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Submitted by Chris Leyton on October 29 2008 - 00:33

TVG travels across a barren Washington D.C and pulverises a few Supermutant heads on the way...

Pros
  • Utterly convincing free-roaming RPG.
  • V.A.T.S brings strategy and entertainment.
  • Depth beyond the main storyline.
Cons
  • Karma system is a little too clinical.
  • Merely Oblivion in a post-apocalyptic world.
  • Lack of pop-culture references for Fallout fans.

War, war never changes... 

Perhaps one of the most iconic phrases uttered in a videogame (up there with “It’s me, Mario”), and almost certainly the most banal way to begin a review of the return of the illustrious Fallout series 

Some things, however, have changed.  Eleven years after the original Fallout first appeared as an isometric RPG, and following the collapse of Interplay, we finally have the third chapter courtesy of new owners and creators of The Elder Scrolls, Bethesda Softworks.  Understandably Bethesda's reign over Fallout begins with its own chapter in the Fallout canon.  Wisely recognising that they couldn't rely upon an ageing PC fanbase (let’s not mention previous console Fallout titles) to make up the numbers, Bethesda has created Fallout 3 for fanatics and newcomers alike.  Opting to tell its own tale set 200 years after the Great War, Fallout 3 doesn't delve particularly deeply into storyline aspects associated with the first two titles but it does bring newcomers up to speed with the facts surrounding the Great War, the Vaults, Supermutants, and The Brotherhood of Steel. 

Beginning quite literally at the beginning with the protagonist’s birth, character creation in Fallout 3 immediately employs some witty references to the original titles.  The S.P.E.C.I.A.L (Stamina, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) setup works in conjunction with a streamlined pool of Traits and Perks from the original, to provide a thoroughly deep and expansive setup that stays truthful enough to satisfy fans of the original.  Bethesda evidently has an expertise at creating open, free-roaming RPGs where you create your own character and carve your own adventure, so it’s not such a surprise that Bethesda has brought this to Fallout 3.  The choice of attributes and traits largely dictates how your experience in Fallout 3 will pan out.  Like Oblivion and Deus Ex before it, opting for skills in Charisma or Intelligence will bring benefits when it comes to communicating with characters or hacking into computer terminals, whilst those who opt for the more action-based approach can just ram through such diplomatic/stealth options with a well placed shotgun blast to anybody that opposes.  Despite some fears surrounding where Bethesda was planning to take Falllout, the simple fact is that they're the only studio that could possibly offer a pedigree and understanding worthy of the Fallout heritage.   

The main storyline mission centres on the quest to find your wayward father who abruptly left the Vault before you, and his experiments with ‘Project Purity’.  However once you've left the Vault for the first time, Fallout 3 opens up in in the traditional Bethesda manner.  The first moment you step outside of the Vault and adjust your eyes to the bleaching sunlight is as memorable as the first steps into Oblivion’s Cyrodiil.  Whilst it's entirely possible to rush through the main storyline in a relatively modest amount of hours, the true testimony is getting yourself lost in the beautiful barren wastelands and encountering the many individuals you'll come across during your adventure.  Missions are split between the primary storyline, main side quests that feel accomplished in their own right, and a handful of lesser challenges that serve as little more than padding and room to grab some experience points to level up your character.  Rarely degenerating into the 'Kill 10 Radroaches' variety, quests often require unearthing notes to gain valuable clues,   conversing with other characters for further information and are largely of a challenging and involving design that present multitudes of possible solutions.

Despite being a barren and desolate place, Washington D.C is an engaging gameworld to explore.  The way in which different groups have formed to survive is well told and only really appreciated once you deviate away from the main path.  Attributes have quite an effect on dialogue and the choices you can make, with percentage scores indicating the chances you’ll succeed with a response based upon a certain attribute.  For example, when conversing with scientists you can have the option to impress them with your scientific knowledge, or perhaps intimidate them with the threat of brute force.  It’s entirely possible to talk your way around some of the challenges that the game provides instead of taking the hard route, which highlights the many layers of choice running throughout Fallout 3.

In a nod to the original, Bethesda has come up with something quite original when it comes to combat.  The V.A.T.S system sits somewhere between real-time action and the turn-based combat featured in the original Fallout titles.  Carefully balanced by the player's Action Points, so it never becomes too cheap, V.A.T.S pauses the action and allows you to target individual areas of your opponent's body with the aid of percentage scores indicating the chances of success based on distance, armour, and your prowess with the currently selected weapon.  Employing a variety of stylishly gritty camera angles, V.A.T.S adds both tactical elements to the action along with visceral, gory entertainment; it's certainly one of Fallout 3's most striking elements and a convincing success.

The Karma system however is perhaps an area of contention for long-standing fans of the series.  Adding or deducting points based on your good or evil acts the setup is a little too clinical for its own good.  It’s all too easy to change your alignment as and when you need (purified water to beggars or stealing), and whilst we can understand Bethesda not wanting players to become too restricted by one or two choices, the setup may be a little too 'black and white' for fans of Fallout.  Morality is a grey area in reality and it would have been more satisfying to see things a little more muddied up instead of the calculated approach that Fallout 3 adopts whilst adding some weight to your decisions wouldn't have gone amiss – Megaton aside.

