My review of Fallout 3

Discussion in 'Fallout 3 Discussion' started by CT Phipps, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016

    "War...war never changes."

    With the news Fallout 3 is going to be included with Fallout 4, it seemed the perfect time to review this grimdark post-apocalyptic science-fiction classic.I should note, before I get into this review, it's interesting how the public's perception of games can shift on a dime. While Fallout 3 is still well-regarded, generally the fandom's opinion is that its spin-off, Fallout: New Vegas, is much-better. Frankly, I can't help but think people forget a lot of the pathos from Fallout 3 which is largely absent from other entries in the series. Fallout 3 is a very affecting game and while not to the darkness level of, say, Metro 2033, it's still a work which I strongly support for introducing me to the joys of post-apocalypse gaming.

    So, this is going to be a love-fest review.

    Fair warning.

    The Capital Wasteland is beautiful and horrifying at once.

    I'll include some general mentions of what is flawed about the game, don't worry, but if you want the short of the review then it's, "this is one of the best games I have ever played. You should play it if you haven't already." The objections I have to the game are fairly minor and the game still holds up pretty well years later, which is something I rarely get to say about video games. I think Knights of the Old Republic and Symphony of the Night are the only other games which will never fail to be awesome.

    The premise is, in an alternate universe where the Cold War never ended and a jingoistic fascist United States became embroiled in a nuclear war with communist China, most of humanity has been wiped out. The majority of survivors either chip out an existence in bizarre Mad Max-esque communities or live in isolationist Vaults that, more often than not, have driven its residents mad.

    The protagonist, eventually known as the Lone Wanderer, is one of the survivors who had the good fortune to grow up safe in one of the nicer Vaults under a loving father (voiced by Liam Neeson). Unfortunately, said father abruptly abandons his child upon adulthood and flees into the Wasteland for reasons unknown. Believed to be colluding in some form of treason, the Overseer of your Vault chases you out and the Lone Wanderer must now survive in the bandit, radiation, as well as mutant-filled Capital Wasteland.

    Liam Neeson plays one of the last bastions of sanity and goodness in a lunatic world.

    There's more plot, including tracking down your father and becoming involved in a conflict between the remnant of the United States government as well a funky power-armored version of King Arthur's court (Fallout is a weird game series man), but the real heart of the game is just wandering around the ruins of Washington D.C. as well as the surrounding former Virginian countryside. There's not many NPCs in the game, which may annoy players who expect an RPG to be primarily about interaction, but the game is masterful in its use of subtle storytelling.

    I recall when I played through the first time I went into one of the random ruined houses spread throughout the game. There, I found a pair of skeletons holding each other in a bed, a bunch of Med-X (painkillers) beside them, with a nearby bedroom where an empty crib lays. There was a note in their post-office box that they'd been rejected for participation in the Vault system as well as signs of radiation damage. You don't need anyone to explain the events which transpired.

    Similarly, I encountered things like signs begging to be let in around the front of a Vault, letters to loved ones, and affecting moments like discovering a teddy bear in a one-person Fallout shelter with an adult's skeleton outside it. A father or mother sacrificing their life to save his child but, bluntly, there never being any rescue of those within said shelters.

    Deep-deep stuff.

    To this day, I still consider Paradise Falls terrifying.

    Except, this is also a game which contains the Republic of Dave (which consists of Dave and his family), a bunch of literal tree-worshipers who don't realize their god is a snarky ghoul trapped in the world's worst case of head fungus, and a radio station DJ who keeps trying to pretend he's an edgy outlaw when there's not been a "Man" to fight in centuries. There is some bizarre frickin' stuff in this game and that's part of why it's so awesome.

    The humor actually serves in the literal definition of comic relief in that it gives the player time to process the immense bleakness of the world. Humanity is barely scraping by in this place and the majority of the survivors are now raiders who have no interest in anything but killing each other for meager scraps of food as well as pure water. It's easy to draw a conclusion the Capital Wasteland might have been more inhabited once but the bandits have killed almost all of the inhabitants, to the point only two major communities remain. Three if you count the Brotherhood of Steel and they're on their last legs as well due to an ill-advised war with the local Super Mutants.

    The game also has a lot of subtle themes at play which make use of the iconic imagery of Washington D.C.'s many monuments. Quests relate to retrieving things like the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and other documents which have been forgotten to modern man. Another includes helping a bunch of refugees and escaped slaves flee their overseers to seek refuge in Abraham Lincoln's memorial. Anvilicious? Yes. Powerful? I think so. Admittedly, the game also gives you the option of dressing up as Abraham Lincoln with his antique rifle to go hunting slavers. Which everyone should do, at least once.

