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CONSOLE: PC DEVELOPER: Bethesda Game Studios PUBLISHER: Bethesda Softworks
RELEASE DATE (NA): October 28, 2008 GENRE: Action
// review by Lydia

Two-headed cows are better than one!

After the grand premiere of Fallout 4, I decided it was time to dip my foot into the series and hope for the best. I wasn't about to shell out the big moneys for a game that would give my poor laptop seizures, so I settled for the next best thing—Fallout 3! The third game in the Fallout series came out in October 2008 and was greeted with mostly positive reviews. Its good reception was earned, I suppose. It's quite the charming game once you take it out a few times! Although it was regarded as one of the top games of the year, it's definitely not perfect in any sense. Luckily, the good seems to outweigh the bad when it comes to this post-Apocalyptic world...that's stuck in the 1950's for some reason.

The story starts at the very beginning.

Literally.

You are born—can't get much more of a beginning than that!

After a relatively simple character creation, the "Lone Wanderer" — a.k.a. YOU — is taught a particular set of skills throughout childhood by your loving father James the scientist (voiced by Liam Neeson). Years later, science Dad ditches your home in Vault 101 without a goodbye in order to go out on a world-improving mission. Of course, this is the beginning of your real adventure! The last half-hour doesn't count, unless taking a personality test tickles your wild side. So off you go through the Capital Wasteland meeting all sorts of weirdos and mutated creatures in an effort to find your father. Pretty simple story line. It actually doesn't get much more involved than that.

Find Dad → Follow Dad → Bye Dad → Avenge Dad → Save World

All in a day's work for the average protagonist.

The storyline is pretty much linear until the end. It may branch off certain times, but ultimately those choices don't affect the outcome. Once the story ends, it ends—so get all those side quests in before it's too late!

Depending on the sweet rig you used to power up this bad boy of a game, the graphics are pretty decent for the time it was made in. The game was made in the same engine that Bethesda used for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. There's a few similarities between the two, especially when it comes to facial movement and construction. Of course, there's much improvement in FO3. Everything is less square and more rounded. That's not admitting that they're the best graphics ever because I noticed some areas that needed polishing. Plenty of little bugs lying around causing floating rocks and blinking buildings in the distance. But hey, I'm willing to give the game a break. It's still up to par with the other top games of the year such as Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, and Mass Effect. It's not the prettiest game (I'll go into more detail later), but the graphics are decent enough to make it a satisfying (and sometimes terrifying) gaming experience.

Fallout 3 is one of those games that like to show off its guns. Big guns, little guns‐doesn't matter. This game's caught ‘em all. You want to blow up that line of cars? Sure, here's a giant monster of a gun that launches miniature atomic bombs! Just be sure to keep your distance. Distance not an option? No problem! Grab that shotgun and pave the way! The weapon diversity in this game is on point. However you choose to approach the gameplay, there's a weapon that's perfect for your needs. And the perks! There are so many useful (and not so useful) perks to choose from once you level up. They increase in usefulness as you increase in level so it's a balanced system. There are certain abilities that you have that aren't quite explained fully. For example, Repair. I walked around for quite a while before I figured out I could repair my own weapons. The condition of weapons seems inconsistent as well. My rarely used small guns seem to degrade much faster than the more commonly used bigger guns. It's quite disappointing since some of the best weapons are unique which means you can't repair them yourself. Just like reality, there isn't a Wastelander leading around a two-headed cow on every corner to fix your artillery problems.


Beautiful. Stunning.

I hope you have a lot of extra time because this game is HUGE. You can easily clock in over 100 hours exploring the wastelands of post-Apocalyptic Washington, D.C. This game isn't pretty. It wasn't meant to be. There's a lot of brown landscape, rusted cars, and dilapidated buildings that successfully give the sense of the desolation that happened many, many moons ago. This is all well and good, but sometimes it's nice to have a bit of diversity. You go into similar-looking buildings, sift through their identical remains, and then go through the Metro tunnels that are really nothing special. Very few places seem to have unique factors to them. Every once in a while you'll find a place that actually has a story, such as a Vault where dweller Gary seems to have cloned himself 50 times. It's those unique stories that stand out though and draw me in to keep playing this game. This game is not hesitant to rip your heart out. You'll hear a distress call from a family hiding in the sewer only to find that they've been dead for years and that no one was there to help. You'll find remains scattered among toys in children's rooms. You'll see segregation and slavery. It's a dirty world with dirty people and dirty circumstances. This game is not scenic at all for those who like to be screenshot photographers; however, every once in a while you'll run into something that makes you stop and think, and that's part of what makes a game good.

The music of Fallout 3 is hard to describe. Every once in a while, you'll stumble upon a functioning radio—because what mutated monster doesn't like to bust a move on the radiated dance floor? The music that's played through the one radio station is definitely reminiscent of the classic crooners of the 1940s and 50s. I'm pretty sure I heard Bing Crosby singing to me as I blasted some oversized cockroaches trying to nibble at my Sugar Bombs. As for the ambiance music, it really isn't something to get excited about. It picked up when fighting enemies but otherwise, I didn't really notice it. You can compare it to the music that plays in restaurants in the sense that you don't really notice it when you're crunching. It just gets drowned out when you're frantically running from your own demise...or awkward dinner date. Not that I have much experience with that, but that's how I'd imagine it would be. You will notice the sounds though! It's hard not to when the ground shakes and a nearby explosion knocks you on your keister. The bass rumbles as it should. The sound of your footsteps coincides with the type of ground you're walking on (i.e. dirt, steel, wood, bodies). I did notice one glitch where it sounded like I had four legs...then again, I very well may have had four legs. I haven't checked lately.

Fallout 3 released several DLCs that added some new areas to explore. Like space! The final frontier...or your final resting place? Mothership Zeta abducts you into the heart of an alien spaceship where you are about to be stereotypically dissected by aliens (whose language sounds suspiciously like the bizarre parts of "What Does the Fox Say"). It's an interesting story with unique characters and a not-so-unique plot. But hey, you get alien laser pistols! How cool is that?

Not cool enough for you?

Try Alaska!

Why?

Who knows!

"Operation: Anchorage" is a decent DLC. It's basically a simulated trip back in time to a place you've only read about in the loading screen newspaper. It doesn't offer much of anything new, but you get to blow up giant cannons so it's worth giving it a playthrough.

"The Pitt" is the only add-on that I didn't fully appreciate. It was very dark and very confusing to navigate. The whole design for it was maze-like and frustrating. The story was an ill-attempt at a moral dilemma. Unless you're completely devoid of emotion, the choices really aren't that difficult to make.

The only DLC that is a bit more expansive and involved is "Point Lookout". There are a few new enemies, a few new guns, and a few more unappreciative people in distress to aid. It's set in a swampland located outside of Washington, D.C. where the ground bubbles like it just had extra hot sauce in its Taco Bell burrito. You'll follow spies and cultists while dodging all those darned hillbillies and feral ghouls that want to eat your face. The most disappointing part of Point Lookout was the fact that you can't ride the Ferris wheel. Sad face.

If you're willing to endure several game crashes and a few bugs every now and then, you'll probably have quite a time tromping around in the ashes of your former civilization! Fallout 3 is a unique experience that will eat up as much time as it took for me to write this conclusion (almost 3 years). And it's still a pretty terrible conclusion.


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