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Fallout 3 – Xbox 360

Fallout 3 – Xbox 360

Fallout 3 Cover Art

 

     Platform: Xbox 360

     Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

     Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

     Release Date: October 28th, 2008

     Genre: Adventure, RPG

     Nerd Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed by THEbipolarBear

 

 

 

Coming from a long line of impressive predecessors, Fallout 3 had large shoes to fill and incredibly high expectations to meet. With the Fallout name having been passed from Interplay Entertainment (Fallout) to Black Isle Studios (Fallout 2) and now to Bethesda, hope in the franchise was both at its peak and at its most vulnerable. Upon its release, Bethesda had struck gold. The gameplay was smooth and interesting, the open world offered countless hours of exploration, and the customization kept gamers coming back again and again, causing a fantastic game and a legendary series.

These devastating mutants are extremely quick and incredibly strong

These devastating mutants are extremely quick and incredibly strong

The Fallout series takes place in a technologically-advanced, post-apocalyptic world, as if the planet did, in fact, decide to blow itself into oblivion with nuclear bombs in the events following the end of the World Wars. In Fallout 3, you play from birth to your prime in the lovely radiation-ridden Washington D.C., and even after the big bang, politics and corruption still grasp the capitol in its greedy mitts. The land is also crawling with terrible monsters and awful mutated creatures (no X-men here); many of them are derived from the human species, but some are descendants of bugs or crustaceans. Your vault-raised character runs through this foreign land chasing after his/her father, and the horribly interesting beings that the character encounters along the way keep the journey interesting.

Fallout 3 is well-noted for its excellent gameplay. Unlike most set third-person or first-person games of the day, this one lets you choose to showboat your fashion and/or extreme armor through third-person gameplay or experience the immersive intensity of first-person gameplay. The acquisition of new weapons and items is flawlessly staged, with the best of the best trophies in the worst of the worst areas of the map. The game is never too hard as long as you stay within your limits, and never too easy as long as you choose to challenge yourself. For example, the first few missions only require the most basic items and skills, while the quests to become part of the most prestigious brotherhood in the world require the best available items and an extreme amount of skills. But no matter how much accomplishment and pure joy you receive from one difficult mission, there always seems to be yet another objective that, of course, you can pull off with a little effort.

This is the V.A.T.S. screen - the meter is on the bottom right.

This is the V.A.T.S. screen – the meter is on the bottom right.

Furthermore, Fallout 3 includes an innovative featured named V.A.T.S.. No, it’s not video-assisted thoracic surgery, but Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. This allows the player to temporarily and drastically slow time and mark his/her targets with the aid of the shot’s hit-percentage and damage statistics. The V.A.T.S. meter can be upgraded periodically throughout the game after leveling up, since the action points it requires will run out after a number of shots. The cost of each shot is dependent on the type of gun, and they draw upon action points, as stated above, which are displayed in the V.A.T.S. meter. The areas which the player can target (for humanoid targets) are the head, torso, arms (left and right), legs (left and right), and the enemy’s currently equipped weapon. This may cause the weapon to become unusable, another feature of this game which adds to its complexity. Weapons will slowly degrade over time with every shot, and at some point they will get to the point where they need to be repaired or replaced. Shooting/using weapons in V.A.T.S. causes the weapon to degrade four times as fast, but there is a 15% higher chance of a critical hit. All of these stats and properties seem trivial and too extensive, but after the tutorial missions and a couple hours of gameplay, they become second nature and add a valuable aspect of the game.

This the Capital Wasteland as it appears in your Pip-Boy.

This is the Capital Wasteland as it appears in your Pip-Boy.

