Fallout 3 is the toughest game I’ve had to review. The developers at Bethesda Softworks are truly the kings of RPGs. They produced the highly popular Elder Scrolls series, including the 2006 Game Of The Year Winner, and one of my favorite games ever, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Check out my report on that game further down the forums). When people heard Fallout 3 was coming, reactions were mixed. Some saw the game for what it was, epic, brilliant, and utterly enthralling. Others reduced it to a cheap knock-off, and said it would be “Oblivion with guns”. And then the whiners said it would be too slow and nerdy.
Ignore the haters. This game is good. It’s very fucking good. It tells the story of a world 200 years after a nuclear war wiped out most of civilization. You were safe in a state-of-the-art Vault-Tec underground asylum, which protected you from the dangers of the Wasteland outside. But this safety comes at a price. Your character has never seen the outside world, and should he/she, for some reason, be released from the vault, he/she would have no idea how to survive in the cruel world that awaits. But on a more personal level, it tells the story of a young man/woman’s search for their missing Dad, who is expertly voiced by Liam Neeson.
The game begins with you being born. From here, you choose everything from your sex to your eye color. The next hour consists of you growing up, in which you play out you toddlerhood, 10th birthday party, exams at 16, and your final day in the vault, aged 19. In this voyage of discovery, you pick your major skills, such as Big Guns, Speech, Sneak, Melee Weapons, among many more. It also gives you an indication of what sort of character you may want to be, good or evil. This is one of FO3′s best points, the Karma system. If you be good (give water to dying beggars, donate to the Church etc.), the environment will respond accordingly. People will give you gifts, and the radio DJ will praise you. Alternatively, if you choose the evil path, you will get gifts from fellow wrong-doers, and you will be bad-mouthed on the radio(of course, if this bothers you, you can visit the radio station and place a bullet between good old Three Daaawwgg’s eyes! ). The Karma system also dictates which Followers you can acquire. There are certain ones that will serve you regardless, such as the irradiated, shotgun wielding ghoul Charon, whose employment contracts can be bought, or earned. Another Follower who shows unconditional love is Dog Meat, a loyal and lovable pooch (unfortunately, he dies quicker than a mayfly with high cholesterol). Certain Followers, however, have standards and won’t want to hang around with a goody-two-shoes/evil bastard. The choice is completely your own to make!
When you emerge from the vault, you lay eyes on perhaps the most beautifully realised game world ever. The Capital Wasteland is a dangerous, but beautiful place. In this open-world, you will travel to various settlements, and through well-chosen dialogue options (or a faceful of buck-shot), you will survive. The quests are imaginative and live in your memory long after you’ve finished the game. But finishing the game will take well over 100 hours if you explore properly and appreciate the game’s beauty. Some dangers you’ll have to compete with in the Wasteland are robots, Raiders, Super Mutants, Yao Guai, Radscorpions, Mirelurks, and the radiation that threatens to deform you. The Super Mutants are perhaps the most interesting of these, with several varieties: standard, Brute, Master, and the 30-foot tall Behemoths, which are absolutely fantastic for testing your skill. Perhaps even more dangerous than the Behemoths are DeathClaws, raptor-like abominations blessed with blinding speed and claws that can rip a man to shreds in seconds.
So is it better than Oblivion? It’s an almost impossible call to make, but I’d say no. It’s more polished, with more little nuggets of joy to be extracted, but there’s less depth, complexity and charm. One such example of the afformentioned “nuggets of joy” is when I followed train tracks and found a shopping cart with a teddy bear in it. I opened the cart and just as I did, I heard a loud growl behind me. I turned to find a Behemoth who obviously didn’t like people messing with his teddy! This has been a difficult game to review. Not because I’m undecided on the quality of it, but because I can’t possibly mention even 1/100 of everything there is in this game. Overall, a truly amazing game, well worth a buy. In fact, a must-have. Definitely one of the best games of the last 10 years.