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Fallout 3 is a new game that makes a noble attempt to carry on the memory of the Fallout series. It features a mix of role-playing aspects and first-person shooter gameplay. There is also a large area to explore with plenty of ruins to raid. You'll also be fighting mutants in the street and eventually unraveling a big conspiracy. There are also plenty of quests to occupy your time.
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The expansive world is probably the best feature that comes with Fallout 3. The map will probably require about twenty minutes or more of walking to go end to end and you'll usually run into many abandoned buildings and towns that have a lot to explore. A big part of the game is actually the aspect of having to scavenge the ammunition and first aid packs that you'll need. This actually makes the beginning of the game a really unique experience, where you'll need to make every bullet count. One of the worst aspects for me was the slow disappearance of the “wasteland raider" feel that the early parts had.
The VATS system is another big feature. It's supposed to be a mixture of the old turned-based combat and the new real-time combat. In the end, it's basically just a cool feature that makes for some cinematic shots with slightly better accuracy. It often breaks the flow of gameplay and makes fights too easy. The system basically just has the game go into slow motion and carry out a few attacks for you. That said, it is always fun to watch a rifle round travel in slow motion until it blows your opponent's head apart.
There is a skill system in place along with perks, but they weren't that satisfying to be honest. The problem with the game comes in the form of a strange break of reality. My “small guns" skill shouldn't matter if I shoot an unarmored raider in the head. In the end, it just works to push up some arbitrary numbers and just doesn't feel that necessary. It doesn't even have much of an impact. Besides lockpicking and hacking, none of the skills really felt like they made my character better. It just pushed up the effects of a few items.
The quests are also a bit of a one trick pony. There are a few cool options, but they usually feel like the same fetch quests that Oblivion used ad nausea. They are alright as a method of driving the plot, but it just didn't feel like there was much of a consequence for the any of the choices. The worst that usually happens is that the game's radio station will insult you over the radio. It doesn't feel as good as it could have been.
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The graphics are just beautiful. The models are detailed and the enemies vibrant. One area that really shines is the environment of the game. It really feels like a run-down world which creates an amazingly realistic atmosphere. The wasteland really feels harsh and you actually feel a sense of relief as you find shelter. The sunsets are beautiful and everything feels engrossing. The explosions are also well done.
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There's no multiplayer that's officially supported. A multiplayer mod may eventually be published, but I wouldn't hold my breath for a quality experience.
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This is going to be the bad thing for a number of people. The minimum requirements aren't too bad. You need 1 GB of RAM, a 2.4 Ghz processor, and a 256 MB video card. Anything above the Nvidia 6800 series or the ATI X850 series will handle it.
They will just barely handle it though. You will need about twice the minimum to get high quality gameplay. I'm actually a little below the recommended when it comes to the video card. My XPS has 3 gig of RAM, a 2.6 Ghz processor, and a Nvidia 8700M GT video card. I could run most of it on high but I had to turn off anti-aliasing to cut out the lag.
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I don't know what to say about the game. It's seriously flawed in some ways. The skills need to be better, the enemies get repetitive, there are far too many boring subway levels you have to go through, the quests aren't diverse or numerous enough, there aren't enough consequences for your actions, money isn't worth much since you find everything you'll use, and the main quest line is boring and guided to a permanent end to the game.
That said, it's one of the better games released this year. The gameplay will happily draw you in if you let it. It's far from perfect, but it's still good. Walking through the wasteland at night looking around for enemies in the darkness is just one memorable experience. You'll be able to pave your own way and really feel like a wasteland raider or hero. Fallout 3 could have been a lot better, but it's still an interesting game. The recent release of the game editor should also mean that a series of mods will rush the market to fix out the little issues. It did happen with Oblivion. I'll keep my fingers crossed.