    The Emancipator of the Wasteland.

    The fact is, a lot of the game is about the United States and it paints an interesting nuanced view of the nation as well as its complicated history. The United States is presented as having amazing ideas and concepts but things like the Enclave exist in-game as well as the slavers of Paradise Falls--groups which represent the worst of the nation's history. When you come across a luxury hotel where the owner, literally, shoots the poor people outside from his penthouse with a sniper rifle, there's no way it's not commentary but it helps show even in immense poverty there will always be people who exploit having more.

    The gameplay is immensely fun, similar to the Elder Scrolls series but incorporating the SPECIAL stats from previous Fallout games. The game pretty much leans to you mastering Guns, Science, Repair, and Speech with a maxed Intelligence but that's not exactly bad either. The majority of the game is just killing the hundreds of bandits and monsters wandering around but the sheer joy of exploration never gets old. This is a game where you can randomly chance upon a community of cannibals in denial the Fifties ever ended or people who are, kinda-sorta, vampires. Oh and the Necronomicon. Yes, wha?

    Fans of the previous Fallout games will perhaps be troubled by the shift in both gameplay, location, and style. The original Fallout games involved a century-long timeskip but involved a great deal of progress with functioning cities as well as new civilizations emerging from the Wasteland. The Capital Wasteland remains completely unchanged from what might as well be fifty years after the nuclear destruction of the Earth versus two hundred.

    While you can hand wave it and say the heavy radiation in the region prevents rebuilding, that just creates more questions. Others will object to the shift from a straight roleplaying game with multiple avenues of dealing with problems (generally combat, stealth, or talking) to a more combat focused narrative. Overall, my opinion of Fallout 3 is it's more of a re-imagining of the original two games and a reboot of the series than a straight continuation. Calling it Fallout: Aftermath or Fallout: Atomic Punk might have gone over better.

    My "canon" Lone Wanderer was a saintly messianic hero--who also had a Pimp Pad.

    There's a few flaws in the game. The grimdark atmosphere is somewhat hurt by the fact you can, and indeed are encouraged to, play Wasteland Gun Jesus. The Brotherhood of Steel is good, the Enclave is evil, the slavers of Paradise Falls are really evil, and there's no reason to be wicked yourself unless you're in the mood to be a comical bastard. The expansion, The Pitt, manages to fix this but I think they could have added more options at the start. The game's ending was also infamously bad, the original Mass Effect 3, but was corrected if you had the Broken Steel expansion. Some brief thoughts about the game's five expansions:

    Broken Steel

    Broken Steel is, in my personal opinion, an absolutely essential expansion to the game. This provides an alternative ending to the game as well as numerous new levels. It also provides a campaign against the Enclave's remnants which is epic, action-packed, and has more explosions than a Michael Bay movie. Plus, it gives more Liberty Prime, a giant robot who spouts anti-communist phrases.

    Operation: Anchorage

    My least favorite of the games, Operation: Anchorage takes the unique premise of having the player uploaded into a VR simulation of the Alaskan campaign against China only to squander it. There's just not much here other than the somewhat dubious appeal of fighting in snow after countless hours of fighting in a radioactive wasteland. I did appreciate the benefit of being able to interact more with the Brotherhood of Steel Outcasts, though.

    The Pitt

    The best of the expansions is the most grimdark. In the hellish industrial nightmare of Pittsburgh's remnants, the game presents a serious argument for the evil overlord and his slavery. With the last steel mill in the world and a place with the potential to rebuild some semblance of civilization, ex-Brotherhood of Steel paladin Ashur has made use of kidnapping and forced labor. Compared to him is the evil Werner, who has raised a slave-revolution against him which has the potential to destroy all of this potential.

    What will save or damn the revolution? A baby girl who is immune to the chemical toxins which permeate the city.

    Really, really good grimdark.

    The Pitt is a nightmare of steel, fire, smoke, and slavery. It is also perhaps one of the last, best hopes for humanity.

    Point Lookout

    Point Lookout is a fun little excursion to a swampy abandoned amusement park in New England. There's not much story to the place with the most memorable section being an extended dream-sequence after joining a group of lobotomy-practicing tribals (which requires a bit of kookiness to get you to perform but is worth it). The enemies are extremely tough, well beyond the fact they should be far-far less difficult to kill than the Enclave soldiers and Super Mutants you've already faced, but suspension of disbelief is a wonderful thing.

