333th played so far
Sometimes, a game comes along that intersects both of our gaming preferences perfectly (or did, as it was already released by the time we met). Me, a hardcore RPG lover who includes Fallout amongst the games he loves, and Peter, leaning more towards the FPS genre with RPG elements. A combination between c0nsole and PC sensibilities that, beyond this, we mostly saw in Mass Effect before.
Peter played it before, while the blog is one of the reasons I hadn’t started yet, meaning that we’ve both been looking forward to playing – and yeah, now we finally can.
It can be tricky to critique a game you’ve just been enjoying. Yeah, the reason we were playing it was partially so we could get an entry written, but when playing it was a run that I was planning on playing to the end.
Sure, it’s not entirely the original Fallout – the 3D engine with first person or over the shoulder perspective makes for a big change, as does the shooter real time combat system. VATS brings it closer, but you can’t use it as often. It’s a mix of Bethseda’s Elder Scrolls engine (or at least engine style) and Fallout‘s system and world.
It’s that latter part that makes the game better. Morrowind‘s world could often seem bland, with most of the conversation repeated and most NPCs seeming indistinct – only a few topics for the quest NPCs and such would really be that different. With Fallout 3, they’ve followed the lead of that series, with less conversable, but far more memorable NPCs, with a bit more humour and a lot more personality. These are people you can really form an opinion about.
The setting itself is one I enjoy thoroughly anyway. There is something amazing about anything set in a post-apocalyptic world, and the 50s aesthetic mixes a retro feel and thinking about the world (especially in pre-war communication) with a griminess that somehow suits the colour scheme, creating desolate wastelands with an occasional wonder. There are some beautiful vistas, but always with the sadness of what used to be there. A bit like Journey I suppose, except with more roving super mutants. When you arrive at the Oasis, located on the northern side of the map, suddenly you witness a lush wasteland which is so much of a contrast to the decaying surrounding that you find yourself so happy to be there.
Story… well, I only played this for about ten hours so far. There is one where you try to find your father, but I’ve not been able to go beyond that. There’s just too much to do. On a normal playthrough you find yourself face-to-face with cannibals, ‘vampires’, ghouls and some pretty hefty super-mutants. On a longer more exploratory playthrough you will see so much more such as a talking tree and a really messed up radioactive altar to…God knows what religion.
As said, the game continues to use most of Fallout‘s old SPECIAL system. It has been tweaked in places – a few skills merge, no more traits, things like that – but it’s essentially still there. It’s less visible in combat, where the shooter mechanics obscure at least part of the use of stats, but beyond that everything still feels about the same. Probably the biggest change are perks – you go from one every three levels to one per level. It changes their balance somewhat (depending on your preferences), but does make gaining a level more exciting, as there’s always something new to pick. It doesn’t feel like a bad change.
Prior to starting this blog I had already finished my playthrough for Fallout 3 with my awesome back-up team of Dogmeat and Fawkes the Benevolent Super Mutant so this gave me a chance to continue on thanks to the purchase of the Game of the Year edition. Since then I have become re-hooked on this game in with my quest to uncover the remaining 9 Bobbleheads and have not even started on the new material outside of new level-up perks (such as the aptly named ‘Puppies!’ perk). This game is vast, games have since featured bigger maps and better graphics but none I have played have yet left me with the feeling of limitless exploration that Fallout 3 has. And yes I have played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Despite the number in the title, Fallout 3 isn’t a straight sequel to the earlier games – the combat and perspective changes and difference in writing make that clear, with Fallout New Vegas seemingly approximating the latter better. On its own though, or taken slightly more as a spin-off, the game stands well on its own, with a lot of varied options for different types of roleplaying and good combat enhanced by VATS.