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Posted by Brother None

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Fallout 3 Impressions


Sander

Fallout 3 starts you off as a baby and then uses your childhood as a tutorial and a way for you to decide on the initial stats of your character. At the age of 19, though, your father escapes the vault, and the Overseer's men decide to bring you in. Escaping the vault, you are thrust into the wasteland to find your father.
And this is really immediately where Bethesda's design shines, but also shows how different it is from the original Fallout games.
The wasteland you are exploring is filled to the brim with enemies and areas to explore. There's always something around the corner, another unexplored blip on your compass nearby. The wasteland doesn't feel like a wasteland anymore, it feels like a fully-populated place, complete with raiders who enjoy decorating their homes with a decapitated corpse on every corner. The places that you can explore are generally dungeon crawls, with the occasional abandoned vault, most of which are good concepts and interesting to find. Sadly, when compared to places like The Glow in Fallout these locations are lacking in exposition and character.
But to Bethesda's credit, exploring the world can be very entertaining if you don't keep comparing it to the original games.

Sadly, most characters in the game are not particularly memorable, and the dialogue is somewhat disjointed, with Bethesda opting to keep dialogue short and seemingly treating it as a summary of what is really being said. There are few occasions for your character's skills to make a difference, and most of these are nothing more than ways to get some additional loot, with a few choice exceptions.
The best example of this somewhat lazy approach to dialogue is an NPC that can be convinced to commit suicide with all of 2 sentences. The game is filled with this form of dialogue.

Besides the vast Capitol Wasteland surrounding Washington DC's remnants, the game is also populated with 3 cities and a few very small (consisting of 5 inhabitants or so) towns, which is where you'll find most sidequests in the game.
These sidequests are very hit or miss. There are some absolutely brilliant quests in this game that will remind you of Fallout, but there are also a lot of quests that are nothing but dungeoncrawls. This is a shame, because there are some occurrences in this game where Bethesda shows that they can produce some good quests and excel at storytelling.

Unfortunately, it is the main quest where the game shows its true face. Unlike the previous games, the main quest is almost entirely linear and shows shoddy storytelling throughout. Making most of its NPCs immortal and locking areas until you're supposed to encounter them according to the storyline and furthermore offering only one significant choice, which is made only at the penultimate moment in the story.
The exception being the beginning of the quest, which you can skip. If you do this, however, Fallout 3 pretends that you didn't skip anything but went through everything in order, making for some very disjointed and surreal moments.

And finally, when it comes to the gameplay and character creation Fallout 3 is nothing like its previous games. Stats are significantly less important because of the existence of a stat-raising perk and the fact that they don't play much of a role in most of the proceedings. Skills are much more important, but nowhere does the game make you feel like you created a unique character. Most stats are used to either make your character better in combat, or unlock small additional rewards or somewhat shorter paths to some goals. This seems to showcase the idea that a player shouldn't be too restricted by his choice of character, but this also means that there are very few instances where your character feels like a truly unique person.




Pope Viper

Graphics – While the wasteland is nice, they could have taken more time to enhance the textures, and spread things out more. Things feel crammed to a certain extent. Animations are way too stiff, and lifeless. When my characters are walking around, the look like they’re on conveyor belts. In one battle I almost thought I was in a Halo deathmatch, with characters sliding around willy-nilly, dropping their weapons, and getting into fights with other monsters in the area, totally ignoring me blasting away with my laser rifle. The Pipboy is annoying with an overly large graphics, with minimal real estate for providing essential information, with some information missing. Item descriptions were enjoyable to me in the first games in the series, yet are lacking here. Fortunately, a modder is working to add these back in.

Dialog – This has to be one of the greatest flaws of this game. It’s limited, interspersed with cursing that really doesn’t add much to the character. The options seem minimal, and at times being overly redundant, with several characters repeating the same answers, rather than having independent thought.

Game play – While touted in various gaming outlets, I found many things to be not well thought out: V.A.T.S, the character creation system. In particular, I found the perk system to be entirely too positive. There should be negative attributes, but apparently Bethesda does not agree. It seems that Bethesda was trying to please too many people in trying to make a combination of an FPS and RPG with the V.A.T.S. system and didn’t seem to be able to hit the head on any single aspect. Some of the quests are interesting, but many seem to be of the “go get this, go kill this person” variety, which are a bit boring to me. The leveling also seemed way too fast, with my character vaulting to level 9 insanely fast. I also disagree with being able to increase your stats if desired at each level. I prefer that aspect of the game to be a rare event, not handed out so arbitrarily.

Voice acting – Um. No. I found myself laughing at points, especially in the Ghoul Underworld where all the males sound the same. Literally. Why? Why couldn’t more effort be spent on finding additional voice talent? Perhaps a casting agency could have been used to provide quality voice work? This is definitely not up to par with the first two games.

Fallout Feel – The attempt is there, and they did get it right at some points. The Vaults feel like Vaults, the wasteland feels like a wasteland to me, some of the canon is off, I think more discussion regarding the move to the East Coast would have been interesting, as well as discussion on the Super Mutants' arrival. But, to name an example, I enjoyed Fort Constantine immensely, and found the various challenges to get around the base to be very engaging.

While I’m sure fans of Bethesda and Oblivion love this game, as evidenced by the sales figures, I find myself longing for the old days. I would not have been all that opposed to the FPS move, if the story/dialog/voice acting were up to par, but with those items lacking, I find this game more of a labor to complete, just for completion’s sake, rather than to provide an enjoyable gaming experience for myself.

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