Product Type: Bethesda PS3 games
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The Wasteland Survival Guide (Fallout 3).
Fallout 3 (PS3)
Member Name: butters
Fallout 3 (PS3)
Date: 02/04/09, updated on 14/08/10 (463 review reads)
Advantages: Exploration and innovative combat system.
Disadvantages: Glitches, level cap
The story is set in an alternate post-World War 2 timeline where there has been nuclear war. 200 years later, and you have Fallout 3, a game where you play as a character, released into the radiated wasteland of Washington DC in order to try to find his father, and find out what he is actually up to be exploring the cities and battling many forms of mutated creatures.
The story actually holds up quite well, and though the story is nothing fantastic, the realism of it is quite nice. You are not on some quest to save the world, but a more realistic, personal quest. It's a joy to do the main quest and find out what happens next in the story, unlike Bethesda's previous game Oblivion, where, though the gameplay was excellent, the main story wasn't as interesting as the side quests.
Before you get to explore this wasteland and unravel the story though, as usual, there is the character creation. It feels a bit of a waste of time making your character, seeing as you never see his face, and you will generally be in armour anyway, but the stat building is the important aspect of character creation. For this you have two types. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats are attributes you get to raise at the start of the game, and through perks later on. Then there are also "Skills". These skills you can raise when you level up, and the higher you raise a skill the better you will be with that skill. For example, small guns.
Whenever you level up (through experience) you also get to choose perks. It's a welcome feature to the RPG and gives you even more to think about when raising levels. These perks can help you raise your stats, or help you do extra damage with a certain weapon.
The system works very well. You get a lot of freedom on what you want to use your skills on meaning you can create the character of your choice, with the strengths of your choice. It is a little odd that you can raise a skill without actually using it and that would be one weakness of the stat raising, though it would be pointless to do so anyway. The main weakness of character building is that at level 20 you are capped, and can no longer raise your level. There are obvious reasons for it-for a start is stops you getting perfect with every weapon. Though it really does inhibit the gameplay because when you max out your level the game becomes a lot simpler, and you are playing for so much less. However, it is great fun before you reach the level cap, and can be afterwards if you can get used to not levelling up or getting more powerful.
Now onto the environment. One of the complaints about Bethesda's previous title, Oblivion, was that the environment was so green and tame. There wasn't much variety. Fallout 3 is post-nuclear war though, so don't expect to be walking through forests here. There are lots of ruined buildings and run down super markets, and in general it is a much more dangerous place to explore. The dangers do in a way make up for the environment being a lot of the same, though it's not really a bad thing. The environment suits the story, and because of the dangers, it keeps you occupied. It will be hard to get bored exploring a place like this and you can explore for tens of hours and there will still be loads of locations you will not yet have seen.
One complaint is that there are maybe too few cities. The cities are, to make them believable with the story, quite small and placed well in places such as giant boats. This is not a bad thing; I just wish there could more from time to time. It would be nice to come across a few cities instead of small isolated houses from time to time though the sparseness of the large cities only adds to the atmosphere of the game-adding to that feeling that you are all alone.
It is the combat that got this game a lot of attention. There are two types of combat, and the one that got the attention is called VATS. It is like a cross between a turn based game and an action game as VATS allows you to stop time, target a specific enemy's limb and shoot. Each limb has a percentage next to it, showing your chance of hitting the target. Obviously this would make the game way too easy if all combat was like this, so you have a bar for it which depletes when you use it. It is a brilliant combat system and is the thing the game will be remembered for. It rarely gets old getting a headshot and blowing somebody's head clean off, in an overly violent slow motion scene. There could maybe be a few more animations so the enemy dies differently each time you use it, but it's extremely fun. Occasionally it gets a little tiresome, especially if you are in a battle you would rather not be in, but you soon get over it and it is one of the things that keep you wanting to play the game.
The second type of combat is just general shooting. It will only be used when you can't enter VATS and I think it could be improved. It's just awkward to use and it may be better if the iron sights view was better. As it is, the gun still hangs down and accuracy really isn't good. However, it is only used rarely so it is a minor problem.
You can't have fun combat is the guns aren't any good though thankfully this isn't the case. There are absolutely loads of weapons in the game, separated into 5 categories; Melee, Small Guns, Big Guns, Explosives and Energy Weapons, meaning everyone will find a weapon or two they like. You have to decide early too, because of the level cap. You won't be able to perfect your skill with every weapon, so it's important to find out which weapons suit you best so you can level up the right skills. You repair weapons by getting gun parts from other guns, which I have found to be an extremely innovative way of repairing, and is just one of the genius things in the game that will no doubt be copied by other developers.
The enemies are also brilliant and varied, offering a real challenge from the start of the game, and getting considerably harder as you level up, so using the right gun is really important. Although it's doubtful you will ever completely run out of ammo and be completely stuck, watching your ammo deplete with your weapon, though not knowing how many enemies are left is incredibly tense. It feels like a constant fight for survival and never does the game become incredibly easy, because as soon as you realise one enemy isn't as hard to take down, a harder enemy will appear that will really test your skill and weapons.
One of the problems with Bethesda's previous game, Oblivion was the believability of the characters. So many of the characters seemed to just lack any real personality, though thankfully this has been rectified with Fallout. Although the characters are certainly not perfect, and a lot of the characters do seem to lack depth, they are believable as humans in general and all have different personalities. Chances are you won't be speaking to them too much though, as most of the time will be spent in the wasteland.
The side missions are always important in RPG's like this. They allow you to take a break from the story and do something a little more light-hearted. Although Fallout 3 certainly doesn't have the number of side missions as Bethesda's previous games there are still a lot, and certainly enough to get your game time up to 70 or 80 hours. A lot of them have some good stories behind them too, so they are certainly interesting to complete.
Overall it is an extremely addictive and challenging game and certainly one of the best games of last year. With the actual gameplay there are very few faults. However, the game does have a few glitches, even with patches that are out. Though none have been game-breaking, it is certainly annoying when large red walls appear in one area of the game, spoiling the scenery, or upon loading you drop through the floor to the level below. It makes you think the game could have benefited a little from another month or two of development, just to iron out the glitches.
One small problem is the save system, which auto-saves whenever you come from a loading screen. It means you have to rely on a manual save because quite frequently the auto-save will be in a dodgy place. Because of the dangers of the wasteland, to frequently can you go through a door with low health, only to be confronted by many enemies that you can't get past. Although the auto-save wasn't so much of a problem in Oblivion, you are in near constant danger in The Wasteland, not knowing what enemies you'll see next. It's a minor problem, but if you don't keep up to date with your saves it can really mess up the game for you.
The only problems that affect the gameplay are the level cap, as already described, and the end. Obviously I won't spoil the end for you, but after the final mission, you can't explore the Wasteland, you have to re-load a previous save. It's quite annoying, and though it may seem like a small problem, the environment is so good, it's a shame you can't play after you have completed the game.
The problems in the game are generally small though, and when the game gets something right, which it usually does, it gets it spot on. The game is brilliant and not something any gamer will want to miss. If you have a PS3, 360 or PC this game is definitely worth checking out. Like Oblivion, it's hard to review a game such as this, because words don't do the game justice. It is something you have to play and experience, because it's not just a small game, it is a game that offers an in depth world.
There's DLC for the game, available for 360 and PC. This is a review of the PS3 version though, so obviously the DLC can't be reviewed.
Summary: Brilliant game with minor flaws.
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