Recent Release Reviews: Fallout 3
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Engine: Gamebryo engine
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date: October 28, 2008
Genre: Action role-playing game (RPG)
Washington, You’re Next!
What is Fallout and why was (and is) it so popular?
Along with its contemporary, Jagged Alliance, the Fallout series was one of the most successful turn-based strategies of the nineties. There were huge worlds to explore, and plenty of dark humour to be enjoyed.
There were many references in the Fallout series that alluded to Interplay’s previous series of games, Wasteland.
For many years people expected a sequel to Fallout 2, just like with Jagged Alliance 2, and finally it came, but this time from a different developer, Bethesda, who created the famous Elder Scrolls games.
You take the part of a young ‘vault dweller’, who grew up in Vault 101, outside of Washington D.C., buried in the hillside. These vaults were built to protect survivors from the nuclear holocaust that befell America two hundred years before.
Your father, a scientist with a troubled past, up and leaves the vault as soon as you grow up to be a young man of nineteen. The overseer of Vault 101, a terrifying dictator, decides to hunt you down in his absence and begins a lockdown of the facility, with guards killing and interrogating civilians.
You manage to escape and make it out into the real world, and slowly realize that you’ve been brainwashed into a false sense of security and reality, while there are much bigger things happening in the ravaged wasteland that awaits you as you search for your father, and uncover a lot of truths along the way.
• Uses the Gamebryo engine used in Oblivion.
• Large amount of weapons to play with.
• Ability to make custom-made weapons out of random junk.
• Huge world.
• Open ended gameplay.
• Character leveling system.
• Incredible amount of environmental interactivity.
• Ability to switch between third and first-person views.
• Voices of Liam Neeson, Ron Perlman, Stephen Russell (Garrett from Thief)
Tour of D.C.- circa 2277Click thumbnail to view full-size
The game’s universe, at least outside the vault, has a distinct 1950s feel to it; similar to 2007’s Bioshock. This might be a little hard to fathom chronologically, since Fallout 3 takes place 200 years after the nuclear war that destroyed the U.S., which would place it at about 2077- still way beyond the twentieth century; anyway, it’s fictional.
Perhaps it is taken in the same vein as the Thief series, where medieval architecture is mixed with Victorian era technology.
In this case however, modern technology like robot servants, guards and other futuristic elements are mixed with a more mid-twentieth century theme, with Cadillacs, greasers, white picket fences, and abundant corny billboards and adverts.
There are a few hints of the Thief series in this game. Stephen Russell, who plays Garrett, voices characters in the game, and there is even a superhero in Canterbury Commons named “The Mechanist”. Mechanists were famously portrayed as a splinter group of religious zealots with an affinity for technology that broke away from the Hammerites, in Thief 2.
The looks are similar to Oblivion as they use the same engine, but as it has a different theme altogether, taking place in a post-apocalyptic future. You will come across a lot of rusted metal and junk in this game, with the overall colour scheme being brown and grey, perhaps with a touch of blue and other dark colours.
There are no trees or grass, absolutely no greenery at all, and that is because of the nuclear attack that took place two hundred years before. You might think that it’s a bit bland after a while, but what would you expect after such an event.
The detail that has gone into some of the areas like crumbling bridges and roads is quite astonishing, and some places like the aircraft carrier named ‘Rivet City’ are quite breathtaking and bring back memories of Far Cry.
There are also torn down wooden buildings scattered all over the place, and rusted old shacks that contrast with the structurally intact buildings of significant importance found in D.C.
The graphics are not meant to be entirely pretty in this game, but they are meant to being realism to the fore and create a believable world. One thing that I didn’t notice was any environmental effects like rain, which is supposed to be quite commonplace on the east coast of the United States, but perhaps the nuclear catastrophe that took place had something to do with it. There are puddles of radiated water all over the place, but more cracked looking dry ground might have helped with the overall believability of a drought.
Is has been suggested that the weapon known as the ‘assault rifle’ in the game is a representation of an H&K G3A3. The only thing is that a G3A3 uses 7.62 ammunition, and the rifle in the game uses 5.56 mm ammunition. Technically, it would be more accurate to call it an H&K 33A2. The 33A2 looks practically the same but does in fact use a 5.56 mm cartridge.
