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Game Review: ‘Fallout 3’ Game Of The Year Edition
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The Movie God   |  @   |  
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Fallout 3 Game of the Year EditionFallout 3
Game of The Year Edition
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks, Zenimax Media
Release Date: October 13, 2009

We’ve now reach the year 2010, and Fallout 3 was first released on October 28, 2008. This means that if you’re a big video game player, then you’ve probably already roamed the desolate Wasteland of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. and don’t need my review or opinion. Thankfully, Bethesda Softworks and the game were honored with the coveted Game of the Year designation, and a Game of the Year edition of the game was released this past October with all of the amazing extra DLC content that was created to accompany the title.

When friends of mine first pushed me to play a little game called The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I was reluctant and didn’t know what to expect. After an epic 230 hour adventure (Yes, I take my time and do A LOT!), it was one of my favorite games of all time. Naturally, when we began hearing about the game studio’s next game, Fallout 3, it became an incredibly high priority, and once again, we were not let down.

Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, long after you and I have become dust in the wind, and two hundred years after nuclear war finally decimated our beautiful planet. What’s left is an eternity of hot, dry nothingness, crumbling buildings and structures, some of the most terrifying mutated creatures you’d never want to encounter, and the ever so rare settlements where the few remaining survivors try their best to get by on radiated foods and water.

Continue reading for much more and to see a trailer for the first run of the game that premiered at E3 2008.

The game starts out perfectly, actually showing you being born before you decide your own sex, name, and features. You then get the joy of playing as a young toddler for a blip before progressing through the beginning of your life with your single father (who just happens to be freakin’ Liam Neeson!) in the specially made Vault 101. The vault is one of many that were built by VaultTech for civilizations to move to in case of an emergency. The game moves on, stopping at certain ages for a brief moment to set the story up nicely. Eventually, it all comes crashing down at age 19 when you discover that your father has escaped the inescapable vault, prompting you to try and follow after him. Before long, for the first time in your near two-decades of life, you’re standing outside and witnessing what the Earth looks like. It’s not pretty.

This is all simply just the introduction to the game. As you can see (and as you know if you’ve played), this alone is better than many other games you will play. The main story sees you on your journey to find your father and learn about your mysterious past…a past that gains more questions than answers as you move along and meet others who know your father. While I won’t go sharing the whole story, I will say that you eventually discover something called Project Purity — which aims to create clean food and water so that humanity can finally rebuild — and need to find a way to evolve it from unattainable dream to glorious reality. It’s a bumpy ride and your life will be in danger many times along the way, but considering that you have the chance to save a world that’s been suffering through life for two-hundred years, it’s all worth the effort.

The gameplay is solid, as always is the case with Bethesda. Be patient at first, as when you start this game, your stats and weapons will be incredibly low, and fighting certain enemies can be infuriating (never have I hated as much as I hated Mirelurks), but once you cross a certain threshold, you can dance with the baddest of the bad and walk away with a stone cold Clint Eastwood stare on your face. The game’s V.A.T.S. system helps greatly: it allows you to freeze the action and choose which part of the enemy you want to fire at (head, torso, arms, legs) and depending on your skill, weapon, and range, it offers a percentage chance that you will hit your mark. Again, this takes a while to build up, but once you’re powerful enough, you will hit your shots in absolutely devastating fashion. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as graphically satisfying as a slow motion bullet tearing through the skull of an evil murdering Raider, and causing his body to do a complete back flip from the force. I kid thee not.

