Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition – PC
War. War never changes.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date (NA): October 28th, 2008
Nerd Rating: 8.5 / 10
So… yeah. Best game ever. Done.
Okay, that’s not really enough for a review, now, is it?
The Fallout series is legendary. If you call yourself a gamer, and you don’t know at least a bit about Fallout, you’re deluding yourself. The original Fallout came out in the long-gone days of 1997; further back, if you count the direct inspiration for the game (Wasteland, released for DoS in 1988). At a minimum, when Fallout 3 came out, it had 11 years of legacy to follow. From a more broad perspective, it had 20 effing years to live up to. That’s a pretty impressive legacy.
So, at this writing, I have over 230 hours logged onto Fallout 3. We’ll skip over the wasted life comments, and the excessive hours logged onto the previous entries in the series, shall we? What’s this Fallout 3 thing all about, that’s what you want to know, yeah?
As the game begins, your character is being born – that is to say, the game starts with your character seconds from the womb. Your father (voiced by the unforgettable Liam Neeson) asks a couple questions – what’s your gender, what are you gonna look like, and so on. Rather a lot to foist on an infant in his/her first few seconds of life, when you think about it. Once the preliminary questions are out of the way, just as the father from Taken starts to get into the details, something goes wrong – your mother goes into cardiac arrest, and you’re rushed out of the room.
After a cut-to-white filled with voices you’re going to hear later, you’re a toddler, about a year old. You choose stats (once again, let’s pause in awe at the responsibility left to a one year old), and then hear about your dear departed mother’s favorite Bible passage: Revelations 21:6: And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Then it’s a flash forward to your 10th birthday, when you find out the Overseer (the fellow in charge of the nuclear fallout vault you live) in is a jerk, and then you flash forward again into spoiler territory. Everything after that is surviving in the wasteland ruins of Washington, DC. All of this in an effort to make
your mother’s wishes, expressed in her favorite Bible verse, come true.
Nerd Bacon fans may already be familiar with the Fallout universe, either through their own play or through the multiple Fallout: New Vegas reviews on the site. If you are, Kudos! You can stop reading now and just go play the game. You either have it and know its awesomeness, or you’ve read about New Vegas and, reading this, realize that there was a game that came before it with almost identical visuals and gameplay, so there’s more to play, so you’re already fumbling over your keyboard to get the game I’m talking about right now. Good for you! That’s what you should be doing!
Although it’s dated by modern standards, the visuals of the game are still perfectly serviceable. The sound effects and music are both outstanding. The user interface is tight and responsive, and the combat is fun. Fallout 3 offers a modified real-time combat system where the character can use the V.A.T.S. system to stop time and plan out their attacks occasionally, allowing for a great deal of tactical depth without ever abandoning the overall FPS feel of the game.
As for the story itself, you can follow the main plot or ignore it as you like, wandering the wastelands and killing all the Raiders, Mole Rats, and Rad Roaches you like. Your character will progress in levels, adding to skills that in turn make you more effective in combat, allow you to be sneakier, open up new dialogue options, and on and on.
Previous Fallout games have an offbeat sense of humor, and Fallout 3 is no different. On your journeys through the Capitol Wasteland, you’ll run into many… let’s say colorful characters. These include cultists who worship an unexploded nuclear bomb, a crazed military robot, a quirky shop keeper who wants to make a survival guide – and that’s just in the first few hours of the game. As your protagonist continues through the main quest, or the huge variety of side quests, you will meet a strange and intriguing cast of characters, and steep yourself in the vast lore of one of the most fully realized post-apocalyptic settings in literary history. And that’s a good thing.
While playing, you’re not forced into some goody-two-shoes Wasteland Paladin role, either. You can be mercenary, demanding cash for everything you do. You can be downright evil. You can walk the lines of moral ambiguity, and there are places in the game where those choices aren’t as clear as you’d like them to be. This is especially true when you get into the outstanding DLC for Fallout 3, all of which is included in the GOTY edition, which is the one you should be buying… if you’re planning to buy it… which I think you should…
Fallout 3 is a game that isn’t perfect. It’s sometimes difficult to even get it running on a modern operating system. It’s buggy, even when patched to the most recent version. Heck, it’s still buggy even after using community fix patches. The game has a tendency to crash for no discernible reason, and you’ll sometimes see folks walking into solid objects.
Despite it’s faults, it’s still worth every penny you spend on it, and it has provided me hours of entertainment. On top of everything else, Fallout 3 has a still-active and helpful modding community behind it, allowing you to bring the visuals up to almost modern spec, add quests, and even whole DLC sized, community created content. In short, I can’t give it a 10, even if that’s the score it has in my heart.
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