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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Impressions: Fallout 3

I got home last night, got my kids to bed, then fired up Fallout 3. After reading many positive reviews of the game, I was expecting my first experience with the game to be truly satisfying. After playing for a couple of hours, I can say that I'm pretty impressed with the game thus far.

Let me get this out of the way right now: Fallout 3 is a role-playing game. It's not a first-person shooter. If you're averse to reading or listening to the history behind every character, event, and location in the game, you may find Fallout 3 boring. Sure - you get to go around shooting others' heads off. You get to fight giant roaches, nasty ants, and twisted Wasteland raiders. But these moments of action are separated by stretches of traveling the barren wastes, speaking with NPCs, trading items with local traders, gathering quests, and generally admiring the desolate vistas of a destroyed Washington D.C.

Some have criticized Fallout 3 as being Oblivion with guns. You know what? They're right! But for me, this is not a criticism. Fallout 3 feels very much like a post-apocalyptic skin stretched over the familiar world of Oblivion. That suits me just fine! I loved Oblivion and Bethesda has done a great job of re-creating the world of Fallout using the tools that they had on hand.

The Fallout "universe" is all about dark quests and mature themes interspersed with lots of humour and gore. Fallout 3 encapsulates all of these elements and presents them with next-gen graphics, game pacing, and solid game design.

The only flaw I see in the game right now is in regards to the game's character models. Just as in Oblivion, NPCs are ugly. Facial animations are unimpressive. No one seems to be mouthing the words properly and there are times when too many teeth can be seen in the NPCs' mouths as animators attempted to make speech look realistic. Whatever - it doesn't work and it looks funny.

As for voice acting, it's not too bad but not great either. Liam Neeson does a pretty good job of playing the protagonist's father. There's just something in his voice that makes the game's prologue all the more believable and sad. After having spent the first 19 years of my Fallout 3 life in the vault with my father, I really feel the need to find my dad and figure out what's going on.

Aside from some shoddy NPC models and some pretty average voice acting, the rest of the game seems pretty great. The world of Fallout 3 is huge. There's lots to see, lots to do, and tons to explore. Combat is great thanks to V.A.T.S. Is there anything more fun than shooting a few rounds into someone's head and having it explode? No, there is not.

How can I sum up my initial experience with Fallout 3? Captivating. It got my attention and held it long enough to draw me into a world filled with pockets of deadly radiation, dangerous enemies, and human despair.

And I can't wait to play it again tonight. And tomorrow night. And every other night possible until I've completed all quests, solved all mysteries, found my father (for better or worse), and saved the world.

And once I've saved the world, I'm going to play again as an evil bastard and see how much misery I can spread through the world.

And then I'll probably play it a third time when the new downloadable content is released.

If you like RPGs and haven't picked up your own copy of Fallout 3, there's no need to hold back any longer? Pick up your own copy for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or PC. And please hurry because the post-apocalyptic world of the future ain't gonna save itself...


Anonymous said...

But you see, to a Fallout fan "Oblivion with guns" might be a problem. The same way that "The Elder Scrolls with turn based combat" might also be a problem.

I think in trying to blend the game with what is today a commercially successful RPG formula is good business to Bethesda but it definitely makes the entire experience feel "repackaged" rather than groundbreaking. And while that may be OK and the game is still garnering critical success, I would still ponder the question: is this as groundbreaking as you can be with as unique and intriguing as the source material was?

Klopzi said...

As a huge Fallout fan myself, I wasn't looking for a ground-breaking game from Bethesda. I was looking for Fallout; well, Fallout with a little less reading and better graphics.

I'm only about 7 hours into the game at this time and have no doubts that Fallout 3 is a true Game of the Year candidate. The world that Bethesda created is so immersive and "real" that it's getting increasingly difficult to put down my controller at the end of the night.

Although Fallout 3 and Oblivion share common elements, I don't think that disliking Oblivion could precludes anyone from liking Fallout 3. However, I think non-RPG gamers might not like Fallout 3 for all the reasons that I think it's great.

Anonymous said...

I find that the AI's in the game are rather "Stupid" if you will. It saddens me to see that I can walk up to a raider behind a corner and all they will do is look up at you.
I would also expect the Enclave to do a little bit more of a strategic based battle, and not just attack you like any raider would.

Other then that, I am very pleased with the game and glad to see that it has kept some of the humor like in the previous versions of FO1 and FO2

Anonymous said...

3 days playing it,boring as hell,every enemy takes you 6 shoots?,when iu start the missions they send you to find food? iu have to speak 10 minutes of dumb dialogues every time?, thats all? my god i cant believe i lost my money in this one after reading the amazing gamespot review,how long i have to wait for fun 2 months?