The relative scarcity of ammo, weapons, and currency, creates a suitable sense of anxiety to the proceedings with surviving and scavenging two key elements that Bethesda has absolutely nailed in Fallout 3.  Following the Great War radiation is still an issue you’ll have to deal with by avoiding areas that are high in radioactivity and addressing dilemmas like eating contaminated food at the cost of radioactive sickness.  Things as simple as purified water can be hard to come by, but the abundance of attribute-buffing Chems plays an important part.  The downside of course is addiction and the withdrawal symptoms that you’ll develop, when you get a little too eager to rely upon the narcotic option.  This is another element that Fallout 3 handles effectively.  There will be times when dosing up on Jet and Med-X are the only way to survive a particularly tough section, however soon you’ll find yourself dizzy and disorientated from the effects of taking a little too much – seems you can have too much of a good thing!  Equally radiation needs to be kept in check with a supply of drugs to reduce your current level of radiation sickness.  These elements of the game develop the sense of playing in a post-apocalyptic setting, and certainly bring a well realised element to the gameplay.

Despite the many similarities between Fallout 3 and Oblivion, Bethesda has managed to address many of the issues that the team faced with its 2006 epic RPG.  Most notably they've tuned the heavily criticised difficulty balancing system, which governed loot and opponents based around the player's current level.  Sitting somewhere in between the scaling and a traditional RPG approach, the result is a setup that throws up significantly less 'odd' moments (so you won’t find any Raiders in Power Armour) and continues to promote Bethesda's free-roaming blueprint.  It's also a wise move to insist player's level up immediately instead of waiting around  to sleep to avoid any Lvl 1 game completed embarrassments and unlike Oblivion gaining XP isn’t tied to repeatedly performing actions but instead around worthwhile activities such as completing missions, killing opponents, finding locations, picking locks, and hacking terminals. 

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  • Graphics: 93%
     
  • Sound: 91%
     
  • Gameplay: 91%
     
  • Originality: 88%
     
  • Longevity: 94%
     
Overall Score: 9/10
There's no denying Fallout 3 is little more than Oblivion in a post-apocalyptic setting.  However that's more a compliment than complaint.  Few games offer the same level of scale, freedom, and depth as to what Bethesda regularly achieves, and whilst the odd simplification and issue will infuriate fanatical Fallout fans, Fallout 3 remains one of the most absorbing and deep RPGs we've enjoyed in quite a long time.

 

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By: Anonymous

Added:Mon 08th Oct 2012 19:04, Post No: 155

Fallout 4 is going to be placed in boston it will be made with the same engine skyrim was made and its going to be sweet....! And BETHESDA PLEASE PUT RAY CHARLES IN THAT RADIO JUST BECAUSE HIS MUSIC IS SO COOL EXAMPLE, Hit the road jack, and, Mess around are two very good songs for the game!


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By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 18th Sep 2012 19:05, Post No: 154

theres also a rumour it is based in Boston

I would love to see a fallout game on vita would defo buy a vita if there was.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 18th Sep 2012 19:04, Post No: 153

I totally Agree with Anonymous The Fallout games are american historically so changing it to britain or another country would let the game down dramatically Fallout is america end of story no point doing another country would like to see them revisit chicago tho.


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Mon 27th Aug 2012 15:35, Post No: 152

obviously some people dont understand how fallout works, its supposed to be post apocalyptic plus fallout 3 was rebuilding humanity (waters of life), seriously understand the fallout story plus if you had'nt noticed fallout 3 was based on an alternative 1950's theme but obviously 200 years after the bombs dropped.

 

by changing the country would ruin the story and felling of the game plus it would loose tons of character there would be no point calling it fallout if every thing was being rebuilt, keep fallout in the same country and overall feel of the current games "fallout 3 and fallout new vegas", change it and fallout wont be fallout no more.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Sun 12th Aug 2012 23:43, Post No: 151

please make fallout 3 for vita

 


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By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 17th Jul 2012 10:49, Post No: 150

Theres a rumour it's based in San Fransico


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By: Anonymous

Added:Wed 11th Jul 2012 19:54, Post No: 149

Caesars Legion gonna be there, now it's or NCR or something else, ofc there's gonna be a free republic of whereever this is. I say that a good thing is real technological advanced ppl coming from Europe/other places. We'll have 4 sides : Free whatever place(F:NV _ Yes Man/House) NCR(good),Legion(Evil), technologica advancement to america gonna be lead by these new ppl(also good) 


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By: Anonymous

Added:Wed 28th Mar 2012 03:58, Post No: 148

FALLOUT 4 FTW

 

also im gunna fap to this game when i play it

 


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By: Anonymous

Added:Sat 10th Mar 2012 04:14, Post No: 147

fallout 4 should take place in either l.a nyc or miami, as long as its in the u.s I dont care, but we should be trying to rebuild now, not just shooting the world up, dont get me wrong, thats very fun, but it gets boring when thats the main thing you do, like maybe you could build settlements and such, and then maybe a few dlc in different countries like russia or china, or some random country thats still intact


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Sun 04th Mar 2012 23:56, Post No: 146

In Fallout 4 I would hope that they would have the same system and objects but then add amazing stuff that none of the fans have ever seen before like maby in a different country or actually "rebuilding humanity"


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