Fallout 3

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Stilts
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Fallout 3

Post by Stilts » Thu May 21, 2009 11:26 pm

A.K.A. Decapitation: The Game



I'm finally reviewing a game where I can get my own screenshots. It feels kinda nice to have control over all the content in a review. On the other hand, getting a nice variety of screenshots is time-consuming, and I'm feeling a little lazy today. So, two of the screens will be useful and the other two will just be excuses for me to show off the character I'm using for my second run through the game: Esk, the Deceptively Cute Homicidal Maniac. Sure, the title's a little unwieldy, but what it lacks in brevity it makes up for in accuracy. But I digress. Let's get this train-wreck started!

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I'm starting this off with a stylish sword stance because I'm not above pandering to my audience.

Fallout 3, the third "true" game in the venerated RPG series, was made by Bethseda, the guys famous for the Elder Scrolls games (such as Morrowind and Oblivion). It definitely shows. The game runs on what is basically an improved and modified version of Oblvion's engine, meaning that, among other things, you can switch between first-person and third-person at will, the dialogue trees are dense and varied, the world is massive and full of interesting nooks and crannies, and the faces still don't look very good. Yes, it still seems far too difficult to create attractive faces, particularly when I think back to how easy it was to use the creator in Mass Effect. That said, both the attractiveness of the people and the graphics in general are a noticeable step up from Oblivion. The prologue, which combines the tutorial with the important backstory, is much more interesting than Oblivion's, too. A first-person birth scene provides the frame for the character creation process; the explanation and allocation of your stats is done via a cute, children's picture book; and skill-point allocation is presented as an aptitude test when your character is forced to take when he or she is sixteen. It's all very clever and is a great way to immediately engage the player in the world--though you'll probably find it tedious the third or fourth time you go through it.

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When she's not using the direct approach (shotgun to the face), Esk likes to pose seductively to lure her victims into throat-stabbing range. It doesn't work so well if they're perceptive enough to notice her dead, Angelina Jolie-esque gaze.

One thing that almost never gets old, though, is the voice acting. Besides the fact that Liam Neeson (part-time Jedi) plays your father, the rest of the cast tends to range from "pretty good" to "stellar," with only a few instances I can think of that sounded phoned-in. Considering every character in the game is voiced (including the generic NPCs), that's much better average than gamers have grown accustomed to. It also helps that the actors and actresses are given decent scripts. Though only a few characters (such as Moira from the city of Megaton) have truly memorable dialogue, it generally sounds realistic and, at the very least, won't leave you chuckling for the wrong reasons. That said, the main story is surprisingly short, leading a number of reviewers to mention that they were caught of guard by how suddenly it ends. I agree with that sentiment.

Thankfully, there is an almost overwhelming amount of optional content to pad out what might otherwise be an eight-hour game. Much like in Oblivion, the locations the main quest forces you to go to amount to just a tiny percentage of all the places in the world. Unlike Oblivion, all those extra locations are actually quite interesting and worth the time it takes to search for them off the beaten path. Though not all have missions that will appear in quest log, virtually every area has a unique story to tell through its environment, notes stored in inexplicably-powered computers, audio logs, or NPCs. This greater attention to detail makes this world seem much more like a fully-developed character than the gigantic sandbox that was Oblivion.

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There are few things more satisfying than seeing 95% hit-rates on basically everything.

Which brings me to the battle system, an odd hybrid of a first-person shooter and...uh...a turn-based first-person shooter. This also happens to be where zealous Fallout fans cry blasphemy. I can understand their concern, but it actually works well. If you want to run-and-gun (or dash-and-bash, depending on whether you bother with the melee weapons) through the whole game, you can do that. You'll use up much more ammo than you need to, since your bullet spread is still affected by your stats, but ammo is abundant enough that you won't feel like you've turned the game into a post-apocalyptic Resident Evil. To get the most out of all those points you've been pumping into your preferred weapon skill, though, you'll want to use VATS. When you activate VATS, time in the gameworld will freeze and your HUD will show you your chance of hitting each part of the targeted enemy with your equipped weapon. If there is more than one enemy in the area, you can use the arrows on the left and right sides of the screen to switch targets. In order to actually fire a shot (or swing a sledgehammer) in this mode, though, your character needs to have enough Action Points (AP). Just like in previous Fallout games, the amount of AP required depends on the kind of weapon you have equipped. Once you run out of AP, you can no longer use VATS until you regenerate enough to do at least one attack. Those with little confidence in their reflexes should note that AP regenerate quickly, so you'll only be forced to spend a few seconds in real-time before you can freeze time again to do two or three more attacks. In the end, it works out almost identically to a traditional turn-based system--you beat up on the enemies using VATS, and the enemies beat up on you while your AP recharges. The only significant difference is that you can now dodge and try to run behind cover while you're busy eating bullets.

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When your character attacks using VATS, you'll witness the action through dramatic camera angles. In this scene, Esk seems to be wistfully daydreaming about the warm bubble-bath she'll have later today to wash off the chunks of Super Mutant she just sent flying all over the room.

