Hey, this is Conor. I'll be in white.
If this is what to expect from 2012, bring it on.
Fallout 3, as you might expect, has the same set scenario as its predecessors – America has been struck by total nuclear annihilation and is now making the most of what it’s been left with. But don’t worry – as before, sealed underground bunkers called “Vaults” have been constructed by loony conspiracy theorists that call themselves “Vault Tec” – bunkers that have remained completely unaffected and sterile by the bombs.
The game begins with a lovely squelching sound and a blood spattered screen as you slide into the world. After two minutes of your delightful existence (During which time you choose what to look like, whether or not you have a penis, and how old you’ll look at 19) your mother suddenly dies of childbirth, and you are wheeled out of the room, coming back in at Vault 101 one year later. For the first bit of the game, dubbed by some as the tutorial stage, you come in at key days for the first 19 years of your life underground, including your 10th birthday party, and the funniest school test you’re ever likely to take. Anyway, long story short, your Dad has left the vault, something unhead of by the residents – and now, they want to bring you in for questioning and a nice cup of bullet to the brain. So, which you following him you leave the vault – and step out into the open expanse known as the capital wasteland (Capital because this is the area surrounding Washington DC). Now, Bethesda is the company that brought us Oblivion, so graphics are expected to look as magnificent as a destroyed civilisation should – and they don’t disappoint, with even the great landmarks of America’s capital including (although predictably they have been reduced to a shell of their former selves). So you step out into this wasteland, and plunder after Dad into the apocalypse.
OK, so the first thing you’ll notice out of the vault is that pretty much everything has been destroyed, but society has risen from the ashes and for some reason are still trying to kill each other. Pretty much straight out you are introduced to the levelling system of Fallout, which is good enough for the constant RPG player but simplistic enough not to scare those people you picked it up purely because it’s a FPS. Every time you level, you are given 15 points to spend in certain aspects such as your skill with guns, how well you can lockpick a door (Yes, locks do exist) and how good you are at creeping along the floor and stealing the clothes off another persons body without them noticing. You also get to choose one “Perk” each time you level – ranging from “Solar Powered” which helps you slowly regenerate health in direct sunlight (And there’s a lot of it, it never seems to rain) to the immensely fun “Bloody Mess” which helps you do more damage with all weapons, but the real reason to get it is the watch every enemy to kill explode into organs and shower the walls with blood.
Like Oblivion, Bethesda have put quests into this game – for all you CoD frequents, a quest is basically an objective to achieve. You don’t have to do them, and this is good – there’s a main quest, but you don’t have to do it until whenever you like (In fact, if you even attempt this quest before level 5 and not done any other quests then you will most likely get the shit blown out of you when you first step into urban Washington DC). But, of course, to progress in the game, quests are essential, and each quest comes with a giant XP reward that contributes towards levelling up. My criticism here is that there are not enough quests – Oblivion had some where all you had to do was walk across the room and decapitate some poor bastard trying to enjoy a pint whilst here they are spread far across the land although the average quest is decent in length and most will give you at least 30 minutes play time.
Another point to make, and you better get to grips with this, is the VATS system. I hated Fallout 3 when I first played it, because guns were so unsteady and weak spots were so hard to hit without taking a huge chunk out of your ammo supply. As soon as I figured VATS out, I started loving it – it basically freezes time whilst you choose what part of your opponents body you want your character to shoot at, depending on how far away and how clear a view you have will contribute to whether you hit or not – and you can do this about three times until your action points (or AP) run out, and then you have to rely on manual aiming whilst your action points recharge to use it again (Action Points are basically fuel for VATS). And there are no iron sights in this game – so you better be damn good with a controller.
Another point there is to cover is the Karma system. This is basically a scale of good and evil – good deeds will get you good karma (Such as helping the protagonists in quests) and bad deeds (Such as the murder of innocent people). Needless to say, it’s more fun to be bad, but I myself when I play a game am a person with a conscience that tells me to do good things. The Karma system is basically good for two things – Passing “Speech checks” – if your karma is just right, people will tell you things that may lead to easier completion of quests - and acquiring a follower – Certain people will only follow you if you are an evil character or a good character). Other than that, if you decide you like the bad Karma reputation, then you can just enjoy the sentiment of being a bastard.
So, to sum up this review, Fallout 3 is a game definitely worth buying if you are into the RPG genre, or indeed, the FPS genre. This is brilliant fun for the person who thinks on a day to day that they would be able to survive in an apocalypse. Awesome gameplay, and although as I write New Vegas has just come out (Broken Xbox ftl) beforehand, it definitely made me excited for it.
Score – 8/10
+ Great game play, can be played for months before you do everything there is to do.
+ Familiar RPG system combined with a popular genre (FPS)
Glitches – Getting stuck in the rocks of the wasteland isn’t very fun at all.
- “Copy and Paste” feel about the landscape (“Hey, I saw that rock before!”)