Fallout 3 Review: A Step Up
Is the Fallout series, beloved by its fans, still good in the hands of Bethesda? Fire up your pip-boy, open up a glass of Nuke-a-Cola and read on to find out.
Since Fallout 3 is a Bethesda game that is built much like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, it is easiest to base it off of that. The faces are definitely a step up from the dreadful looking Oblivion models; however, it would be nice to see a little more expression. Also, on occasion, when you bump into a movable object it will endlessly rock back and forth, creating a rattle that becomes an endless loop of background noise.
If you are one of those people that just loves your 1080p HDTV and scoffs at some game that only runs at 720p because you can "totally tell the difference", then one of the first things that you will notice about this game is the slight grainy effect. It does not matter why it is in there, because it actually helps set the mood on this post apocalyptic adventure.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that you really can see for a long ways once you get outside. I noticed myself pointing to places that I could see in the distance and wanting to explore there. I did find it a little disconcerting, however, that when it gets dark, you see it from the center of the sky. It isn't too big of a deal though since I would guess that most people will not be spending their time looking directly upward.
Game music comes mainly in the form of radio stations that you pick up on your Pip-Boy. When you first exit the vault, you get your pick between the Enclave propaganda station and the staple oldies station. The oldies station brings back memories from previous versions of Fallout, since that type of music was used in the intro movies. It does a great job setting the mood. The Enclave radio station is not exactly music, but it still adds something to the overall feeling of the game.
There is nothing more pleasing than whipping out your baseball bat and hearing that deep whacking noise when you put it upside someone's head. Once outside the vault, the sweeping wind conveys a sense of vastness and loneliness. The limited amount of stations get a little annoying, however, after listening to the dialog loop multiple times.
The voice acting in this game is well done. I have to say that there is nothing more annoying than to have some overdone, choppy or poorly inflected dialog. Fallout 3 brought in some competent voice actors and script writers to make sure gamers were actually willing to listen to the dialog.
The graphics and sound do their part to create the right atmosphere of the Fallout series. There are some minor glitches that most every game has some of, but Fallout 3 still does a really good job in the graphics department. The tone of the game is really set by the music and sound. It really conveys a neat experience that will get you ready for a great story.
Gameplay & Story
Out into the Wasteland
The basic premise of the story is tried and true Fallout: Independence and the outside world are thrust upon you for one reason or another and you are left to sort out what you ultimately do. The big difference is that this time it is for personal reasons rather than some "for the greater good" motive. This gives your character a much more open venue to take care of things as you wish. I also like the fact that you get to participate in small parts of your life before adulthood.
Bethesda always seems to do a good job including side quests that have some value to them. If you only do the main quest you end up missing at least ninety percent of the game, not to mention there are a multitude of places to explore and loot. Pick up this game, and you are in for an expansive list of possible things to do.
I Feel Like Taking a Walk
Travel is much like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion where, via the overhead map, if you have been there before, you can immediately travel to the place you want to go using the "fast travel" system. I am a little sad to have the fear of random encounters when you are fast traveling. Random encounters are still there when you first have to discover an area though so I can't complain too much.
Not being great at First Person type games, I can say that the VATS system is an extremely welcome part of the Fallout 3 battle system. For your information, VATS stands for Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. It allows you to stop the action and use your action points to target a specific area of an enemy's body. I have to say that it is a genius way to keep fans of the turn-based targeting system of previous Fallout games from going ballistic.
Who Forgot to Put the Brains in my Friend?
There is some good news and bad news about the companion system in Fallout 3. The good news: it is much like the original Fallout. Dogmeat is back and you have your choice of other allies ranging from a Super Mutant to a Brotherhood of Steel Knight. The bad news: it is much like the original Fallout. You have limited to no control over the actions of your companion. You would have thought that Bethesda would have at least used the Fallout 2 version as a basis of what works. Instead, you are basically forced to babysit your companion and make sure it doesn't rush straight into the middle of a firefight and get itself blown to bits.
There is nothing really bad about this game except for the companion system which is just frustrating. Despite that, it is a really enjoyable game that has an engaging main and side storyline that will keep you entertained for hours. Go out and get it.