Intelligent Deconstruction Review of Fallout 3

Discussion in 'Fallout 3 Discussion' started by Gooscar, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. Gooscar

    Gooscar It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 28, 2008
    ** Forewarning - MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT **
    ** Forewarning - MASSIVE WALLS OF TEXT **

    I'm a fan of Fallout and I have an opinion. However, what I am going to attempt is an analysis/review of Fallout 3 without being partial to either side of the coin.

    I prepared myself for Fallout 3 by playing the older Fallout games. Played through Fallout 1, 2, and Tactics a few times, and even stomached a few hours playing the console abomination Brotherhood of Steel. I remember playing Oblivion long ago, but honestly other than remembering the intro and red oval gates I don't recall much of its gameplay. Bethesda claims it's a Fallout game as best as they could make it, so I prepared myself accordingly to judge it by its past incarnations more than its peers and code genetic relatives.

    The goal of this first week [took longer than a week -Ed] of playing was determining whether or not Fallout 3 was indeed a Fallout game, in the sense that it not only retained key features that made Fallout the memorable (and still fun to play) game it is, but also that the translation to a new developer and presentation medium didn't dilute the core feeling, story telling, and exploratory freedom I expect from a Fallout game.

    My no-compromise criteria for the new Fallout game was meeting or exceeding what I consider to be the hallmarks of the Fallout intellectual property: Moral ambiguity, dark humor, unique and iconic visuals, and ultra-violence. After that, I wanted to see Bethesda make effort to uphold deeper Fallout values within the IP: No BOS-esque careless abandonment from canon, a storyline that draws you in but does not strangle you, survivalist options, and a wide variety of ways to accomplish a single task both in intention and execution. To clarify, the list is not ordered singularly in priority, more like it must have all of Column A and it must contain elements of each or all of Column B. I wasn't expecting a game similar to Fallout 1/2/Tactics, but hell if I was going to lower my standards.

    Now to help you understand my slant, lemmie tell you what kind of Fallout fan I am. As much as I am a fan of the Fallout 1/2/Tactics games, I am a slightly bigger fan of the Fallout setting/lore. That is to say, I enjoy the factions, environment, and history of Fallout slightly more than the actual gameplay mechanics and RPG system. Best comparesion would be a Star Wars fan who enjoys the technical universe, canon, and lore more than professional interpretations of the Star Wars intellectual property. Products get me interested, but the depth of the intellectual property gets me hooked.

    When reviewing a media product release such as a video game, there are pretty much three factors you have to take into account: What is a production critique, what is an implementation critique, and what is a hindsight critique. Production critique is analyzing what the creators conscious intent was, such as art design, lore, story, and anything decided before "pen hits paper". Implementation critique is the (in the case of video games) analysis of gameplay mechanics, map design, structure, and overall translation of pre-production into the product itself. Hindsight critique is the reactive opinion of the delivery of the product, taking into account little or big things that perhaps the creators could not see but consumers can. Any blame will land squarely on the creators, but it's instead a gage of how much the creators are going to hell for based on the type of critique.

    With the preface out of the way, let's begin with my final summarized opinion of the product, which is Fallout 3 is the best fan-made Fallout FPS we could have hoped for. Interpret that as you may.

    The introduction is on par with prior Fallout games, save actual animation within the "slideshow". No real risk taken, it's safe, but it's part of the iconic visuals of the Fallout franchise. Once that's done, we come to the tutorial portion of the game, which in itself is a new interpretation and presentation of character creation that some RPGs have done, as opposed to PnP sheet stating up front. It's a story vehicle with avatar creation elements, plain and simple. Part of what strikes me in the first sequences is the absences of little touches that could have really emotionally tied you to characters introduced. For example, as a baby you're pretty much yanked out and put on a trolley left to squirm while Daddy dotes over you and Mom dies. I'm fairly disconnected from Mom's death, something that could have been solved by a simple camera and animation event to place me right next to Mom so I can briefly see her, hear her heart beat begin to stagger, and then be yanked away as Dad tries in vain to save her. Additionally, as a one year old, walking over to Daddy is nice, but I sure am fast as a baby. A simple head view wobble and slower speed could have completely sold me. The infant cries and baby "Dadda" coos were nice touches, but ultimately in hindsight using the "E" button for that little egg is ultimately secondary to intrinsic gamer WASD behavior.

    The birthday and GOAT do a better job of introducing gameplay elements than the Temple of Trials in Fallout 2, plus that what you do in the tutorial means more in the long run than just a simple "pathed sandbox time waster" later on. The zoom-in talking head mechanic isn't a terribly jarring one, it fits the the mold to keep gameplay within the same world, as opposed to a different screen for every action you take, much like lockpicking and hacking. Another hindsight complaint is not taking advantage of the Overseer's post "Ha-HA! Now I can kill you!" dialogue where if you hide your weapons and don't have any on you, he runs for the nearest weapon (most likely your container) to pick up a gun and try to kill you. I put a police baton inside the cell in the hopes of tricking him and locking him in the cell. Or even perhaps a tangent of you getting locked in that cell (and Amata busting you out later). Turns out that day you can't lock people in the cell, and the Overseer just chases you till you get to the vault door map. Just another alternative non-violent path overlooked. Tutorial behind us now, and the option to save the game before you hit the "Make Any Changes Now" checkpoint to skip the tutorial in later replays, we hit the road.