Finally, there is the morality system, which Fallout 3 calls Karma. Though Karma doesn't have directly affect your combat abilities (like the systems in Knights of the Old Republic or inFamous), it does determine how some people react to you and which companions you can recruit. There are also significant sidequests that are exclusive to good or evil characters. Still, Fallout 3 suffers from the typical problem of not giving the player much reason to be evil other than for the fun of being evil. Ammo and money is so abundant that killing and looting is only substantially more profitable during the first five or so levels, and taking the evil path can sometimes make interesting sidequests permanently unavailable. On the other hand, there aren't many disadvantages to being evil, so it's not like you'll be crippling your experience just because you want to see what life's like on the dark side (save for one spoiler-rific instance).

Full disclosure: I'm not a Fallout fanboy. I played about an hour of Fallout 1 a month or two before this game came out, so Bethseda may have murdered some sacred cows that, in my ignorance, I was not aware of, thus ruining the experience for diehard fans. For everyone else, though, Fallout 3 ranks among the best RPGs of 2008 and should keep you entertained for a long while.


REGARDING THE THREE VERSIONS: Fallout 3 is available for the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. The PC is, in my opinion, the best version. Although the very nature of the PC makes the game much more prone to crashing and other sorts of technical difficulties, it's the only version that supports unofficial mods. NEVER underestimate the value of the modding scene. The Xbox 360 is the second-best version, since it at least has access to the official add-ons (such as Operation Anchorage, the quest Esk got that sword from). If you buy the PS3 version, you'll only be getting the core game, and it doesn't seem like Bethseda is ever going to change that.


P.S. Since user-created mods are a big reason why the PC version is the preferred one, I'll be adding a post onto this review detailing how to go about using those mods and which ones I like to use. Look for it to go up sometime tomorrow.

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Kagami
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Re: Fallout 3

Post by Kagami » Fri May 22, 2009 12:36 am

What constitutes a fallout fanboy? I don't know if I fall into that category, but my mother bought me fallout 2 back in 1998 not realizing what she was getting for her 10 year old son...a fantastic game full of really dark humour, merciless killing, gore and a post-nuclear experience. The stuff you could get up to in that game made the GTA series look tame, but nobody from the ratings department really took much notice (thank god). You had true freedom in what way you chose to achieve your goals, the game rewarded you for being good, or alternatively, very very evil.

Even though you cant compare the two games graphically, fallout 2 has much more attention to detail then fallout 3, a lot more story. For example in fallout2, when you get to the stage of wearing power armour, a certain child will run up to you and ask "hi mister, how do you go to the toilet in that suit? Do you pee in your suit? You pee in your suit?! you pee in your suit!", much to your characters disgust, despite willing to give an explanation as to how the suit automatically removes and recycles all bodily waste...etc

Fallout 2 was great because you really got to know the character you created. A lot of speech options and fun was created through either previous actions, or through the karma system, which played a huge part in the game.

Since fallout2's character/NPC interface was mostly text based, fallout 3 can be forgiven for lacking depth since all speech is sound based, harder to make and costs more. It is still a pretty great game, and while the campaign lasted I had lots of fun. VATS made for alot of satisfying destruction and gore, especially with the Fat Man...and having Qui Gon lead you through the wasteland...yeah.

yup...im a fanboy.
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Stilts
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Re: Fallout 3

Post by Stilts » Fri May 22, 2009 1:32 pm

Though I'm not a Fallout fanboy, I am a Baldur's Gate fanboy. I was excited for Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, because they were made by the same guys who did Baldur's Gate II, which is still one of my favorite RPGs of all time. However, if you compare KotOR and ME purely on traditional RPG aspects, they don't quite measure up to BG2. BG2 has better writing, a greater number and variety of interesting characters, more sidequests that feel more meaningful, and greater freedom of choice for the player. This, I think, is at least partly because BG2 was trying to be a single-player, digital interpretation of a really good D&D campaign. KotOR and ME, however, were meant to feel like summer-blockbuster sci-fi movies, with KotOR going for a space opera style (obviously) and ME borrowing heavily from big-budget action movies. I think you could say the same of Fallout 3. Bethseda was never really trying to copy traditional Fallout games; they were trying to capture the soul of the franchise in the body of the Oblivion engine. That said, everyone I've heard talk about Fallout has always mentioned the dark humor. F3 has darkness in spades, but there isn't a whole lot of humor.

And yes, you're a fanboy, but not the kind I dislike. You were willing to keep an open mind and try F3. Even if, in some alternate universe, you ended up not liking it because of your previous Fallout experiences, I would have been glad you at least you had given it a chance. The kind of fans I can't stand are the ones who see something like a change to a wider color palette as a heinous betrayal of the spirit of their beloved franchise (yeah, I'm talking about Diablo 3). Also, the Final Fantasy fans who think that every FF should be like their favorite one, completely ignoring the fact that--unless their favorite is FF1 or 2, they wouldn't HAVE their favorite one if Square did the same thing for every game. But once again, I digress.

