I don’t want to set the world on fire, but…

30 Oct

I can remember when choosing whether your character was male or female didn’t involve being born in a first-person view.

After watching my roommate play Fallout 3 for a few days, I decided to give it a try despite not being all that impressed with what I had seen of the gameplay. My viewing and playing experiences weren’t all that different, so I don’t think I’ll be playing much more Fallout 3.

I like that Fallout 3 begins with the line “War never changes.” While I doubt it was meant as a crack at Metal Gear Solid 4‘s “War has changed.”, it was the first thing I thought of, and anything that cracks a joke at MGS4 is cool with me (here’s looking at you, Bad Company.)

My first impression of Fallout 3 is that the whole first-person immersion thing has lost its effect. The game starts out as you’d expect: an integrated tutorial here, meet some people, an integrated tutorial there, things go wrong, leave the people you’ve met, enter the overworld. While it doesn’t really detract from the game, I just think this convention has become way too formulaic.

The main gripe I have with the gameplay is that it revolves around picking up trash. It makes sense as the world has been reduced to one giant garbage dump. You’ll find yourself scouring the land for old silverware, empty bottles, random machine parts, and roadkill. This wouldn’t be so bad if you could carry it all with you, but your strength determines how much weight you can carry before you can no longer run or instantly travel between landmarks. It’s pretty frustrating having to run back and forth to unload your loot just so you can travel faster than a slow crawl.

Combat isn’t all that fun in Fallout 3. Yes, the game is an RPG, but I think it could have benefitted from being more of a first-person shooter. Shooting is unsatisfying as it’s hard to aim with that tiny reticule. I decided to focus on melee weapons because of this which turned out to be more fun. The game features a technique called VATS which allows you to focus on specific body parts of an enemy to unleash concentrated attacks in slow-motion and third-person. It looks nice and often results in exploding body parts. It’s also quite useful, but you’ll need to recover ability points in between attacks.

The game features conversation trees with NPCs with choices that are obviously good, evil, or neutral. The idea of your decisions changing your orientation, and consequently the storyline and gameplay, isn’t anything new, but I haven’t played game yet that does it right. Fallout 3 doesn’t appear to be an exception as you’re constantly urged to be good. Being evil appears to leave you at a disadvantage early on, turning NPCs against you, refusing you services, and threatening your very life. If you want to mess around the first town and still be evil, you’ll have to walk a fine line for a little while.

Going down the evil road is probably intended for a player’s second time through, but to me, that’s not choice. Games like Black & White, Fable, and, Fallout revolve around the idea of being the person you want to be, but no one is entirely good, entirely bad, or entirely neutral. Games like this are far too ambituous for their own good and it shows when you try to interact with frustratingly ignorant NPCs.

Fallout 3 is interesting and I can see how certain gamers would enjoy it, but it’s not my cup of tea. It’s a lot like my opinion of the Metroid series. I won’t call it bad, but it’s just not for me.

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One Response to “I don’t want to set the world on fire, but…”

  1. Sikat February 6, 2010 at 2:42 AM #

    This is indeed a helpful piece of

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