RELEASED: October 2008 (Original) / October 2009 (GOTY)
AVAILABLE ON: PC, PS3, X360
DEVELOPER(S): Bethesda Game Studios
PUBLISHER(S): Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax Media
Fallout and Fallout 2 are still considered some of the finest role-playing games ever made, while Fallout 3 has had mixed reception to its credit. Fallout 3 went into development for Windows in 2002, under the codename "Van Buren". A year later, the project was laid to rest as Interplay Entertainment went bankrupt and dissolved Black Isle Studios, who famously developed the first two games. The Fallout 3 license was then sold to Bethesda Softworks, who were working on their landmark RPG The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion at the time. After finishing the game, they went to work on Fallout 3, a game now formally known just as that and scheduled to be released on the PS3 and the Xbox 360 as well. Utilizing the Gamebryo engine of The Elder Scrolls, Bethesda created an immersive open-world, post-apocalyptic RPG adventure that some indeed loved - and still do - while many people who grew up with the first two games were immensely disappointed, sometimes to the point of deep hatred towards the game. Since I had my first experience with the whole series in late 2008, with Fallout 3, I naturally loved the game, and I actually prefer it over the first two titles. I consider it one of the finest games of the decade, a thought which has brought me to blows with a lot of my friends. The game was released in October 2008, but an exact year later, something better came along: the budget-priced Fallout 3 - Game of the Year Edition, which included all of the game's five add-ons previously released for ridiculously priced downloads. This package is something every gamer should own, in my humble opinion. If for nothing else, easy Trophies, then.
Daddy issues... in ultra-deluxe
Liam Neeson : James, "Dad"
Malcolm McDowell : President John Henry Eden
Odette Yustman : Amata Almodovar
William Bassett : Elder Owyn Lyons
Erik Dellums : Three Dog
Heather Marie Marsden : Sarah Lyons
Jennifer Massey : Doctor Madison Li
Charlie Warren : Allistair Tenpenny
Gregory L. Williams : Lucas Simms
Ron Perlman : Narrator
With the threat of the nuclear war looming, choice citizens were moved into underground Vaults, where they would help civilization survive the coming years of decay. It's been 200 years since the bombs fell. Far west from the ruins of Washington D.C., hidden deep underground, lies Vault 101 - no one enters, no one leaves. You are born in the Vault, you die in the Vault. This is what the Overseer wants everyone to think. Your father is the medical chief of Vault 101, and when he manages to escape the Vault, you're immediately on the Overseer's hitlist, and you have no choice but to follow in your father's footsteps. You are the Lone Wanderer, roaming the wasteland unknown to you, desperately seeking for the most important person in your life, and the reasons why he would risk both of your lives by defying the laws of the Overseer.
|Yeeeap, it's messy.|
Some months later, my friend and neighbour still hadn't come close to beating the game. He just didn't like it; he verbally assaulted the game for being such a disgrace to the whole franchise, perhaps the biggest disappointment he had ever had with a game of such status. Well, I gave it another shot. Actually, I was supposed to borrow Dead Space from him, which I did, but I got so hooked on the side dish, which was Fallout 3, that Dead Space had to wait for months. It took about four to five hours to show its true face, which is one of the greatest role-playing experiences I had ever had. It's those couple of first introductory hours that are truly boring. I ended up playing the game almost non-stop for a total of three months. In that time, I managed to collect my first retail Platinum Trophy. After that project, I was done with the game - there was nothing it could offer to me anymore, yet all that it had offered me during the first couple of playthroughs was more than a whole bunch of games manage to offer to me during four or five of them. Still, even the thought of going at the game for a fourth time nauseated me. Then, came Game of the Year. Although I had no good reason to buy a Fallout 3 retail after beating it to perfect completion on borrowed time, I had many reasons to desire the Game of the Year Edition: its budget price, at the very least 10-12 more hours in the immersive world of Fallout 3, and the thought of raising my Trophy percentage back to 100. Without the five add-ons, platting Fallout 3 leaves one at 50%. Debauchery. What's even worse debauchery is the price of the add-ons by ways of digital download. Together, they cost almost just as much as the Game of the Year retail.
|Jericho, one of your potential "party members". |
More like sidekicks for the meek.
