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Posted by MrBumble

French magazine CanardPC feature a five pages article on Fallout 3. What should have been a review is actually a preview (the real review will come once Fallout 3 is released in Europe) because, it seems, Omar Boulon has had quite a hard time playing the game in proper conditions. Here are some excerpts:

Critical Hit on our hopes...

The more time passes, the more I feel like this dog, barking and foaming at every car that happens to be passing by. I run after them, trying to bite their wheel rims, to crush their tires, their muffler, but I miss.They are going too fast, too far from me. And even if I succeeded ? What would happen anyway ? I bite a moving wheel, it stomps my face, I assault some scrap, it smashes my teeth. Some things are so lifeless, so sluggish that you can't possibly let off steam on them. Fallout 3, anyone ?
This article is not a test. Just an "introduction for things to come". Why? Because the conditions under which I had to play this "RPG" were not acceptable: sixteen hours in a row in a luxurious hotel on an almost finished build, Bethesda asking to see my screenshots in order to "approve" them...These factors, going from obnoxious to truly scandalous would have made my review biased or even dishonest. Well, I mean a little more dishonest than what I usually do. But have no fear, even though I was deprived of my screenshots, I'm not deprived from my opinion. Condolences: Fallout 3 is a sluggish device, soulless, not exactly terrible, actually almost enjoyable, but totally forgettable because of uncountable dishonest compromises.
From what I've seen, Fallout 3 does not have any of the qualities of the previous episodes. But that was to be expected. However, it has none of the diffuse magic of the Elder Scrolls series. It feels like Bethesda made a break with this new title, a sad bend towards products multiplying "fan service", the dumb, goofy stuff that will make the client laugh, the "awsum roxxorz" elements and micro-gameplay to the detriment of world coherence and deeper mechanisms. To sum it all up, expect loads of shallow combat spoiled by VATS and slowmotion sequences as gore as pathetic, a terribly short main quest - a Spanish colleague has finished it in less than an afternoon, during his first playthrough - nice secondary quests, but which completely missed the intelligence and density of the series, the whole being flavored with failed occasions.
With technical means a lot inferior, Fallout 1 and 2 managed to depict this world in all its rococo excess and misery in a formidable manner. But no, despite the dismantled bridges, the huge depth of field, the buildings trying their best not to fall down, it just does not work. By the way, when I came back to CanardPC and people asked me "How is Fallout 3?", honestly, all that I could say at first was "Brown". These ochre shades smash, make the most eccentric idea - let's say, why not, the Washington area transformed into a battlefield scarred by trenches - bland, commonplace, immediately boring. Even worse, where the atmosphere of decay should have been palpable, when you are walking in a city overflowed by skyscrapers ruins, disembowelled roads, peopled by half-savages, one can focus on but one thing: ruins placed strategically to prevent you from crossing the street because designers decided that you shouldn't take THIS path.
Most locations you can discover are "raider dungeons". City ruins are copy-paste of the same and only model, here and there flavored by the same and only model of tricycle (the very poetic "Red Ryder") and even worse, the main quest will get you through an Hellgate London-ish nightmare in which you had to pass through kilometers of underground for hours and hours.
How about random encounters ? Well, I have yet to see one. Caravans wander in between cities, you can meet on or two non-aggressive guys in the underground but nothing original at a random road crossing, nothing spectacular at all. Worse than this, Dogmeat is to be found in the exact same spot at the north east of the map while we were originally told that his location is random. However, depending on your karma, you will come across bounty-hunters. I know that this is a cool thing, but remember that you'll never be attacked during fast travels.
Even when you want to explore things and let alone the main quest for a while, it still tastes weird. Besides the cardboard sets, the feeling of emptiness suddenly goes away. Just like in Oblivion and Gothic 3, adventure awaits at every corner of the street. Literally, unfortunately. A two minute walk and you're there! A design decision which probably has everything to do with the average attention span of the console gamer.
The Sims 2 : Apocalypse

