RETRO – Would you like to see anime type youth? Long haired, big eyed, short skirted anime girls? How about happy sunshine, and blue water, and fun monsters, love, and intrigue? A colorful game with green fields that have bunnies on them? Well then do not play Fallout 3, I recommend another JRPG instead of this title. This title oozes depression, as it takes place after a post-apocalyptic world devastated by nuclear fallout, and it is as gory, cynical, brutal as its legendary predecessors were.
The story of Fallout 3 starts in the legendary Vault 101. The character (named by us) is a child of a scientist. Unfortunately, the mother dies after giving birth to us, so only the dad (voiced by Liam Neeson) gets to guide our first steps in the world. Have you played an RPG where you take part in a child’s development? Well here you can do that: walking towards the door, so that after you opened it, you can pick up a toy, then later you can baby talk with your dad to try out the speech system.
Later you’ll have your birthday party, and in your teenage years, you’ll have to take a personality test that will determine your traits. At the final part of your learning years, you’ll have to leave Vault 101 as your dad left for some mysterious reason. You’ll have to follow him, and figure out why he left, and what is beyond Vault 101. You’ll find out soon, just step out of Vault 101’s doors.
War… war never changes…
Those who played the first two Fallout games will feel a gut punch when they see the Post-Apocalyptic world envisioned by Bethesda. “Barren” is not enough of to describe the land that is shown to us: old ruined houses, cars entirely encased in rust, deserts plagued by the radiation of the nuclear strike, toxic rivers, puddles everywhere.
It’s reminiscent of S.T.A.L.K.E.R’s horrific environments – however, here it has even more of a post-apocalyptic feeling. Then we encounter our first enemies (besides the ones in Vault 101, that were the mutated rats, and a few security guards): all of them are aggressive creatures, out for blood, and grew to an enormous size due to the fallout.
The people outside are not that much different: part of bands and groups that are similar to the ones seen in Mad Max or other movies. The Taloncorp’s mercenaries and ghouls will keep attacking us in the beginning. We will feel lost at first as we’ll scavenge for weapons in the ruins of the old city to survive the encounters. Bethesda was able to nail the feeling of the old Fallout games, and everything is uniquely depressing, yet grotesque but somehow funny, and this becomes apparent after taking a few steps out into the Capital Wasteland.
The detailed graphics, the use of well-placed brownish colors result in a very great atmosphere and enhances the immersion factor. We’re only at the beginning of the game! And by following the compass, we arrive at our first mission’s location.
Welcome to Megatown!
The game’s first town is one of the most typical, most characteristic Fallout 3 location in the entire story. Megatown’s citizens decided to build their town around an (yet) unexploded nuclear bomb, WTF – we scream as we once see this. Well yes, the cynicism of Fallout 3 competes with Grand Theft Auto: sometimes the people are here are just as stupid. The “town” was built from scavenged ruins and is governed by a Sheriff. Just as every RPG we’ll find a tavern, a gun shop, or a medic, plus loads of other fun characters.
Have you ever talked to a zombie (sorry: Ghoul) who works in a tavern, and is depressed that no one likes him even though he is also a creature with feelings? He even notes with irony: “Hit my back it’s hilarious how my body parts crack haha”. Once we get to know everyone we’ll have our first moral dilemma: Do we save the town, by disarming the nuke, or upon request, we blow it up instead?
Jack-of-all-trades in advantage?
However to disarm the nuke (if we decide that way) first we’ll need to level up our skill related to explosives. As we will travel most of the times alone (we might be followers later, for example, Dogmeat) because of this, we’ll need to level up a lot of abilities. These perks are important in missions, as we’ll only be able to repair the robot next to the mall if the “repair” skill is high enough, however at times, we’ll need the science skill for other mission.
It is necessary for survival to use different firearms, and Fallout 3 separates them into different groups: small arms, rifles, pistols, and even energy weapons skill can be leveled up. Raw fire power is not enough. Want to break the lock on the rooms that hold the best weapons, medicine, food, and combat drugs? Well then upgrade your lockpick skill, or you won’t be able to access them. Want to hack into computer systems? You’ll need to upgrade that science skill nerd boy or you’ll never get forward!
It’s a good thing to be a jack of all trades, however it is best to be specialized in something – you’ll have to think through where to put those heard earned experience points. Speaking of special, as in S.P.E.C.I.A.L : you’ll be able to upgrade different base skills such as intelligence, strength, agility etc.. However there are other more interesting perks, or special abilities that can be upgraded over time. Old-school Fallout fans will remember these, but for those who just joined the series we’ll find this “exotic” and a fun way to level up. The Fallout character leveling system is still probably one of the most original in RPG systems, and Bethesda was able to implement it correctly to this sequel.