The facial modelling is infamously horrid at its worst. It's just a bunch of different facial skins slapped on the exact same model - very wooden and dull. The game's greatest visual asset lies in its humongous size. Every inch of the Capital Wasteland is well detailed, and the terrain's constantly changing shape is far from dull or stale. It's very easy just to get lost in the moment and wander around with no real destination; usually, it results in the discovery of whole new locations and in luck, you're going to find something useful there, or an interesting person to talk to. However, dialogue in the game is awfully spoken. It's like most NPC's are just reading their lines, with no emotion or effort at all. There are actually very few different actors in this game, in contrast to the hundreds of different NPC's. Only the most important ones, such as your dad (Neeson!), President Eden (McDowell!) Three Dog and Sheriff Lucas Simms have their own, exclusive voice actors. Hard to believe that a stalwart like Paul Eiding is behind the voices of about 20 different, equally voiceless characters. Most of the NPC's are voiced by Bethesda in-house "talent", which has already "shined" in The Elder Scrolls series, as long as voiceover work has been supported in it in the slightest. I won't say anything regarding your own character being mute this time around, I've noticed that a lot of people prefer protagonists that are completely silent besides grunting out of pain.
|I want a Pip-Boy for Christmas.|
As I have mentioned a few times in the past, I'm so not into (most) FPS games or a first-person view in general. I find games very hard to play from a perspective from which you can't actually see the character, or the vehicle, who- or whatever you're controlling. What amazed me first about Fallout 3 was that the first-person view actually worked, and what amazed me even more that if you changed it to a third-person view, the game degraded by a whole lot since aiming is so hard and the character is so floaty all around, from basic walking to jumping. As incredible as it is on my account, the first-person view does so much good to this game in so many ways that it's hard to describe. The game increased (and renewed) my interest in FPS games by a relative lot. I'm never going to pay for a single one, but I don't mind trying them out if some concept interesting enough comes along.
How much similarities there are between the first two games and Fallout 3 depends on who you ask. The enemies are pretty much the same, the AP-based V.A.T.S. aiming system is the same with just a different perspective, there are storyline threads which connect the events between all the games - although the time period and even the geographical setting are very different in each game - and the idea's pretty much the same. You're in search for object X - which, in this case, is a person - and you have the possibility of just going straight after it and finish the story in a matter of hours, BUT it is very strongly recommended that you take everything out of the game, explore in peace and watch as the in-game clock suddenly passes the 100 hour mark even though you're not even close to the storyline's end. Fallout 3's magic truly lies in sidequests and exploring the dozens of urban, post-apocalyptic dungeons which are not pointed out to you in any way, you'll have to find them yourself. When I say this game is big, I mean it - here's an example. I had 80 hours on the clock, I had unlocked something like 50 different locations and I thought to myself "man, this game is huge". Then I reached Level 20 and took the "Explorer" perk, which allows you to mark every location in the game on the world map - mostly just to boost my quest for the "One Man Scouting Party" Trophy. There were literally dozens of locations that I had missed. I nearly crapped my pants out of pure joy.
|You won't break any hearts with that face.|
The sidequests range from helping an overtly enthusiastic (read: batshit insane) shopkeeper to write a survival guide by having you "test" some of the wasteland's most feared elements with the risk of very likely losing your life in the process, to dealing with a gang of neo-vampires terrorizing a small community the way you see fit, to fetching an antique violin to a helpless and incredibly sweet old woman from a forgotten Vault, to tracking down an escaped android and once again, making the tough decision of whether to spill his location to his owner, or conceal his new identity from everyone forever and let him live out his artificial life in peace. These are some of my favourite sidequests I just mentioned, but I can't sincerely name one sidequest that wouldn't be fun - there are 17 official sidequests in all, and also, some unofficial (unmarked) fetchquests, doing which usually results in a lot of money and EXP, or some other benefits. When I first completed the game, there were something like 102 hours on the clock, so I guarantee you that if you are more than willing to just let go of the plot and go out exploring, you will enjoy this game for a long time. Also, the completion of each official sidequest brings home a Trophy or Achievement; all the more reason to take all of them on.
