Fallout 3

Reviewed by Arep | 6 November 2008
Genre: Adventure, FPS | Publisher: Bethesda Softworks | Developer: Bethesda Softworks
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • Just about, well…everything!
  • High replay value
The Bad
  • Some clipping issues
  • A bugged sidequest or two

There is a stack of games gathering dust in my basement. Along with the likes of Call of Duty 4 and Burnout Paradise there are new editions such as Fable 2, Far Cry 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour (along with the whole assortment of plastic instruments). What’s responsible for this? The same thing that has caused the giant pile of laundry to build up and the cat to develop a distinct “hasn’t been fed in a while” look to it. Last week, Bethesda released Fallout 3 and my 360 hasn’t done anything else but spin it up ever since. I am completely absorbed by this game in a way that few games have ever had the power to do.

War...War never changesIn the year 2077 civilization as we know it ended in a flash of light…well, several hundred flashes of light…as the Great War between the United States and China climaxed in a nuclear exchange. Not all was lost, though, as a “lucky” few were able to purchase time in one of Vault-Tec’s Vaults. The Vaults allowed civilization to continue, safe from the horrors of the Wasteland. Not all Vaults were created equal. Some suffered mechanical failure, some were victims of raids from raiders and mutants and others were stocked only with a box of sock puppets. Two hundred years later and your Vault has yet to open up to the outside world. No one ever enters and no one ever leaves…or do they? The post-apocalyptic world of 2277 is a very different place but as Ron Perlman has reminded us at the beginning of each Fallout, “war…war never changes.”

“I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire”
I think one of the coolest (and most disturbing) things for me about Fallout 3 is that, since I live in the Baltimore-Washington area, all of the locations in the game are familiar to me. It was eerie walking into a town where I used to work in real life. The subway stations all have a distinct DC Metro look to them. Bethesda Softworks is also very familiar with the area since their offices are just outside of DC (though no longer actually based in Bethesda, but supposedly you can find their old office in the game) so they had first-hand inspiration for their design.

The scenery is very bleak so I hope you like gray and brown because they don’t call it the Wasteland for nothing. To say they have done an excellent job creating a post-apocalyptic DC would be an understatement. The first time I walked into the Mall in DC was a real powerful moment. The Capitol Building was overrun with mercenaries who were in a firefight with Super Mutants who had dug trenches in the area leading up to the decaying Washington Monument. The other surviving major landmarks are controlled by an assortment of slavers, soldiers and ghouls.

Something else that Bethesda has done an excellent job with is creating stories that fill the world with a life that you’d never expect to find. When you explore the area you’ll come across things that have been painstakingly crafted just to add color to the world. You’ll get more insight into the Fallout universe than you ever had in the previous installments, including the events that led up to mankind’s destruction and the sinister motives behind the Vault-Tec Vaults. I went off exploring and came across a food processing plant inhabited by Chinese soldiers-turned-ghouls that have been there since before the war. (Ghouls are former humans who have been exposed to MASSIVE doses of radiation and have achieved relative immortality at the expense of their appearance and sometimes their sanity) Further investigation revealed that they had been set up by the Chinese government as fifth-column insurgents/spies. Other stories are a lot more subtle like when you find a Vault full of psychotic clones named Gary or you follow an automated distress signal on your radio pleading for help for a sick child only to find the signal was 200 years old.

There’s one thing to keep in mind about the Fallout universe that some folks seem to miss. The game takes place around 2277, 200 years after the bombs dropped. The world before the war looks a lot like our 1940-1950’s, including the music and advertising. However, many things have a futuristic look to them such as the vehicles and energy weapons you find. The world is supposed to be our future as envisioned by someone in the 1950’s, much like Flash Gordon. Once you get that, the world makes a lot more sense.

