Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Game Review: Fallout 3

I have had a very busy day in which I spent most of my time in a car traveling from place to place. The purpose of all of this was to collect various items from various places in order to complete various quests. On one hand, my father needed me to get a 12 pack of beer, so I had to travel to the liquor store to buy it. On another hand, I had to go to the comic book store because Wednesday is new comic book day. On yet another hand, I had to go to a store to buy a gift for someone. And on yet ANOTHER hand, I had to hunt down some medicine for my mother. Eventually, all of these items will connect in my home to create a vast amount of rewards. This is real life.

And then there is Fallout 3.

I will start out by saying that there is no way that before playing this game, I wasn't biased. For starters, Bethesda is a great gaming company. For seconds, I am in love with almost anything post-apocalypse related. It intrigues me in so many different levels. I will see any movie and read any story if I am told it is based in a post-apocalyptic environment. That's literally all it takes. Add to the equation the fact that I loved Fallout 2 when I was younger (even if I could never beat it) and you have created a sure-fire win in my book.

The plot of Fallout 3 is simple: you live in one of the many vaults created by Vault-Tec as a result of a nuclear war. You're happy enough with your life down there until one day, your father (voiced by Liam Neeson) leaves the vault for an unknown reason. You follow him out into the Capitol Wasteland and are faced with limitless possibility. If you want to play the story, you can follow after your father, but you don't have to. You can merely travel around the world, picking up quests and odd jobs. People will ask for all sorts of things, such as spare parts or help saving their town from Super Mutants. The choice is yours, and what a wonderful set of choices it is.

This, in my humble opinion, is where Fallout 3 shines beyond shining. The world they have created is so beautiful and wondrous (in a morbid way). The second I stepped out of the Vault I was floored about how everything looked. There are mutated animals roaming around, people hunting you or just attacking you for the fun of it, wandering robots that were never turned off, and little floating bots broadcasting the glorious word of the Enclave and President Eden (amazingly voiced by Malcolm Macdowell). I remember the first thing that I did was go into a broken down school and fight off some Raiders with my sub-par equipment. I am still a little confused as to how I got out of there alive, but I was stunned. They took the game experience to a whole new level for me. I know some people call this game Oblivion 2.0, and I suppose that is partially true, but I think that Fallout 3 runs much better than Oblivion did. It's smooth and a little less chaotic, and it still manages to keep the basics of character creation from Fallout 2 which made that game such an individual experience to play.

One might think that an open ended game experience like that might be a little daunting, and that is very true. There are many locations in the game that one can visit, all with their own little stories which may or may not have anything to do with the main story of the game. There are numerous vaults, only three of which you ever actually need to enter. Quests are not a given and, outside of the story, not only do you have to find them by searching the Wasteland, you aren't guaranteed to win them. If you fail, that's it (unless you reload). Not only that, but even if you complete a mission the right way, it can still go wrong! I'll give you an example (possible spoiler ahead, but not really): there is a quest known as the Nuka-Cola Challenge. In this quest, you have to go get 30 bottles of Nuka-Cola for some broad out in the Wasteland with a fetish for the company. Living next door to her is some guy who wants to nail her, and he thinks that if you give him the Nuka-Cola, he'll finally be able to do so. I decided to give all my bottles to him (because I talked his price up with my speech), and once he had 30, he told me to come watch him put the moves on her. At this point, I completed the quest. Hoorah. I go outside of his house only to find that, in between his two second walk to the girl's house, he had encountered a giant scorpion, and I watched it kill him. (end spoiler) It's little things like that that make me happy. Granted, all quests have many ways to be solved, and I took some unorthodox methods in completely some of them, but that is by far and large my favorite outcome of any quest ever, and I think it says exactly what type of game Fallout 3 is.

So now you know what I love about it: everything. I truly adore the way the game runs, and I truly adore the experience I got out of it. I spent 53 and a half hours playing it and doing every little thing before I beat it, and the only reason I could afford to spend that much time on a game is because I do not have a job. After getting the game, I thought to myself how truly thankful I am that I am currently unemployed because it afforded me the time to really dive into this. Fallout 3 truly deserves the love and devotion you might put into a serious relationship, and if you are just getting into a serious relationship then stay away from Fallout 3. And I know exactly what people have as far as problems go in the game. Some people think it's too much of a leap from the style of game play in Fallout 2 that it's just not as fun. To this I wave my hand and say, "Pish posh. If anything, it is more fun!" I went back and replayed Fallout 2 in anticipation for the release of Fallout 3, and I found that while the basic elements of the game stood the test of time, the overall experience did not. I'm not penalizing it for graphics, but you have a 3D world that's 2D, and some things in the game are incredibly unclear. There were definite parts when I just was not sure what to do and had to ask the internet and my roommate (who had the game and had started before and was also consulting the internet for advice) on what to do. I legitimately think that Bethesda took the game and just made it all around better. Some people are also complaining about graphical glitches and freezes, but I only ever experienced one graphical glitch and I chalk that up to the fact that I play this game for 8 hour sits at a time. The XBOX is going to get hot and maybe get a little wonky after that.

So all in all, I think that if you don't play Fallout 3, and you are a fan of legit video gaming, then you are truly missing out. There is so much more I could say about this game, but if I did that then I'd probably be here 53 and a half hours explaining everything. This game comes with the highest stamp of approval I could ever give, and it has taken the spot for "All Time Favorite Game." I am going to be starting my second play through soon, and I'm going to be playing it in an all new way with a character who is truly the polar opposite of my last game, so I'm excited. But seriously - Fallout 3 is the only game you need this holiday season. There are other fun games out there, and I will review some, but all you really need is this.

The next review will probably be Mirror's Edge, so keep an eye out for that.

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