Fallout 3 is full of (im)moral decisions, supported by the Karma system, and vice versa. You can literally be the guardian angel of the wasteland, or a murderous, selfish, thieving (son of a) whore whose name is feared all over the state. Or, you can be a merc for hire - a neutral being that isn't afraid to get his hands dirty if the price is right, but knows the difference between right and wrong. It's all up to you. The game can be played through in two totally different ways, just like most modern RPG's; the third time is once again filler for Trophies and Achievements, for the most part, that is. Perhaps the greatest example of going at the game in two completely different ways rears in its very beginning, right after the so called intro sequence: you can either save the town of Megaton by disarming the atomic bomb lying dormant in the middle of it, and become the town's hero for the rest of the game's duration, OR you can fuck all the sidequests, the fine equipment and the shelter the people there have to offer you, and rig the wretched thing to blow the whole pile of junk to even thinner smithereens, putting your mere survival in the wasteland to risk just because you're one evil motherfucker. This is the greatest, and best known example of decision-making in Fallout 3, but there's a whole lot more of it. By investing in the right skills, such as Speech, Medicine, Science, Explosives, Repair, etc., you gain a whole lot more options to exploit and influence other people by ways of dialogue.
|It's a vast wasteland out there.|
To build up an even more perfect - and admittedly, eventually overpowered - character, you can also go on the optional hunt of Vault-Tec Bobbleheads, a set of 30 different action figures modelled after Pip-Boy, the Fallout franchise's overtly creepy mascot. Each of the Bobbleheads gives you a permanent, huge boost in either a single skill or a whole S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength - Perception - Endurance - Charisma - Intelligence - Agility - Luck) attribute. The Bobbleheads are extremely well hidden, and just a baby's fistful can possibly be found by advancing in the storyline or even the official sidequests. Finding them takes an explorer. Check one more excellent reason to be a true lone wanderer, even if the mere distant sight of Deathclaws or Guais scares you shitless.
|Certainly not as pleasant as it sounds like.|
When it comes to Fallout 3's downsides, besides its amazing amount of different glitches, seemingly random outbursts against your character by usually non-hostile NPC's, sudden limitations to what you can and can't do in all the wrong places, and besides all those that I've already mentioned, such as the lackluster story and just as lackluster main characters, I can't really come up with anything solid that wouldn't be the scourge of just about every modern RPG out there, like the incredible amount of loot in comparison to the amount you can actually carry - which varies, depending on your basic Strength and the perks you choose for your character. Your character actually brings me to another weak point of the game. While BioWare consistently goes for deeper and deeper customization, Bethesda rolls around in place - I'm not saying character creation is as abysmally generic it was in the golden era of Morrowind, but it was the year 2008, six years had passed since Morrowind, and I must say I would've expected a much further step forward. It's cool that your dad changes his appearance a little depending on what kind of a face you mold for your character, but the thing is that it's really hard to give your character a mug that looks half human if you decide to customize the basic models too radically - most of which are butt-ugly, as well. Not that you'll be seeing your character's face too often, since you cannot manually pan the camera to his face.
|A nice little trip down "memory lane"...|
Fallout 3 would easily be one of the Top 10-20 greatest games of the century, if it came complete with a better storyline that would match up with its awesome subplots, decadent style and razor-sharp political satire - I don't know what Bethesda's problem is with creating a decent script - and a brilliant cast of characters which is usually a role-playing game's bread and butter. Fallout 3 is built on different foundations, and despite so much aggressively flagging against it, it's a great game in its own right. What makes it even greater is the way it hit me like a lightning from the blue sky kind of like BioWare's Mass Effect; similarly, it's a game that I always thought to live on hype and that alone, and it was just as much of a slow hook, but when it finally got its hooks in, I couldn't quit playing it, and I simply got lost in its world. Haters gonna hate, I don't give a shit.
