Fallout 3
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

The shift towards a more action oriented first person view might not sit well with purists, but Fallout 3 is still a very entertaining and highly engrossing role playing game. Exploring the wasteland and all its perils is a memorable experience and there is enough to do in this game to keep you busy for ages. The game wasn’t without its bugs when it first launched, but has stabilized a lot since then and there are also hundreds of mods available to enhance the experience.

Gameplay: More action and a little less role playing than the previous Fallout titles, but still good.

Graphics: While not exactly cutting edge the visuals still allow for an immersive experience.

Sound: The game features a great selection of classic tunes

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Fallout 3

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios | Publisher: Bethesda Softworks | Release Date: 2008 | Genre: RPG | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam

War. War never changes. I’ve been waiting ten years to hear that phrase again. For those unaware of the origins of this title here’s a bit of a history lesson. The original Fallout came out way back in the dark ages of 1998 and quickly gained a huge following of rabid fans. Fallout 2 was released soon after and further cemented the series as a classic. Then. nothing. Despite rumors of a third title nothing ever materialized until finally Bethesda (creators of the excellent Oblivion game) announced that they have bought the rights to the Fallout universe and will be creating a third game using the Oblivion engine. Soon the internet was ablaze with die-hard fans of the original games worrying that the next installment will just be “Oblivion with guns” and others salivating at the prospect of stepping out into the wasteland once more. Since I was a huge fan of the original games (and the original “ultimate collection”  box still holds a prized position on my game shelf) I pre-ordered Fallout 3 as soon I was able to and waited with baited breath for the collectors edition (complete with Fallout lunchbox, action figure and art book) to make its way to me.

First impressions? Well it’s Oblivion with guns! Just kidding, no there is a lot more to Fallout than first meets the eye. Obviously if you have played the previous games and know the whole history of the series you’ll get a lot more out of this title, but even if you have no prior knowledge of anything Fallout related there are still loads of fun to be had with this one. Like the last two games you play the role of a “vault dweller”. You see in the Fallout universe the cold war erupted into full on nuclear war and most of the surface of the world was reduced to radioactive waste in the ensuing battle. A privileged few fled to underground nuclear shelters called vaults where they happily lived their lives in peace not caring about the mayhem up above. The way you start this game is very unique and unlike anything I’ve seen previously in the genre. The way the character creation and tutorial is handled is extremely innovative and will be sure to bring a smile to your face. The main quest in the game revolves around locating your father who, for his own reasons, decided to leave the vault (something that is very much frowned upon by the overseer of the vault). So your character decides to follow in his footsteps and find out what could have prompted such a drastic course of action. While the main quest is very short and only comprises of about 15 or so missions there is a wealth of optional side quests that can keep you busy for weeks and if you decided to just explore and uncover every nook and cranny of the gameworld, well your social life might suffer a bit.

Since the previous two games came out ages ago it was unrealistic of people to expect that this game would resemble them much. Graphically Fallout 3 is one good looking game and while it doesn’t reach the dizzying visual heights of Farcry 2 it does a splendid job of portraying a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The environment you get to wander around is absolutely huge and while you might not think that there would be much to see after a nuclear war has leveled almost everything you’d be surprised at how much interesting locations and characters has been packed into this game. The biggest change since the last games is the perspective. Gone is the top down isometric views of yore and in its place is a first person view (or 3rd person if you prefer). This makes the game look more like your average First Person Shooter, but in my humble opinion makes for a more immersive experience. The game takes place in the Washington area of America, now known as the Capital Wasteland, so you can expect to see plenty of landmarks like the Capital Building, Washington Memorial and a few others. Not that they are in the best condition after the war of course.  The game takes place in 2277, 200 years after the nuclear war that devastated the planet, so there have been some attempts to rebuild society but with all the bandits, slavers, super mutants & ghouls roaming around the people are more concerned with survival than anything else. One of the most interesting design features is that the world of Fallout is based around the 1950’s idea of the “ideal future”. Filled with robot servants (most of them not so friendly anymore after having their circuits fried by radiation), sleek shiny cars (now rusty wrecks) and cool gadgets. That means that the game’s soundtrack also comprises of some classic 50’s songs that you can listen to on the radio (yes there are radio stations broadcasting out in the wasteland, well two of them anyway). It’s a bit weird at first engaging murderous zombies while listening to happy-go-lucky music but it fits the game like a glove and after a while you’ll be singing along to some of the catchier tunes. The voice acting is also of a very high standard and Liam Neeson himself plays the role of your father. Ron Perlman (who some of you might know from the Hellboy movies) reprises his role as the narrator. All of the other minor characters also sound decent and overall the audio is of a high standard. Well the radio station DJ is a bit annoying but that’s about the only complaint.