    Mothership Zeta

    Mothership Zeta is a silly-silly bit of fun with the Lone Wanderer being kidnapped by a bunch of Gray aliens. Armed with alien technology, he proceeds to wipe out his captors as well as rescue a host of cryogenically preserved humans who don't know the world has been devastated by nuclear war. There's not much to say about this particular expansion other than it's a little TOO over-the-top, even for Fallout but is still very fun and not as bland as Operation: Anchorage.

    The music in this game is well chosen with numerous classics from the 1950s which almost never get old. "I don't want to set the world on fire", "Butcher Pete", and "Crazy" are memorable tracks which exist in-universe as music the Lone Wanderer can listen to. The option to turn it off while exploring the devastation so there's only haunting silence also works well. The game also updates you with regular newsfeeds about your actions and while these get repetitive, they were initially one of my favorite parts of the game.

    In conclusion, Fallout 3 is awesome. One of the most awesome games ever. It's grimdark the way I like it: a light in the dark. It may burn a little TOO brightly but that's a small price for such a well-designed game.

    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  2. Millim

    Millim What the fuck is this for a shit?!

    Oct 13, 2010
    "Liam Neeson plays one of the last bastions of sanity and goodness in a lunatic world."

    • [Like] [Like] x 3
  3. Chaito

    Chaito Led Storm.

    Dec 31, 2008
    Well I think the review is a bit superficial at all, no gameplay, no story, no characters.

    I liked the game, for me is poor besides its predecessors, but, still not loving FPS gameplay, it showed a lot of hours of fun, besides the critics on story/characters/choices. Indeed proved to be a mine of gold with New Vegas cameout.

    BTW I am not argueing the review is good or bad, but as reviewing "FALLOUT" 3, I would be a little bit more comparing to its previous entries.

    BTW I totally aggree on Symphony of the Night. OMG now I have to replay it for... 10th time.
  4. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    I thought I talked about all three.

  5. Jogre

    Jogre It's all JO'Ger now

    Oct 25, 2015
    I disagree with most points you make here for the following reasons:
    It's a shithole ruin, which focuses too much on the features of the old world, and not enough on creating a new and exciting type of new world.
    Note it has exactly the same premise as the first game.

    Given that it's set 120 years after the first game, the world should have changed A LOT during that time period. But Bethesda keeps the world with the exact same culture/style of living/ect. as 120 years ago.
    No he doesn't.

    There is an ongoing theory that James in Fallout 3 is a sociopath,

    He shows on repeated occasion that he is willing to use people as a means to achieve the greater good, without even a shred of guilty conciouss, eg. he left his son behind without a shred of doubt, ran away from the vault knowing full-well his life could be endangered, is so fixated on his goal that he robs a vault and endangers his fellow doctor Jonas, ect.

    He also shows a complete lack of empathy towards others. The way he talks to his son seems almost entirely emotionless, he doesn't judge The Lone Wanderer if they perform generally evil acts(Possibly because he realises he would do the same for the greater good), Hell he shows absolutely no shock after finding out you blew up an entire fucking town(You'd think he'd be a bit more unsettled at first, but his reaction is among the lines of "Don't do it again"

    He also seems incredibly impulsive, happily leaving behind his life-time work after his wife dies, and happily leaving his home for the last 19 years because he happened to make a new discovery.

    Also his "heroic sacrafice" is incredibly pointless. Let me put it this way: He is being questioned by Colonel Autumn for the Water Purifier codes, if he doesn't hand them over he either gets captured or killed. This is without a doubt going to end badly for him. The only difference his sacrafice actually makes to the world, is that two Enclave Soldiers die as well as him. So overall his sacrifice isn't so much to help stop the Enclave, so much as "If I'm going down, your going down with me" -AKA textbook sociopathy.

    I'm not saying he's not good, or not sane. He is still a relatively good guy, but to act like he's the bastion of those things when by all definitions he's an emotionless sociopath, is ridiculous.
    Not even Fallout 2 was that ridiculous, and that was a game which was heavily criticized at its time for being camp and ridiculous.
    More bandits than people to be robbed

    • [Like] [Like] x 10
  6. Prone Squanderer

    Prone Squanderer A bit of a Sillius Soddus.