GRAPHICS : 8.5
SOUND : 8.0
PLAYABILITY : 8.9
LIFESPAN : 9.6
CONCLUSION : 9.1
Operation: Anchorage is like a stab at the people who claimed Fallout 3 to be just another FPS - Operation: Anchorage is exactly that. Although you level up normally, and are allowed to use the Pip-Boy while taking part in the simulation, it's like mere decoration. Your one and only task is to make it from point A to point B in multiple chapters of a battle simulator, and shoot a lot of Chinese folk. No traditional gun maintenance, equipment changes, lockpicking, hacking, or anything else related to the core gameplay of Fallout 3 is present. You cannot loot enemies, your objectives are very simple, and both your health and ammo are replenished at health and ammo points, respectively.
What else needs to be said? It should be obvious that Operation: Anchorage is extremely boring. There are many fine chances for it to just end, but it feels like it goes on forever, and there are only a few different enemies to deal with: Chinese officers, one lousy Chinese tank and stealth-equipped snipers that look exactly like Gray Fox in Metal Gear Solid.
Operation: Anchorage offers up four strictly story-related Trophies - three Silvers, one Gold - as well as some fine equipment once you finally beat the damn thing, which you must do if you decide to follow the Outcasts after the initial battle, so you might as well go at it. Just don't expect anything too joyful out of the experience.
RATING : 5.5
The Pitt is "a little" more like it. You're forced to survive it from scratch, as every item and piece of equipment is taken from you near the beginning - temporarily, that is. This is because there's a lot of fine equipment to be found scattered all over the relatively small area of the Pitt, brand new of which usually come complete with auto-perks. The Pitt is an ideal first tool to start creating an OP'd character, if you feel a need for one, as you gain auto-perks to both your health and radiation resistance during the storyline - the storyline which is quite interesting and matches up to the average sidequest.
The Pitt is more than a sidequest, since it takes about 3-6 hours to beat, depending on how thorough you are. If you're into Trophies, I bet you'll be quite thorough, since The Pitt has its very own collectables in Steel Ingots, of which there are a hundred, scattered across three different areas, and you need to find them all - each and every one of them - to nail the Trophy related to them. You only need to find ten to advance in the storyline. You should take into consideration that finding them all results in some of the best man-made equipment to be had in all of Fallout 3.
I really liked The Pitt, although prancing around the confusing steelyard like a madman, blasting those ever-spawning Trogs' heads off and running back and forth in search for those Steel Ingots of a strict amount seriously got on my nerves at 4 a.m., but I really dug how it all went down, the ending and all the rewards, including the perks and the equipment which I was allowed to take with me when I returned back to D.C., but of course, most of all, the four Trophies. The Pitt is the most challenging DLC of them all when it comes to the Trophies, so once you've nailed them all, you can be pretty happy with yourself.
RATING : 8.1
Liked Fallout 3? Loved it? Then, you simply cannot miss Broken Steel. If you were just as disappointed by the retail's ending as just about everyone else on the planet, AND the fact that you couldn't keep exploring the wasteland after conquering the storyline, Broken Steel is pretty much a must-have - no matter what happened to your Wanderer, no matter what he/she did, the storyline continues with the strength of three main quests that could easily be parts of the main game, and after finishing them, you are allowed to keep playing one Fallout 3 file as long as you want. It basically feels like a missing chapter of the storyline instead of an add-on; Bethesda, who are nowadays well known to release incomplete games, is seemingly apologizing for a crappy, not to mention definitive ending that seemingly was the product of a forgotten piece of story, released later with a price tag on it. It's bad business to first release a full-priced, incomplete retail, and then release "the rest of the game" separately with its own price, but perhaps the company calculated that even though Fallout 3 fans would not like this business move one bit, they would have no choice but to purchase the add-on. Their calculations were correct, but that doesn't change the fact that they're evil bastards. The scourge of humanity. Well, at least they had the decency to do the GOTY.
