Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fallout 3

I bought this game maybe a year ago but never got into it. I played it for a week or so, but got bored or annoying or frustrated so I quit. I seem to remember not taking the time to really understand the mechanics of the gameplay so I always felt confused, and I saved my game at a point where I was low on energy, out of ammo, and surrounded by enemies, so whenever I'd try to play my game, I'd immediately die. Also, this is the kind of game that is so massive, so epic, and so complex, that the longer you go without playing it, the more confused you are when you try to jump back in and continue on with an old saved game.

Anyway, I was sick all week so I was stuck in my apartment with nothing to do. I had already watched the Netflix movie I received, and I had just completed Mass Effect 2. I lacked the energy and funds to go buy a new game, so I just restarted Fallout 3 from the very beginning, figuring I may as well give it one more shot. Anyway, about four days later with 24 hours logged (according to the time-stamp on my last saved game file), I'm completely hooked. Long story short, this game is totally, completely, and 100% bad ass.

Fallout 3 is the third game in the long-running RPG series that takes place in a post apocalyptic America. It basically tells the story of what would've happened if the American future envisioned during the fifties actually came true, and then stated frozen in time after a world-wide nuclear war. The fifties theme through out, including a full on big-band style soundtrack that you can listen to on your in-game radio, is incredibly funny and adds to the overall atmosphere of the Cold War gone horribly wrong. You play as a character who grew up in a bombshelter, who is forced to escape to find his missing dad, who ran out one day into the wastelands of the metro DC area. 

This time around, I took my time to really explore the world as I began, making sure to take things slow as I learned how the gameplay worked, what the stats meant, and how to master the combat. Also, I made sure to finish lots of small, fetch-type quests before attempting to start the main storyline. This was a much smarter way to play, but the coolest thing is how Fallout 3 is the kind of game that offers a different experience no matter how you want to play. After I finish every quest, I thought to myself how interesting it will be when I replay the game and do something completely different. For example, one of the quests in the beginning of the game has you deciding between defusing an active nuclear bomb in the center of an inhabited and peaceful town, or earning a lot of money to rig it to explode and kill everybody. This time around I saved the people, but next time I might not be so nice.

Graphically, the game is well done, but far from being the best the 360 has to offer. DC is perfectly realized (at least, perfectly realized after a hypothetical nuclear war), but the overall look is intentionally drab and bland. The color palate is muted and full of browns and greens and greys, which adds to the mood but does tend to make everything look kind of similar. As you walk along the wasteland and watch the sun rise or set over the horizon behind the remains of the Washington Monument, there is a certain beauty to the otherwise nightmarish landscape. You can play from a first or third person perspective, but the third person is completely useless so I don't even know why it's an option at all.

Combat is amazing, once you get used to the fact that this isn't a first person shooter. You have a huge arsenal of weapons (all of which you have to learn to repair and fix up or else they will break, usually in the middle of a fight), ranging from grenades, sledgehammers, missile launchers, and machine guns, all of which feel different and fun to use. You can use them as you would in any first person shooter, although it won't feel as precise or fluid as what you'd find in, say, Halo or Call of Duty, and then there is the V.A.T.S. system, that lets you free time and pinpoint various parts on an enemies body, showing you the percentages of actual damage you will do, depending on your skill, distance from the target, or other factors. V.A.T.S. is so much fun and cool that it will be hard to go back to Halo or Call of Duty after using it for so long.

At the end of the day, this game is just fun, which is all I really want from any game I play. The mood is incredibly well done, especially when you're sick and stuck in your apartment. It's been fun, but also depressing, with my own health problems combining with the mood of the game adding to a very strange feeling as I played. I don't think you have to be sick to really enjoy this game, but it did help a lot to suck me into the barren wasteland of the game's world. Anyway, I just wanted to check in and talk about this game, but I've gone on long enough and I'm just about to escort the surviving scientists from Project Purity to the Citadel so, obviously, I should get back to that.

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