Well first off, let me echo IGN and say this is not Oblivion with guns. Its open world, you can ignore the main quest if you want and go do your own thing, but this game isn’t quite as immersive as that title. There isn’t a huge variety of races and classes. Having said that, Fallout 3 is still a great game in its own right, set in a disturbingly convincing, dark and twisted sci fi future.
The presentation for Fallout 3 is superb, from Ron Perlman’s narrative, the excellent voice overs, including that of Malcolm McDowell and Liam Neeson, to the realistic graphics that really capture post-apocalyptic America. Speaking of which, the Capital Wasteland suffers a bit in the field of diversity – it’s very bleak, and depressing, which is great because it really conveys a sense of failure and loss, but wherever you go on the surface its pretty much the same everywhere. The level design is excellent though in the ‘dungeons’, adding a very frightening sense of dread and darkness when you enter them. And they are frightening, with dark passageways, half-eaten corpses and terrible things that lurk in the blackness, always ready to leap out at you when you least expect it. Fallout 3 is a very scary (and bloody) game in certain areas so if you are squeamish or scare easily, be warned. Bethesda have really captured the feeling of scraping out an existence in a post-apocalyptic world.
The roleplaying element in this game can get very dark. You can do some very evil and twisted things in Fallout 3. There’s a certain sequence in the main quest where it is quite disturbing what you have to do. However, this is all portrayed extremely well, and is one of the things that make Fallout 3 great. The game is filled with interesting characters and stories, and you may find that you’ve spent more time in this game than you expected. Just with Bethesda’s previous title, if you just rush through you’re probably not going to get as much out of the game as you could. However, once you get to the main quest ending though, make sure you’ve done everything else you want to do in the wastelands, because there is no coming back. Fallout 3 is a great roleplaying game with a dirty and radioactive edge.
The combat system is awesome. Being able to select which body part to aim for with the awesome VATS makes for some very gorey combat, although it can be very entertaining and very satisfying to watch it play out. Once you get some half-decent guns the enemies become slightly easier, especially if you keep going for headshots, but there is the opportunity to take someone’s arm out which forces them to drop their weapon, or maybe you want to blow off their legs, slowing them down. These choices make for some very bloody cut scenes, but it is very rewarding after winning your hard-earned gun and is a very visually spectacular system. I’d love to see this incorporated in other games as it makes the act of shooting people more like a cinematic experience (I know that sounds really bad.)
Fallout 3’s gameplay is genuinely very gritty, dark and realistic. It is a very bleak game, and uses the ‘Used Future’ settings, in which everything’s battered, worn and scarred. Which is to be expected, since the world’s been blown to hell. All the time you’ll be scavenging for stimpacks and food and the like to keep you alive, and keep your rads down. Rads indicate how high your radiation level is, and if you let it get too high something nasty will happen. Your weapons and armour are always damaged and you’ll always be keeping an eye out for something in better condition. While this sounds like a bad thing, it really rams home the need to keep asking yourself the ultimate question: how far would you go to survive? Eating radioactive dog meat might make the difference between life and death but there’s no doubt it’ll bump your rads up. Life’s a bitch in Fallout 3. Try hitting on Bittercup, and she’ll make things better. Fallout 3 gains a rust-covered and radioactive score of 8 from me.