When you load or restart the whole game, Broken Steel, once installed, activates automatically. Although you naturally cannot play it before finishing the storyline, your new level cap of 30 is unlocked, as well as the awesome new perks that come with it. Some quick examples. Rad Absorption makes your radiation level decrease with time, Warmonger allows you to build custom weapons without schematics, Nerves of Steel makes your AP replenish faster, and Almost Perfect raises ALL of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes to 9, which basically means that upon reaching Level 30, you admittedly become pretty much overpowered for the game. In the style of Fallout 3, the tracking system includes three different Trophies and Achievements related to reaching Level 30; getting them all is made easy by three different perks that allow you to change your Karma instantly upon leveling up.
The three main quests - Death from Above, Shock Value and Who Dares Wins - are the only ones worthy of Trophies, but they're certainly not all Broken Steel brings into the game. I already mentioned the perks, the new level cap and the Trophies, but there are also new characters, some of which reside in locations that already existed in the main game. By doing a little exploring outside the confines of Broken Steel's storyline, you might get entangled in three fun sidequests, and there are also three unmarked fetchquests. Also, when you've installed Broken Steel, the whole game is infested with new, extremely violent types of old enemies; Albino Radscorpions, Super Mutant Overlords, Feral Ghoul Reavers and Enclave Sigmas. Be careful where you step in. If there's a concentrated group of Super Mutants anywhere in the world, you can safely expect for an Overlord to show up and kick your ass in no time if you're not prepared. They're worse than any Behemoths, and should be avoided... if they didn't pack a new type of laser rifle you don't want to miss.
Its poetical content might not be the best or the most cap-worthy extra material for Fallout 3 out there, but there's simply no way around it; due to its many new features and much anticipated closure to the incomplete story of Fallout 3, Broken Steel is one of the most essential add-ons ever made. In addition to applying the retail with a whole bucketful of changes, it's like a tool, a patch or even a crack that finally lets you do what should've been possible from the start and continue one single Fallout 3 save file to your heart's content, and beyond. 'Cause you know, Fallout 3 isn't exactly the most restartable game around - I should know, I've done it four times. Never again, thanks to Broken Steel.
RATING : 9.0
Point Lookout is very promising from the get-go. Operation: Anchorage was a damn back-and-forth ride between a cliff and a military camp. The Pitt was just one secluded location with a few different areas, both interior and exterior. Broken Steel created a few new hot spots to the already existing Capital Wasteland, and Mothership Zeta, which came later, was another single hub. Point Lookout has a whole new world map. It's not exactly as big as it might first look like - discovering every location on it takes less than an hour - but it's an interesting little stretch of land, nonetheless. However...
...Point Lookout ain't nothing like I thought it would be. I thought those deformed hillbillies that all promotional material on the add-on was based on were the enemies here, and that the storyline's style would be close to 70's exploitation movies. That would've been cool - just imagining the Fallout 3 gameplay with a tongue-in-cheek take on the styles of The Last House on the Left or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre brings a twisted smile to my face. Well, the murky Point Lookout does look like a setting from any cheesy 70's splatter or cult flick, and some of those hillbillies have GOT to have been influenced by the quick peek at Jason in the first Friday the 13th film, but actually, the storyline of Point Lookout has nothing to do with horror, other means of exploitation, and those hicks are just extra enemies who do not appear in the storyline - although they're the most interesting of them all.
No, Point Lookout is actually yet another sci-fi subplot, in which you are forced to choose between loyalty to an extremely unpolite ghoul squatter or the actual owner of the house in which he squats in - who appears in the form of a brilliant, preserved brain. The latter is in charge of a fruit-worshipping native tribe that doesn't fully understand his agenda, and constantly misinterprets his instructions, which is why he needs your help. Infiltrating this tribe just to find clues to the location of the brain is one of the best parts in the whole of Fallout 3. I won't spill it all out, but it involves getting drugged; sequences like this never seem to fail. I thought the story would pick up a little after that, but it doesn't - it's a back and forth ride between a few choice locations and talking to a few choice NPC's instead of a really captivating miniature version of Fallout 3. The fairly large map goes to waste. Yeah, sure, there are sidequests to do besides the main quests just like in Broken Steel, but with no Trophies or Achievements handed out for conquering them, just guess how many modern, casual players would feel compelled to take them on... or players that are ready to move on, they're basically tired of the game and are still playing it just because of the extra Trophies... what?