Review Supplement: Modding the Night Away


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Mod-community user Puddintaine manages to take a picture of the elusive Mod Squad.

So, you bought Fallout 3 for the PC after reading my award-winning review of it, huh? Uh...you did buy the PC version right? You didn't? Well, return that Xbox copy and get the REAL version of the game! Don't worry, I'll wait.

...

You back? Cool.The great thing about the PC version is the community-created mods for the game. Though I think everyone should play the game without mods (or with only a select few mods) the first time, mods are an invaluable resource when playing through the game multiple times. The intent of this supplement is not to give a comprehensive list of the mods you should try. Instead, I'll attempt to explain the general mod-installing rules and list some of the mods I find useful to give you a sense of the different needs mods can meet.

So, How Does This Work, Anyway?

First, you should go to the Fallout 3 Nexus. This is where you'll find all the mods worth trying (along with many that aren't). Though you don't have to register for the site unless you want to see and downloaded mods that have "Adult" content or rate the mods you try, you might as well register while you're there. Anyway, the first two things you'll want to download are the Fallout Mod Manager and ArchiveInvalidation Invalidated. THESE ARE REQUIRED! The instructions are pretty simple, so you shouldn't have any problems installing and using them properly. Also, AI Invalidated warns you to install F3 to somewhere other than your Programs folder if you're using Vista. I ignored that warning and it worked just fine for me, but this may because I turned UAC off. Your results may vary.

The Fallout Mod Sorter isn't necessary, but you may find it useful if you end up using more than a few mods. Its sole purpose is to automatically sort your mods so they all work properly. Just extract it anywhere and run the .exe.

Okay, so now that we've got the setup done, lets move on to the mods, which I'll organize by the role they fill. You'll install virtually all of these mods simply by extracting the zipped files into the Fallout 3/Data directory. Also, all of these mods include simple installation instructions, so any confusion you experience should disappear after you properly install your first couple mods.

Environment Mods

Terrain, Rocks, Megaton, and Rivet City Texture Packs = These are pretty much the only mods I would suggest you install during your first play-through. All of them noticeably improve upon the default textures.
Enhanced Weather - Rain = I loved the Atmospheric Weather System mod made for Oblivion. Sadly, there's nothing nearly as extensive yet for F3, but this one is at least a nice step in the right direction.

Gameplay Tweaks

Owned = If you kill the owners of a place, you get to keep it. It's a pretty small change, but it makes being evil that much more rewarding.
Mighty Mouse = It may be a little unrealistic, but I REALLY want to be able to carry more stuff.
Rich Vendors = I got frustrated during the later levels of the game when I was picking up a lot of valuable loot, but the shopkeepers would barely have enough money to pay for everything I sold them. This fixes that.
Repair Rethought = It changes the repair system to make more sense AND makes scrap metal really useful.
Amplified Cripple Effects = Since the only strategy I ever use against enemies is "shoot them in the head," I use this mod mostly to make the cripple effects I experience realistically serious.
Seducing Women = ...what? I like romance in my RPGs. This mod gives the Ladykiller perk another function by letting your character get intimate with some of the ladies of the Wasteland.

Character Customization

Hair Pack + Kozaburo Hair = These are the only other mods I would suggest you use on your first play-through. The default game has an irritating lack of good hair styles, and these packs go a long way toward fixing that problem.
Type 3 or Type V Female Body Replacer [NSFW] = Yep, these are nude textures, though that's not necessarily the reason to get them. I use Type 3 because I think it greatly improves upon the shape of the mesh and the texture of the skin. Also, there are a few really nice outfits that are made for Type 3 or Type V bodies. Unfortunately, neither the Type 3 nor the Type V have underwear-clad versions. If you want to keep the game out of AO territory but think the default female body could be improved, the BABE body replacer (also NSFW) has an underwear variant, though I don't like the shape of the mesh quite as much as the Type 3.
Refugee Clothing and Wasteland Scout for Type 3 = And these are a couple of the really nice outfits I mentioned before. They're not just for show, either. Though they don't provide as much protection as normal armor, they give some pretty nice stat and skill boosts.

Just For Fun

Some Poses + Screenshot Script = Not everyone will find these useful, but they're wonderful resources if you like to take screenshots.
Tenpenny Guitar Shop = ROCK AND ROLL!!!

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Yuuki
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Re: Fallout 3

Post by Yuuki » Sat May 30, 2009 11:31 am

so basicly if you've played/know how to play some thing like half life 2 and oblivion its kinda easy to play then hehe ^^ like me.
people keep nagging me...but i guess i need more motivation to play it :( its sad but oblivion is fine for me :roll:
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Re: Fallout 3

Post by lazysunside » Fri Oct 16, 2009 12:23 am

People should start playing this game, it's fun. I finish the main story line in 2 days but the action was epic i tell ya. The game will transport you to DC, USA capital after a nuclear war. I notice the roads and the land marks look exactly the same in real life but believe me, the world make you look like you are in another world. Here is my second character picture. Her name is Teresa.

Markswoman
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Whole Body
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Face
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The Fight Had Just Begun

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