What made it so different? Well, first off the game was developed by Bethesda Game Studios who had purchased the rights to make Fallout 3 in 2004 before they bought the rights to the entire franchise in 2006.
The Bethesda staff decided to use the same engine for the game as they used for Oblivion, the Gamebryo Engine so it shares the general structure of how the game play, though to say the game is just “Oblivion with guns” is an oversimplification.
But how does the game hold up?
The story in Fallout 3 starts already when you are a baby and you grow up in Vault 101. While I do not intend to get into too many spoilers there is one little problem I have seen people complain about related to this: It doesn’t give you a vague background you can make for yourself.
Some people will now probably think “Why is that important?” and I will try to explain just that. One of the things Bethesda is known for is their open games, and Fallout 3 is no different here, but from my interactions with the more “Roleplay” heavy communities that have played the game(especially some fans of the Elder Scrolls games) feel that the set backstory for the character limits their roleplaying experience. Now, I am not going to be using this against the game, but it is something to take note of if you are a heavy roleplayer and are used to making your own backstories in the Elder Scrolls franchise.
As for the story itself it is set in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. who never really got over the fifties before the Great War came, and it is in this Wasteland you have to track down your father and find out what he is up to after all these years.
I have always felt that the story in Fallout 3 was a tad too short, but I still found it to be pretty good. It is nothing under the sun, but it is a good story that offers both good and bad choices in how you play through it, though they are fairly similar.
Now, the last thing I want to mention about the story is that unless you have the Broken Steel DLC installed you will not be able to continue playing after completing the last mission in the game.
The combat is a major part of the gameplay and it can be roughly divided into melee and ranged combat with a few styles under each of those.
In ranged combat you have the option of using Big Guns, Small Guns, Energy Weapons and Explosives. Big Guns include weapons such as Miniguns, Missile Launchers and Gatling Lasers, Small Guns is every non-Big Gun conventional firearm like rifles, and Energy Weapons are energy based weapons like the Laser and Plasma Rifle. Explosives is pretty much self-explanatory, dealing with anything explosive not covered by the Big Guns skill.
The melee combat is divided into Melee Weapons and Unarmed, and they each have their own little weaponry. Unarmed is very limited, having a few different types of Knuckles and the Power Fist, which is basically a robotic glove made to increase the impact of your strikes, but also have the advantage of not needing a weapon to be used. All other weapons like knives, baseball bats and Super Sledges are covered by the Melee Weapons skill.
The effectiveness of a certain type of weapon comes down to the skill level and perks related to it as well as the condition it is in, so make sure to keep your weapons repaired on long journeys.
Another part of the combat is VATS, or Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, which allows you to stop time and have your character pre-determine what parts of the enemy you want to attack. Using VATS can, and most likely will, save your life several times in the game, but to use it you have to spend Action Points so be careful you don’t run out right before you actually need that extra precision.
Stealth in Fallout 3 is useful both in and outside of combat, allowing you to get Sneak Attack bonuses to damage and steal items to either more quickly advance a quest or just for profit. The primary stat stealth is based on is the Sneak skill, though there are other factors that will play a part, such as the enemies Perception attribute, the light, distance and how heavy your equipment is.
Another skill that can be considered a part of the stealth play style is the Lockpicking skill which allows you to open locked doors and containers. Something people who have played Oblivion or Skyrim maybe be unfamiliar with though is that you must meet the required skill level for the lock to even attempt to open it. Someone with 50 in the Lockpicking Skill cannot try to open a Master lock for example.
Speech and Other Skills
In addition to the combat and stealth skills there are also a few others that are important for your character and these are Repair, Medicine, Science, Speech and Barter.
These skills are very straight forward: Repair allowing you to repair you equipment more efficiently, Medicine making Stimpacks heal you more and the Science skill allowing you to hack computers and, with the right perks, deactivate robots. Barter and Speech allows you to get better prices when you buy and sell, and increases your chances at successfully persuade NPCs respectively.
Something worth noting is that if you have a high skill level there may be speech options based on those skills, for example someone with a lot of knowledge about Small Guns can help a small group to use small firearms more effectively than they could before.
