The Average Gamer

Fallout 3 Review (PS3)

What with Fallout: New Vegas coming next month, this seems like a good time to look back at 2008’s Fallout 3. Happy to say that Fallout 3 is a bloody brilliant game. I’m always impressed by the RPGs from Bethesda Softworks and even 2 years after release, this lives up to their high standards.

Despite dropping you in the uninhabitable post-apocalyptic wasteland, exploring Fallout 3 is as close to a fully-realised world as I’ve seen since Morrowind. Travelling across the Wasteland is a curious blend of excitement and loneliness.

A Desolate World


I never found Dogmeat, so exploring (pre-Explorer-perk) meant I spent an awful lot of time wandering from rocky outcrop to rocky outcrop. At times I found myself feeling absurdly grateful for the company of my Pip-Boy radio and DJ Three Dawg (Awooooo!). Listening to him would make it that much harder to hear approaching raiders but during long periods of lonely trekking it was still comforting to hear a voice, however obnoxious.

Excitement comes, not just from the ever-present threat of random attacks, but through the incredible landmarks. You can walk for ages, clambering over rocks and shooting mole rats but not much beats the thrill of discovering a new almost-intact factory, or a cluster of sheds nestling on an old freeway. Buildings harbour people. People means quests!

Coming to Life…

Ruins of a Town

The quests in Fallout 3 always have some story attached and more often than not, you can complete them in at least two different ways (Good or Evil, Dialogue or Destruction). If you’re lucky, you’ll come across somewhere that has a whole string of related quests – TenPenny Tower, for example. If you’re unlucky, you’ve discovered yet another clan of raiders who are inexplicably short on beds to sleep in, or a location entirely devoted to a different karma branch where the game has nothing more to offer than yet more battles. Each quest is really well scripted with some great voice acting (sadly let down by the barely-there dialogue animations) but there’s much more to the Fallout world than conversations. I talk more about Fallout 3’s tiny stories over at Game People.

One odd thing I noticed; Fallout 3 doesn’t really have a major quest hub. I guess this is partly a feature of having separate quest chains depending on your karma and partly down to the world design.

Exploring Megaton, sure I did Moira’s whole crazy Wasteland Survival Guide quest chain, which was pretty huge, but beyond that and the bomb I had trouble uncovering much else to do. Every population centre gave me the same feeling, which I appreciate is part of the world design. You just don’t get a Vivek or a Cyrodiil City in a world where people aren’t to be trusted. It feels really weird in an RPG, though.

…and Taking it Away

I won’t talk about the combat or VATS system – doubtless you’ve seen it all before by now but just to refresh your memory, here’s the video of Fallout 3 combat. Let’s just say that it’s a huge improvement over Oblivion combat, which basically required you to flail about while running backwards. Oh, and as with Oblivion, you’d be hard-pressed to play the game as a pure stealth character. Make sure you put some early points into weaponry.

Laser eyes. Pew! Pew!

I’ve spent over 50 hours exploring the world of Fallout 3 but it is missing one thing. There’s no real sense of grand scale. You can appreciate the sun rising across the land from the top of a satellite array and the creativity of survivors building a town on a deserted warship but yousee few truly awe-inspiring set pieces. The Broken Steel addon fixes that with a whacking great big robot that fires his laser eyes around the Jefferson monument but it does cost an extra £8. Since I have a personal weakness for anything involving robots I was quite happy to pay for it, but quest-wise it felt a little thin given the cost. You could pick up the Fallout 3: Game of The Year edition which includes all 5 add-ons. I certainly won’t be buying the remaining 4.

I will, however, be all over Fallout: New Vegas when it comes out in October. Bright lights, desperadoes and of course, the Strip. What could be bigger than Vegas?

Fallout: New Vegas screenshots

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