Those of you who like to explore will find plenty to doThose of you who like to explore will find plenty to do. I’ve had the game since release and have only done about half of the story missions. I’ve been out doing side quests and exploring the landscape. There are a great many places to explore and most of them have nothing to do with the plot. Another cool feature are the radio stations you can pick up. There are two main ones that you can listen to almost anywhere. The Enclave is the old US Government and they broadcast patriotic music and messages of hope from President Eden. The other is Galaxy Radio hosted by Three Dog and he plays pre-war music and supports the Brotherhood of Steel who were born from the US Military. Three Dog hears lots of things and will often tell stories of your exploits in the Capital Wasteland. Other radio signals will pop up from time to time as you explore.

“He’s Hacking and Whacking and Smacking”
Your character is set up the same way it was in the previous games. Fallout 3 still uses the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system of Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence and Luck. You still have a variety of skills to assign points to when you level up including science, small weapons, lockpicking, and medicine. The perk system is still there as well allowing you to chose from a wide array of beneficial traits for your character every level. My personal favorite is still the Bloody Mess perk which adds a 5% bonus to all weapon damage and causes your enemies to die in the most grotesque way possible.

Character creation this time is story-driven starting with your birth. You first get to chose your appearance and name. Time moves forward a year and you take your first steps (and learn the basic controls). At your ten-year birthday you receive your Pip-Boy 3000 which acts as your inventory, health and information management system. You also learn how to interact with others and make your first ethical decisions which affect your karma, the stat that keeps track of how good, evil or neutral you are.

VATS is fun and is often responsible for some horrifying deathsYou are also introduced to the VATS system which stops combat and allows you to target individual body parts. VATS is fun and is often responsible for some horrifying deaths. You have a pool of action points that you can spend to attack. The pool replenishes quickly over time and you can choose a few perks that increase the size of it and how fast it regenerates.

With a level cap of 20 it means that you’ll never be able to max out all the skills or choose all the perks you want. That, along with the way the world reacts to your karma, means that you’ll want to play through the game more than once. In fact, I am already figuring out how to tweak my character next time to be an energy weapon-wielding maniac.

“Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”
Fallout 3 isn’t perfect even if it is pretty darn close. I’ve had some random crashes on the 360 so be sure to save often. I’ve fallen through the landscape once, too. I watched as a group of raiders who had been running at me suddenly sank and disappeared. Then I went to see what happened and fell through after them into infinity. I’ve also had a glitch with one of the side-quests where a giant pile of bodies mysteriously disappeared.

Not so much a bug but sometimes the AI is a little stupid. I was escorting some scientists through some tunnels when we encountered some feral ghouls. I went into VATS mode to score some headshots when one of the scientists wandered into my line of fire and I turned him into paste. I’ve also gotten stuck on the landscape before and had to reload a previous save (another reason to save early and often).

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So, if you haven’t guessed I REALLY like Fallout 3. Bethesda has done an amazing job bringing the Wasteland to life in a way that the Fallout universe deserves. Folk have criticized the game for being “Oblivion with guns” but, frankly, I couldn’t think of a better compliment.

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Member reviews

Fallout 3 - Ancient_One |
| 6 November 2008

Great write up mate. I'm enjoying this game immensely. I like some of your suggestions for characture building so will look at those myself. Keep up the good work. A_1

- Bloodwrych |
| 7 November 2008

I've been playign the game extensivly on the PC...and I agree that it has become the cause of many other "to do" things being delegated to "will do it tomorrow". On the PC version of it I get it freezing on me from time to time. Only started happening once in the wasteland...not whilst in the vault. playing the good type this run thru...currently a Vault Legend. Next run thru I shall try it out as the biggest mongrel I can mange and see just how far and nasty it can go. Huge selection of weaponry...and the ability to build some out of schematics you find definitly adds to the gameplay. Personal favourite at the early stages was a scoped magnum....although ive heard of an aliean blaster lying around near a mall near the start that I didn't notice prior. You can hire a offsider too. Some are dependant on how good or bad you are (your karma) as to wether they will run with you. You can also get yourself a dog if you find him. ATM im running around with a mercenary group trying to kill me since there is a bounty on my head for being a good guy. Apparently just got map marker for a place called Oasis too.....havnt got there yet. In short though...Fallout 3...even with the annoying crashes...is keeping me on the PC playing for way too long already.....and I think ive barely scratched the surface on it so there is many more hours to come.