Fallout 3 has one of the biggest maps I’ve ever seen, with an unbelievable amount of locations. You will grab an achievement for discovering 100 of them, but just that many took me until after I had beaten the actual main storyline (close to 100 hours), and still many more remained undiscovered. I will admit that I didn’t enjoy the actual D.C. area of the map, travel wise anyway. In that area, the destruction has left an impressive mess of strategically-placed rubble, which prevents you from going to most of the locations in the bottom right of your map without figuring out how to get there through the devastated and destroyed underground Metro Tunnel system. While it works for the game, there were times when I just wanted to get to a location so I could finish a quest, and if you take a wrong turn in the tunnels, your story may become heavily delayed. Aside from that, the D.C. locations were very well-designed, allowing you to see all of the iconic monuments and locations of Washington, crumbling from the destructive forces of nuclear war. Our own history even plays into the game at times. For example: some quests will require you to obtain certain artifacts of Abraham Lincoln, like his hat (which you can totally keep and wear if you wish), to sell to history buffs who recite to you hilariously inaccurate history lessons, which have been misinterpreted due to the severe damage of all records.

Considering how much I loved Oblivion, it was only natural for me to compare the two. And considering how this was a follow-up to that game, Bethesda make sure to enhance some of the little things that might have irked you in Oblivion. For example: in Oblivion, when you exceed your weight limit, you can not move at all, but in Fallout 3, they smartly altered it so that you can move very slowly. You still can’t do much, but to be able to crawl just a little farther at times was a great help. I’m CONSTANTLY going over the weight limit given to me in these games and would rather it just wasn’t there, but the upgrade was duly appreciated.

Another note worth mentioning is the music. Fallout 3 has a great, great musical selection going on. The score is beautiful and scary when it needs to be and always sets a great tone for whatever you’re doing (something Bethesda is really good at doing) in your game. To add another level to that, a big part of the game is Galaxy News Radio and its DJ Three Dog (Owwww!) who keeps the Wastelands updated on what’s happening, which usually involves what you’ve been up to in your quest. After speaking, Three Dog plays a nice selection of old school ’30s songs (which you can get a taste of in the trailer below), and they’re all actually very catchy. I can’t even explain how many times I found myself singing some old tune after I was done playing the game.

That, my fine friends, is just the game. This, as you know, is the Game of the Year Edition, and that means lots of downloadable content! The Fallout 3 DLC consists of five new add-ons that offer you more locations, quests, items, characters, and even one that extends the main storyline.

Below is a little recap/review of each DLC level so you can decide whether it’s worth stretching for the extra stuff or if the game itself is enough.

Operation Anchorage

The first of the DLC that I decided to check out. The storyline sees you entering a simulation (much like the ultra-creepy Tranquility Lane) that you must complete in order for some Brotherhood of Steel Outcasts to enter a room filled with special weapons and armor. The simulation brings you to Anchorage, Alaska way back before the nuclear bombs were dropped. In the mission, you must make your way into a Chinese facility and take out their big guns, big vehicles, and a couple other advantages they have against us. You can either run in full speed and battle your way through, or you can turn the DLC into a kind of Splinter Cell stealth mission.

I personally went stealthy and enjoyed this mission a lot. It’s so much different than what you’re used to from Fallout 3 because it’s pre-war and the skies are still blue and you’re surrounded by the freezing landscapes of Alaska. This major difference is a welcomed change of scenery after the dry, depressing Wastelands.

Aside from the fresh, non-radiated air of simulation Alaska, you also walk away from this quest with some awesome gear, so enjoy it!

Point Lookout

Like Anchorage, “Point Lookout” isn’t particularly long in terms of the quest. But unlike Anchorage, Point Lookout brings you to a whole new fairly large map with a bunch of new locations to unlock. You won’t need to go to all of them for what you need to do, but if you’re itching for more to discover and explore, this is the big one of the DLC content. Another difference is the side quests; there wasn’t any in Alaska, but there is some new stuff to find and do here.

Your quest here begins when you investigate a local mansion, where you’ll meet a man named Desmond who is under attack from a group known as Tribals. You assist him in stopping them before he makes you promises of riches if you help him to find out why they want him dead. Your journey will require you to join the cult-like Tribals to find the answers, and the only way that you can get in, is by taking part in their sacred ritual. And while that’s all I’ll say about the quest, I will also say that this ritual leads to one of the trippiest, creepiest sequences I’ve seen in a video game. It doesn’t help that Point Lookout is already riddled with mutated rednecks (which strangely reminded me of Deliverance, Jason Voorhees, and a definite Sloth reference), but this took the cake.