    Jan 3, 2016
    Hang on a tick, I've just thought of something. How is it Colonel Autumn, dressed in his fancy Pre-War coat able to take the time to inject himself with Miracle Serum to survive the radiation, yet the two soldiers in radiation-resistant power armour pretty much die straight away?

    EDIT: I know of two answers I'm likely to get.
    • [Like] [Like] x 6
  7. cordelionreaver

    cordelionreaver Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Nov 29, 2015
    Here is one of your two. Plot Armor.
    • [Like] [Like] x 5
  8. 0wing

    0wing Все умрут, а я волномут

    Mar 23, 2015
    • [Like] [Like] x 2
  9. Vergil

    Vergil Banned

    Jul 8, 2014
    Wow, it's like I'm really back in 2008!
    • [Like] [Like] x 11
  10. SarcasticGoodGuy

    SarcasticGoodGuy *R O T T E N*

    Aug 31, 2016


    Fuck I'm dying. I'm laughing so hard. Wrong opinions left right and center. The comments are even worse.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  11. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    Hmmmm. Well, I'm debating adding this element to it.

    Previous fans of the Fallout series will perhaps be troubled by the shift in both gameplay, location, and style. The original Fallout games involved a century-long timeskip but involved a great deal of progress with functioning cities as well as new civilizations emerging from the Wasteland. The Capital Wasteland remains completely unchanged from what might as well be fifty years after the nuclear destruction of the Earth versus two hundred.

    While you can handwave it and say the heavy radiation in the region prevents rebuilding, that just creates more questions. Others will object to the shift from a straight roleplaying game with multiple avenues of dealing with problems (generally combat, stealth, or talking) to a more combat focused narrative. Overall, my opinion of Fallout 3 is it's more of a reimagining of the original two games and a reboot of the series than a straight continuation. Calling it Fallout: Aftermath or Fallout: Atomic Punk might have gone over better.

    I think that depends on what you think the point of the game is. The point of the game is that the Capital Wasteland is NOT recovering and is DYING. You're supposed to be able to give it the hope that it will be able to recover from its disaster and become a new civilization. It gives it a nice contrast from all the other games in the series. It also highlights the tragedy of the nuclear war as other games tend to overdo the horrors of the Pre-War world so it almost seems like nuclear war as a mercy-killing.

    Yes. I'd also say Mass Effect 3 is about fighting the Reapers.

    I have an issue with the belief humanity would recover from the war and am inclined to think it'd be better if humanity was depicting sliding to extinction but I suspect that's an unpopular view on these forums.

    James behavior can more charitably be read that he doesn't expect the Overseer to act like a complete monster. James waits until his son is an adult before leaving him and Jonas behind with the full knowledge that he will be safe. As for robbing a Vault, he intended to consult with Doctor Van Braun rather than rob him.

    There is a sublte bit of writing that I give credit to at Bethesda that the Overseer's insane reaction is probably due to the fact the Enclave has started snooping around.

    Parents have had similar reactions of being unable to reconcile the murderous inclinations of their children or abominable acts--especially since James was just rescued by his son from a living virtual hell.

    James, by killing himself, prevents the Enclave from gaining the Water Purifier. He also has a reason to suspect Colonel Autumn will die in the resulting radiation blast.

    How much does Power Armor protect you from Radiation in Fallout 3?
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  12. Risewild

    Risewild Half-way Through My Half-life
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    Advanced Power Armor Mk II (the armor the Enclave soldiers use) gives 20% Radiation Resistance (15% Armor + 5% Helmet).
    For example the Radiation Suit gives 30% Radiation Resistance.
    He still reacts without expressing any emotions when Colonel Autumn's unexpectedly shoots Janice Kaplinski in cold blood right in front of his eyes, not even his tone of voice changes. :shrug:
    Just a note, Colonel Autumn's uniform doesn't even give any rad resistance. The scene is scripted to kill the soldiers, they do not die from actual radiation. Actually no NPC in Fallout 3 is badly affected by radiation at all :lmao:. Radiation only affects the PC and ghouls (it heals or gives regen to ghouls IIRC).
  13. FalloutIsMyDrug

    FalloutIsMyDrug Former Fo3 Lover(converted)

    Sep 29, 2016
    In retrospect, I now realize Dad Neeson is a sociopath. He may be crazy, but I don't think he died in futility. How could he have known about the serum? He probably thought Autumn was going to die as well.

