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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More On Fallout 3

I think the short version is this: I am freaking loving this game.

If you've played either Bethesda's previous Elder Scroll offerings (especially, obviously, Morrowind or Oblivion), or if you're a fan of the Fallout franchise in general - this is an easy recommendation. People, particular the Fallout fans, complained early on that it would be "Oblivion with guns" and I secretly thought to my self - like that would be a bad thing. And I wasn't wrong. VATS works brilliantly and is one of those rare successful blends of turn and real times based systems that complements rather than annoys. The most complicated combat I've gotten into required several retries until I finally flanked the guys behind me, bludgeoned the scout before he could cause too much of a racket and then tossed fragged grenades into the house before the Super Mutes could do too much damage to the caravan.

In terms of a story, this game approaches Deus Ex levels of good for me and honestly blows Bethesda's previous attempts away. This doesn't feel like the story about gates or a story about some weird messiah - but it feels like your story, about you entering a wasteland of a world in search of your father. While the main character is mute, you do control the conversations with the other characters and feel like you have a part to play in the world.

You can wander off on side missions or continue on the main quest, although I'm not sure how much the game allows you to just plow through the main plot without leveling up a little first. That said, I don't feel like I've embarked on any "kill five rats" type of missions. They feel like solid role playing adventures. Not that there isn't plenty of emphasis on combat - the vast majority of the game is spent trying to blow some crazy thing's head off.

Sure, there's a few foibles. The graphics are mostly great, but the character models are not the best in the world, comparatively speaking, and occasionally the animations are a bit off. A couple of times my dog has been floating about. When I nuked a massive beast, it stay aloft a bit longer than it should. This is still the Gamebryo engine, after all, and if you played Oblivion, you know what I'm talking about.

Also, navigation around the ruined parts of downtown can be a massive pain in the ass. The city is walled off by rubble, forcing you to use the underground systems. This is sometimes fine, and does encourage exploration - but can get frustrating when you pop out in a completely unexpected location, sometimes far past your goal.

There's a few other things, like the fact that herding your dog can get a bit tiresome ... but c'mon, you get a freaking dog - so who really cares.

A big thumbs up from me, can't wait to play the game all the way through. Easily one of my favorite games of the year, if not my favorite game of quite some time.

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