[TRG Review] : Fallout 3 : Post-Apocalyptic Rant

Fallout 3 has been out for quite some time now (2008). I’ve beaten it before, a long time ago, and can recall enjoying the experience. Still, something compelled me to re-install, re-play, and review it, so here goes something! But first, a short walkthrough…

Setting: In the future a big bad war happened. Bombs were launched, feelings were hurt, and the United States (and presumably the entire world) was decimated from indiscriminate nuclear ‘splosions… Thankfully, people survived by taking refuge in big underground bunkers called ‘Vaults.’ The game is set in the ‘Capital Wasteland,’ spanning Washington D.C. and some parts of Maryland and Virginia.

Vault 101: After a few decades following the war all of the Vaults opened, except Vault 101. The inhabitants of V101 live fairly-happily for 200 years following the war, until the player’s father (James) leaves the vault to pursue his wife’s (she’s dead) scientific dream of pure water for all! Events force the player to leave V101, ending the tutorial section!

Capital Wasteland: People are pretty unmotivated in the future; despite having 200 years to attempt to rebuild society, there is virtually nothing! Scraps of metal and tarps make up most of the settlements, and most people are barbaric extremists (imagine slightly devolved tea-party members…) that are either Chaotic Good or Chaotic Evil. Mutants, ghouls (zombies), giant (oh God!) scorpions, giant (ahhh!) crab people, and mildly annoying rampant robots, scatter the wastes.

Where’s Dad? : The player (The Vault Dweller, here-forth abbreviated to ‘VD’, because… reasons…) leaves V101 and starts asking about James. He’s pointed in the direction the Galaxy News Radio station, where VD meets ThreeDog GNR’s DJ, and first encounters the Brotherhood of Steel (Part-cult, part-restoration group, part-police). After a mandatory help-me-help-you quest, VD is pointed in the direction of Rivet City.

Rivet City: A beached aircraft carrier, Rivet City is the home of Dr. Li, a former colleague of James and VD’s mom. She says he went to the Jefferson Memorial (the sight of ‘Project Purity’, which was abandoned… It was supposed to make clean water), so you follow.

Jefferson Memorial: He isn’t there, but you find a note that says he went to a Vault to look for some technology that can make the purifier work. Off you go again…

Vault 112: This is a pretty sweet Vault as it houses a virtual reality simulation that the 112 Members have been stuck in for 200 years. Before you get there, James has already jumped in the simulation. In VD goes!

Tranquility Lane: The simulation is set in a ~50’s era time period and presented in black and white. You learn that the simulation has been changed several times, 112 members killed over and over again, and reset… The entire ‘world’ is controlled by Dr. Braun, the scientist responsible for researching the GECK, the high-tech thing James is after… After some back-and-forth, VD ends the simulation and escapes with James.

Back at Rivet City, James convinces Dr. Li and company to return to the purifier at the Jefferson Memorial. At the memorial the Enclave attack!!! The Enclave are like the Brotherhood of Steel, except federally employed. They want the purifier under their control, but James overloads the system, killing a few Enclave soldiers and himself. VD escorts Dr. Li and company (only Dr. Li made it when I played) to the Brotherhood of Steel’s main base, The Citadel.

The Citadel: You get trained in Power Armor, see a giant robot called Liberty-Prime, and get a lead on where this GECK thingy is… Its in another Vault…

Vault 87? 92? (doesn’t matter): Turns out this Vault’s entrance is surrounded by super toxic waste; however, there is a backdoor through an old tourist attraction, Lamplight Caverns’.

Lamplight Caverns: LC is like an homage to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (and girls…). The entire area is underground, and run by children under the age of 16/18 (depending on who you talk to). They are locked an loaded, and won’t let VD in until he helps them out. One slightly pointless side-quest later, you get in to LC, and go to the Vault.

The Vault: You traverse the Super Mutant infested vault and find ‘Fawkes’. Fawkes is a super mutant that can talk, and can help you out in getting the GECK from the super radiated lab. He leaves when the job is done, but as VD is leaving the Vault to go back to The Citadel, Enclave troops bum-rush you, knock you out, and take you to their base.

