Fallout 3

9 05 2009

The cover for Fallout 3

The cover for Fallout 3

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios, ZeniMax Media
HD Resolution: 720p
HDD Space: 4314MB install. Saved games vary, mine at game end was 10MB.
Genre: Adventure
Mode: Single Player
Rating: ESRB: M. PEGI: 18+. BBFC: 18


Mention the name “Fallout” to people and you will probably get one of two responses. People will go into fanboy mode and start raving about their favourite Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics stories, or they will stare at you blankly. Mention Fallout 3 to the first group and they will probably get angry that their beloved franchise was taken away from the original developers and ruined by Bethesda. Having not played any of the previous Fallout games, I fell into neither of the first categories (I had heard of it, but had no strong feelings about it), and also had no strong feelings about Fallout 3 being made by Bethesda.

For those who don’t know, Bethesda is responsible for creating Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls IV, which was a massively successful title. What they have done, essentially, is taken the Fallout universe and powered it by the engine that did Oblivion. The question, then, is it any good? In short: yes. Yes it is.

The Fallout universe, for those who are clueless, is set in a post-nuclear war apocalyptic universe. A select group of lucky people were able to get inside protective vaults before the bombs hit, and they survived the nuclear exchange and subsequent radioactive fallout. Fallout 3 has you take the role of a vault-dweller from Vault 101, and centres on you leaving the safety of the vault to search the rapidly changed and irradiated wasteland that was once Washington D.C. for your father, who has left the Vault.

Showing how V.A.T.S. works

V.A.T.S. in action

Graphically, Fallout 3 is very pretty. The draw distance could use some improvement, and the sky looks a little cheap as individual sections increment the darkness as night falls; but other than those few minor niggles the game is very impressive. The enemies (mostly horribly ugly mutants, defective robots and a random assortment of crazy people trying to kill you) all look as one would expect them to, and this makes making their heads bounce off their shoulders all the more satisfying.

On the sound front, there is not much to be said. All characters have full voice acting, the background music is suitable background, the guns sound realistically loud and violent, and everything sounds like you would expect. It would have been a nice touch for Bethesda to include an option to listen to music on your PS3’s HDD, but this is not a big deal: it just would have been nice to listen to some decent music while traipsing around the wasteland.

Onto another big question: just how big is Fallout 3? Well, let me give you some personal statistics. I started the game on 6 April at 15:04. I finished the game (all major side-quests and all trophies) 17 days later, on 22 April at 18:31, and about 105 hours of actual playtime later. Of course, if one chooses to just run as fast as possible through the main quest, it could probably be finished in under 20 hours. Otherwise, it’s set in a huge sandbox style area (16 mile²: about 4143 hectare seems to be the general concensus) that has multiple buildings to explore and a complete (if somewhat blocked) subway system to explore. You won’t find everything any time soon, trust me.

The PIP-Boy 3000, showing the SPECIAL screen

The PIP-Boy 3000, showing the Skills screen

The interface for the game is very natural feeling for the PlayStation 3. You run around with your left analogue stick and look around with your right. R2 is for attacking, triangle is for jumping, X is for action and O brings up the PIP-BOY 3000 (basically a thing on your character’s arm that stores map, quests, handles inventory, character sheet and basically everything else). R1 brings up Vault Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.), which you will be using a lot. Basically it freezes time, and allows shots on specific body parts of enemies, and gives the % chance to hit each part. Want to snipe that mutant from a good distance but your own skills aren’t quite up to it? Never fear, VATS is here! A very nice touch and very satisfying when you kill an enemy with a critical shot and see their limb go flying.

It sucks a little that the PlayStation 3 was ignored when it comes to DLC (the 360 version has got two DLC packs with another one planned), but that doesn’t take anything away from the game itself, although it does kind of limit the replay value of the game. EDIT: DLC for PS3 confirmed! ETA: End June 2009. Edit again: You can now purchase the original game as well as all 5 DLC packs, for one super low price!

The decision to include trophies by the developers was a nice touch, especially for a collector such as me; I feel it adds value to the game.

Downsides to the game are very few. Sometimes, the physics just go crazy, and bodies start floating, or people fall into the ground randomly. It didn’t happen very often (about 3 or 4 times in my whole game), but it was quite distracting and annoying when it did happen. Another major glitch that ruined my total enjoyment of the game was the frequent total lockup that occurred quite a few times, especially towards the end of the game. I lost count of the number of times that I lost quite a lot of progress due to the game freezing totally and completely. My advice: save often!

Ok, final score for the game: I give it 9/10.

Buy Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition for Xbox 360

More links coming as they become available.

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