* Awarded Extreme Gamer's Best RPG Game of '08, Most Mojo of '08, and Follow-Up Release of '08
After the Bethesda Softworks dazzled us with The Elder Scrolls IV they have decided to tackle another massive project in reviving the Fallout series. It has been over ten years since the Fallout crawled out of Vault 13, which makes it the timing right for another look into the rich and entertaining Fallout universe. Black Isle Games should be proud of Bethesda’s unique Van Buren.
The stigma of calling Fallout 3 "Oblivion with guns" has taunted Fallout 3 ever since screens started to immerge from the Fallout camp. This statement is over-hyped and needs to be put to rest because it is not true. If you are a casual observer who hasn’t played either game then you might think that statement has merit from a quick glance, but once you have spent time in each game you will realize both games are uniquely different while sharing a similar game structure. That was only the tip of the ice-berg of criticism that has been flooding the internet after Fallout 3 was announced. In the defense of Fallout fanboys, the original two Fallout games are cult-classics that have been done wrong in the past, so I can see why the Fallout community was nervous with a "next-gen" return to Fallout. At least Fallout 3 has finally been released after years of development and the worrying has been silenced as Fallout 3 proves itself worthy of their own vault-tech.
Growing up in a Vault
Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, 30 years after the events in Fallout 2. In a post-apocalyptic version of the Washington D.C. you will travel across the wasteland investigating the remains of humanity that cling to life on a day-to-day basis. This holocaust holiday starts in Vault 101 in one of most unlikely of places, your birth. Starting from your mother’s womb you will live you life in a scattered series of game selections at ages 1, 10, 16 and 19 until a series events arise casting you from the vault in search for your fugitive father. In the wastelands for the first time, Bethesda lays the world out giving you total freedom to explore your surroundings. What you do and how you play the game is up to you. The main object is to find your father, but as you can suspect things are a lot more complicated then a simple rescue plot. Fallout 3 has many layers and a hundred things to do besides the main quest.
Thank You, GPS
If you get easily sidetracked Fallout 3 can be a mess of a game to get sorted. The main quest always directs you in locations that will spawn alternative quests if you start nosing around and before you know it you have a list of missions to complete. For those who only want to participate in the main portion of the game and don’t like adventuring too much your going to have to ignore the needy begging from the wasteland hopeless and work towards finding your dad through the rummage of Washington. On the other side of the coin, if you enjoy getting the most out of your game and exploring every nook and cranny then you are looking at a good 100hr adventure that will put you through a number of entertaining side-quests along side the main mission. From Mutated Vampires to Russian Pimps, Fallout 3 will open your eyes to all sorts of strange characters and interesting backdrops.
Gamers familiar with Oblivion will instantly recognize the bits of the 'Elder Scrolls' that have slipped into Fallout 3. For the most part Fallout 3 adds even more content than Oblivion did, minus the spell creation. Fallout 3 digs deeper into character customization and resource management then Oblivion with an dark and morbid sense of humour. Fallout 3 should feel familiar and yet different for those who have fought against the Daedra armies. The largest difference in Fallout 3 is the combat, and yes, Fallout has guns... and big ones at that. The system running the show uses a similar real-time statistics based combat system that is has been enhanced with special targeting system called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System). When VATS is triggered a green overlay will fill the screen with the targeted figure highlighted and divided by body parts and the percentage to hit. This is used for targeting certain aspects of a human, or creature looking to strategically wear them down or a simple critical hit.
Using vats is combined with action points like the old Fallout games that replenish in time. A lot of variables come in to play when using VATS which makes it interesting and astonishingly never grows old. When you use your weapon in VATS the action plays out in slow motion and speeds up to real-time. This is how you get those bloody dismembering slow motion shots you might have seen in clips from the game. VATS is the best way to blow someone’s head into little chunks and it’s for the faint at heart. When you are not using VATS standard FPS gameplay applies to everything but the hit percentage, remember you stats always play a role in your ability to hit a target.
Including fixing your weapons, you can create your own gadgets to help you stay alive longer out in the nuclear wasteland. Ones man junk is another mans treasure in Fallout 3 as you will come across countless random parts that can be pieced together to make some interesting inventions. First step is finding the blue prints to a new invention; secondary is finding the components and then finally building the unit. Making new inventions isn’t a major part of the game and some inventions can be simply found, but it’s a nice touch that makes exploration a little more fun when you are collecting more than human fingers.
Leveling up in Fallout 3 is done through killing and using abilities and quests not by in game actions like pointless shooting or running up hills. As you level up you will be able to spend your experience points on different attributes that can help you in battle, or in the more traditional use of skills. The main statistics are special, well spell out special from the first letter of each statistic, “S”peed, “P”erception, “E”ndurance, “C”harisma, “I”ntellegence, “A”gility, and “L”uck. You also get to pick from a list of perks when you level up that grant you a special ability. After your normal numerical statistics you have a number of skills you can invest in like Lock picking, Science, Barter, Big Guns, Melee Weapons and more.
Frosting your character are the Perks, the last and most interesting one aspect of your character. Each level you gain you will get to pick a new perk which adds up until you hit the level 20 cap. Aside from the normal perks that can be picked every level you can gain new ones like “Rad Regeneration” when you complete quests. The list is too long to go into all of them so here is a little insight into a few of my chosen perks. “Scoundrel" - extra wily charms to influence people, “Pyromaniac” +50% damage with fire-based weapons and “Gunslinger” - V.A.T.S. accuracy increased with pistols... I think you get the point. When you add all these aspects together, Fallout 3 is indeed a diverse role-playing game that be approach and replayed in several different ways depending on your actions and your characters skills.