The second element that makes me think that Fallout 3 is condemned to mediocrity, as a Fallout episode but also as an RPG, is the total lack of coherence between all the elements of gameplay. Just an example. Pretty soon, you'll discover that the game has more to do with a doll's house than with roleplaying: you spend your time picking up clothes or armor parts that, *magic trick*, influence your skills. Pick up a surgeon overall, gain five Medicine points. Wear a camping suit, your agility is increased. All of a sudden, the building of a "role" - a specialized but unique and believable character, exactly what made the core of Black Isle's RPGs - is blown away. You just have to spend your caps on weapons, but even that is not necessary...For the rest, everybody who thinks for at least thirty seconds can make a multivalent character. One just needs the appropriate clothes, drugs to suddenly turn into a pyrotechnician, scientist, or burglar.
On the other hand, don't expect to be able to convince anybody that originally does not like you. NPC reactions are determined by your Karma and even a professional liar won't be able to convince someone who does not like him to become his partner. But have no fear: you can change your reputation just like you can switch clothes. You're too good to obtain what you wish? Steal, kill generic NPCs (those with no name) and here you are: the incarnation of evil! But don't worry: after three days, people forget about your deeds and you are forgiven.

Your karma is too low for a particular quest? Just kill bad guys and give water to hobos (it comes for free if you have your own house) and there you go: holier than saints. Where the first Fallout episodes where built around balancing your own desires and deciding what sacrifices you were ready to do in order to fulfil them, Bethesda sweeps this and allows you to switch styles at will. Nothing is important any more, everything becomes relative. Everything black. Everything white. No need for grey when redemption and condemnation are made so easy.
Secondary quests are a bit more original, from the fight between a woman who thinks she is Queen of the Ants and a "graduated robotologist", to a black and white remake of Desperate Housewives flavored with Happy Days. Certain situations could lead to absurd results, like becoming the official crash dummy for a Wasteland Survival Guide. Unfortunately, everything remains nice and unoffensive. It echoes the impossibility of killing children and the completely avoided sex scenes - pay a prostitute and she will go to bed and sleep, not offering any particular dialog choice or text, not even a black screen. Bethesda's hero is apparently no hero in the sack...
In certain cases, I even feel like the usage of VATS is indispensable. Example: while underground, I come face to face with two gatling turrets and some feral ghouls. I kill the ghouls with the FPS view and then, unable hit the defense system, after several death and increasing frustration, gave up and switched to VATS. With hit chances like 3 to 5%: no way I'm going to succeed. Still, two critical hits. Gatlings destroyed. But only if you aim the sensors: elsewhere it does not work. Honestly it feels as if enemies had weak points and if you shot them where the developer expected you to shoot, then stats suddenly become useless, immediately replaced by critical hits. There we go: Dragon's Lair.
VATS slow motion may be the worst crime against video gaming since the invention of the auto-aim and checkpoint based save system.
I don't know what the people of Bethesda had in mind... Maybe they feared that the game would be too short and imposed a twenty seconds on us at each targeted shot to extend the gameplay length, maybe they really desire that we notice their face modeling with independent eye globes, maybe they simply suffer from blaring bad taste, from a love for Brotherhood of Steel they want to share at any price?

Either way, this "feature" that retarded teenagers and moronic fans of "self-confident but still crappy" violence will love (and even then, not beyond the 10 first minutes), guarantees that you will avoid using the targeted shot system at any price. It sucks, it's ugly, it's not funny, it's long et absolutely useless.
Worst of all, there's no way to skip it or deactivate it in the options. You will be then forced to endure these scenes not even worthy of Soldier of Fortune 3.
Lambda players will probably enjoy it. But, us? Well, we still cannot swallow it, this mucky heresy. Sure, I could destroy it, dip it into a vat of hatred just to clean the insult. But it wouldn't make it better. It wouldn't bring Black Isle back. So if you don't mind, I'm going to stop here and have a drink at the café of broken dreams.

Ouch !

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