by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Work cut out
I am a PC gamer of the first hour which comes with perks and drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is that it is often difficult to convey my enthusiasm about a sequel announcement for a game franchise that has been presumed dead. That ‘difficult’ became ‘impossible’ with the announcement of Fallout 3. How do you explain the Fallout phenomenon to someone who has not played the original game? I don't think you can, at least not really. Aspects such as world politics and the state of video gaming back in 1997 are impossible to pass on to someone who has not played Fallout during that time. The gaming population was incredibly small back then compared to what it is today and finding like-minded Fallout nuts such as myself proved incredibly hard.
I often wondered how Bethesda would fare in facing these and other issues surrounding the Fallout name. Consider for instance that fans of the franchise are fiercely loyal and weary of anyone but Interplay even so much as pointing towards their game. Because of this, predicting the viability of a Fallout sequel was tricky at best. Bethesda had their work cut out for them but it wasn’t long until gamers, both new and old, warmed up to the game causing an uncharacteristic hype for a PC game.
One sentence description
If you would ask me to describe Fallout 3, I would tell you to stick Oblivion in a blender, adding the movies Mad Max and I am Legend, press the button for a couple of minutes and play the result. This is likely to be the most accurate one-sentence description one could give for Fallout 3 but it hardly does the game justice. I hope the rest of this review does.
Fallout is a post-apocalyptic action adventure set in the nuclear wasteland of the Washington city. Rather than the top-down isometric approach of its predecessors, the game is played through a first person or third person view. In true Fallout style, the game does not simply start off with a character creation tool where you fiddle with all the basic characteristics and skills before entering the game world. Instead, the game guides you through a series of scripted in-game events, registering your answers and actions. The results are compiled and then serve as a base for your character. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t like them - you can still change them before you leave Vault 101 in search of your father.
While most franchises edge forward in technology on a yearly or bi-yearly schedule, Fallout’s last appearance is over a decade old. As a result, Fallout 3's engine is an earth-shattering improvement over the previous two games. It is easy to see that Fallout 3 is powered by the same engine as Oblivion, even with the completely different style and ambiance. The Oblivion engine was far ahead of its time, setting new standards for the free roaming genre so this is hardly something to complain about.
The map is somewhat smaller than Oblivion’s but that doesn’t mean that there is less to do. The grimy, barren-looking ruins of Washington are filled to the brim with things to do and place to go to. You will rarely walk for more than a few minutes without encountering an enemy or place to explore and the latter is key to your survival. After 200 years of scavenging by the survivors of the nuclear war, supplies are often scarce. Items can be looted from defeated enemies but these will not be enough to keep you adventuring. To get more gear, you need to stop and trade at the few sorrowful looking settlements that can be found on the map. Each of these settlements has a unique feel and it is obvious that some are more prosperous than others.
No Pros and Cons at this time