Fallout 3‘s world is utterly mesmerizing. From the futuristic/retro combination of the vault to the vast expanse of the nearly geographically correct Washington D.C., every moment in this game seems screenshot-worthy. Many of the missions require you to discover iconic landmarks with the help of your Pip-Boy 300, a handy gadget that shows your map, quests, and inventory. These landmarks, such as the barely-standing Washington Monument to the mutant-infested Smithsonian, often hold the object you seek, making them impossible not to discover. If you have ever visited the D.C. area, you will appreciate this accurate world, since the only major discrepancy is scale. I live in Virginia, so I’ve been to D.C. a number of times, and I can say that it’s almost creepy seeing the nation’s capitol in such devastation. In fact, upon this game’s release, many residents of D.C. said that the game’s resemblance to their home was too close for comfort, and claimed Bethesda was being insensitive to the possibility of terrorist attacks. Of course, the developer made this decision again 2 years later with Fallout: New Vegas, a game with even more resemblance to its real-life location. But despite this well-founded complaint, Bethesda’s attention to detail works out for the better, creating a believable realm and an unmatched, open-world atmosphere.

Customization of characters and gameplay had really taken off around 2005, with revolutionary games such as Mass Effect (2007) allowing players to choose their past and their abilities through text. Although, up until 2008, no games actually allowed the gamer to play through their character’s childhood. Offering important backstory and in depth choices, Fallout 3 allows you to experience important moments of your character’s life from birth up until present day. This includes family tragedy, game-changing traits, standing up to bullies, and even a childhood love interest, woven throughout, to pursue or not pursue. The customization grows with your character, such as leveling up after certain levels of experience to upgrade your charisma or your ability to turn mutants into piles of mush. You can even acquire companions, such as dogs or even your own faithful mutant (who fails you in the very end BUT that’s another story). All in all, there is so much customization that it is simply impossible to capture it all in one playthrough, leaving players to create more and more characters that are never exactly alike.

You have the option of rescuing Fawkes from a holding cell.

You have the option of rescuing Fawkes from a holding cell.

And now, the tragic flaw of this almost perfect game will be revealed. This is the only aspect of Fallout 3 that keeps me from rating it a 9 or even a 9.5, and putting all of this weight into one imperfection is incredibly justified. If you care to play this game (which you should, if you haven’t), I strongly encourage you to skip the rest of this paragraph and simply read on from there. If not, or if you would rather not fly blind, here it is: At the conclusion of this dramatic and extensive journey as the hope of D.C., you die. And no, perishing is not the fatal flaw, but it is the manner in which you do. Much like the disappointing conclusion of Mass Effect 3, the end is hollow and needless. Like I mentioned before, you follow in the footsteps of your father, but you die in sacrifice to see his vision through, which, out of context, is a great way to go. But, like I also mentioned before, you can have a mutant companion, Fawkes, who is faithful until the end, but when you ask him to go into the irradiated cell which becomes your final resting place, he refuses! Mutants will not be injured by extreme levels of radiation, but he still denies to save your life, which would have no cost to him. And even without Fawkes’s help, you could pack enough Rad-X to survive a month-long vacation in Chernobyl. But, instead, you are forced to accept death, complete with a dramatic narration of your life’s mission and success at such a momentous cost.

Fallout 3 is nearly perfect, except for the story, so if you’re one for games strong in pure gameplay, you will be able to easily overlook the inadequate story and fully enjoy this innovative game. But honestly, the story isn’t enough to throw the disc across the room and stomp on it – there are plenty of other high points in this game that will keep you coming back again and again. From fighting hordes of mutants to exploring the subways and landmarks of Washington D.C., Fallout 3 offers multiple hours of exciting gameplay and seemingly endless customization that calls for more than one playthrough. If you want an open world game with a fun story, an accurate and immersive world, and a personalized gaming experience, Fallout 3 is a necessity in your gaming arsenal.

The Vault Boy is both commonly found and iconic in Fallout 3.

The Vault Boy is both commonly found and iconic in Fallout 3.

*Disclaimer/Spoiler*

Before anyone comments this, I do understand that dying can be avoided with the Broken Steel downloadable content; however, I completed this game without it and, therefore, do not take it into account in this review. This is a review of the base game with absolutely no DLC or mods, and so, I must include the character’s inevitable death.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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