“Hey smooth skin”, murmured Gob as he cleaned a filthy irradiated water stained glass from behind the bar at Moriarty’s Saloon in Megaton.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but for some reason this part of Fallout 3 is the most memorable. Maybe it’s because I feel like Norm walking into the bar on Cheers; because sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. Standing there talking to Gob and the other patrons of Moriarty’s I felt like I belonged there. That was one of the main reasons I didn’t have the heart to detonate the bomb in Megaton and nuke the burdened community. That short interaction, along with countless others, is the reason Fallout 3 became my favorite game of all time. But I’m not writing this to talk only about Fallout, but rather the fallout of Fallout 3. In other words, what effect Fallout 3 has left in my life as a gamer.
Growing up, I owned an NES, SNES, and a N64. By and large I played sports games and platformers. The only RPG I ever played was Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the N64. Although it leans more towards the action side of the genre I feel it still qualifies as an RPG, because of the epic story, dialog, side quests, etc. Ocarina became my favorite game after a few days of roaming Hyrule. Aside from the fact that Ocarina was (and is) a fantastic game, I recently realized that I never really tried many other RPG’s after Ocarina. I played Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, but the same enchantment was absent. I hated the rushed feeling of Majora, and Twilight Princess didn’t reel me in with characters that I felt attached to. The Wiimote actually took away from the experience for me, causing me to focus more on the controller’s interaction rather than the characters and the story itself. Because of these letdowns, I stopped caring about RPG’s.
Later down the road when I was in my early 20’s (I’m 31 now) I tried playing Final Fantasy X on the PS2, and my buddy and I probably put in a good 30 or 40 hours into that game. However, after losing countless games of Blitzball and absolutely hating turn-based combat, I stopped. Again, this game was not filling the gap I was looking for in terms of character development. It felt more about level grinding and combat than anything else. Oh and did I mention I hated the turn-based combat? So, once more, Ocarina stood the test of time as my favorite game of all time, and the only RPG that I ever enjoyed.
A console generation later, I saw my buddy on XBOX live playing a game called Mass Effect. So I sent him the customary message on XBOX Live asking, “Hey how is that game?” He told me how much he was enjoying it and asked if I wanted to borrow it, and after making sure it wasn’t turn based I said, “Sure, I’ll give it a whirl.” So I popped in Mass Effect and got pulled in right away. The graphics were great, the character design was solid, the dialog tree was wonderful and involving, and the story was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time; in a good way. But 20 hours in, I got sick of waiting in elevators, and the next step of the story got lost on me. Partly because I wasn’t used to openness in games, and the vastness of choice paralyzed me. Those hang-ups caused me to stop roving the universe as a Spectre in search of Seran. The main things I took away from Mass Effect were that; good dialog and a clear cause-n-effect relationship can exist in a game. Oh… and that elevator rides have no place in games.
Months later a buddy of mine who is a comic book creator/writer of Corrective Measures
told me about a game coming out in the fall of ’08 that he was really looking forward to, called Fallout 3. Since I wasn’t a PC gamer by any stretch of the imagination I had never heard of Fallout, but because I trusted his perspective on games and movies I started reading up on Fallout 3. As the months passed I began to get excited for Fallout 3. Even though I hadn’t played an open world game, with a huge story in a long time, I was willing to give it a try because of the situation and landscape of the game. Considering I saw ’12 Monkey’s’ three times in the theater back in 1997 and loved it tremendously, the post-apocalyptic setting of Fallout 3 was very intriguing to me.
Once Fallout 3’s release day finally arrived I picked up my ‘Collectors Edition’ (something I almost never do) from GameCrazy and rushed home and fired up the 360. After spending 2 hours in ‘The Capital Wasteland’ I was completely sucked in. Rather than going into great detail about Fallout 3 I’ll just give a brief overview of what was so great about Fallout 3 in list form.
