Review: Fallout 3

I hate RPGs. I absolutely hated Oblivion, and I hate all turn-based games with a passion. I also feel as if the 360 is overloaded with shooting games. And as Fallout 3 is described as “Oblivion with guns and the addition of a turn-based-esque shooting system” then it should be obvious that I hate it with a passion. Except I don’t. I love it.

You start the game by escaping from your mother’s womb, and instantly get asked some rather perplexing questions (for a newborn) such as “Are you a girl or boy” and “What will you look like when your older?”. From then you get to play out a few short sections from key points of your life in a vault (and underground bunker where you’re safe form the nuclear apocalypse outside). This serves as a great way of deciding what kind of character you want to be in the game, as well as your relationship with your father.

When you’re 19, you get kidnapped and taken away, so Qui Gon Jinn (who happens to be an ex-spy and your dad) goes off searching for the kidnappers, killing pretty much everyone in his way. Hang on…I’m thinking of something else.

You get to the age of 19 and your dad escapes from the vault, leaving you behind. The Overseer (the guy in charge) thinks that you have something to do with this and orders your death. And so you have to make it to the outside world – the post apocalyptic ruins of DC – and start fending for yourself. And that’s where the game begins.

The first town you’ll probably visit is Megaton, which just happens to be build around an undetonated nuclear bomb, which is the main mission for deciding to be good or evil: you can either disarm it or blow it up. Even though this mission has a large impact on karma, there are still a great many deeds to send karma the opposite way if you decide to change – so you’re never stuck (although if you wipe out a few towns then it’ll be very hard to become good). Unfortunately, some reactions to being evil (the killing random people kind of evil) are a tad off. Kill part of a family in front of the rest, go away for a few days and come back. They’ll welcome you with open arms.

The VATS system, which allows you to freeze time and pick a body part to target, is actually rather good, especially as you’ll see a bloody, exploding mess if you kill something. It’s effective and it works well – which means that you’ll be using it a lot. Combat without VATS still works fairly well. The only gripe I have with the combat system is long-range combat. VATS is utterly useless and your characters inaccuracy is laid up on top of your own inaccuracy so it’s virtually impossible to hit someone at long range. The best tactic is to run right up to someone and shotgun them. Although other weapons work just as well.

Speaking of the weapons, Fallout 3 has a great range of weapons: melee weapons, pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, explosives, rocket launchers, lasers and many, many more. On top of this, there are one or two special versions of each weapon that you can acquire throughout the game. These range from slightly more powerful versions, to…well…it’s best leaving that until you find out (hint: It’s the upgraded version of the “Fat Man”).

The main quest of the game (relating to your father and his work) is rather short. There are, however, tonnes of optional quests with quite a few different ways to complete (or chose not to complete) each one. The local radio – which also has some rather nice old music – also comments on the outcome once you’ve completed each one. These quests are also very varied, and you can get alternate options depending on your stats, karma and perks (which you get by levelling up). Outside of the main and optional quests hundreds of side-quests, which result in more equipment, money or sometimes nothing (except the feeling that you’ve done something right…or wrong). It really does feel like a massive world.

Like the side-quests, there are hundreds of locations, some are small and some are massive. If you just went through the main story then you’ll only see a tiny fraction of the game’s world. Interestingly, a lot of these locations seem to correspond to the real DC, just scaled down as the only form of transport is your own two legs (once you’ve visited a place you can teleport there, though).

Which brings us to the graphics. While a lot of it looks low-res when up close, it’s still a staggering feat for a game of this type. There are plenty of memorable locations, but also a ton of dull, dark subways and tunnels. The lighting is done amazingly well, although your pip-boy light can sometimes be totally useless (and often turns off by itself when you go through doors). The gore effects look ace (as said before) and the visuals do their job really well.

Fallout 3 is a game built on an epic scale. The world is massive, the gameplay is brilliant and it’s a wonderful experience. While the main story is a tad naff, there are tonnes of great “mini-stories” and other stuff to do in the game. It really does feel like a free world, full of great characters, interesting locations and weapons that make a gorgeous mess.

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