    Megaton: One of the most toted good/evil landmarks of game from marketing hype. It's a production decision of putting one of the largest choice/consequence elements in the beginning, as opposed to traditional smaller more benign offerings to start with. It's not a bad idea conceptually to introduce that decision, the real fault is what rides on that decision, and how soon the element can be resolved. Defusing the bomb or arming the bomb can be pretty much solved immediately upon entering Megaton, and the caveat to the event is basically either one of two places where you'll have a safe place to stash your loot. I wouldn't advocate simple/complex buffer material such as gaining town trust and whatnot to lock off resolution, but the established release pacing of this event is jarring. Nothing stands out in my mind as to a "correct" way to do this other than upping the skill requirements to defuse/arm the bomb. If anything this event should act more as a supplement to your character's behavior rather than one of the more defining aspects of your exploits outside of the main quest. Hell even Dad calls you on it, and while yes it was a big event, it seemed so long ago that I felt I had done better things with my time than just be judged on that one event.

    Outside of Megaton (or any major "town" for that matter) is where the spirit of Fallout lies. The DC-Metro area is beautifully and breath-takingly realized, from the languished suburban outskirts to the interior urban devastation. It's a simple production premise: take the square area of what would be about nine squares around a town location approximate to Fallout 1/2/Tactic's maps, and exfoliate. The translation of Metro stations into "dungeons" works, an enclosed town/village feels somewhat same unless you start poking sore spots and evil buttons, you could use local land marks to navigate, pretty much every place I set my foot down in feels different from another place. Compared to current contemporaries in the game market, using the various shades of brown and grey no less, this is an impressive feat. Vaults look and feel like vaults, the destroyed housing looked like war had ravished them, and Capitol Hill certainly looked the part of a post-apocalyptic world (though I would smack whoever was in charge of Chinese/Russian nuke targeting, I wanted to see a dustbowl crater in the Mall).

    Course, wandering around outside in a Fallout setting begs for some mutated monstrosity to try and murderize your Vault pure genetics. Again I have to give the art production team some kudos for translating a lot of Fallout's "staple" critters into the 3D world, and injecting some of their own creations equally as well. The Deathclaws are what they should be, the Super Mutants made the transition with good results, Feral Ghouls still give me a spook from time to time, and the Mirelurks (the crab forms, I have issue with that creature from the black lagoon, bad BethSoft) look like a crab fisherman's nightmare. Fallout 3 deviates from the prior titles in that most critters do not want you to escape, and are proactive about it, where as in previous titles you could get to the edge of the map and forget the whole thing happened. I can honestly welcome that kind of behavior, because it's a good thing that the game can stand up for itself and call bullshit on the player's shenanigans if you're poking the bear so to speak, and requires more pacifistic players to take into account timing and a certain amount of luck.

    However, I do have a complaint, and that is it seems too much was brought over from Fallout 1/2. Radscorpions in DC, or molerats for that matter? The Yogi Bears and Crabs were nice local flavors, but it felt like BethSoft wanted to make us feel right at home to a fault. Where are the mutated deer that try to run into the grill of my car late at night, or giant rabbits that keep eating my blueberry bushes when I try to grow'em. Additionally, I can understand the need to make the Raiders look like "free to kill" target practice, and I subscribe to the "people are goofy" school of deviant behavior, but seriously: Why does it seem every goddamn raider huddlehole look like it was decorated by Leatherface? Yes we killed Raiders all the time in Fallout 1/2/Tactics because they'd shoot first, but I'm sure not every Raider likes to turn their living space into a macabre art exhibit. That was a poor design choice in my opinion.

    Not everything in the Wasteland that has a heartbeat wants to instinctively kill you the minute they see your denim Vault jumpsuit, some take the right amount of (anti)social encouragement, and we are of course talking about the NPCs. Design-wise I like the look of them, they have a nice worn look to them both in their apparel and modeling. Beyond that, there are either glaring issues or nothing to make up for them. The Radiant AI makes another appearance, but in the long run is sometimes indistinguishable from standard hard scripted events in regards to "daily life" cycles. The facial animations, while not horrible, convey the same amount of empathy as a stop-motion Mr. Potato Head. The arm animations when NPCs talk, as well as the FPP weapons shoot/reload animations are nicely done, but the walk/run cycles are pretty stiff. BethSoft doesn't deliver roses on the animation front, and while it doesn't seem like a terrible thing to provide just enough, judged against past and present products the difference is becoming more noticable and less acceptable. Five years ago these animations would have been welcome, but in this day and age they're behind the curve. They really need to reevaluate their character animation branch before developing their next title.

