Yes, I have played every single Fallout game, including Tactics and the awful Brotherhood of Steel. Yes I still own them, and yes I love them simply because they have the word Fallout in the title. The original two were a huge part of my life when they were first released and although I didn't have a fantastic time with the two spinoffs, I still loved the universe and the lore as a whole. The moment that blew my mind in the originals was when I saw that first talking head...and the moment I slipped a live grenade into a childs pants and ran away laughing hyterically. The games were two pieces of art, forever etched into my memory.
Fast forward to years later, years gone by where the ideas of a new fallout game were running rampant with the leak of the "Van Buren" demo and the idea of being able to revist the world once again. I had not discoverd the van buren demo until after Bethesda had announced that they would be taking the reigns to the beloved franchise. I suppose I cannot gripe as much as i'd like, as it was unfinished and not totally realized, it was fun, but it didn't feel like a Fallout game. Suddenly news was everywhere about this new Fallout, fully 3D with a massive world to explore and experience. I was excited, but skeptical. The phrase "Oblivion with guns" was being spouted by the masses every few minutes, and I began to question whether or not the game would be true to the franchise. I preordered it over the summer and waited with bated breath.
Videos and news slowly began to trickle in about the game and every new crumb of information that was feed to me got me more and more exited. The introduction of V.A.T.S. and the resurrection of dogmeat were absolutely amazing. I finally knew that even though this game might not be a real piece of Fallout canon, I must own this game. The combat seemed deep and the exploration as fun if not better than Oblivions. The ever looming threat of "Oblivion with guns" still loomed in the horizon, and while I was very excited, I was very nervous. Midnight could not have come fast enough on Monday, October 27. The local Game Crazy had a midnight launch and when I arrived only myself and one other person were there to get the game. I did not care, the lunchbox that it came in was exciting enough, but little did I realize the cache of gold contained within.
I apologize for the rant, but I felt as though I need to preface this review in order to show my caution before I dove into this game. I also want to say that while this review may contain a couple spoilers, I don't feel it's anything to major or that people haven't already heard. I am also writing this review without completing the game, as I feel it's not necessary and once you hear my peice it won't be an issue. With that said, thank you for bearing with me and now finally...on to the review.
I won't spoil the fantastic intro/tutorial levels for you, so we begin that moment you leave the vault. At this point all my fears and doubts are cast out of the window and I knew, I just knew, that this is it. This game is not only a true successor to the originals, but this game only stands to show how great the Fallout universe is and Bethesda did a top notch job of reviving and continuing, the series. It gives you an option similar to Oblivion, and allows you to change your stats or looks one last time before you head out into the world. Once you step outside you are blown away by the detail, the surroundings, albeit destroyed, are absolutely gorgeous. The game is very pretty and it's astounding how much is going on at once without a single hitch. I felt so amazed and overwhelmed that I honestly didn't know what to do. It was a good feeling though, not one of bewilderment or confusion, but of sense of not knowing what to tackle first.
I chose to explore, scouring the wastes for some better equipment and armor. I wandered and invaded as many little caves and buildings as I could, starting with the elementary school near the vault and working my way outward. I really don't know how to describe the feelings one gets when playing this game and all I think I really need to say is go buy it...right now. On the technichal side the graphics are amazing, the attention to detail is insane. The game runs a at very solid rate and rarely is there any slowdown or hiccups. The dialog and responses are well written and the moral choices feel very real and emotions will run high at certain points as you must choose how to treat these people that surround you in the wastes. So while all the other elements of the game work incredibly well, leveling, talking and exploring are top notch, how does the combat fair?
The V.A.T.S. system is a way of reviving the turn based combat present in the originals, while allowing for growth in this new 3D world. It works absolutely flawlessly and is based entirely on stats and formulas used to calculate success of attacks and damage caused. While the real time combat is good, especially at a distance, the V.A.T.S. system allows for an extra layer of strategy and a good way to assess the situation. The slow mo deaths that occur are also the highpoint of the game, it never, ever gets old to run up to a raider or super mutant, cram your combat shotgun in their face and activate V.A.T.S., only to see their brain and eye juice splash across the screen in full High-def glory. In some tight situations, the camera can get a little fidgety, but it's neglidgeable at best.
Overall I cannot recommend this game enough, if your on the fence as to whether or not the purchase is worth it, or your worried that it won't be loyal to the series, don't be. Go to the store and buy it right now. I know this is more of a rant than a review but I can't describe how great this game is. I'll end with an experience within the game.
After obtaining Dogmeat, fans of the series will recognize the name, your canine companion, I began working on the main story missions. I became instantly attached to Dogmeat, healing him and keeping him alive the best i could. He can find ammo, health or weapons for you, which is very useful, and he's also a pretty strong fighter. He levels up with you and I had him for a better part of my adventure. I worked my way to the radio station in order to find my dad. Dogmeat had been with me for about 3/4 of my gameplay time, which was reaching 13 hours at this point. As we made our way in super mutants began swarming when a laser blast screamed past from behind. The Brotherhood of Steel made their first appearance and began to clean the place up. I chose to follow them in as I could save some ammo and health by hiding behind them. As we made it into the main building plaza, we took a quick breather and to listen to a little Brotherhood banter. An exploision ran out and the first Behemoth of the game appeared in all it's scary ass, world destroying glory. The fight got ugly fast as he smashed two of the brothers through the air in a giant swipe that knocked them unconsious. I took as many potshots as I could to get his attention off the Brotherhood, which is when I realized that was a really stupid thing to do. The ever loyal Dogmeat lept forward in defense and that's when I knew we are going to die. He smashed me and I flew back with little to no health, but he changed gears and started to swing at dogmeat. I quickly healed and regained my composure and fired everything I had to get him off my dog. With only a single tic of health remaining on the Behemoth and took one last swing and came down hard on Dogmeat, his head was severed instantly and flew towards me. It seemed like slow motion, and in a final fit of rage I raced forward and jammed my assault rifle in his face and finally brought the beast down. The damage had already been done, Dogmeat was dead and I couldn't stop it. It was pretty depressing, remember when the dog died in I am Legend...more depressing than that. It was awful.
If that doesn't sell you on this game then your an awful horrible person with no emotion...or your a robot, even so, you'll still enjoy this game. Fallout 3 not only sets the world on fire, but it burns it to the ground in a glorious thermonuclear flash. Go buy it.