The Fallout games were renowned for their satirical wit, gory combat and mature themes and this game does the series proud. For the battles the developers has included a new V.A.T.S (Vault Assisted Targeting System) mode that allows you to pause combat and manually target specific limbs of your enemies before resuming and letting rip with your chosen weapon. You can still play the game as a straightforward shooter but V.A.T.S allows for much more precision and finesse and besides it just looks plain cool. You are limited by your action points, but watching a ghoul go flying after being hit in the head by a rocket just never gets old. Be warned though as this game is extremely gory and it’s not uncommon to see an unlucky enemy part with his head in gruesome fashion after being hit by a sniper rifle. The game also features a bit of swearing, so pets and small children should steer clear.

What I really like about the game is its open-endedness. Not only do you have an enormous playing area to explore as you see fit, but you also have lots of choices in how you go about doing it. Morality plays a big role in the game and you can choose how nice or nasty you want to be to the people you encounter. Being a complete jerk might not win you any friends, but could gain you lots of useful items whereas playing as the self-sacrificing hero will make you very popular at the cost of missing out on some loot that can only be gained by nefarious means. Almost every action you take has some sort of consequence and while not as pronounced as the previous games still makes for a more rewarding and realistic experience. It also means that once you have completed the game you might want to go back and try different approaches or play as a different kind of character. This kind of customization extends to the weapons as well and as if the selection on offer wasn’t varied enough you can even build your own weapons if you have the right schematics, technical skills and required parts. Some like the junk-launcher is absolutely hilarious and pelting a super mutant with empty wine bottles, scrap metal and old teddy bears is a sight to behold.

While I could still go on endlessly about this game I think everyone has realized by now that this is a must-have title if you like role playing games. It’s not without its flaws but there is honestly nothing serious enough not to warrant a purchase. 2008 has been a year of extremely good computer games but Fallout 3 remains one of the top ones.

*Review originally published 2008.
*Note: A “Game of The Year” edition featuring all Fallout 3 DLC is now available.

System Requirements

  • Operating system: Windows XP/Vista
  • Processor: 2.4 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor
  • Memory: 1 GB (XP)/ 2 GB (Vista)
  • Hard disk space: 7 GB
  • Video: Direct X 9.0c compliant video card with 256MB RAM (NVIDIA 6800 or better/ATI X850 or better)
  • Sound: DirectX®: 9.0c
  • Controller support: Xbox 360 controller
  • Other Requirements: Online play requires log-in to Games For Windows – Live

Supported Video Card Chipsets:

  • NVIDIA GeForce 200 series, Geforce 9800 series, Geforce 9600 series, Geforce 8800 series, Geforce 8600 series, Geforce 8500 series, Geforce 8400 series, Geforce 7900 series, Geforce 7800 series, Geforce 7600 series, Geforce 7300 series, GeForce 6800 series
  • ATI HD 4800 series, HD 4600 series, HD 3800 series, HD 3600 series, HD 3400 series, HD 2900 series, HD 2600 series, HD 2400 series, X1900 series, X1800 series, X1600 series, X1300 series, X850 series
  • Operating system: Windows XP/Vista
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo processor
  • Memory: 2 GB System RAM
  • Hard disk space: 7 GB
  • Video: Direct X 9.0c compliant video card with 512MB RAM (NVIDIA 8800 series, ATI 3800 series)
  • Sound: DirectX®: 9.0c
  • Controller support: Xbox 360 controller

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