Fallout 3 – Xbox 360
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date (NA): October 28th, 2008
Genre: Action RPG
Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Ten years after the release of the final main game in the Fallout series, Fallout 2, the long awaited third installment was released…..by Bethesda Softworks. And thus began a divide in the Fallout fanbase. Fallout 3 wasn’t Van Buren, nor was it the Fallout we remembered. Instead, it became Bethesda Softworks, the new holder of the franchise rights’, take on the Fallout world. And it played a lot like Oblivion…
While there’s plenty that could be said about the evolution of the Western RPG and how Fallout 3‘s handling could seem like an allegory for it, but that’s enough to fill out another article. So let’s get this out of the way now; I thought Fallout 3 was a fun RPG, but not that great of a Fallout game. So while I don’t agree with those who proclaim it as some kind of pinnacle of gaming, I do think that Fallout 3 does have some merit as its own title.
Now for the meat and bones of the game. Fallout 3 is an action RPG that uses an engine similar to Bethesda’s other title released a few years prior, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Now, the two games aren’t exactly alike; there’s plenty of tweaks from the old engine used in Fallout 3, especially in the case of attempting to integrate familiar pieces of the old Fallout character creation into the new one.
Bethesda actually did a pretty awesome job bringing back many of the perks, skills, and S.P.E.C.I.A.L. from Fallout 2. Although traits wouldn’t appear until Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas, things haven’t changed too drastically on this front.
Similar to the first Fallout game, the player takes on the role of a Vault Dweller. This time, the protagonist leaves the vault to search for his or her father who has left the safety of their vault for the Capital Wasteland. The main quest of Fallout 3 follows the protagonist’s short search for their father, but mostly the completion of Project Purity amid the war between the Enclave and Brotherhood of Steel. The story’s pretty linear with only a few instances where the player is given any serious choices.
Overall, the main quest is pretty short and pretty so-so. However, there are plenty of other smaller side and unmarked quests that are much more interesting. There’s a lot of interesting references packed into them, such as the old 50s Sci-fi horror film Them! and the obligatory H.P. Lovecraftian-inspired locale. In fact, the amount of lore found in and around the D.C. Ruins tends to tell a much more interesting story than the actual story.
As you would’ve probably guessed, the Capital Wasteland is large and full of things to explore. However, the world itself is pretty desolate and empty. Previous games have shown just how full of life the Wastes are, yet the Capital Wasteland is simply void of life. It’s pretty underwhelming that Bethesda didn’t take advantage of the rich lore from the Fallout series to fill up their Wasteland with a similarly complex society.
In an incredibly strange turn, however, Bethesda integrated two long-time series factions: the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave. For some reasons, they changed the Brotherhood from their old isolationist, pre-war tech hoarding selves into a charitable organization willing to help mankind.
Fallout 3‘s writing at times definitely feels less mature and interesting as the previous games, but there are some interesting characters and quests to go on. For instance, you have the eight possible companions: Butch DeLoria, Charon, Clover, Dogmeat, Fawkes, Jericho, Sergeant RL-3, and Star Paladin Cross. While they don’t carry perks or their own personal quests, they can be fun to travel with…..provided they don’t die first…
So, overall I don’t feel like Bethesda did too bad a job with Fallout 3. They did at least try to keep many of the old elements from the previous titles, it’s just…different. But keep in mind, different doesn’t always mean bad. While I personally think Fallout: New Vegas was the superior seventh generation Fallout title, there is some fun to be had here.
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