    Interaction with these NPCs typically take place in dialogue, and therein lies one of BethSoft's big hiccups. As a product on its own, the quality of the writing is adequate, and there are places where the dialogue is great, but in between those moments is a sea of bland, easily forgettable interactions. There is a lot of dialogue towards you between characters that is redundant, and topic choices with unique characters feels like I'm just trying to hear everything a person has to say much like Mass Effect did, rather than while being a NPC exsisting for a purpose he/she does has a life of its own. Conversely, the audio notes and terminal entries are VERY well done and perform their function so well I went out of my way to find as many of them as I could, and looked forward to each gem more than talking to any NPC. The Vault 92 entries/holotapes in particular stand out in my mind. I am not going to say the dialogue writing was dumbed down for console releases, but I will say BethSoft missed the mark by a fair margin when it comes to engaging dialogue. They feel more like a question and answer session than a conversation between two people.

    But I'm going off on a tangent, this is an RPG, right? Technically, it is an RPG, but only in the comparative sense that current Zelda games are RPGs. In fact, it feels more like a JRPG than a western RPG, because the RPG system in Fallout 3 allows players to typically come to the same end no matter the path taken, with no "fork-in-the-road" consequence for neglecting certain elements. The SPECIAL system BethSoft converted for Fallout 3 pretty much allows players to specialize in skills they want to, and be a jack of all trades with the other skills, barring the occasional "You must be this tall to ride" skill checks for lockpicking/traps/hacking. The game is simply heaving with stat/attribute boosting items, and you can literally improve all your skills by 60 points in this 100 point max system with books/bobbleheads if you explore enough, not taking into account other skill modifying items and attributes. The altered perks system doesn't feel like I'm missing something by choosing one over the other no matter the playstyle I'm currently doing. While it's nice to see skills play a part in dialogue options more than previous Fallout games, the overall jist I feel from the system seems that BethSoft wanted to make a "safe" RPG: A RPG where every player can have the same enjoyable experience others can without feeling like they're missing out on something someone else would do. While this may work for a separate game on its own merits, it is not RPG system that reflects the strength of the Fallout series, and it castrates its heritage in this regard.

    Speaking of interpretations of Fallout gameplay elements, we turn our attention to BethSoft's answer for turn-based combat in a FPS setting: VATS, as it was a major advertised feature, so it will receive an equal amount of attention. VATS is fun, plain and simple, especially coupled with Bloody Mess and Mysterious Stranger, and it seems its development was centered around those two perks. Design and implementation of VATS, from Action Points, body part targeting percentage based on the actual realtime position of the critter, to the slow motion radical camera angles, was done exceedingly well and surprised me as to what could be done in a Gamebryo engine product. While these are nice things, VATS and the combat system it exsists in take a lot out of the tactical elements of combat, especially later in the game when your two options in VATS boil down to either disarm, "disarm", or kill. While it is a slight suspense of disbelief that shooting off a limb will instantly kill a critter, we are admittedly far off from a FPS game system where incapacitating a critter allows more options as to what to do with them, although the Sierra SWAT games did have this element to an extent at a primitive level. We as gamers have been trained to kill things and kill them until they are dead, but someday we'll have the added moral choices of disabling someone and leaving them to die, or injuring them just to scare them off. But that's a topic of discussion for another time.

    Which leads us to our last point before returning from exploring everything but the main quest, the Karma system. What BethSoft has engineered is a fairly black and white good/bad system that doesn't allow a lot of grey interpretation, except if you're consciously trying to cut back on the amount of one side you have. Self interpretation of justifying acts of vengence or preservation aren't available because the game does have a certain predetermined color-by-numbers application of who/what is "good" and who is "bad". I can understand that stealing in universally considered "evil" and should call players on their actions as such, no matter if you were seen or not, because that's how Karma is supposed to work: the omniscient eye of God calling a spade a spade. However, there are hiccups in this black and white system. While I'm not saying you should be able to kill Agatha in cold blood and then think you did the "right thing", but an example that stand out in my mind is the Tenpenny Tower quest where you either help the purist humans, the purist ghouls, or decide to mediate a coexsistence between the two. Later on if you chose the coexsistence option, the ghouls simply kill every smoothskin off. I don't mind the fact they do that, but what irks me is that you cannot come back as angry Jesus and make them pay for their sins, because according to the Karma system they're still "good", thus you'll get negative karma for punishing their treachery. Without going into a long theological discussion of what constitutes a good or evil act, this is a bad oversight by BethSoft wanting nearly every moral decision to have a karmatic consequence as good or evil.

    Now that we've explored most of the interesting parts of the game, we return to the main story, the reason why you've been forced out of the Vault. Considering RPG games of the past are just as guilty of threading their storyline across multiple new locations in the world they exsist in, it is somewhat nice to see that some previously established locations in Fallout 3 are reused as opposed to abandoned in favor of a "NEW!" place, however it does have its share of temporary "NEW!" locations which don't have anything to offer but plot chapter exposition (like Raven Rock for example). The DC Metro area itself is fairly rife with isolated communities that by and large you don't have much of an effect on if you do things right, and fairly obvious if you just kill'em all. While I like the idea that not every action and decision you make will have epic and long lasting ramifications at the epilogue, mainly because Fallout 3 is the equivalent of one town in Fallout 1/2/Tactics as stated above and there is a concurrent version of the results via Three Dog's radio announcements of your actions, it feels like the amount of isolation between communities is almost superficially designed with no wiggle room. With the amount of publicity Three Dog gives you, you'd think someone outside of Megaton might recognize you, or know of something you did.

