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Monday, December 1, 2008

The Wasteland is Saved (Fallout 3)

When I last wrote on Friday, I had no idea how close I was to finishing Fallout 3. At that time, I'd just started the game's main storyline and was ready to work towards giving the Wasteland a new lease on life. Imagine my surprise when I found myself staring at the game's credits less than 24 hours later.

If you'd like to know my thoughts on Fallout 3 as well as my future plans with the game, read on.

Fallout 3 is a solid game. Great graphics, great atmosphere, and excellent gameplay. Despite the huge amount of detail in the world, I never experienced a single slowdown while fighting my way through the wasteland. There were a few graphical glitches from time to time but these were few and far between and quite minor in the grand scheme of things. For example, while exiting Paradise Falls, I heard a loud screeching noise. After tending to my burst eardrums, I put my headphones back on and scanned the immediate vicinity. I quickly noticed what had caused the piercing shriek of carapace on metal: a giant radscorpion was embedded in the walls of Paradise Falls roughly fifteen feet in the air. The radscorpion was curled up in a ball and spinning at a great rate of speed. I don't know what the hell happened there and I didn't want to know. I quickly left the area and never returned to Paradise Falls again.

Where Fallout 3 really shines is in its atmosphere. You'll feel the gloom and despair of the shattered remnants of the Capital Wasteland. It always feels strange to look out at a nice sunny sky juxtaposed against the destroyed remains of a small village sitting beneath the crumbling facade of a highway overpass. And despite playing a large portion of the game outdoors, the mood and music of the game never give you the feeling that you're entirely safe...or alone. The Wasteland has eyes and it watches you as you try to make your way to an unexplored location while you hope against hope that the red marker that just appeared on the your map is a simple mole rat and not a Deathclaw.

In terms of Fallout 3's storyline, it was pretty good. I found that many of the side quests and missions were executed quite well and hold up well against Falllout 3's main quest. The characters and situations that I came across while exploring the desolate wastes were funny, interesting, sad, and everything in between. The fact that I failed to finish off all of the game's side quests is a testament to Fallout 3's quality. Much like a special dessert or some other sought-after treat, I wanted to save a good chunk of the game's content for a later time.

On my first play-through of Fallout 3, I was looking to accomplish just two things: finish the story as a good guy and reach character level 20. These two goals took me about 36 hours to complete. If I had to guess, I'd say I spent 25 hours leveling up and finding miscellaneous side quests. The remaining eleven hours were spent completing the game's tutorial and main storyline. I have to say that the game becomes extremely easy to finish once you've maxed out your character. But I was playing on the game's Normal difficulty setting; you may have a tougher time on the hardest difficulty.

I'm looking forward to playing the game again once the downloadable content (DLC) is released. I'll likely play through the game as a mercenary-type character with Neutral karma. I'm not sure if I could play this game as an evil character. Although the NPC models aren't entirely realistic, the world of Fallout 3 feels quite real at times. The only evil task that I might feel compelled to complete is the destruction of a certain town by way of an undetonated atom bomb. I can't help it - I'd like to see a big explosion!

As for my next character's development, I'm going to focus on lock picking, science, and big guns. My goal will be to fully explore the entire Wasteland, picking all locks and hacking all terminals that I see.

Besides playing the role of mercenary and explorer, there are still a large number of missions left to finish off. With the upcoming DLC, this list will surely grow.

I can't wait to visit the Wasteland again...