And now for a GNR news update. After years of waiting, Fallout 3 has finally hit store shelves. It isn’t the same type of game as the first two entries in the series, but it also isn’t a hardcore shooter and it certainly isn’t just Oblivion with guns. It is a great mix of satisfying exploration, bloody combat with gruesome enemies, and a great story in an awesome setting that will grip you for 40-50 hours. It is an amazing game that we highly recommend. Thanks for listening, children!
- Title: Fallout 3
- Publisher: Bethesda
- Developer: Bethesda
- ESRB Rating: “M” For Mature
- Genre: RPG
- Pros: Huge world to explore in a great setting; V.A.T.S. combat is fun; nice graphics and sound; completely addictive and will absorb you for dozens of hours
- Cons: Clunky non-V.A.T.S. combat; world design + odd map system makes getting around hard; lots o’ gray and brown …
It is the year 2277. The lingering effects of nuclear war from 200 years ago have ravaged the world and now you either live in special vaults or you struggle to survive out on the radiation filled wasteland. Your character is a resident of Vault 101 which is just outside of the ruins of Washington D.C. Your life is fairly normal, and you are safe at least. That is until the day your Dad suddenly leaves the vault without telling you. You set out to find him, which leads to the real meat of Fallout 3.
Once you get out on the wasteland, you are free to do whatever you want. The main storyline is only a small part of what you can do. There are cities to explore. Locations to discover. Side quests to complete. And lots and lots of raiders, enemy soldiers, super mutants, ghouls (zombies), and mutated animals to kill. The wasteland is positively huge, and while the ruins of D.C. take up a pretty big chunk of it, there is plenty of wilderness to just wander around aimlessly in as well. Side quests include things like collecting Abe Lincoln doodads at the Museum of History, repairing a radio transmitter on top of the Washington Monument, or even blowing up a town (or not) among many other things. You also will meet a handful of other characters that will join your party as you wander through the wastes. There is a lot to do here and you’ll be hooked for dozens of hours.
All About Survival
Fallout 3 is all about freedom, but with one caveat. You can go wherever you want and do whatever you want and the only real limitations are how many healing items you have and how good of weapons you have. Fallout 3 is different from just about any other RPG, however, because it isn’t really about collecting crap to sell, or helping everyone you meet, or brazenly going into the unknown just to see what you can see. Fallout 3 is about survival. You pick up every single scrap of food and every bit of ammunition you find because you won’t survive without it. Most of the other people you meet on the wastes shoot first and ask questions later because they have to protect their own little stockpile of water and food and ammo. And the friendly people you meet generally greatly overcharge you for simple work (medical care, weapon repair, etc.) or don’t really have much money to trade with you (so no going out and collecting expensive stuff to trade like in Oblivion). Survival takes precedence over wealth and power in Fallout 3, and that is an interesting change of pace compared to most RPGs. That isn’t to say you can’t pursue wealth and power, but it usually means making dubious moral choices and making life tougher for others out in the wastes.
This skewed focus makes you appreciate the little things differently. Survival is a very base instinct and it is hard not to be selfish. Unlike Oblivion where everyone has stuff and you have nothing so “screw them”, in Fallout everyone is suffering all the same and some of the moral choices you make just tear your heart out.
In addition to exploring and making tough choices, combat plays a pretty big role in Fallout 3’s gameplay as well. At first glance it looks like it’s a shooter, but it really isn’t. If you play Fallout 3 like a normal first-person-shooter, you are going to run out of ammo very quickly and probably get pummeled by enemies. Honestly, the core shooting is kind of clunky here as the enemies are all very fast and your aiming is sort of slow so trying to be accurate is rather difficult. That is why you don’t play it as a shooter. Instead, you use the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.). VATS pauses the game and lets you precision target arms, legs, weapons, torso, or the head of your enemy. You then spend action points to have your character shoot for you. You can target multiple enemies as long as you have enough AP to make all of the shots. Your success is determined by the distance to the target as well as your skill level for that particular weapon, so using VATS isn’t always a 100% sure thing. Now, I know that it might not sound like fun to have your character do all of the work, but in practice it is very, very cool. It saves you ammo, for one thing, but the camera also zooms in on the enemy so you get to see every bullet ripping a bloody hole in them. It is just plain awesome to watch, and surprisingly gory and gruesome.
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