Review by brassknizz

Reviewed: 11/05/08

A potentially great game that felt very rushed and buggy

Fallout 3
First off, let me start by saying that I was an avid fan of the first two fallouts. I, however, did not particularly like oblivion so I went into this game with a skeptical view. This review is based on one complete play through of the game.

Game play – An RPG disguised as a First Person Shooter is probably the best way to describe this game and its game play as a whole. There are several unique aspects of the game play such as, VATS (vault assisted targeting system), which you’ve probably heard about. The combat in the game can be great fun in certain spots while repetitive in others. I found myself just running up to super mutants in near point blank range, VATS ,“headshotting”, and doing it to the next one many a time. The combat is more often than not rewarding and entertaining with a certain element of tactical play to it. The tactical part involves mostly a conservation of ammo and healing items, as any RPG should be.

VATS - In case you haven’t heard of VATS; it is the RPG element added to the FPS style of play. In VATS you stop time in order to target vitals of the body (groin shot disappointingly absent). You ask, why would I use VATS when I can aim fairly well on my own? Well, the truth is, you really don’t have to… but it ends up saving you ammo due to the poor collision detection of shots fired. VATS has a few other uses, such as teleporting near to a running foe with a melee weapon. VATS is also useful for the fact that enemy attacks will sometimes, but not always, have your character take no damage even though the animations suggest otherwise.

Interface – The Pipboy menu was done very well; it has a visceral feel to it. There was the ability to hotkey your weapons so you don’t have to constantly use the menu in combat, so that was a nice touch. The fast travel for the world map is a life saver and it gives breadth to the random encounters. The stat menus are informative and intuitive, with the exception of the SPECIAL stat points, you’ll have to do a bit of reading in the manual or elsewhere to figure out all the benefits of each one.

Mini-games – The hacking game is spot on, it’s a great little puzzle that is intuitive and fun at the same time. The look of the hacking game was also designed fairly well, it definitely adds to the immersion. The lock picking puzzle was somewhat easy for me, but maybe others will find it more difficult, it was still fun none-the-less.

Dialogue - The character dialogue in the game can range from anywhere from funny to delightful to cringe inducing. The voice acting is about on par with the dialogue, some of the voice actors pull of their parts quite well, while some are clearly doing their 8th character that day and just want to get it over with. The clunkyness to the voice acting could be in part to the way the audio is set up. Editing the way the characters deliver the lines, such as voicing over another character, or the delayed response from a question asked are important examples of the fine line between immersion and apathy towards the character. This game has definite problems in the way the editing was handled.

Music – The 50’s retro music isn’t really my style but I found a few of the songs entertaining none the less. It’s part of the fallout universe so I am not able to criticize it negatively or positively. I’m indifferent in this respect.

Story - The storyline’s failsafe is that it was able to use all the wonderful elements of the original fallouts. You are immersed early on into a “lack of mommy complex” which compels your father to be the only meaningful protagonist that frequents the game’s storyline. Fortunately, the game does give you the freedom to be a hero, anti-hero, or demon. So you can play through this game several times just to see the different reactions of your actions from the NPCs. The “120” endings are disappointing though. One can clearly see that they are all just cut’n’paste clips dependent upon your actions, and they aren’t delivered very well.

Imperfections (unintended bugs/glitches) – This game is riddled with bugs, glitches, and crashes. I can recall having a period in time in which the game would crash simply by walking on to a specific spot. I had several instances of blue screens of death out of nowhere which required a hard restart of my computer. There are plenty of NPC pathing glitches. There is a lack of clipping in some spots (most notably when you’re trying to jump up rubble or terrain). There are collision impurities such as your bullets not hitting the target when it most certainly should. The bugs are the greatest flaw of the game by far. Bethesda obviously did not to external testing, possibly to stop pirating, which unfortunately hurts the legitimate consumer.

Graphics –Even though the engine is several years old it does have a certain charm to it. Fallout 3 perfectly depicts a vast open free world early on, until you visit all the locations and you realize it’s not as large as you had thought (admittedly not a huge deal). Fallout 3 does suffer (but not as badly) from the cut’n’pasted textures. If you look at the right spot you’ll see the exact same textures cut’n’pasted right next to each other for several nodes. That appeared to be laziness on the artistic developer’s part. The character models are detailed and do fit into the environment well. The character models do have a stiffness or rigidity in their movement that takes away from the atmosphere unfortunately.

All in all – The game is fun and will keep your attention for 15-20 hours. If you’re one of those players that loves to dissect a game completely and aren’t bothered by repetition then you’ll enjoy many more hours. The game felt very rushed and I felt a bit cheated out of my $50 even though I did enjoy it for the most part. The sad part is this game could have been one of the best games of all time if it was in the hands of a better developer or at least had a thorough amount of polish added to it. To sum it up, the game is fun and worth playing despite its many flaws if you’re a fallout fan or not. It’s just not the epic game I had hoped for.

Rating - 8/10 I would have given it a 7-7.5 (mostly due to the rushed, buggy, and incomplete nature of the game), but I have high hopes for the modding community.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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