pig, I set out trying to recreate a female, Mad Max-inspired, asskicker for my character. Dubbed “Thorax Grumblewin”, with a pink spiked up Mohawk, I found some leather armour and a motorcycle helmet – Perfect to tear up the wasteland in. Not being too typecast – there was the guy in Mad Max 2 with the dyed bright pink Mohawk and beard and I think he rode around in a bright pink car too. Consider it a tribute if you will. The reason why I went (un)lady-like was so I could be a sneaky sod and claim the 'Black Widow' perk straight away – 10% extra damage per attack against the predominantly male hordes of the apocalypse? Yes please! Apart from that, there’s not a great deal of customisation at the end of the world with you being kept to only so much of the armour and helmet styles.
Fallout 3’s neat little trick is to have the VAT (Vault-Tech Assisted Targetting) system, which freezes the game so you can aim more accurate shots at an opponents body part, with a percentage being worked out of a chance of a hit based on weapon, distance and perks your character has. If you’re not dumb and go for headshots all the time like me, you’ll see the impressive sight of a mutant creature’s head being disassembled from it’s body in 4 different pieces. Whilst it does amuse, it’s never guaranteed and is a bit of a muck about to set it all up just to take off a bit of health, when you can gun anything down in about 10 seconds tops. Still, top fun for those headshots!
The idea to set it around Washington was a masterstroke. Whilst it does save me the trouble of going there someday, it’s incredibly detailed with visits to the Washington monument and Jefferson building standing out as part of Thorax’s journey so far. It adds some credibility and immersion into the game. I do admit it gets a bit dull traipsing around the same old subway tunnels in the early part of the game – it almost seems never ending – but the countryside, with it’s bombed out locales and interesting towns like Megaton make up for it.
The enemies you encounter are varied enough. We take on everything from wasteland human bandits in spiked armour to overgrown ants and cockroaches. There are some other mutants, like a giant raptor-bug-thing. My personal favourite is the 'Super Mutants'. Standing between 8 to 9 foot tall, these yellow monstrosities can crush you in 5 seconds flat. I also liked the Brotherhood of Steel group, a nod to the earlier Fallout games. These are power armoured men who you definitely want on your side, just because they are that badass. Although I do find it ridiculous that everyone else in this game, apart from you, has 100% accuracy with a gun without fail. Seriously, I was getting sniped at half a kilometre away with a machine gun! How does that work out?!
Since we’re looking at the “Game Of The Year” edition, it’s worth noting all the tasty extras you get in the package. There’s enough variety to still keep you entertained if the whole D.C. wasteland gets bit boring for ya. As well as D.C. you get the chance to visit Pittsburgh and Maryland and revisit the early days of the nuclear war in Alaska as well as take on an alien invasion! The main side dish is “Broken Steel” which carries on the game as it ends and raises your level cap. All in all, a fantastic value-for-money package for all those who decided to wait like me!
However, to have balance in the force, there must be faults. Although not as widely reported as it’s successor New Vegas, F3 still suffers from crashes, freezes and save issues. There was more than one time where the game froze on me at a blank screen and I had to reload, so - God bless the Auto-save function on this game. If it wasn’t there, the disc would be straight out the window, I can tell you! I usually get trapped in “magic mounds” where I can’t move out of mounds of rubble and about halfway through my copy thought it was a good idea for the VAT system to not work at all. One time it crashed to the point where it sent me straight back to my Playstation’s XMB! Very strange.
I’m positive the game decided to play Grim Reaper with my save files once or twice, deleting a few of my earlier ones at will. So far I’ve only encountered it at certain points of the game, but for the most part it runs smoothly enough. Just these instances severly ruin your enjoyment and the great job the game does of creating mood and atmosphere.
I’d also say there’s an imbalance in the game. Whilst you can change the difficulty when you want, I went and completed the Operation Anchorage side quest first of all, just to be different. After that, I ripped through the game no worries for awhile having acquired top armour and weapons. With the DLC giving you access to this as soon as you step out of Vault 101, what’s the point of playing fair when you can go around with your electric health sapping samurai sword?! Also, with this style of game, you can get stuck in a tedium of “raid dungeon, kill people/beasts, collect items until you can’t carry anymore, return to shop, sell stuff don’t need, repeat.” It gets pretty boring, but the apocalyptic setting does change it away from the more traditional middle ages we see in these kind of games.
To be fair, since this came after Oblivion, this was Bethseda’s attempt to correct their mistakes from that game; which they did by making it more compact, more captivating and less dull to trounce around the world map. However, they still seem to be having the problems of lags, crashes and corrupting save files in later titles like New Vegas and Skyrim, which they’ve never gotten on top of. However, I feel it’s F3 that sets the tone for being a brilliant open world role playing game on this generation of consoles. Nothing has come close to the storyline, setting and gameplay that this offers up. If they just managed to clean all the problems up, I honestly think it would be a massive mainstream hit like Grand Theft Auto and Mario.
Overall, it’s still a great package for under 15 quid in most places. If you have the bottle to stick with the numerous problems, you’ll have a grand old time. The game is immersive enough for you to give a monkey’s about your character and you’ll be playing for hours just so you can horde all the best armour and money for yourself. I’ve already played about 20 hours and I’ve only really done one of the downloadable content missions and about a third of the main quest, on top of all the exploration of the wasteland and sidequests. Surely that’s value for money?
The One Who Is Always The Most Miserable - Chaos Hour Writer
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