Fallout 3 PC Game Review

 

This is a difficult review to write. There have been the two previous Fallout PC games and Fallout Tactics and of course the excellent “Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel” for the PS2 and Xbox, fans of those games will want to know whether this game follows their lead and whether it sticks faithfully to the well-established Fallout lore. Fans of Morrowind and Oblivion will want to know whether Bethesda have created another rich, open world for them to explore. Then there, presumably, are people who know nothing of Fallout, Morrowind or Oblivion and just want to know if this game is any good.

The game starts with a brilliantly executed tutorial section which teaches you the controls and more importantly gets you thinking about the kind of character you’re going to play, within the first few minutes
you’re are making choices about your actions, don’t worry the effects of these won’t follow you into the game proper.

The world in which you find yourself is of course a post-apocalypticwasteland. Bethesda have outdone themselves with the scenery, everywhereyou look you are reminded of the world that was lost. Be warned if you wander the wasteland for too long expect your mood to suffer as a result, it really is that immersive and that bleak!

If you’re the kind of gamer who who likes to follow a linear storylinethen you can just work your way through the main plot line and you should get about 15 hours worth of enjoyment. If you follow this path
your experience will be very slick. These main-story quests will lead you to very nicely executed set pieces which, contrary to expectations, really immerse you in the action while leading you to the next series of
quests. The only problem with this approach is that you will miss out on a lot of content. If, like me, you prefer to explore the world in which you find yourself and talk to its inhabitants and soak up the experience
as opposed to thinking of it as a game to be completed and put away then you will not be dissapointed. The inhabitants of the first town you come across can provide you with a variety of quests that will encourage you to learn new skills and explore areas you wouldn’t normally come across that can make the game a much more fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

Unlike Oblivion the levelling system doesn’t require you to use skills in order to improve them, or understand the arcane workings of the internal game mechanics to maximise the results of your levelling.
Instead you have the usual variety of stats that are set at character creation and a wide variety of skills that you can increase from a points pool as you level. Once you have assigned points to your various skills you then get to choose a perk. These can be simple things such as allowing you to increase a character stat or providing an increase to a particular skill or more complicated, allowing you to find more
ammunition when you search containers.

I have studiously avoided spoilers so far however there is one aspect of the game I must call out for a special commendation. The Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) can be used when a target is in
your sites. It pauses the action and allows you to target specific areas of your enemy’s body, you can attempt to shoot the gun from your oponent’s hands or try to shoot their head clean off. If you wound your
enemy in the leg then his movement speed is significantly reduced and you can pick him off at your leisure. If you blow the gun from your target’s hands then they will be forced to charge you allowing you spray
them down with automatic fire as they run at you. Shooting in V.A.T.S mode consumes Action Points so it is something that must be managed carefully. When shooting in V.A.T.S mode the camera switches to a
dramatic 3rd person view and allows you to enjoy the results as a spectator. Curiously I find this more immersive than anything else. That sounds counter-intuitive but at dramatic moments it adds some of the
tension of a dice roll to the game.

While Fallout 3 doesn’t require you to be at the cutting edge of technology, do pay attention to the game’s minimum system spec’s. People with machines just under the minimum spec’s are having problems and are
being advised to upgrade their machines before Bethesda will offer advice. My machine 18 month old machine has no problem running the game at the highest settings at a resolution of 1680×1200.

Fallout 3 does have its share of problems. The colour pallet of the game takes grim to extremes, while I accept that a post-apocalyptic wasteland should be a grim place, I do think blood should be red rather than an odd brownish-grey. The DVD version of the game installs Securom software on your machine. It’s only used for a simple disk check rather than for DRM purposes but that doesn’t change the fact that Bethesda require you to install a rootkit on your machine so they can check that you have the DVD in the drive. Fortunately if you purchase the game from Steam it’sSecurom free. There seem to be a large number of people complaining of game instabilities, my experience has been adequate. I have experienced
game crashes but not with any frequency and no system crashes.

If you purchase the game from Steam then I think the quality of the execution of the game makes it’s problems pale into insignificance. If you play through the main questline from start to finish then you will
have an involving and enjoyable experience that is no shorter than any other modern game. If you take your time though and take a step off the beaten path you will find an immersive, complex game full of competing
factions, weird and wonderful technologies, homages to seminal sci-fi films and more. Fallout 3 is very replayable, it has a Karma system which offers advantages whether you play as a good, evil or a neutral
character, that coupled with the large range of skills and weapon specialisations and the huge game world ensure that you could play the game through several times and have an enjoyable experience each time.

GS Reviewer: Grant Smith

Reviewer’s machine spec’s:
Intel E6600 Core2Duo
4Gb DDR2-1066 PC2-8500
XFX 8800GTX 768MB

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One comment

  1. Nice review Grant – I’m playing through the 360 version as my PC blew up and I couldn’t wait to get playing. Like you I’m an explorer (in two or more years of Oblivion I’ve yet to do any of the main plot – that’s not solid gaming obviously!).

    Liking what I’ve seen so far – though my character doesn’t look how I remember creating him for some reason… The main downer for me so far is purely the fact that I feel like I’m conserving ammo when it’s quite plentiful. Maybe this will change as the game progresses though. DON’T TELL ME!

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