The Chinese assault rifle is an AK variant, but it would be unlikely to use a 5.56 mm cartridge in real life. The only AKs to use this calibre ammunition would be in the AK 100 series like the AK-101.
Inon Zur, whose latest work includes Crysis and Prince of Persia, composed the musical score, and although it is quite good and sounds similar to Jeremy Soule’s efforts, it doesn’t quite fit the game’s theme and atmosphere, and the two don’t gel. The music sounds as though it would fit more in Oblivion than Fallout 3. It’s too quiet and understated.
Others feel the same, and you will find a few custom music soundtracks on the net that you can use instead.
The sound in the game isn’t brilliant but it is good enough. There will be a lot of talking, and thankfully some of the voice acting is top notch, with Ron Perlman and Liam Neeson making an appearance.
Besides the talking, there will also be a lot of shooting, and the weapons sound a little weak at times.
Fallout 3 GOTYClick thumbnail to view full-size
+ Huge world to explore.
+ Plenty of weapons and items to find, and even custom made ones too.
+ Good story.
- Controls a bit dodgy.
- Animation and AI a bit weird sometimes.
- A great game that might not appeal overly to fans of the original series, but great nonetheless. If you enjoyed Oblivion, you’ll like this.
Playing Fallout 3 feels like:
Mad Max (1979)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
The way you play is similar to Oblivion; you have an inventory full of items, you can trade, you can talk and find out information from people, and you run around a lot from place to place fulfilling objectives in quests.
In addition to the rather short main quest are the side quests that you will come across from talking to people, reading notes or doing other things in the world.
To help you, you have an item called a ‘Pip-Boy 3000’, a handheld device that acts as your journal or PDA. You can use it to scan your inventory, your health status, notes, the objectives, and the map of the game world. You will need to use it frequently to prevent getting lost, especially in the D.C. ruins.
You get experience points for doing certain things like discovering a locale, killing creatures, and completing goals. When you achieve enough points, your character will level up, and you can distribute points to his skills and select certain perks that will make the game easier and usually more fun to play.
You can also choose to have good or bad karma. Helping people out and not resorting to violence will usually result in positive karma. Stealing, killing and other bad things will result in negative karma.
This installment of Fallout has a different approach to combat than its predecessors. The original and its sequel were turn-based strategy games, whereas the combat in this game can be played in two different fashions. The first is the real-time FPS type shooting, and the second takes place in V.A.T.S, a system said to be half-way between real-time and turn-based. In V.A.T.S, you can pinpoint body parts and score critical hit bonuses. There’s also the slow-motion matrix-style bullet time that makes an appearance with bullets sometimes being captured striking the enemy.
In addition to the combat changes, you character can also play in first or third person, depending on your preference. First person is better during real-time combat, and third-person is better for environmental awareness, spotting enemies when you’re behind cover, or ones that try to sneak up on you.
There is more gore in this game than the developer’s other projects, like Morrowind and Oblivion, with plenty of blood, gore, enemies being crippled and even losing limbs entirely.
There are five DLC packs for Fallout 3 that were all released the year after it came out. They are Operation Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta. The Pitt and Point Lookout are particularly good.
The controls are similar to Oblivion, with the only gripe being that the character can be somewhat lax when it comes to following certain button presses. When you press the jump button or spacebar, the character sometimes has a hard time comprehending, as it has to be pressed earlier rather than too late.
There are several things taken from the Mad Max series of films. Dogmeat the dog, the scoped .44 Magnum revolver and the sawed off shotgun are just a few of them.
Bugs and other issues
There are the occasional crashes to the desktop and at times the game freezes unexpectedly. There are some clipping problems as well, with the death sequences involving the player falling through the ground.
The AI can be a bit suspect and the animation being a little lazy. Sometimes, characters in the distance appear to skip along the ground instead of walking.
What I think of it
There are two camps when it comes to Fallout 3. There are the Elder Scrolls players, who have dabbled in The Elder Scrolls series, like Morrowind and Oblivion and find Fallout 3 a joy to play. Then there are the Fallout purists who disagree with the direction that Bethesda has taken with the title.
I happened to enjoy it, because quite frankly, I enjoyed Oblivion, and this is better.
Fallout 3 is a game that you should at least try, and if you don’t like it vanilla style, you can always try all the mods off of the net.
What do you think of Fallout 3?
© 2008 ANDR01D