“Conflict has existed since the beginning of man; humans kill for honor, money, or just instinct. Time and technology may advance, but war….war never changes.”
Ever since the end of WWII, people have always been scared by the threat of the most powerful weapon in human history: the Atomic Bomb. Many pieces of media touch on that kind of fear of what would happen if all the nukes went off, games being no exception. In plenty of games today, the post-apocalyptic setting is a safe and easy choice to put your game. The Fallout series on the other hand, was the series that got it right and offered its players a wasteland that felt all too real.
Before I go any further, I want to say that I have never really heard of Fallout before, nor have I played any of the Fallout games until now. But when the summer Steam sale was on, I was torn between either Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas because I wanted to really see what all the praise was about. I wasn’t able to play them on my current computer, but I was able to buy the Game of the Year edition of Fallout 3 and the Ultimate Edition of Fallout: New Vegas for my 360.
Fallout 3 originally came out back in 2008 and had received plenty of game of the year awards from different sites. After playing through most of the main story and a few side quests, I can see why this game was praised so much. From the moment you step out of vault 101, you are given a huge expansive wasteland to explore however you want. For most missions, there are different unique ways of approaching it.
Here’s an example of what happened to me: I was given a quest to find a slaver camp called Paradise Falls and rescue some imprisoned kids there. I could have A) paid my way into the camp by bribing the guard and the owner B) completed a small side quest for the camp guard to get in, or C) kill everyone in the camp and free the slaves once their all dead. When I was confronted with my choice, I pulled out my sawed-off shotgun Mad Maxx style and killed every last slaver in the camp! I was astonished that I could get away with that, and it was a blast!
In addition to amount of choice the game presents you with, the combat has a nice unique edge that makes it stand out from others in its genre. With the press of a button, you can enter V.A.T.S or the Vault-tech Assisted Targeting System and highlight certain parts of your enemy that you can automatically aim at. Depending on how you build your vault dweller, you can be more accurate with melee weapons, small guns (pistols, shotguns, and rifles), explosives, energy weapons, or big guns like the mini-nuke launcher. I specialized in smaller guns and keeping my enemies at range but also weapons and armor can degrade in condition so whenever you find armor piece that’s similar to the one you have, you can use your newly found armor to repair your current one.
Since the basic premise of the story is you escape vault 101 to find your missing father, you are going to be doing a lot of walking. At first it can be tedious walking at a slow pace across the wasteland finding the next town, but half of the fun is discovering new places along your path that you can explore for more quests. Scavenging is another important thing to keep in mind while traveling. Since there is no more “money”, you have to look for pieces of junk that you can trade in for caps (soda caps that is).
Playing through the campaign, there were several points that just dropped the immersion for me. When I was trying to complete on of the early story quests, I was basically stuck by an in game bug but before I found that out, I thought there was something wrong with the entire game. It put me in a sour mood that I would have to completely redo everything up till that point. There is also a few times where the game will freeze up for a second or so before resuming, but you have to take into consideration that when making a big expansive open-world game like Fallout 3, there are bound to be a few technical glitches.
Music wise I would have to say it has its good and bad in this game. When I normally talk about a game’s soundtrack, it’s usually to praise it for how good it is for setting the mood of the game. In Fallout however, it’s a mixed bag because not only is there an original soundtrack but plenty of licensed music from the 1940’s. Even though the entire world has been devastated by nuclear war, someone in DC still manages the airwaves and that man is Three-Dog. On the downside though, listening to all these classic tunes is great but they all seem to mush together and sound the exact same after repeat listening.
Having played all the way through the main story, while getting a little lost along the way I can easily see why this was heralded as game of the year back in 08 and I became quite addicted to it, even more so since right now I am playing through New Vegas.
If you are interested in picking this up for PC, Steam has the main game along with all 5 DLC expansions for $20 if your machine can run it. I got my copy from Gamestop (admittedly) for $25 for consoles.
With an expansive nuclear wasteland, interesting characters, and the many choices that come with it, Fallout 3 made me carve my own adventure in a world where war never changes.
Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition gets 4 Nuka-Colas out of 5.