    The main story itself strikes me as more of your Father's story, rather than your story. This itself is not a bad idea, in fact a good one, but the lack of depth and buildup between you and your Father, as well as a lack of tales of his accomplishments outside his Project Purity failure leads that element to be rather shallow. Liam Neelson does all he can to make the player connected to Dad, and it works solely because of his voice acting work, but the amount of screen time he gets after the Vault and his subsequent death cuts him off in a emotionally detached way far more than his inital abandoning you in the Vault. While I understand the intent to allow evil characters to differentiate themselves from the Save-the-World Dad, time and distance does not do that, interaction and reflection does (this writer knows that despite the effort he's gone to distance himself from his father, he knows he is more like his father than sometimes he cares to admit).

    Along the path through the main quest, there are support characters to assist or resist your progression. Some are distinct and rememberable, however many are easily forgettable and bothersome for a variety of reasons. It doesn't have to do with the sheer amount of voice-acted characters in comparison to past Fallout titles, but rather most are presented in such a shallow manner and exsist for primarily a single purpose. NPCs like Three Dog, Agatha, President Eden, Moira, Father, and Scribe Rothchild are characters I will remember beyond the day I stop playing Fallout 3 because while they are a part of my travels, they are designed in such a way that I intrinsically know that short of murdering them they will continue their lives without the need of my presence and interaction to validate their exsistence. However, characters like Ian West, Lucas Simms, Sarah Lyons, Vance, Burke, Colonel Autumn, and Pinkerton are characters that honestly cease to exsist when I don't see them, and even when I do are more akin to a familiar looking car in a traffic jam on the highway. Some possibly forgotten characters do have their moments, such as Doctor Li's exasperated shouting at Lyons through the intercom after things go bad at the Jefferson Memorial, Officer Gomez's reflection of your father if you revisited Vault 101 after Dad died, and Sydney's inital response to hearing her deceased father's apology for abandoning her. These examples are however more credited to the voice performance than the writing, but you can't have one aspect without the other.

    Harold's guest appearance I believe was well done, but the follow through felt somewhat hallow after doing what he asked and receiving thanks via proxy. A muffled mortal and relieved "Thank you" echoing through the caves would have done more for me than hearing the resolution from the crotchety head gardener of Oasis. Also, I don't care who you are, but considering the advertisement and build up over the course of the game, the fate of President Eden was a massive letdown for me, to the point I can fume about it later if I think too much. Malcolm Motherfucking McDowell, the Admiral Tolywen I grew up loving to hate, deserves a better death than three dialogue sentences within the span of a minute, he died a more dignified death in the HBO soft porn movie Poison Ivy. I don't mind the fact he was a computer all along, but considering he was one of the better developed characters in Fallout 3, a certain amount of extended interaction beyond his only request of you that feels just as superficial as Burke asking you to blow up Megaton would have made the sequence far better than the wonky head scratching disappointment it currently is. That right there is outright and blatant poor writing and design.

    Unfortunately, the execution of the End Game leaves just as much to be desired. It is evident that BethSoft took a cue from Valve's Half-Life style of storytelling and injected it into Fallout 3. That is not terrible design choice when it is done right, like for example seeing the Enclave invasion of the Jefferson Memorial from the window of a broken pipe. However, the railroaded sequence of Liberty Prime's march to the monument does feel like it's an extended version of the Dog vs. Strider scripted segment from Half-Life 2 where you can hold the "W" key to no fault, and the game was in such a hurry to show it off that it abandoned the RPG aspect of being able to reach a similar conclusion by different methods. The game really rushes to finish itself once you escape from Raven Rock, and despite the the 60+ hours I put into it, Fallout 3 resolves itself in under 20 minutes from deployment from the Citadel to the purification chamber decision. The self-sacrificing decision isn't without symbolism if that's of any comfort, the statue Thomas Jefferson, the father of our country the good ol' USA, looking upon you with pride and dignity at your sacrifice while you quickly melt into a glowing pool of irradiated goo, just as your real father would. That moment would have been a nice place to put in a hallucination of Dad telling you himself he's proud of you as you both lay side by side on the ground, or perhaps a surreal death induced reuniting with your father and at long last your mother in the world they hoped to restore for a narrative full circle, if only to draw out the death and maybe give a better sense of satisfaction. Sadly, the game ends adruptly with almost no warning, and the epilogue slideshow speaks only of your main quest exploits, and shows little more.