1. The charm and wit of ‘The Capital Wasteland’ is perfectly done.
2. The soundtrack coming across the radio waves into your PipBoy makes the world so quaint and relatable.
3. The world is HUGE and full of interesting people.
4. You are not confined to doing a point to point main story; you can go anywhere and do virtually anything you want. I spent about 130 hours roaming the wasteland before I even began the last 25% of the main story. That is some serious entertainment value.
5. The implications of choice in the game.
6. Nostalgia, the faux 1950 feel of the game is so perfect.
7. A decimated Washington D.C. is eerily well done.
8. You get a house, a place to store your stuff, take naps, and chill your cola’s.
9. DLC - The DLC for Fallout 3 is probably some of the best DLC of this console generation.
10. Dialog and voice acting is fantastic, hilarious, charming, and memorable.
These 10 reasons are just a short list of reasons why Fallout 3 is my favorite game of all time. Fallout 3 did something that I didn’t think could happen…make me like an open world RPG game. Now on to the fallout of Fallout 3, in my gaming life.
It’s now just over a year after Fallout 3 came out, and I’ve realized something; I want more of what Fallout 3 gave me. I’m hooked. I need a good story, I need great characters, I need choice in my games, and I need to be able to go where I want. So that desire for more has caused me to go outside of my gaming comfort zone. In the last few months I’ve made gaming purchases I never thought I would. In high school I was in a band, and partied with the jocks. So although I was a geek for Star Wars and video games it was just customary to look down on those who played ‘Magic the Gathering’. I’ve always associated any game with elves, swords, mages, and dungeons akin to playing MTG. Playing MTG, being a furry, or LARPing were things I’ve always wanted to stay far away from. But I realized that I love the Lord of the Rings movies, so why should I keep my gaming choices so far away from the very same realm of Middle Earth that I love? I’ve decided I shouldn’t. Sorry to all you dudes in my high school computer programming class I made fun of for your love of MTG, and saying things like “Flying Floating Ferry Legion Attack.” My bad.
A few months back I traded for Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and KOTOR on GOOZEX because I wanted to see what Dragon Age might be like. After playing Baldur’s Gate for a good 20 hours I decided that I would give Dragon Age a try. I did not like KOTOR at all. Once I heard that Dragon Age was NOT turn based combat I figured I could handle it.
I have since purchased Dragon Age, and the combat took a little getting used to, but I love the story, characters, dialogue, and open world setting. Although there is a lot of time spent in menus handling your character’s skills/abilities, I’m sincerely enjoying Dragon Age. How did this happen? It’s strange to say, but it’s true. Because of BIOWARE’s statement that they are going to be doing DLC for Dragon Age for 2 years, I’m settling in for a long ride.
I’ve had an epiphany in the past few months – and that is games with big stories are a great investment. When you think of a Blu-ray movie that lasts 2 hours and costs $25 bucks, compared to a videogame that lasts 60-100+ hours and costs $59 bucks, it seems much more worthwhile to get the game. I’ve realized that well done games are just as good as or even better than a great movie or book. The level of interaction in the story is much more involving.
So in addition to Dragon Age, I’ve purchased Oblivion GOTY Edition to play since it seems like a perfect mix of Fallout and Dragon Age. I will also be getting Mass Effect 2 in January since I have increased my patience skill tree for story and dialog. But only if the rumors are true that there are NO LONG ELEVATOR RIDES in ME2.
If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would be a huge fan of RPG’s, I would kick you in the jimmy, and call you Shirley. But alas, here I am and it’s true, I love RPG’s, and Fallout 3 was the gateway drug of choice to bring that love back to my gaming life. If you are on the fence about trying a new game or even a whole new genre, I want to encourage you to try it, you just may love it.
Do you have any recommendations of other RPG’s (non turn-based)?
Lastly here are some pics of me from Halloween and Comicon dressed in my Vault 101 suit. I am not just saying these things, Fallout 3 has made an impact on me and here are the pics to prove that I have moved one step closer to being considered a LARP’er, or God help me *gulp* a furry.