Review by EternallyDead

Reviewed: 11/03/08

A good FPS-Lite RPG, A horrid Fallout game

"A good FPS-Lite RPG, A horrid Fallout game"

Let it be heard, I love the Fallout franchise. Ever since my teenage years when I first discovered these games, I was enthralled at the amount of choices and freedom I was granted. I have yet to come across another game that drew me in such as the old Fallouts; this includes Fallout 3.

Bethesda's latest addition to this series has been released amongst a huge amount of hype and fanfare. Expectantly, it has been praised across the Internet as the next big thing in role playing games. I beg to differ. While sporting a vast environment and many hours of game play, Fallout 3 just doesn't deserve the high marks it has been receiving. I will now look at the game from a technical standpoint.

Graphics. 4/10
The graphics disappointed me. Using a re-hashed Gamebryo engine, the same from Oblivion, the game is loaded with horrible animations and ridiculous visual errors. People walk like they are skating. Facial animations are lacking as well. In more than one instance, when an NPC became angry, there was absolutely no emotion on their face to indicate this.
Another gripe I have with the game, is the physics. Bodies have no mass, flopping around after death like marionettes. There is an unfortunate glitch with the PC version that sometimes sends dead bodies rocketing airborne. This said, with four years to improve the Gamebryo engine, Bethesda failed the mark.

Sound. 7/10
While some guns sound pathetically weak, others bear the hallmark sounds of a true device of death. The roar of the .44 magnum is particularly impressive. The assault rifles blare a satifying rat-atat-tat that you will learn to fear in the wasteland. The music, harkening back to the old 50's era, as in previous games, is satisfying and fits the setting. My only gripe with the sound, beyond some of the weak gun noises, is the lack of choosing what to listen to. You will only come across three radio stations in the game. While the main station plays the 50's era music I so enjoy, the others are bland and repetitive. One station repeats itself after less than ten minutes of listening to it.

Voice Acting. 2/10
I did not include this with sound because while I feel the music and ambient sounds work well, the voice acting is utter junk. The script feels un rehearsed and forced. Rarely will you find a character with memorable acting skills. NPC's will blather on about their problems, but show no emotion towards them. The only voice acting I enjoyed was the part played by Malcolm McDowell. Even Liam Nelson's part in the game has me wishing they would have not dropped so much money on names, and instead focused on rehearsal and emotional flair. This being said, the voice acting is below sub-par and easily forgettable.

Gameplay. 7/10
While the transition to FPS can be unsettling at first to Fallout vets, it actually works quite well comparatively to the old games. Seeing a raider's head ripped off, then watching his buddy flee in terror, is by far enjoyable. The combat can be somewhat lackluster at times, which is why Beth introduces the V.A.T.S gameplay mechanic. VATS is very give and take. It will give you "Wow" moments early in the game, but takes away the shine by becoming repetitive and predictable. Still, I have to say, I love when I use VATS and it follows my sniper round in slow motion to the opponent's cranium. The VATS system can still be buggy sometimes on the PC. Causing a critical hit and then wasting the rest of your aimed shots in rapid fire, sure did anger me at some points. Yet, without VATS, the gameplay would have suffered horribly.

Story 5/10
This is what disappointed me the most. The lackluster effort put into the story is shown throughout all of the main quests. No longer do your actions in one town affect another. No longer are there multiple ways to do the story line. While having some very good quest-lines, they do not sync at all with the main story, leaving one feeling like they missed something crucial. The story is bland and short, and ends the game upon completion. Beth easily could have done a better job, but comparing it to Oblivion, I am not surprised at the lack of depth and meaning.

World. 8/10
This is what I was most impressed with. The environment is HUGE! Wandering around for hours is a possibility. Yet, while the wasteland is, well, a wasteland, you will be surprised with the amount of places you will find within it. My one gripe here is the lack of towns. Most places you find will be filled with creatures and the like. There are maybe 3 actual towns in the game. Another thing that bugs me still, is the lack of survival the NPC's show. Everywhere you encounter them, they will be happy-go-lucky types that fail to match the bleakness the environment projects. While filled with hundreds of things to explore and loot, it often feels as if those places are detached from the world.

As a Fallout Game. 1/10
Beth dropped the ball here. Hard. The spirit of the Fallout games is dead. No longer can you build a unique stat based character, as you can accomplish most everything on your first play through. Also gone are choices and consequences. Make one choice, get a reward, make the other choice, GET THE EXACT SAME REWARD. Beth's hand holding in this game is beyond horrible. Dialogue is horrid, harkening more to Oblivion than Fallout. The dark humor is gone. The ability to affect the world (except for one quest) is gone. The weapons are dumbed down. Character creation has been simplified (aka dumbed down) and stops your character from ever being bad at something. The game is just too bland and easy compared to the old Fallouts. The cannon is ripped apart, so don't expect them to add any lore to the Fallout series. They instead change many aspects that made the previous games amazing. Gone are the consequences. Addicted to a drug? Pay a doctor 50 caps to get rid of it. Accidentily shoot someone in town? Wait a few days and they will forget about it. The destruction of the Fallout world was so pronounced it almost stopped me from playing it all together.

Overall. 5/10
Fallout 3 is a semi-enjoyable game, if you can overlook the glaring bugs and destruction of cannon. I do not recommend buying this game. Rent it at best. If you really really want to own it, buy the PC version. Hopefully mod makers can repair the game as extensively as they did for Oblivion.

Over and Out.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Fallout 3 (US, 10/28/08)

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