Format: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Whichever system you buy Fallout 3 on, believe the hype. I never normally say that, but this is truly an epic game in a number of ways…ranging from the many ways in which you can choose how to play the game all the way through to the superb atmosphere provided throughout. In a different style to my normal reviews, I thought we’d break it down into the component elements:
Fallout 3 uses the same engine as The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (Bethesda’s other masterpiece), and it shows. Huge vistas are shown before you, with crumbling landscapes, all destroyed by-ways and all manner of interesting buildings just waiting for you to navigate to. Perhaps one of the most notable areas of improvement however are the character models. The facial detail is certainly improved.
Does it look good by today’s standards? Oh yeah. Even on my laptop I had it running at quite a high resolution – although when there’s a lot going on you may notice a bit of a hit in performance.
The music is subtle and can add a great deal of tension to the actual gameplay, whilst the sounds can at time have you on edge. The wilderness is a strange place that should have you on edge – and the effects you’ll hear will provide just that atmosphere. Character voice acting is on the whole very good, with few jarring moments.
There’s a lot in Fallout 3 that makes it a special game – even the character creation (that brings you up through your various critical moments in the vault of being born, being ten and taking your tests) tells you the game is S.P.E.C.I.A.L. – which is exactly what the character stat and levelling system is!
Combat is fairly good – although you may find that there’s some mouse lag – especially if you’ve got the graphics cranked up too high. V.A.T.S. is a great system, allowing you to target areas of the enemy to massive effect – blow their heads off, take off an arm or a leg… whatever you choose! A lot of people did notice (rightly) that the game is violent, but put in context; I think it adds to the black humour.
This brings me to the rest of the game. Fallout 3 is a genuinely interesting mix of exploration, combat, RPG, action and moral choices. How you play becomes very much a personal experience – do you shoot the slavers or take on their quest and try to only enslave bad guys? Who do you trust in the wilderness? Do you try to shoot first and ask questions later? All these choices and more are yours.
Of course, Fallout 3 wouldn’t be a good representation of its heritage if it didn’t include the drug taking, trading and Brahmin in a post apocalyptic world. The setting really does emotionally pull you in, and very quickly you’ll be accepting of this strange new world that emerges before you when you step outside of the Vault.
Perhaps this was just me, but I found this to be one of the weaker elements to Fallout 3. You may well guess some of the plot twists, though the ending may well surprise you. You will enjoy the way that you get little teasers of the full plot as you explore new areas however.
There’s no doubt that Fallout 3 can and will last you a long time – unless you’re trying to blast through the main quest as quickly as possible. If you were to do so, you may find that the game will last you about 15-20 hours. If you don’t – and actually have fun exploring the post-apocalyptic wasteland – you could go on for hours and hours. Not only that, but the character creation and development really opens the game up to having real replay value.
Fallout 3 is a great game that I’m happy to award 9/10 to.