Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fallout 3

Nuclear war sucks, that much is obvious. In fact it's pretty much agreed that not much good comes from nuclear weapons except post nuclear apocalyptic fiction. Which brings us to Fallout 3, Bethesda's entry into the Fallout series of games. If you never picked up a Fallout game in your life, imagine playing a game set in the world of Mad Max 2 where you're trying to eek out an existence in the post apocalyptic wastelands of the world, that's Fallout.

The game starts out with the character being born, literally born, from their mother's womb. From there, a series of very clever character creation processes are laced into the introduction and the game begins. The story starts out in Vault 101, an underground fallout shelter that's survived the nuclear holocaust that devastated the world around you. Mr. Vault 101 as you'll be known as through most of the game is awoken one night and told his father has left the Vault and journeyed into the world outside. It's up to you to travel outside of the only home you've known and find him.

Upon stepping outside of the Vault, you'll find yourself in the wastelands of Washington DC, and I mean Wastelands. The "beauty" of the game's graphics is that when you look at the vast expanse of what use to be our nation's capital you see a scarred and ruined land littered with the decaying skeletons of our nation's monuments. The entire environment of the game is delicately crafted to look like a couple hundred years have passed after the world went to ruin. Debris is everywhere, skeletons posed in the position they were in life lay in beds and bathtubs, and the world is in a perpetual fog of war. As the player ventures further out into the rather expansive environment, they find all the things one would find after a nuclear holocaust. Bands of marauders raiding and pillaging, settlements of survivors of varying degrees of prosperity, aggressive genetic mutants of all kinds, and lingering radioactive areas of nuclear fallout. In short, it's a harsh unforgiving world.

Gameplay wise, Fallout is an interesting mix of Roleplaying Game and First Person Shooter. In a lot of ways it plays like Elder Scrolls, another Bethesda game. The game does follow a linear story, but with the vast expanse of Post Apocalyptic Washington DC and the many side quests and locations coupled with the sandbox environment of the game, a person could be playing for hours and not even advance the storyline one bit. Combat can be traditional first person shooter, or resolved through Vault Tec Assisted Tactical Situations (V.A.T.S.) where a player can select actions and hit locations they're targeting and let the computer resolve the probability they hit or miss. It's very useful for those with poor first person shooter skills. You can also switch from first person to third person mode, however the nature of the camera and the player's position almost virtually ensures you'll always play in first person mode. You also look like you're moving very stiffly in third person and that detracts from the game. The only other complaint I could find with the gameplay is that the game is prone to crashing, despite a patch being out that supposedly fixes that issue.

Music wise, the game comes supplied with in game radio stations that play a mix of propaganda for various factions, patriotic tunes, and old songs from the 1950's. It's a strange juxtaposition when you're shooting mutants with a missile launcher to old timey jazz. The voice acting in the game is very top notch, with celebrity voices such as Malcolm McDowell as President John Henry Eden and Liam Neeson as the voice of your father.

Overall, Fallout 3 is a top notch game that will threaten to suck your time and productivity away for hours on end. With a game environment that's huge, and dozens of side quests and ways you could play the game, a person could go through the story several times and have it end differently each time. I give Fallout 3 four irradiated Gomorrahs. They're like regular Gomorrahs but may mutate and grow extra limbs.