    But endings are just you finishing the game, and all games technically have to come to an end, and the reason we keep playing the games is because there's so much we can do before we reach the end again. The RPG elements of past Fallout games illustrated this best, hence why it is such a beloved property and still played and compared to even today. Fallout 3, on the otherhand, falls short of this ability with the way the game caters to a casual gaming audience. The extent of what BethSoft encourages you to replay their game is to find every nook and cranny of the world to see what they stashed there for either a chuckle or a "oh that's neat" reaction, and to play as the opposite karma alignment you previously played. Beyond that, because the RPG mechanics do not force you to adopt a playstyle in order to simply survive, but rather intentionally provides crutches and training wheels to keep you from feeling like the game punishes you in some way for making a detrimental character design choice, this game holds about the same replay value as a game like Mass Effect or Bioshock. It almost feels like Oblivion had more replayability than Fallout 3. DLC is promised, but the best advantage BethSoft has in this area is the truly MASSIVE amount of third party generated content and modifications from the community. To this end the computer release of the game will enjoy extend shelf life and playtime further into the future than on its own merits.

    As we start to wind down now, I echo my conclusion I stated earlier that Fallout 3 is the best fan-made Fallout FPS we could have hoped for. The love BethSoft had of the Fallout property is very apparent, between the posted Developer Diaries to the interviews to the aspects of the product itself, and part of me feels genuinely sorry for BethSoft for missing the mark on what was the one RPG within the last few years I was genuinely looking forward to. It tries so hard to be accepted, but in reality it is not what I expected and I can't help but tell it to go away in the nicest way I can muster. I look at the Todd Howard quote about games needing innovation to remain fresh. "I saw Richard Garriott reinvent [the Ultima series] each time, from the interface to the combat to everything else. If any game is going to have the same impact it had years before, it must use new ways of doing it, because time changes not just the technology, but most importantly, the person viewing it." Part of me knows he's right, but the rest knows that not all change is improvement. Ultima-tly (*snerk*), Garriot's various incarnations of his legacy game series proved to be sucesses because despite all that changed he did not deviate from the one core thing that made his games special: The RPG itself.

    As a Fallout fan judging it's entrance into the heavenly gates, it earns its pass, but barely. Dark humor, unique and iconic visuals, and ultra-violence are there, but it mucks up moral ambiguity. Canon is treated with a great amount of respect and expanded within the limits of the original vision (which is surprising considering it's a different developer and publisher), and the open world exploration does feel like you're exercising survivalist options, but the roleplay elements do not vary much and arrive at only one of two possible outcomes, and the storyline strangles you in the end. As for the sequel "3" title, for every one time I give it to Fallout 3, it does two things that make me take the "3" back. Thus is falls to the same level everyone views Fallout: Tactics with: At worst a spinoff, at best a supplement. Even now as I look between the different Vault Boy icons of Fallout 1/2/3/Tactics on my desktop, I find myself slowly moving the cursor away from Fallout 3, and onto Tactics. Between Fallout 1/2/Tactics, I would again move my cursor to Tactics, but that's because I'm a weird Fallout fan and feel other than the Fallout canon muck ups Tactics is an improvement over the first two, and would have surpassed them if the plot was less linear.

    In conclusion, if I was forced to give this game a grade, it would be three-fold. As a current release it's a 5/5, as a game it's a 4/5. and as a RPG its a 3/5. A great product, decent game, and a mediocre RPG.
  2. Creosteanu

    Creosteanu First time out of the vault

    Nov 14, 2008
    Just one word: Impressive.
    You've voiced many of my issues in a much more civilized manner. :)
  3. Crowley

    Crowley It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Dec 12, 2003
    Considering the weight you put on lore, I am rather surprised you did not address one of the things I personally find a big problem in the writing of Fallout 3: That the basic plot is a rather unimaginative (a subjective term, I admit) of the storylines of earlier games. Especially, as another member here put it, Enclave is back like a cartoon villain with another plan to do the exact same thing, namely wipe out the mutated population with FEV. Even beyond that, a lot of the content of Fallout 3 seems like rehashed plots and factions from the earlier installments.

    No offense intended towards you with anything in this post, but I just don't understand this point. A game gets a higher score just because other recent games are that much worse? Apart from graphics, which are the one aspect that changes most with time, why not judge games by criteria which remains constant throughout the years? Can someone please explain this to me?
  4. Jidai Geki

    Jidai Geki It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Sep 13, 2007
    A very well-written, thoughtful review of Fallout from the perspective of a Fallout gamer, rather than a review. I agree with a good deal of what you said, and to add a few thoughts:

    Little Lamplighter: this has been mentioned elsewhere on the boards but why, dear God, why put a town of obnoxious, irritating kids in a game where children are unkillable? You can just about overlook the compromise that is making children unkillable during the rest of the game (although Todd Howard's misguided, moralistic "why would you want to kill kids?" comment still rankles), but when it's shoved in your face so blatantly you have to wonder what the hell Bethsoft was thinking. You've got the mayor toting an assault rifle and threatening to "blow your fucking head off" and 'Princess' speaking to you as if she found you on the bottom of her shoe. It doesn't get more immersion-breaking, especially if you've been playing an evil wastelander-enslaving town-destroying sociopath who would kill these kids in a heartbeat for the way that they're speaking to him/her. I shot at Princess for the hell of it and she ran off screaming whilst I got to kill a load of dogs.

