Although it lacks in story development, "Fallout 3" still has this columnist's respect.
Publisher: Zenimax Media, Bethesda Softworks
Release date: Oct. 28, 2008
Game Systems: XBox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Back in 1997, an isometric masterpiece called “Fallout” hit shelves. A year later, its popularity had produced an equal sequel. The two had unsurpassed character customizations, ranging from Traits to Perks to S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck), along with a Karma scale that rated how evil the player was. This was in addition to the constant leveling up, discovering, marauding and marveling at this, the best American RPG ever. “Fallout Tactics,” a more real-time variant, attempted and almost succeeded to mix this with the turn-based aspect we’d come to know and love in a “Fallout” game. That was 1999.
Now, “Fallout 3” has been released since Oct. 28, 2008, and I’m just now getting bored with the central story. The game manages to mix real-time and turn-based combat, as well as flawless item management, into a uniquely quaint adventure. “Fallout 3” is a sweeping, eye-popping magnum opus nearly 10 years in the making. Taking place 30 years after “Fallout 2” and more than 100 after “Fallout,” it still includes the familiar features of previous plots; you’re forced to leave the Vault at a young age and look for something out there in the newly themed “Capital” Wasteland. This time it’s your rogue scientist father, voiced (of course) by Qui-Gon Jin — I mean, Liam Neeson.
That alone motivated me. You venture from village to village; kill everything from mole rats to Mirelurks; and, depending on the level of evil you choose, you can customize your gaming experience. Quests are ever-present, with more than 30 to complete in the story and that many more available in downloadable stories. You’ll shoot, shred, burn, blow up, zap, punch, stun, stab, bash and bonk enemies with more than 40 core weapons, and more awesome variants than the U.S. military has time for.
On an unrelated note, I heard that “Fallout 3” bears a striking resemblance to Bethesda’s previously well-known entry, “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.” I care not about this, since I don’t play RPGs and “Fallout 3” is a rare exception and likely the only one I will ever review. In addition, marauding my way through a 1950s-era post-apocalyptic wasteland with nothing but my Power Armor, Plasma Rifle and a few Cole Porter tunes to keep me company seems a little cooler than prancing around in some fantasy world with a candy sword, trying to save “the Mortal World.” I say the same for “Fable.”
“Fallout 3” is capable of delivering wondrously executed combat but at times can get rather frustrating when you shoot the same Deathclaw in his kisser thrice and he’s still charging you. But nothing can take away the immense respect I have for this Sunbeam of the Divine. Nothing this epic will be out for years.
Matt Noyes is a TulsaPeople editorial intern. Have a video game you’d like him to review? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.