Fallout 3 Thoughts

I’ve spent the past month or so playing through Fallout 3. I realize I’m a little late to the party, but here are some thoughts:

  • Overall, I suppose I liked the game. Strangely, that sort of begrudging “it’s good, but meh…” response seems to be the general consensus – at least among the 3 folks I read (ok, so he was perhaps a bit less than “meh”) and watch. Honestly, when I first thought about posting on the game, I had the same “Yeah, it’s allright!” fake-out review as Yahtzee. But I did like the game enough to finish it and according to the game’s timer, I spent around 40 hours of time playing it. Considering that I never managed to finish Oblivion and indeed, gave up on it after just a few hours, that’s not so bad.
  • Speaking of Oblivion, this game is pretty much exactly the same, but with a different setting. And shotguns. It’s the shotguns that really did it for me, as first-person sword fighting is kinda weak (and yes, I realize I could use some sort of long distance magic in Oblivion, but still).
  • And with shotguns comes one of the game’s most vaunted features – the V.A.T.S. aiming system. Basically, when fighting, you can hit a button, and the game pauses and displayes your enemy along with various targets on their body and a percentage indicating how easy it is to hit. Hitting different areas has different effects. Hitting the legs will cripple your enemy, slowing them down. Hitting their arm might cause them to drop their weapon. And so on. When you attack using V.A.T.S., the game also shows you a variety of slow-motion animations of your attack. You’d think this would get old, but nope, watching a super-mutant’s head explode is always pretty awesome. There are limited “action points” though, so this system does sometimes force you to fire away in real-time (and as a standard FPS, the game is not quite up to par with the competition) or at least, run away and hide until your action points recharge. The system is basically a way to mix the traditional RPG turn-based strategy with FPS action. A lot of people hate this and think the game is bad at both, but I enjoyed it well enough. It’s not perfect and I think it could be improved a bit by increasing the action points (or their recharge rate), but it works and I’d be interested to see how this sort of gameplay will evolve.
  • As storylines go, I guess it’s ok. Nothing particularly special, and the main thread makes sense and has some neat sub-quests (for some reason, I particularly enjoyed the Matrix-like simulation quest). Most of the side quests end up being “fetch” quests, but there’s still some fun to be had. Also, there are a TON of side quests and at 40 hours, I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.
  • One of the things that bothered me about the game is that I felt like I had to really have a sizeable chunk of time set aside to play it. I feel like the game requires at least 2 hours or so in order to have a productive session, and there were plenty of times when I played for 2 hours and felt like I didn’t get anywhere. There’s definitely something weird going on here though, because the game I’m playing now (Burnout Paradise) doesn’t require any such long periods of time, yet I find myself playing for longer than 2 hours at a time and not minding it at all. I’m guessing that’s because I actually accomplish something every time I play Burnout for more than 15 minutes.
  • Whoever designed the concept of the metro system in this game needs to do some soul searching, because their game design skills are weak. Ok, so that’s a bit harsh, but the amount of time I spent lost in the metro system, just trying to find my way to the marker on the map, was truly frustrating. Every metro station looks the same, and the destinations don’t seem to match any reasonable geographic pattern. I would constantly find myself way off where I thought I was heading. Without the metro system, my experience with the game would have improved considerably.
  • I don’t get the appeal of post-apocalyptic settings. Obviously, it can be interesting, but I feel like they’re overused these days…
  • Games like this tend to bring out my pack-rat nature. I found myself chronically out of inventory space, which got kinda frustrating at times. Yeah, yeah, you’re not supposed to keep every gun type you find and you’re obviously not going to use all the components you find, but I have a compulsion. Seriously, the one time I got fed up and sold off a bunch of my stuff, I met up with some NPCs who told me that they needed a fission battery to escape… and I had just sold like 5 of them. All RPGs have to impose some limits on inventory, and Fallout 3 is actually pretty forgiving in this regard, but I still find myself constantly falling into the trap of collecting junk I don’t need. When I enter a location, I feel obligated to go through every path, inspect every room, and look in every box (half of which are empty). This is obviously more of an issue with me personally than with the game, but I find it interesting, as it seems to crop up in a lot of games (I had similar issues with Dead Space).

So yeah, I liked it, kinda, and I might even play it again as a more “evil” person (my character this time around was a goody-goody guy), but not anytime soon…