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Games You Probably Like, But Shouldn’t: FALLOUT 3

June 12, 2009

We would now like to introduce a new column from our video guest last week, Brandon. It takes his opinion on a range of popular games and dissects them to tell you why you probably like this game but shouldn’t. Without further ado, I present his first work of staggering genius: Fallout 3.

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Wide, open expanses cover the world with exotic scenery ranging from valleys, mountains, caves, and oceans that beckon the player with promises of adventure and the threat of danger. The face of that danger comes in the form of the environment, traps, monstrous beasts, and even other people. You are armed with a huge selection of melee and ranged weapons to fight back against your foes. Through gaining experience, you delve into a leveling system that is equal parts complicated and intrinsically beautiful. You are a hero, to some a messiah and to some a champion; and yet, you have the choice to be the exact opposite.

Where are you?

No, not Cyrodill my friend. You’re not standing at the gates of Oblivion. Here, let me help you out. Add the following to that scenario: Guns and a warped turn based system. That’s right kids; you’re fresh out of the Vault.

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Now, before I fully break into this, I want to state that Fallout 3 is a great game. The problem lies in the fact that it’s a great game in the same vein as Oblivion. Morrowind was wonderful and was fully upgraded in every conceivable way to the level of Oblivion. What changed between Oblivion and Fallout? As I mentioned before, the only differences are the presence of guns and V.A.T.S. I think the best review of this game would be through my first person experience.

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I was first treated to the amazing graphics, glow effects, and decently mapped facial expressions that Bethesda is now known for. This time it was through the infantile eyes of *insert generic hero name here*. I began playing the game and, while the leveling system is not nearly as intense, I enjoyed it. I was shooing enemies, making moral decisions, and then I busted out of the Vault. It was then I heard the musical trappings of Jeremy Soule… No, wait. What? The composer was actually Inon Zur? Someone give that man an award! The soundtracks are both the same obligatory orchestral masterpieces that perfectly match the long hills and valleys of grass and… Wait, no. In Fallout 3, you’re running across the blasted wasteland of the Metro D.C. area; and yet, Bethesda still thought pieces on the same grandiose and beautiful tier as John Williams would describe a nuclear desolation.

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The unforgiving comparisons had only just begun for me though. As I did with Oblivion, I started out running around doing every little side quest that I could find. Go figure, they were all the same. Go find the Ring of *insert random god’s name*… I mean, go find the O2 monitor to hardwire it into the cooling mainframe. Protect this innocuous person. Destroy this group of vampires. No, that’s not a mistake. Vampires are in both games.

Maybe the combat is different? Yes and no. Obviously there is a huge emphasis on long ranged weapons; however, they act in much the same way as a bow in Oblivion. Melee? Well, lets just say a pipe swing much the same way as a sword. But what is this V.A.T.S. I mentioned? It’s combat that turns the game into completely turn and statistic based. You have percentages to hit certain body parts, you can only shoot so many times, etc. This was a decent idea, but it actually broke the game. With just a few tweaks to your stats, you become an unstoppable headshot master as long as you can activate the mode. Does this add a whole lot to the game? Not really. Granted, it’s entertaining to shoot someone in the head and have all of their body parts explode into gore.

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Is the game good? Yes, it has plenty of action, graphics, and, aside from the abysmal ending, a decent plot. It’s fun to run around DC and see the places you’ve been. For me, I realized that the lake I live at turned into a nuclear death pool. If you haven’t played Oblivion, then you’ll adore this game and probably play it until your thumbs are numb. The problem is, if you’ve played Oblivion, then you’ve already put anywhere from 30 hours to 120 hours into this game and there is no reason to put anymore in. Bethesda is now assuming that we gamers will now just happily play the same game with a new package time and time again.

So, that being said, Fallout 3 is a game you probably like, but shouldn’t.

P.S. If you’re a Fallout fanboy crying about purism, you’re right in the fact that it would have been nice to see a game along the same vein; however, that does not mean you have to have a conniption over the fact that something’s changing a little. That’s like yelling about television being switched from analog to digital because it’s not the same.

-Brandon

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 13, 2009 4:58 pm

    Yeah yeah… what about character development?? What about dialog?? what about monotonous voice acting (except for ron perlman, mr. president and three dog)?? What about insipid NPCs??? What about the magnanimously stupid enemy AI?? If you are gonna give us a shooter (combat plays like a shooter) at least try to give the enemies some AI… What about graphical glitches and wooden animations brought in from Oblivion without a single upgrade?? What about supermutants transformed into mindless orcs?? What about raiders tranformed into midless reavers [from firefly]??

    I mean, for example, when you finally catch up with your dad and save him all he has to say is: “Oh hey son… um, yeah I must go finish the purifier. See ya!” Where’s the emotion?? Where’s the coherence?? And so on, and so on…

    I could’ve looked past the FPS and real time combat if they had just come up with decent dialog and characters…

    YES, the game was fun. But once I finished it (and it was over rather quickly) I couldn’t be bored to replay it, even when there was many side quests I hadn’t done… and I can still replay Fallout 2 to this very day…

  2. June 13, 2009 7:30 pm

    Why are all the pictures used taken from early screenshots?

    • thebigmanandgarrett permalink*
      June 13, 2009 8:33 pm

      As this is a WordPress blog I (The Big Man), Garrett, and Brandon all only post from the one account, and I am not the one who posted this article, so I cannot say for sure, but more than likely they were taken from a basic google search, with no intention of misrepresenting your product.