There’s some crazy ways to go about the end of this quest and it gets really tense, but I will say I was a little let down by the finale. Perhaps I just got my hopes up a tad for the big payoff! I still think Point Lookout was probably my favorite overall DLC adventure.

The Pitt

In what seems to be inspired by Ridley Scott’s vision of Hell in Legend, “The Pitt” takes us to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and another nasty and dangerous DLC mission.

The Pitt is a massive slave camp where captives work themselves to the bone in fear that the slightest of wrong looks or breaks will find them getting shot. The world is much like Paradise Falls (for those of you who have played), but much, much larger.

The reason that you go to The Pitt, is because you are approached by a man who begs you to help him. His people are enslaved and they’re all getting sick, which either kills them, or turns them into unspeakably nasty little creatures known as Trogs. He asks you to infiltrate the slave camp as a slave yourself in order to get to the leader of the camp, Ashur, who apparently has some sort of scientific new cure for the disease that could be a miracle to the wasteland. It takes a lot of work to meet the man, but when you finally do, I will warn you: be prepared. You will be faced with one of the biggest moral choices you encounter in Fallout 3. I myself had to actually sleep on it before I decided what I was going to do.

Mothership Zeta

This is the DLC that takes you farther away from the main Wasteland location of the video game than any other. “Mothership Zeta” begins when you follow a very odd and creepy radio signal that leads you to a crash site that ends up being an alien space craft. When you see the body of an alien creature laying near the crash, you naturally go to investigate further, but this is where a bright blue light overtakes you, and you wake up in a strange room.

When you wake up, you’re actually with another human from the Wastelands who devises a plan with you to try and escape what’s sure to become a very bad situation if you stay and wait to see what happens. This sets in motion your valiant effort to find your belongings and escape the ship…with the help of a little girl who just so happens to have been on the ship for 200 years and knows her way around pretty well.

This is an alien/outer space lovers dream and my second favorite of the group. It’s a good 4-5 hours of entertainment added to the Fallout 3 world and involves lots of alien combat, space walks, giant death ray battles, cool imagery from space, and contact with a real cowboy, samurai, and astronaut who have been cryogenically frozen in time.

Broken Steel

I decided to save “Broken Steel” for the very last adventure because this was the mission that extended the end of your actual main storyline.

There’s actually not a whole lot to it overall. It starts off with a pretty big bang involving Liberty Prime, the giant robot built to fight the Enclave. After that you will be moving through a few intense areas to make your way to a major enemy base to attempt to take out one of their biggest weapons and cripple their forces.

Because this was a lot more of the same stuff that I had already done for 100 or so hours, it wasn’t quite as exciting as all of these other DLC locations that were a refreshing change of pace for the most part. When you finally reach the end of this trek, you do face one of the more intense area in the entire game, and you should be sure that you’re fully prepared to take on all things. At the very last part, it’s as easy as the click of a button…but there is the opportunity to go a different, much more evil way with it if you decide to have one of those crazy moral shifts.

Instead of DLC, I think I would have preferred that this just be a part of the game. I liked the ending of the actual game, but did not like how it left off, so with this DLC added to it, it would have been a lot more smooth and acceptable.

As far as I’m concerned, like Pixar with animated movies, Bethesda has a special style of game making here and that anything they make is worth trying.

In closing: I believe that if faced with the choice, I would still have to take Bethesda’s Oblivion simply because I enjoy those fantasy worlds so much. But even so, do not be mistaken: Fallout 3 joins the ranks as one of the greatest complete video game experiences that anyone could ever ask for and it should not be missed.

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