“THE END IS NIGH!”
Eleven years after the initial Fallout was released, Bethesda usher in the 3rd instalment of the post-apocalyptic RPG videogame, Fallout 3 which is a feast of a game in many ways with the odd self-destruct detonation, here and there.
While Fallout 3 certainly isn’t charming in its approach and you’ll never see Washington DC so bleak as it is portrayed in here with much of the outskirts to the US capital looking so unrecognisable – it does come as a somewhat strange and even warming relief to spot one of the major landmarks in the Washington district, still standing if not fully intact. Apart from those types of fleeting moments of hope, Fallout 3 has a very cold heart beating at its core.
Bethesda are the developers behind the success of The Elder Scrolls videogame series which spawned, most recently, a fourth incarnation – Oblivion. To some degree it is fair to say that Fallout 3 can be classed as the Oblivion with guns videogame. The Gamebryo engine is used, as it was with Oblivion, by Bethesda to give their own unique vision to the Fallout series and most of the time it all works very well; story, quests, images and combat all look part and parcel of the setting. This doesn’t mean Fallout 3 doesn’t come without flaws and there are times when Fallout 3 struggles to bring any real empathy to the player with the loneliness of the wasteland grating heavily on the nerves.
You are able to recruit NPCs and even the well named canine companion, Dogmeat, to travel the ravaged wastes with you but without the option of co-op gameplay included in Fallout 3, the post-apocalyptic world setting does feel a little overly oppressive which can work against the notion of playing in short bursts.
In comparison, the early and very linear start to the game where your characters birth, childhood and early adulthood are played out, in the relative safety as a member of Vault 101, in short and slightly unsatisfying bites with the years 1, 10 & 16 all receiving special highlights. Some may argue that this early gameplay is just the right length but I would have liked to see more made of the story in this period of the game even if it does offer an adequate tutorial in surviving within Fallout 3.
With plenty of side quests to compliment the main story quest line, the V.A.T.S combat which slows time to allow precision targeting and karma-tic choices that determine a players role and path within the game, Fallout 3 is a worthy staple in the RPG/semi-shooter genre. It remains to be seen if this will be the defining moment in the history of the Fallout series. Now that future downloadable content is on its way for both the XBOX360 and PC versions will Bethesda take stock and decide to polish off the rough edges from Fallout 3 for a further Fallout or is that a fall too far?