    As I understood it, the drug Autumn took was a special antidote created by the Enclave. I don't think it was a matter of radiation resistance, but of special radiation purging/healing. If this was experimental or reserved for high-ranking Enclave members, then it would make sense that the bodyguards would not have it. I agree that it is still a BS plot device.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  14. Jogre

    Jogre It's all JO'Ger now

    Oct 25, 2015
    Do these guys have no idea that Troika was interested in Fallout as well?

    And that raises a valid question: Why did Bethesda even try and outbid the original owner of the series. If they truly loved the series surely they would let it go to its original parent, rather than buying it as a slave for themselves. More proof to me that Bethesda doesn't care about Fallout.
  15. Vergil

    Vergil Banned

    Jul 8, 2014
    • [Like] [Like] x 7
  16. Jogre

    Jogre It's all JO'Ger now

    Oct 25, 2015
    If its set in a dying wasteland, where nothing has changed, set it 5 or 10 years after the bombs fell.

    Setting it 200 years after the bombs fell and making it seem like the bombs fell yesterday is really fucking retarded.
    Except that showing the tragedy of nuclear war isn't supposed to be the point.

    Fallout is about the new world that comes after the bombs, not focusing on a tragedy that happened decades ago until the end of time.
    You miss the point. The world isn't supposed to be stagnating, it's supposed to be growing/changing. The fact that 200 years after, everything is still exactly the same is ridiculous.
    Mate, it's been 200 years. People have adapted to far worse conditions.

    The fact that they still haven't figured out how to survive in a nuclear wonderland after this long, despite the fact that we have people living in alaska, is ridiculous.

    And besides, even if humanity was sliding in to extinction, they would at least form toghether, try to rebuild. The fact that there still living in tin shacks and being hassled by thousands of raiders is too far.
    He should show some level of shock or disbelief.

    The fact that he's able to just say "Don't do it again, without even blinking is pretty fucked up.
    Sure, because a group of Power Armored Troops(Note that in the classics PA reduces Rads by 50%, so that shows something) will have trouble with a bit of rads.

    It's more likely to effect his group than it is The Enclave.
    • [Like] [Like] x 4
  17. Prone Squanderer

    Prone Squanderer A bit of a Sillius Soddus.

    Jan 3, 2016
    I'm sorry but where do you get this idea from? The Overseers' terminal is accessible when first escaping the Vault and there's no mention of the Enclave. When he mentions them they've already made their return, and the only reason they contact him is because Amata's changed the Vault access code somehow so it doesn't match Enclave records.

    I would have thought it would protect much better than a trench coat and a jumpsuit.

    Of course they care, that's why they bought the franchise.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  18. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    You can argue it's not a very good excuse and I'd probably agree with you. However, part of what makes me think Fallout 3 is a time when Bethesda actually cared was the fact they bothered to give Colonel Autumn an excuse for why he survived such an event.

    Troika's failure is one of the biggest tragedies of gaming, IMHO.

    While Bethesda has some shitty business policies, I generally think these kind of things are not shared with businesses during a purchase. You make a bid, someone else makes a bid, and whichever is higher is sold. Either that or one party says no and they go higher.

    This time around, you get to BUILD the new society in the world. Besides, we have Megaton and Rivet City as well as all the slavers selling to the Pitt.

    To be fair, Rivet City is a relatively recent development in the world (founded by the guy in the front of the battleship). We also know of at least one civilization (Rockopolis) which was destroyed.

    That it is.

    Well, it only effects the people in the control room.

    I stand corrected. I suppose his paranoid reaction is due to scouting reports instead. I think the writing for these terminals is much better than the ones in F4, btw.
  19. Jogre

    Jogre It's all JO'Ger now

    Oct 25, 2015
    You get to rebuild society about 120 years after society was rebuilding on its own.
    Yes new communities form, and some fall, but the point I'm making is that the politics of the wasteland are still exactly the same as they would have been from the moment the bombs fell. No permanent civilizations have arisen, no towns seem to be built for the long run, most people are still reliant on raiding to get by. It seems not even the slightest effort had been made towards rebuilding.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  20. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    I guess my point is that we keep circling around is that things aren't going to get better in the Capital Wasteland, they're going to get worse, which is why you, the protagonist, need to intervene. There's an assumption of optimism here which I don't think the Capital Wasteland really lends itself to. Fallout 1 was placed in a damaged and broken world but it wasn't the same level of irradiated lawless hell that the Capital Wasteland is.

    It's a different type of place than the other gmes, which is a good thing as too much was taken from 1 nd 2 to begin with, remake or not.