    It pisses me off no end that such compromises have to be made to compensate the "Doom did Columbine" moral majority.

    You echoed exactly something I found myself thinking throughout encounters with the Raiders, in that rather them being reasonably evil thiefs, rapists and murderers, they were completely unhinged psychopaths who chose to decorate their digs with dismembered torture victims. Very incongruous- we know raiders are bad, Bethesda, you don't need to rub it in our noses every five seconds. And why the hell do they have to be uniformly bad? Why can't I talk to any of them?

    I can buy feral ghouls- it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that some ghouls would lose it and go crazy. I'm not sure why they're so abundant compared to normal ghouls, however, and it has led to some massive misconceptions about ghouls amongst some fucktard first-time players who bought the whole tongue-in-cheek in-game bigotry against ghouls a little bit too seriously and now view ghouls as 'zombies'. One guy on the Gamespot forums was hypothesising that you might be able to become a ghoul in the game by eating corpses, because "that's what ghouls do". Made my blood boil. Bethesda missed the mark with Fallout's dark irony- ghouls look like monsters but they're not- and just went ahead and made most ghouls zombies.

    Another thing about the feral ghouls is one of several balance issues, namely (spoiler follows, still can't figure out these spoiler tags) the ghoul mask given to you by whatshisname Phillips. This item makes it far too easy to navigate areas frequented by feral ghouls, since apparently a rubber mask means you look and smell exactly like one of them.

    Another balance issue- the dart gun. Deathclaws were scary and powerful before I constructed that little gem. Afterwards, they were very large paraplegics who could be picked off at my leisure with a hunting rifle.

    The morality of the game was very black and white, as pointed out, and it wasn't faithful to the legacy of the franchise. If I (spoiler follows) kill Harold, the Treeminders should be pissed off with me and I should be forced to kill them too.

    I played as a neutral karma character. Maintaining neutral karma was as easy as killing some innocent wastelanders if I got too good, or donating to the Church of the Atom if I got too evil. Too tractable by far.

    There's no real weight to your actions if they are so easily reversed. With the exception of Megaton, I didn't feel as if my actions had much of a lasting impact on the people of the wastes. If your actions are inhibited, such as with the aforementioned child-killing issue, then there is even less of an impact.

    There was a great deal I loved about the game too. VATS was awesome fun; I know a lot of people got tired of the slow-mo effect, but I loved it (as well as the fact that it gave me the only decent opportunity to see what my character looked like from the front). My only complaint about it was that there was no real incentive to go for anything other than a headshot, especially once I got the sniper perk.

    In terms of canon, I thought the game did a decent job (with the exception of the AWFULLY handled Enclave). The BoS's presence was explained to my satisfaction and they were well away from the gung-ho US troops parody I had heard about and was expecting. The vaults were well handled and FO's dark juxtaposition of cheery 50's optimism and devil-may-care attitude towards nuclear power with the stark reality of the wastes was reinforced with the plethora of robots and posters, and expanded upon with nuclear cars (which I personally feel make PERFECT sense canonically).

    Back to the Enclave: pointlessly thrown in towards the end of the main quest's second act, with virtually no explanation as to why they are in DC and why they're trying their fucking crazy 'cleansing the wastes' routine again (stupid rehash of FO2's storyline, as many have said). I didn't care who Autumn was or why he was in my way at the end, since he got all of two minute's screen time. Eden was built up nicely via Enclave's radio station, but meeting him was a major let-down (again, as many have said). I didn't try to convice him the first time, I'll try going that route this time.

    The main storyline was easily the weakest aspect of the game. I found it far less engaging than any one of the side-quests- your father abandoning his life's work so easily seemed completely out of character, the whole thing was far too short and easily accomplished, and it lacked the feeling of finding your own way that featured in FO's 1 and 2.

    The ending flat-out SUCKED. No individual panels for the different places and how I had affected them, just some briefly shown pictures of different people and places and a generic comment by Ron Pearlman. No other choices aside from sacrificing yourself or Lyons. Incredibly abrupt- I was astounded that the game was actually finished. A 'final boss' who was about as threatening as your average mole rat. A massive robot who pretty much carved a path straight through for me and gave me nothing to do all the way to the Jefferson memorial.

    In brief; I loved the game (I realise that I haven't elaborated much on why here, but this post is already way too long) but it ultimately does a disservice to the franchise with its lacklustre, trite main storyline. It's worth ignoring the main quest altogether and simply sticking to terrorising/saving the wastes.
  5. Gooscar

    Gooscar It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 28, 2008
    Fair questions, I wasn't clear on those specific plot elements looking back on what I wrote.

