Analysis of Fallout 3
November 26, 2015
Fallout 3, just as with the previous installments, deals with a post apocalyptic waste after a nuclear Armageddon. This one takes place in Washington DC and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, known within game as the Capital Wasteland and its surrounding areas.
Though there are plenty of made up locations to explore, I do like the fact that you can visit real places (even if they have been blown to oblivion) and catch a glimpse of what life is/was like in that area.
Since I live in Virginia, this particular game was even more intriguing because I've been to some of these areas that you can visit in the game. In one of the DLC packs you can visit a location in Maryland. Even though I had not been there in real life, it inspired me to want to visit, and do a fact check so to speak on what the game got right and what it didn't.
It's also funny to think that they included the game studio within the ruins. It was close enough to their target area, so why not?
Alternate Time line:
When you work within an alternate time line, creators have a little more leeway on what they can consider history within the universe of the game. Since some technology had never come to be in the Fallout universe, it's interesting to ask why things work a certain way and how they were able to compensate and create a similar result using different materials and information than we do now. I can remember a long time ago working on an old IBM computer that resembles most of the computers in the series. What's most obvious is the lingering 50s and 60s vibe, which brings up the question on how tightly culture and technology are linked. If technology stagnates, can culture and lifestyle still advance? How did the people within this universe find ways to advance, and in what ways did they stay the same? Did the isolation of the vaults contribute to, say, the fact that music styles haven't advanced in 200 years?
This is my personal opinion, but I think the story was the weakest part of Fallout 3. It was pretty straight forward. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but integrating it with an, at times, heavy handed karma system didn't quite mesh. You live in the vault, your dad disappears, you go out to find him, and get set on this huge quest to finish his work. If you play a truly evil character it doesn't seem like you should want to finish your fathers work, and even if you do for selfish reasons, it really feels to me through the dialogue of the main characters that the developers really wanted you to be the good guy. It just feels a bit off.
Sometimes interesting, but a great deal of the time, not so much. There were a few times where I was presented with a dialogue choice and had to take a moment to figure out what the best choice was for the outcome I desired. A majority of the time, especially while following the main quest line, broke down the choices like so: really peppy nice guy, kind of a jerk, and complete creep. There are many times where I really didn't want to choose any of them.
This is not as common of an issue, but when you complete some side quests you can run into repetitive dialogue. If you have to say the same thing to different people, it's often literally the same thing, and you may even get copycat responses from the people you are dealing with. I understand these are just side quests and not especially important to the main game, but still, there is no better way to pull someone out of a game you carefully crafted and designed by having to read the same exact line over and over again.
The combat is pretty straight forward for first person shooters. What stands out for the Fallout series in total is the VATS system, where you can line up your shots based on the probability of making a hit. This can be helpful for you to get that critical head shot or shoot something out of the enemy's hand. What I don't like about this is how it puts your resulting shot in slow motion each and every time. The dramatic effect wears off pretty quickly, and you either don't notice it after a while or it starts to bother you. Hopefully the developers will keep this in mind for future installments.
Design and exploration have to be the key draws to this game for sure. Seeing new areas and how they were affected either by the war or by isolation or what have you is a part of the game world's story and vital to the series. Re-use of assets is unavoidable in a game of this scale, but when you start laying out places, in this game mostly the underground areas, similarly, it does start to take away the appeal of exploration. While I can understand to some degree the vaults having similar designs, it would be nice if areas like train stations or other underground structures had a bit more variety in them. Gray tunnels need to have more interest to them other than what holes are in the walls and what bodies you can loot.
Overall, Fallout 3, considered by many fans to be the best in the series, is a strong game with a vivid world and lots of history to uncover. I hope to see in future installments of the franchise more visual variety instead of just a lot of places to unlock on a map, and if they do decide to have a story surrounding a main character, that its a story that makes you want to care in some way. If they can't think of that story, maybe make the task of uncovering the history of the world the main focus, like in the first Dark Souls game.
-- Kitten Kagome