Fallout 3: Post-Apocalyptic Fun

26 Nov 2008

War. War never changes.

You know, except when it does.

Fallout 3 was made by Bethesda Software. They, for the memory impaired, created Oblivion. Some have accused F3 of being Oblivion with guns. That, I think, misses the target. The difference between the two games is one of awesomeness. That is to say, Fallout 3 awesome. And there was no guarantee that it would be. After all, after the nuclear holocaust one could easily say “Oh, there isn’t a lot left of the world” and have vast empty spaces. Sure, it would be pretty, but I don’t really know if that is the world to be playing a video game in.

Now yes, the Capital Wasteland it takes place in is the post-apocalyptic D.C. area, but it certainly isn’t empty. Scattered around the area are hundreds of people trying to survive. From the relative ordinary such as Big Town (where a rag-tag group is barely surviving) and Agetha (who likes the violin) to the downright insane like The Family and Andale. Not to mention everything in between.

You don’t have to come across it all and won’t if you strictly follow the game’s main plot. In fact, the storyline of Vault 101 should take about ten hours and show you only a dozen of the locations in the game. Yes, those places have some interesting bits (I especially liked Liberty Prime: “Communism equals failure”), but the game doesn’t come into its own without some random exploration of the Fallout 3 world.

Which brings us to a point I can’t come to terms with. My problem with Oblivion was that the world was too open. There was too much to do and not enough focus. Strange, then, that I’m praising the same aspect of F3. I can’t entirely explain it, except to say that Oblivion never captivated me and Fallout 3 did so constantly.

Fallout 3 isn’t perfect.

  • The writing sucks. I try not to waste my time with poorly written books. I hated The Happening because of the stilted dialogue and flat writing. And Fallout 3 may be just as bad as M. Night Shyamalan.
  • The game is buggy. Companions have no difficulty following you on a flat plain, but moving over debris makes them lose their mind. Sometimes the graphics will spasm (first time it happened, I thought I might be having a stroke). Enemies can disappear, fly, and teleport.
  • It is a sandbox game that nudges you to follow the main plot, only to completely end the game once the main plot is over.
  • It isn’t Fallout 2.

But even amidst all these imperfections, I found myself having fun. I had fun for many hours and got to see a lot of the game that Bethesda designed. And, like many of the games in my collecton, I’m done with it. I don’t know how many hours I logged on it. Somewhere around 40, I’m sure. So I spent some time with enjoyment and Bethesda got my money.

Sounds like a win-win to me.