  3. Aus permalink
    June 13, 2009 9:02 pm

    The only thing this article got right was the issue with the music. The rest of it is complaints about similarity with Oblivion, which is neither surprising nor fatal for the game. Rather, as anonymous mentioned, the issues with unbalanced leveling system, badly written story and dialogue and technical stability were what, imo, ruined the potentially decent game.

  4. thebigmanandgarrett permalink*
    June 13, 2009 9:10 pm

    Also in case anyone did not understand, this is an opinion piece, like an editorial, representing Brandon’s personal feelings about the game.
    -The Big Man

  5. thebigmanandgarrett permalink*
    June 14, 2009 3:06 am

    This is Garrett. I posted the pictures Todd. Basically it was just a Google Search like the Big Man said. It in no way is meant to represent the final product. In fact, we all really like Fallout 3! But you know, opinionated articles are much more fun to write 😉

    Thanks for stopping by the site, and look forward to next week’s game in this new column. It’s sure to cause a ‘cloud’ of confusion over all the fanboys. 😉

  6. Nimdok permalink
    June 14, 2009 6:40 am

    What bothers me about Fallout 3 is that the storyline is such a huge line of gobshite that you can’t ignore how badly it was thrown together.

    • thebigmanandgarrett permalink*
      June 14, 2009 1:32 pm

      It seems a lot like Bethesda thought we would overlook that in exchange for a massive, free-roaming, post apocalyptic DC. Unfortunately gamers were expecting a bit more. Blowing body parts all over is fun, but it doesn’t substitute for a solid narrative.

  7. Denis permalink
    June 15, 2009 12:32 am

    “P.S. If you’re a Fallout fanboy crying about purism, you’re right in the fact that it would have been nice to see a game along the same vein; however, that does not mean you have to have a conniption over the fact that something’s changing a little. That’s like yelling about television being switched from analog to digital because it’s not the same.”
    The problem is that television was switched from digital to analog. And it’s definately not a little change.

  8. Mike permalink
    June 15, 2009 5:10 pm

    Yeah, I agree with the last bit from… Anonymous… There is absolutely no replay value whatsoever, where the originals could make you play it over again with the exact same character you made the first time (and still be entertained the whole way through), F3 is just too mediocre in every way to be replayable.

    Seriously, it’s a mediocre FPS, the dialogue is mediocre, the perks are mediocre (at the end at least), you can only go to level 21(without costly expansions), the enemies are mediocre, the people are mediocre, the animations are mediocre, the items are mediocre, the beginning is mediocre, the end is mediocre, the (graphic) models are mediocre, they just decided to turn the whole thing into a giant pile of mediocre.

    And who the hell is stupid enough to start a city around a live atom bomb?

    • thebigmanandgarrett permalink*
      June 15, 2009 5:18 pm

      It felt like Bethesda figured that if they gave us a plethora of mediocre it would substitute for a small amount of excellence. Unfortunately, it did not. Take MGS4 for example. Not a long game by any means, but the quality was superb. Every chapter was excellent and memorable. Or take a more expansive game, like Mass Effect. Maybe not every detail was perfect, but the story and atmosphere were excellent, and the game has tons of replay ability.

      -Garrett

  9. June 17, 2009 5:15 pm

    As one of the biggest Fallout fans who ever lived, I am really torn by Fallout 3, as you’ve said.

    I love actually walking through a Vault, standing on a hill overlooking a devastated city and scrambling over ruins.

    But it’s too easy. Within 10 minutes of leaving the Vault, I had a sniper rifle (a valuable item in the early games!) and two laser pistols (even more valuable!) which allowed me to reduce everything I encountered to mulch, thanks to VATS and the fact I’d planned to use guns a lot and so tagged them. My character (level 25) is now the world’s best hacker, lockpicker, conversationalist, scientist and more. Compare the original, where combat was suitably dangerous and you realistically avoided it, where you had to specialize and make the most of your skills… I feel like the Kwisatz Haderach of the DC Ruins.

    The story – I’m avoiding spoilers here – is terrible. While you do at first wish to find out what’s happened, you soon realize how utterly linear it is and how your own ‘moral choices’ have virtually no impact (again). Even with Broken Steel, the story follows its own predetermined path and you are given no option but to follow – how I’d have loved to have chosen my allegiances and had actual impact on the world beyond ‘Oh, you are a hero!’ and ‘Oh no, you are bad!’

    It’s through playing the game ironman (no saves except at the end of a session) and without fast travel that I’ve managed to retain a high level of interest in it, really. And this is only because I’ve forced myself to imagine motivations and emotions and such for my character as the game doesn’t really provide these.

    After 110 hours, I’ve still got so much to see (I know of several major locations in the game I’ve not even visited yet, and I’ve yet to even touch The Pitt or Operation: Anchorage) that I won’t be stopping any time soon. But I have a horrible feeling that I do so out of a sense of duty as an oldschool (we’re talking the original ‘Scrapyard’ demo from 1997) Fallout fan to make the most of it all more than as someone who is wrapped up in a compelling adventure.

    Oh, and given the attention this article is getting – hello to anyone from the UW or the old Interplay FO1 and 2 boards who sees this. You know who you are! Extra special hello to Dave Hendee who was our go-between in those days.

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