- Bloodwrych |
| 7 November 2008

Sorry.....rating wise....I give it 4.5 outa 5. Not a 5 due to the crashes.

Fallout 3 - Slim Ripper |
| 7 November 2008

Excellent addition to the Fallout line! Positives- The graphics are above expectations,storyline is great also! Lots to do and many skills to master or use if you start over. I also purchased the "Limited Edition" atlas ,which has been a great help,but do not use for everything cause there ALOT of freelancing in the game also. Negatives- I had to upgrade to a Nvidia 9800 GT card to run the game which has caused issues on my desktop . I don't have ANY crashes tho from the game which would be a positive ,but because I couldn't use my Nvidia 7300 le at all ,I will make it a negative . The other negative is the way my toon moves around the landscape like he has a big stick shoved up his arse ,that kinda is annoying also . I would recommend this game to anyone and look forward to the rumor mill of a online version sometime next year .

Fall out 3 - Morse |
| 7 November 2008

Nice write up, I haven't had any lock ups, but I'm running a watercooled monster !! I like the multiple scenarios, and character choices !! but its very slow, starts great, but once in the wasteland its terribly slow, and bored me very quickly. But in saying that i started playing Far Cry2 and i lost interested straight away. I think its a rainy day game, where some good story line and great graphics take you away to a time and place i hope i never experience in real life. Enjoy Morse

Better on PC - wytefang |
| 8 November 2008

Good review but I'd have preferred a PC-specific review. By all accounts (Shacknews and others I've read) it's a fantastic PC game at heart.

No crashes since patch - Katana |
| 8 November 2008

Well I got the game late "cry" but since then I have not been off it.Realism,gritty,scenery,Raiders,ghouls,the original cast,what more could you want :)I must admit I will reroll a toon soon as well as I had forgotten how important some traits are.

PC - Katana |
| 8 November 2008

Sorry should have said I was playing on a pc.Medium spec,AMD 4200 dual core 64 bit,9800gt 1 gig ram,4 gig main ram,Asus mobo,750 gig samsung hdd,650 watt power supply and game runs smooth as in 1400x900.

great game - C4 |
| 9 November 2008

good review Arep, since I got this game it has kept me from playing Warhammer... very entertaining.

Arrgh! Can't Start PC Version - Atrayo |
| 11 November 2008

Hi All, All these positive reviews and great stories of former Xbox 360 users on how the game pushes the envelope is driving me bonkers! I bought my PC version copy as a direct download since last Friday Nov. 7th. But i'm stuck with the game crashing upon loading it for the very first time. Yes, i want to enjoy the game setting since i'm also an explorer at heart. However i seem to be delegated to waiting for their first major Patch from Bethesda Softworks. In hopes to actually get to play this fantastic sounding game. ---Atrayo.

Weird - wytefang |
| 11 November 2008

That's crazy, Atrayo. I have several friends who have purchased it on PC and 2 on 360 and none of the PC guys have had any issues at all but one of the 360 guys is having a weird sound issue. Go figure.

- Atrayo |
| 11 November 2008

Hi Wytefang, Looking at the [i]Bethesda Softworks[/i] support forums there are numerous PC and console users of the Xbox 360 and PS3 all experiencing crashes or disappearing npc's. It's kind of distressing, that's not to include the DRM issue with something called "[u]Securom[/u]" that's annoying other users. Also keep in mind my OS is the Vista 64 bit and i have a quad core cpu. Some users with dual core cpu's or what not have had difficulty. So i'll just wait for the full major patch. :(

- Bloodwrych |
| 12 November 2008

In regards to crashes & lockups on the PC version. I was experiencing it a fair bit myself. I changed the graphics settings to just the default medium settings and ran the game in windowed mode. Its not ideal but it reduced the lockups and crashes i had down around 90%. Instead of 1-2 dozen crashes over a 10 hour period I had just one. Only disappearing npc ive had so far is dogmeat....he went awol when i sent him back to vault 101....couldn't find him again.

