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Zulu avatar 6:17 AM on 10.23.2009  (server time)
Fallout 3, a gateway into the west

How's it been Destructoid? I feel as if it has been ages since I last wrote anything here. I even tried my best yesterday, but drastically failed. I'm placing most of my absence on Fallout 3. Say goodbye to everything you hold onto as a life when you start; Fallout 3 is a monster. When I ran out of missions and found myself scavenging every last bottle cap and nuka cola in the game, I knew its was time for me personally to back the fuck away.

At first I was quite reluctant of the game when it came to purchasing or even playing Fallout 3. 'Gray gun games' usually are not my taste. I'd consider myself more of a JRPG nut. I personally look for games that engross me into the worlds presented. RPG's have always been known to deliver on this more often personally then any other genre; simply beautiful escapism. With that in my mind I borrowed my friends copy of the game and gave it a go. Fallout 3 opened my eyes a bit wider and cultured my taste in RPG's to a degree. Unlike the JRPG's I have played in the past, Fallout 3 gave me something I have been looking for, for years; freedom. Freedom to take on my own role as a character.

So many times have I played as the quiet, sterile, protagonist with only very few choices to define my character in game. I grew tired of conversational choices that all led to the same outcome, the assistance of characters I never really liked or asked to be with to help me on my way, or having to fight in the same repetitive manner and style for the lapse of an entire game. All of this, in hopes of somehow 'saving the world'. Fallout 3 is no magical virgin born son, it still has many flaws and cliches.You end up still saving, well really helping, the world; the game only has 3 main branches of what moral figure your character can become (evil, neutral, or good), and the radio can get damn repetitive, more so three dog then the music. I can't speak for any other western RPG besides this, but as my first, I found it to be quite a refreshing experience.

Unenthusiastically I inserted Fallout 3 into my Ex bawks. The opening popped up and I watched the intro video, I rolled my eyes. I recall muttered and sighing to myself "Ehhhhh, I probably won't be playing this very long". I took a deep breath and tried to change my frame of mind so that I could give this game a fair shot. I created my character, fixed my opening stats, and started. The first thing I noticed were the dialog choices. Each of them reflected a different personality, they were all quite varied, and each changed the result I was given from each NPC. I couldn't believe how many of my childhood 'friends' were major assholes. I guess the vault will do that to folk. I Picked a fight with some kid and it all turned out to be quite fun.

After completing most of the understated and somewhat tasteful tutorial level, the first thing that gave me a nod to freedom was the option to kill, manipulate, steal from, or argue with the overseer to complete my mission of escape. Depending on what I did with the overseer, his daughter would treat me differently and overall give my game experience a personal and to some extent a dynamic individual feel contrast of other Fallout 3 players. Finding someone else who chose to make exactly the same choices as myself in the game would have been a difficult task.

Exiting the vault, I then noticed how gloriously massive the world beyond looked. The capitol wasteland was my world, my playground. A playground filled with radioactive materials, assholes, and despair. Though not made up of the best elements for a playground, it was mine, all mine! My first priority was to set up camp. I headed towards Megaton. Once there I was given option after option through dialog with local NPCs to cultivate my character and personality a bit more on what I eventually wanted to become not only overall, but one on one with each NPC.

In Megaton, I was given an option to either disarm or activate a bomb centered in the middle of town. Depending on what I chose I was given a place to stay and call home for the rest of the game as well as a reputation. This choice and many of the choices like this kept me coming back to the game. After setting up a place to live out in the wasteland, I felt a great urge to explore the rest of the world and find as many of these situations as I could. Combined with moments and choices as big as the choice to save or ruin Megaton and the smaller portions of freedom given in dialog, as well as the ability to carry out missions in almost anyway you felt inclined to engrossed and engaged me into the world of Fallout 3 and the role I played.

I found that the intended mission payoffs in Fallout 3, such as the games ending and the closure brought by some of the missions, stood inferior to the moments made in the missions themselves. My motivation was solely to enjoy each mission and savor every bit of interaction I had within it. I wouldn't call the missions in Fallout 3 deep or anything, but hell, they weren't shallow. Like I said a little earlier, I could carry out most missions in pretty much anyway I felt. I found myself talking through most of mine. My charisma and speech skills were maxed out and I used the option as liberally as I could. What I'm trying to get at essentially is that I was generally motivated by the experiences themselves rather then the rewards given for each mission.

Fallout 3 was refreshing for me simply because of the sheer amount of choice given. I've read and have heard about the backlash fans have had over the changes Bethesda made to the series. Fallout 3 has hit the mainstream. Take that as either good or bad, it's up to you. Personally I don't feel that it is such a bad thing. For the large amount of the new broadened audience Fallout 3 expanded and sold to, out of many of us new to the fallout universe a few, like myself, will look back at the franchise's roots and play the original games. If open choice is catered more in the original games, and I've heard they were, then count me and many others in as a newcomers both to the world of Western RPGs as well as the Fallout universe.

Reluctantly I gave Fallout 3 a chance. I loved the freedom it gave me to make my own choices to become the type of character I wanted to play as. Intended payoffs in the game didn't feel rewarding to me, instead, moment in the missions did. I acknowledge that Fallout 3 was made for mass appeal. It's not necessarily a bad thing because a handful of folks, like myself, will go back and play the originals and support western RPGs in the future.

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