Playing through Point Lookout doesn't really result in anything new and special; I think Bethesda invested more in the simple expansion of the Fallout map this time around, and the story. The story is quite good when it comes to the basic standard of the original retail, but like I said, they could've had so much more fun with it all. I'll bet a lot of folks will just take the ferry, circle around Point Lookout to find every single location, then do the storyline and then return to the Wasteland, with all of the four new Trophies richer. There's absolutely no need to do the sidequests, since there's not much of a reward for any of them as a catch, not in the game or within the tracking system.
Either way, thanks to the new map alone, the mere possibility to explore outside the confines of the Capital Wasteland, and the fact that you can return to Point Lookout at any time, Point Lookout is a winner. If you haven't played Fallout 3 as long as I have and you're far from getting as tired of the game as I admittedly am, I think you're in for a fine investment.
RATING : 8.4
Let's get one thing straight: I am not a huge fan of stereotypical aliens. I know Mothership Zeta was intentionally made to be some sort of a parody of a stereotypical abduction story, but how many decades have stories like this been made? What does an abduction remotely have to do with a post-apocalyptic RPG, anyway? Nothing. As an extremely tiny sidestory, a short 30-minute stroll, Mothership Zeta might work. It would count as harmless satire. But, it's just like Operation: Anchorage - it goes on for hours without any extensively interesting or contextual content. The main hook for avid players of Fallout 3 is the gratuitous amount of alien technology you can get your hands on, but even that loses most of its purpose if you are already armed to the teeth with the finest weaponry and equipment from the rest of the retail and the DLC.
You need a high EXP level and a lot of previously collected equipment to have any hope to beat Mothership Zeta, because you will have to fight A LOT of aliens. A LOT of boring, boring aliens, and occasionally, their robotic drones, as you navigate through the mothership's confusing, repetitive and dull hallways. There are a few bright spots in this wretched thing, but they are very brief. After hours of trying to make out your actual destination from the bitchy GPS, and killing something like 257 aliens on the way, just quitting Zeta doesn't seem like a bad idea at all... until you realize that you cannot return to the main game before somehow bearing it to the long-anticipated end.
There are three good things about Mothership Zeta. The equipment, although like I said, the majority of its usefulness will die out sooner or later. It all depends on when you decide to conquer Mothership Zeta, I guess. The second greatest thing about it is extremely fast development; the aliens yield a truckload of EXP, and since there are so God damn many of them, you can safely expect to level up like lightning, regardless of your EXP level when you first board the ship. The third greatest thing, is of course, the inclusion of four more high-level Trophies - the standard sales point thanks to which Mothership Zeta thrived just like every other Fallout 3 add-on. It couldn't have done it by itself. It's better than Operation: Anchorage, but a huge drop from the three quality packs that came in between.
RATING : 6.2
a.k.a. Van Buren (working title)
Fallout 3: 90.77% (PC), 90.27% (PS3), 92.79% (X360)
Fallout 3 - Game of the Year Edition: 96.00% (PC), 95.40% (PS3), 95.00% (X360)
Operation: Anchorage: 66.23% (PC), 53.25% (PS3), 68.00% (X360)
The Pitt: 77.80% (PC), 70.00% (PS3), 77.34% (X360)
Broken Steel: 83.87% (PC), 82.00% (PS3), 82.84% (X360)
Point Lookout: 81.65% (PC), 71.67% (PS3), 83.90% (X360)
Mothership Zeta: 69.06% (PC), 35.00% (PS3), 66.13% (X360)
Members of the development team cite Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road, which was published in 2006, as an important influence. The novel was adapted to a film starring Viggo Mortensen in 2009.
Since Japan is very sensitive of atomic warfare, detonating the Megaton bomb in the Japanese version is impossible, which also means that the character of Mr. Burke does not appear. Also, Fat Man was renamed Nuka Launcher, since Fat Man was the codename of the bomb detonated over Nagasaki in 1945.