    Looking at the Fallout series as an intellectual property inventory, aspects such as the Brotherhood of Steel, Super Mutants, and the Enclave are just as much a part of the Fallout series as Vaults and the SPECIAL system. While I would have preferred a greater deviation from those elements, I understand from a design prespective the need to include and reintroduce these elements in Fallout 3, and it's a design choice where if I were in the position to make the call, more often than not I myself would include those elements. I can certainly echo my earlier sentiments about the production team wanting to make us feel comfortable and at home in the Fallout universe to a fault. Things like Radscorps and Molerats I can more easily rag on because they're not major set pieces and characters in the universe by and large, but the BoS, Super Mutants, and Enclave inclusion arguements weigh each other out [and err on the side of "have but not need" for comfort's sake. -Ed].

    I reiterate that Fallout 3 is a fan-made game, with all its faults and charm as a completely different presentation, and like any fan production of a major intellectual property there is going to be fan service to one or many major aspects of that property's key inventory items. To compare, what's a Star Wars game without Jedi and Stormtroopers, or a Wing Commander game without ConFed and Kilrathi? Popular properties that abandon one or more aspects that made them identifiable to begin with run the risk of alienating not only new viewers but fans of the franchise, for example the Indiana Jones movies that do not have any Nazis in them. Yes it is unfortunate that the greater expanse of the Fallout universe is left untapped to create new elements, but Fallout does this to itself simply by exsisting in the first place. This is the reason why in my opinion it's not something I can gripe about. Design and implementation are different matters.

    That being said, yes I will agree that the Fallout 3 incarnation of the Enclave is as you said cartoonish and superficial. That is mostly a fault on the writing and implementation aspect of Fallout 3. However the exsistance of the Enclave itself ingame is a point I can't contend.

    As far as the scoring bit, I guess you could reword the reasons for the scores as intent, delivery, and substance. Fallout 3 feels like this season's Mass Effect, and I'd score Mass Effect just the same honestly. In hindsight since finishing Mass Effect the first time I have yet to play it again. It was a good game that was the best of its class that season, however I don't feel any need to play it after the first time, but that doesn't mean I loathe the investment I made buying it, it was simply a pleasant fling that had to end sooner or later. And I suspect the only reason I'll play Fallout 3 again is if the DLC and mod community comes up with something that makes me want to play again.

    I guess that alone is a clearer picture of my opinion of Fallout 3. It was a good time while it lasted, but now that its over, I have more desire to play Fallout 1/2/Tactics than to play Fallout 3, because the originals are better RPGs, have more substance, and are just as good if not mostly better than Fallout 3.

    Plus I'm not a professional critic, I'm a writer, and writers rarely come to a clear and comforting conclusion on just about anything. As for why critics tend to change their criteria over the course of years, critics follow trends, plain and simple. Trends follow the market at large. Whether this is a good thing or not is probbably a topic for a separate discussion.

    As for the Raider decoration point, I have to credit Sander for pointing that out in a discussion and by golly being right about it.
  6. ceacar99

    ceacar99 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 11, 2008
    a lot of the main issues can be sumerised in the horold-bob tree mutant goul thing quest. first, they made harold into a slow sounding simpleton, where the old harold was smart enough to keep a bunch of idiots running but not blowing up a nuclear power plant. he sounded like a fun old coot, now i understand being rooted for decades can make anyone sound depressed but please... and thats a good example of what fallout 3 did to the stuff in the previous games. they took a lot of the things that were worked out and made sense and fucked em up. like the raiders mentioned so many times here, now they are not even mad max over the top, they are super sadist assholes who will fuck the bullet holes in your body once your dead and then decorate thier christmas tree with your entrails. where in the previous two games you do actually get up close and personal with the raiders and they are just people who believe in doing what they have to in order to survive and more importantly to them, get what they want.

    so ya, harold quest again. there are three options here. kill harold and bring mercy to his poor soul, speed up the bob-harold tree growth, or stunt it. this was an INCREDIBLE UNPRECIDENTED chance for character development outside the main plot line. if you really think about it NO option is really evil(save lighting harold on fire..... heh heh heh....). no option is really good either in all areas. so it really should be a net zero right? i mean you kill harold and you give him mercy of living for possibly centuries in that state. when you arrive the only beacon of happiness in his life is a little girl who just likes listening to him and being with him. if you slow his growth you protect the grove at the cost of harold, but you give those people something to live for. if you speed his growth(my choice) you have the opertunity to see to it that the wastland ceases to exist and true nature again spreads everywhere, again at the cost of harold. i chose the final option believing that the bob harold tree's "glory" was a nice compliment to the purifier. everyone would have good water, and eventually everyone would have trees for shade, fruit to eat and animals to admire. the fact that harold would be largely unhappy for centuries i thought was an acceptable cost. but nope, instead of making that an incredible event like it should have, the devs just sort of had a "here is your reward, now go on your way" event after the quest no matter the option(well.... i never burned him.... lets try that :P). more dissapointing still you dont get any inkling of any results in the end game credits. fo1 and fo2 had scope in the end when it lays out exactly how much you influenced the world. did the den become the slaver center of the wastes or didnt it? you made the difference, but aparently no difference was made in fo3.... even though i personally saw to it that the bob-harold tree's glory would spread across the land, but nope... no mention of that....
  7. Ausdoerrt

    Ausdoerrt I should set a custom tit

    Oct 28, 2008
    Hmm, it's an interesting idea to rate FOO as a fan-made game, but I'm not sure it is really fair to other games to forget how much money was wasted on the game.
  8. Tage

    Tage First time out of the vault

    Jan 30, 2004
    Calling it a fan-made game is an interesting conceit but it is ultimately inaccurate.