What a wonderful… radioactive world
Done with Megatown? Talked with everyone? Hacked their computers? Stole their valuables? Done all the missions? Well, then it is time to step out of the city. This is where you’ll actually explore Fallout 3, and realize that it is large yet well-crafted. Reaching any of the major locations will earn us experience points, and will be added to our Pip boy log, and will allow us to travel to anywhere. The only restriction to fast travel is if there are monsters, or enemies near and attacking us and if we are over our carry limit. The new locations can be explored in the ruins of the old metro system in DC.
However, we’ll need to read the signs properly, or we can end up lost here. The metro system is of course filled with monsters, enemies, and ghouls. Also some of the missions take place here. We won’t be able to use the metro cars themselves, we only just see their ruins.
We’ll have to spend a lot of time in the different building, office complexes, and in other installations, rarely wandering outside. All of the interiors are well designed, and of course, all of them have the markings of an atomic strike, all of them are varied in look. The only part that bugged me is that some of them were created in a rather chaotic way, and you can get lost at times, plus some of them are boring or monotonous.
However, I rarely felt that the combat itself is monotonous: Bethesda did a great job here. We can select from first or third person view. It is recommended using the first person view in case of firearms. Besides the usual FPS/TPS combat there is the fun system called V.A.T.S.: when using this, time slows down and we can target a specific body part for our hero (without us needing to aim). The enemy fires when we initiate our commands but our shoots usually impact first (When we actually hit the target, as with VATS we can misfire at times if we did not level up some of our skills).
A simple player would probably use VATS all the time to cheat through the game: however, this needs to be avoided as every shoot consumes an action point which depletes after a few shots. The player will then have to aim manually, or try to hide until the points recharge. To make this more difficult the enemies at this point will try to rush us, and this could result in uncomfortable situations, especially if low on health and ammo.
The AI is okay: the monsters and human enemies take cover, even retreat in certain cases, they also try to flank us at times. However they do not call for backup, and they can just stay in the line of fire at times waiting to be killed. If we try a sneak attack (A shot that connects while the enemy did not notice us) we get a huge XP bonus, so it is worth trying it out. The combat is hectic and gory: it’s not uncommon for a shot to blow up a head or a limb. The developers went overboard with this and at times a shot to the head will eviscerate the victim, and it’s limbs.
This is not a child story
For those who felt that the combat in Mass Effect was dull, and likes steak rare, then that player will enjoy Fallout 3. It’s not only violent but has the use of alcohol and drugs icon, will probably end up on the game’s box, as sometimes these items can be used. For instances, if we drink whiskey to the last drop we gain strength and can carry more items (we do get dumber for a time).
The special perks from drug use will allow us to aim better, do more damage or have better endurance. The only drawback is that we can become addicts, and due to this from time to time our vision blurs. It is not a big problem as we can just find a doctor and for a fee we can get cured of our addiction pretty quickly.
Fallout 3’s graphics are nice, but they are not jaw-dropping as Oblivion was three years ago. Although the engine cannot shine that much due to the subject matter, and everywhere is brownish – grayish color scheme, it can become a bit monotonous for some. The monsters and humans are okay but don’t look as great compared to Mass Effect.
The mutants are funny, but not too detailed, and the ghouls are frightening, but especially the most civilized versions of them. The males are well-designed, but at times the female faces are weird and does not seem as high quality. The audio / music in the game is fantastic, and the Galaxy News radio’s tracks are phenomenal: it is fantastic to listen to 50s American music while seeing a mutant’s head explode.
It does not protect you from this
In the case of a nuclear fallout, it is important to bring this game with us to the shelter. As it is not only a great game but a well-done RPG – well if you complete all of the side-quests. If you only complete the main game, you’ll still get a 40-hour gameplay, but if you are a perfectionist, you’ll end up with a 70-80 hour gameplay.
The game’s atmosphere is well done, and the final mission’s resolution is only weakened by the stupid ending. The other negative part is the monotonous and boring level design at parts. Bethesda besides the above two problems almost reached Mass Effect score by a few percent. Still, it is a very well done RPG, and everyone should try it.
+ Perfect Fallout atmosphere
+ Well designed missions
+ VATS combat system
– Lame ending (Fixed by the DLC)
– Some of the interiors is monotonous and maze-like
– Some weird and stupid missions
Genres: RPG, taktikai, action
Publication: November, 2008,