Barry Hodgson joins the vault dwellers in Vault 101.
Game Title: Fallout 3
Format Reviewed: XBOX 360
Also Available on: PC, PS3
War. War never changes.
It’s with these ominous words that Fallout 3 begins, and begins it does – with you being born into the post apocalyptic world.
As openings to games go, you’d be hard pressed to find a more unique one than that. The game then fast forwards a year to your first steps, then a few more years to your 10th Birthday, a couple more to you taking your G.O.A.T exam and then finally to the start of the game proper.
Many of the traditional Fallout fans were up in arms when Bethseda announced they had bought the rights to Fallout and where making the 3rd game in the series, many feared that the core values of the game would be lost and that the game would be too Oblivion-ised.
That last fear, has kind of been proven true. When playing, it is hard to shake the feeling that it is Oblivion with guns and in the Fallout universe. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does suffer from the same few niggles that many had with Oblivion. At the end of the day though, the one thing that matters is that this IS Fallout – just not as Fallout as you’re expecting, if you catch my drift.
The game proper opens with you leaving Vault 101, where you have spent the last 20 years of your life, and going out into the desolate landscape of post apocalyptic Washington DC, your first view of which is the remains of the Washington Memorial. It’s a breathtakingly haunting view and hammers home just how bad things are in the real world, outside the safety net of the vault. It’s probably the image that will stick with you the most and it was quite a moment just seeing it appear in the background as your characters eyes adjust to the sunlight.
Combat is split into two, you can either take the “First Person shooter” approach of just running and gunning, which won’t get you very far or you can use the V.A.T.S approach with allows you to pause things for a second and target specific body parts of the enemy for massive damage (I’ve not seen any historically accurate giant enemy crabs so don’t worry). This allows you to be a bit more tactical, but you can only do this so many times before you need to recharge your Action Points (which recharge very quickly), so it needs to be used wisely.
Targeting a specific body part can work wonders in combat, shoot the gun arm enough and they’ll drop their weapon (they may then switch to Melee but you’ll be prepared for that). Or hit them in their legs to stop them walking. If your skills are good enough, most of the time with V.A.T.S you can get 1 hit kills which makes the combat just a tad easy.
One of the niggles they’ve fixed from Oblivion is that any useless item you find on the ground or the body of a dead er..thing is actually useful in some way, some might be needed to make things or suchlike, whereas in Oblivion, most items you found were completely useless.
The main quest will take roughly about 15 hours to complete (on Easy anyway) and that is assuming you don’t do any sidequests at all. The beauty of the game is that you don’t need to do the main quest and can simply just do as many sidequests as you want, you don’t want to wander too far off the beaten path though as you’ll most likely be killed by something that is wandering the wasteland.
There is a problem with the entire world map though; it’s not as open as it would have you believe. Many a time you will see where you are meant to go, only for it to be blocked by rubble forcing you to go underground into the train lines. I guess that the world would actually be like that given what has happened but in terms of a game and the amount it happens it gets a little bit annoying.
There are also none of the pop in or loading problems that Oblivion had on the 360 and you’d actually not realise that the game was streaming off the disk a lot of the time (ok, the noise will give it away).
There’s a lot of fun to be had with the game, either toeing the good boy line or the evil bastard line (such a quest comes up quite early in the Megaton settlement, which is built around an unexploded bomb – guess what your options are there) and there’s something very appealing about being a total bastard and just being in it for yourself (as you probably would be if it was you). Ultimately, how you are with everyone else determines who will help you out and how people react around you.
Fallout 3 is a worthy successor to the previous 2 Fallouts and fully deserves its title. Bethseda have done a brilliant job of getting the Fallout vibe and making it their own at the same time. They’ve worked their magic yet again and produced another classic game, a game that everyone should buy.