Enclave Base: VD is greeted by Colonel ‘Difficult’, and is brought up to speed on the fact that they’ve put the GECK in the purifier, VD is captured, stripped of all belongings, and will die (after he gets the purifier activation code)! Shortly into Col. D’s monologue the President (that you may have been ignoring until now) calls him for a meeting (via an intercom). Col. D leaves, the President apologizes for the way Col. D was acting, lets you out of restraints, and allows you to get your stuff from the nearby locker. He then allows you to leave your cell, and requests an audience with VD. On your way to the President’s chamber, Col. D override’s the President’s order, and things get crazy. Enclave troops start shooting at you, but all the automated defenses and robots defend you. A few awesome fights later, you discover the President is a computer AI, and he wants you to use the purifier to kill off all non-human lifeforms (ghouls, super-mutants (including Fawkes), Mirelurks…). He gives you a canister of poison, and allows you to leave. I actually convinced the President to erase himself before I left (Speech/Science skills FTW). The base starts to explode as VD runs through the corridors to the exit. Outside, Fawkes is laying waste to Enclave soldiers, with a Gatling laser! He can now be a companion.

The Citadel: Because the purifier is ready to go, the Brotherhood of Steel have to act fast. Liberty-Prime, which is far from operational, all of a sudden works well enough to lead the charge against the Enclave’s defenses surrounding the Jefferson Memorial.

The Charge!: This is a really cool part of the game that requires almost no player interaction. You pretty much sit back and let LP wreak havoc on all the Enclave!

Jefferson Memorial: You fight your way to the purifier, kill Col. D, and find out that something happened and now the purifier chamber is flooded with radiation… It will still clean water, but whoever activates it will die… One of the Brotherhood of Steel can activate it, you can activate it, I think even Fawkes could activate it… VD goes in, chose to ignore the Presiden’t wishes, and activates the purifier (code is 216, from Revelations… They’ve only been cramming that down your throats the entire game…). Cutscene, endgame (err… Broken Steel DLC notwithstanding…)

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My Review:

What did I like? A lot, but I feel like perhaps I disliked more. The main quest line is severely short in comparison to several similar games, and posed nearly no threat to me despite my speedy play-through. I anticipated that taking less time to level important skills, retrieve decent gear, and get a companion, would contribute to an increased difficulty; however, I found that my run was relatively easy and death-free. In truth, I think I only died twice… The level of immersion afforded by the GNR music was removed shortly after being established via extreme repetition of content. For a ~10 hour play-through, the 20 songs overstayed their welcome almost immediately. On the GNR note, ThreeDog sucks as a DJ. I have over 5 years of jockeying experience, but I’ll admit, I’ve never tried running a show after the apocalypse. I imagine its hard to find content, and I will briefly applaud ThreeDog’s scavenging efforts in finding the music; however, he needs to work on his radio personality…

After playing for a few hours and then dying my first time, I loaded at the last door I walked through. This was a long way away from where I died, and I felt like I wasted about ten minutes just getting back to the death-point. It was then that I found the Quick Save/Quick Load feature. I hate this feature… See this post…

The color palette was very much the same throughout the game. I feel torn on whether that criticism is positive or negative though. Post-war, pre-rebuild I can imagine that everything would be covered with dust, dirt, and debris. Yellow, brown, and grey are essentially the only colors, and they help tie the experience together; but, after installing a ‘greener grass’ mod, I can’t help feeling torn on the issue. It certainly wouldn’t make sense that green grass could grow without clean water, and thus wouldn’t fit into the story. Still, the introduction of a different color, however scattered, broke things up enough to keep it from being boring; so, maybe the developers could’ve worked it in somehow.

DLC integration was mishandled by using the Games For Windows Live (GFWL) store for DLC, even if you purchased the game via Steam. Practically, this resulted in the game only recognizing GFWL purchased DLC, or Steam purchased DLC, not both. I purchased Fallout 3 retail, and Broken Steel and Point Lookout via GFWL. When I integrated Fallout 3’s activation key with Steam, the DLC did not transfer. There were no keys via GFWL, just my Live account to link the DLC to the game proper. This would’ve been fine, if not for the other 3 DLC addons that were easily purchasable via Steam for a super-duper discount. In the end, I re-bought Fallout 3, this time the Game of the Year Edition, through Steam. It included all DLC, no mess, no stress. GFWL sucks, and it should die in a fire…

Hate, hate, hate… What did I actually like? While I knew how the story would end, and the plot points regarding The Enclave and TBOS, it was still an enjoyable experience to relive the more defining moments. The first time you see an Enclave soldier is sorta scary, seeing Liberty Prime in scaffolding is a fantastic foreshadowing moment, and the final assault on the purifier is so much fun/chaos/awesome! The dialogue can be funny, and the perk tree is easy to understand. Though, I feel that it would be preferable to be able to hoard perk points throughout leveling, to spend the points on higher-level perks. Several times I felt that I just chose a perk because I was forced to choose one, and that was the only way to get to the next tier.

All-in-all though, Fallout 3 was an enjoyable experience. I’m not sure it warrants the 91/100 metascore, but it certainly was better than most games out at the time. Its cheap enough for anyone to get, and works on a entry-level gaming PC. Check it out!

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