    First, it's not fair to assume fan made games are necessarily worse than what they're based on. Second, there's a difference between fan service and fan-made. Fallout 3 is a caricature of a Fallout game, just like James Whale's 1931 Frankenstein movie was a caricature of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
  9. Public

    Public Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    May 18, 2006
    In short, Bethesda dressed Vault Boy in a fancy, girl's clothes.
  10. Josan12

    Josan12 Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 15, 2007
    Lol :clap:
  11. Commiered

    Commiered It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 17, 2008
    ceacar99 gets it correct. The fact that no decision you make save for the final one has any real impact on the world is probably for me the biggest flaw of all.

    Ok, so it sucks as a Fallout game, I hate how they tried to curry favour with old fans by illogically having Harold show up in DC and then destroying this character, BUT at least they could have made your actions throughout the game MEAN SOMETHING!

    But no, destroy Megaton or save it, who cares? Help the Android, turn him in, who cares? Why become a helper of the 'railroad'(an idiotic group, I mean who'd give a fuck about androids in such a place) if it leads to nothing?

    Fuck you Bethesda, and fuck you doubly for taking characters from the originals and fucking them up beyond recognition. At least they could have left the originals alone instead of corrupting them in their own shit.

    The only mercy is that they left the West Coast alone(for now) so maybe in the future when Bethesda is dead and Boyarsky is sitting on a pile of cash from Diablo 3, he can retake the rights and make a real sequel. Fallout was the beginning for these guys, wonder how they feel with it being murdered like this.
  12. Gandar

    Gandar First time out of the vault

    Nov 17, 2008
    LOL! I think we need someone to draw a Pic of that :wink:
  13. Public

    Public Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    May 18, 2006
    Dude, all of the "pro" called reviews out there are made by Oblivion lovers! And you can't just ignore that this isn't called "Fallout 3".

    And anyway, most of those called "jurnalists" out there are calling Bioshock one of the best RPG ever, and never played Fallout series!
  14. Gandar

    Gandar First time out of the vault

    Nov 17, 2008
    Considering that media tends to be:

    A) Driven by profit

    B) Biased

    C) For sale to the highest bidder

    You can quickly understand how / why Beth gets such good reviews for its games. "Journalists" always need to be taken with a grain of salt. If you see a terrible review or a really good review for any product, I'm sure someone paid for it.

    Its not paranoia. Its American Capitalism at its best.

    I'm not saying Capitalism is bad. I am saying that unfettered it leads to biased media, corrupt politics and corporations that rape the economy.

    Not trying to be political though. This is not really the place for that ;) Just trying to explain the "good reviews" of FO3.
  15. Public

    Public Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    May 18, 2006
  16. Gooscar

    Gooscar It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 28, 2008
    And I wouldn't consider my review a "good review" of Fallout 3.
  17. Gandar

    Gandar First time out of the vault

    Nov 17, 2008
    You actually trashed their bad RPG writing for what it is. "Real Reviewers" wouldn't do that
  18. k9wazere

    k9wazere It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 20, 2008
    I'll just leave this here :(
  19. TheLastOutlaw

    TheLastOutlaw It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 1, 2008
    Even before I played the game I couldn't wrap my head around the OXM 10. They even mentioned some of the flaws in the review they gave. How can you give a 10, a score meaning perfection, to an admittedly flawed product? Unless some flaws can be overlooked if you're getting a big enough paycheck from someone?

    I've completely lost the (very) little amount of faith I had left in reviewers.
  20. Lunawolf242a

    Lunawolf242a First time out of the vault

    Nov 14, 2008
    All right, a Wing Commander fan at last! Been over a decade since I ever met one. Now to get back subject.

    I agree with you that Fallout 3 does not do the series justice. I mean I remember in Fallout your character actually had to convince the Master that his vision for humanity was flawed. But in Fallout 3 they do not even do justice for President Eden. I mean from the radio Eden sound like a man who you would have trouble to convince him to change in his views. But no they had to shit all over on Malcolm McDowell. Instead they just have him accept that that he is a computer.

    Also I personally think they just leaves the player without any important info from Fallout 1-2. I mean beside the reason the Brotherhood came to DC for search of tech. They never specify why did the Brotherhood had to send the best of their warriors to an place that speaks of "There be monsters". They never give the player an inference why did the Brotherhood sent their men there. Was it because of war with the NCR, was it because of the rements of the Master Army invade the Lost Hills, was it because of an split in their ranks like with the Midwestern Brotherhood.

    I love Fallout 3 but it leaves me with something more desired. I personally think they should have simply based the plot of Van Buren which had actually had a Fallout feeling. If they ever release and SDK I think that NMA should make a Van Buren mod for Fallout 3.