Ending... - Philosophy |
| 16 November 2008

I absolutely loved this game. I was completely absorbed... I had no glitches crashes or anything else go wrong (I had more issues with Oblivion which I also loved). My issue comes with the fact that when you get to the end of the main story the game ends... In Oblivion I could finish the main quest and continue to play all the side quests with my uberlevel character. Now I am level capped at 20 and cant do any more. One perk that gives you all the locations in the world on your map becomes available when you reach level 20... then the game ends after the next couple of missions. I spent 34 hours getting to this point but I was hoping to spend 100+ with this character :( Also there weren't as many side missions as I would have liked to distract me from the main story... In oblivion there were guilds to join and factions etc. each with thier own set of quests. Perhaps I shouldn't compare it to Oblivion, its just so hard given they have such obvious family ties... I have never played Fallout1 or 2 but I assume they are linear fps type games? If that is true Bethesda have done an awesome thing in making a very sandbox style game work with a linear story line... I just have to get used to it - or get a gatling laser mod for Oblivion ;)

- mixamatosis |
| 17 November 2008

@ bloodwrych The alien blaster you can find early in the game is at the Anchorage War Memorial across the river from Super-Duper mart there is also about 10-12 energy cells. (not really a spoiler as you can find it 5 mins after leaving the vault) It is uber powerful, one shot super criticals FTW

Who knows... - Sai |
| 25 November 2008

The game is good itself, no complains. Good graphics, nice sounds. But! when you compare this game to F1 ro 2: -The music feels like Oblivion 2 or 3, I mean sounds the same as in Oblivion. In Fallout 1 or 2 you can feel game's atmosphere just by listening it. Was very disappointed with it. -Not so many weapons to choose. If previous games you had a lot of arms to fire and upgrades. Also there is always not enought ammo for it. -Even if you get on each level perk, the number of levels is too small. I maxed very fast and lost interest to do things. -This game has no random encounters which I loved the most. It's like you go somewhere and never know what or who will you meet. (Some of them was very funny). -Melee combat is useless. In the beginning it helps a little, but after a few trips/fights/quest you don't need it enymore. Even when I got Powerfist it didn't help me. Sad. -Didn't get why you have to customize your face and other things. You play 1st person shooter and don't see your face. Because camera with 3rd person look is very uncomfortable and buggy along with bad animation. -No car. -This game is too short. So as a game it's a good one. If you compare it to Fallout 1 or 2 this game is not even close to those ones.

Not bad! - Zaxvien |
| 29 November 2008

I give it 5 stars, not 6, because of the annoying crashes. o_O 3rd person animations are high class Oblivion stuff. Sidestepping looks most weird, I can't figure it out, how they did not repair such a basic thing. And again, where's the possibility to take screenshots on a console? Where? And then there are those nice looking old school motorcycles all around, and I can't drive one? What? Then I decided to do the main quest line first, then side quests after that, because it was easier to do it like that in Oblivion. What a great idea that was! I like this game.

Better then Oblivion - mindspat |
| 8 December 2008

I've been playing this game on the 360 and besides the bugs and glitches it's a top notch game. The virtual randomness of the wastelands lends a Sandbox style of game play that's more captivating then any other of the Elder Scroll titles, at least in my opinion. Only giving 4 stars due to the frequency of glitches experianced.

Addictive - OB3R |
| 13 February 2009

Ive been thrashing this on the 360,I have had no lockups or crashes mind you Im running it from the HD I dont know if this is the reason though.I find that killing everything is fun but left megaton and rivit city in peace so I can still trade.I loved oblivion and this is better than that so 5 for me. OB3R

Bobble-heads!!! - SK7109 |
| 1 March 2009

Great Game on PC Ive become obsessed with getting all 20 bobble-heads!!! I don't know what lead me to go this wrought lol Iam holding off the end of the game, and roaming around hunting down all 20 of the things. Save often...not too many lockups or crashes for me, BUT the few that did accrue were at the worst time. Still a GREAT game to play.

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early a must have - freeship1986 |
| 17 June 2016

Still one of the best games, definitely better than many other games, but just a glimpse to the future, nearly a must have, a must play. best ed treatment

- peterstrong |
| 11 July 2016

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