Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fallout 3

I finished up the main storyline in Fallout 3 a few days ago and I think it's the most fun I've had with a video game in a long time. Usually I get frustrated or bored with these games long before they're over, but that didn't happen with this one, and it wasn't because it was short. I didn't keep track, but I probably spent at least 40 hours playing it.

I've tried to pin down what it is that made it so fun, and I think it was a number of things. Possibly the biggest factor was the ability to play on "very easy" difficulty. While some people view having to replay a certain part of a game because they died as a challenging puzzle to solve, I just see it as something that breaks my immersion in the game, and forces me to repeat content I've already seen. The "very easy" difficulty level let me enjoy the game. Combat was fun instead of frustrating, and didn't feel like it was just a cakewalk, even though it mostly was.

Having to walk across country to discover new points, but then being able to auto-navigate to those points once you found them was also an important factor. It makes a nice compromise between immersion and convenience. Of course, this isn't something unique to Fallout 3 (Fable 2 uses the same basic idea), but it is well implemented. Also, the navigation system gives you notice when you are near sites of interest, and points you in their direction, keeping you from having to just constantly wander the countryside at random hoping to stumble across something interesting. This is very important in a game that features a wide-open world.

There are some issues with the game, but they're minor. A few of the layouts get repetitive after a while. The metro stations in particular get a bit old after going through a couple dozen of them over the course of the game. The same goes for the Vaults themselves, although most of them are completely optional as to whether or not you explore them, so it's not a big deal.

That leads to one of the biggest things I liked about the game, the ability to explore as much as you feel like. I could have finished the game in half the time if I'd simply stuck with the main storyline quest, and it's pretty obvious which quests are part of the main story. Instead, I took the time to track down clues leading to side quests in between doing the main ones. When I got tired of doing the side quests, then I continued on with the main quests.

One issue to be aware of is that when you finish the main storyline the game is over. You can always go back and start again from a saved game, but you don't get the chance to continue exploring the world after completing the main quest. I knew this from reading about the game, but the game itself doesn't let you know this until after you're locked into the final scene. Given that wide open games like this generally let you continue on after completing the main quest, there should probably have been more warning that that wasn't the case with this one.

I may even return to the game to do some of the side quests I skipped, but for now I got exactly what I wanted out of the experience: a fun time without a lot of frustration mixed in.


Anonymous said...

Fallout 1 and 2 were great games. How does 3 compare?

Fulminata said...

I never played the first one (when it came out I had no machine capable of playing it), and it's been a long time since I played the second, so keep that in mind.

I think there's a similar feel overall. The games take place in the same universe, although this one takes place on the East Coast, and many years after the last one. You can find some mention of the events in the earlier games if you look in the right places.

It has the same 'choose your morality' approach that the earlier ones did, and a similar character creation and advancement system. The combat system is a lot different given that it has elements of both first person shooter and turn based combat now.

I think that those who liked the earlier games should like this one, but I have seen comments from some who don't. I tend to agree with someone else who said that those who don't think it captures the Fallout 'experience' are comparing it their nostalgia tinted memories of the earlier games, rather than the reality of those games.

Anonymous said...

I recently fired up F2. THe graphics were so bad on the big monitor that it was hard to play as they pixilated badly. F1 and F2 were great games in their day and a third person F3 (just like the first two) had been partly written and then killed years ago.

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