To craft something in Fallout 3 you will need a workbench and you will have to find, buy or in some other way unlock the schematics for the item you want to craft. There are three levels of each item which will require you to find three sets of schematics.
If there is one major gripe I have this game it is in the quests. Don’t get me wrong, the quests themselves are very good and most of them allow you to take one of several paths. However, there are rather few quests in the game.
It is as simple as that. There are too few quests in the game. With the DLCs and over a hundred hours of gameplay I had finished around sixty quests and I had problems finding more.
Of course, this is somewhat offset by the fact that there are collectables like the Vault-Tec Bobbleheads that will increase your skills and SPECIAL stats as well as a number of unique items spread across the world, but it is still a major drawback for the game.
In Fallout 3 you will meet three types of NPCs; the one with dialogue connected to a quest, the ones with dialogue not connected to a quest and the ones who won’t speak with you at all.
The ones that will not talk to you at all tend to be generically named, like “Megaton Settler”, and will give you a short line if you try to interact with them.
The NPCs you can interact with tend to have a personality, especially the ones on quests, and there are many very memorable ones like Three Dog, Fawkes and Moira Brown. Quite a few of the characters seem to have a twisted sense of humor as well, though fans of the original games may not feel it is the same.
The Lone Wanderer
In the game you are commonly known as the Lone Wanderer from Vault 101, but exactly how is he made?
There are three primary things to the character in Fallout 3 and that is 1: the SPECIAL stats, 2: The Skills and 3: the Perks. Seeing as the skills have been covered earlier I will only go into the SPECIAL stats and the perks. And then there is Karma.
SPECIAL stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. These stats range from the values 1 to 10 and the baseline value is set at 5.
At the start of the game after having created your characters appearance you are asked to customize these stats to your liking and are given fire SPECIAL points to distribute among them. In addition to these five points you can also decrease one of your attributes for more points down to the value of one.
This system allows for a wide range of starting values and allow for prioritizing based on what kind of character you want. If you want a character that is only going to go through the game guns blazing and never thinking twice about persuasion or diplomacy it can be favorable to decrease the Charisma stat to 1 and have 4 extra points to pun in more relevant stats.
Every time you level up in Fallout 3 you have to choose a perk and what perks are available depends on whether or not you meet the requirements of level, skill level and SPECIAL level. The higher level you are the more powerful perks you unlock, but these will also have higher skill and SPECIAL requirement, often having high requirements in more than one skill and stat.
The perks themselves have a wide range of uses, from giving skill increases and unlocking certain abilities in a skill, like not making noise when you are sneaking, to increasing SPECIAL stats, skills, Hit Points(health) and Action Points to becoming a friend to the animals so they won’t attack you as you travel the Wasteland.
Karma is a reaction you will get from most actions you take in the game and they reflect your moral standing in the game. Some dialogue and followers may or may not be available if your karma isn’t in the right classification.
Graphics and Animation
As with most Bethesda games the graphics are above average, and very good when you take into consideration that an entire open-world area is in the game with consistently good graphics.
The animations on the other hand are rather stiff and don’t look very good. It is not so bad that you will tear your hair out, but you may raise an eyebrow or two in the time you will spend in this game(and trust me, that can easily become fifty plus hours if you like open world games).
The game is set in the Capital Wasteland, which is the remnants of Washington D.C. and because of this you are going to see some famous buildings such as the Washington Monument, though if you are a hardcore American Patriot it might just bring a tear to your eye to see the state these buildings was left after the Great War and a couple of centuries of mutant infestation.
The Lore of the world of Fallout is pretty interesting and it deals with an alternative reality to our own. Here America never really got over the fifties when it came to style, though the technology advanced.
200 years earlier the Great War, that lasted about two hours, ravaged the world and nuclear fire rained from the skies. After this the human race have tried to rebuild, and even though they have made big leaps on the West Coast you are now on the East Coast who still haven’t been able to develop the same infrastructure.
You’ll get the opportunity to learn about everything from pre-war corporations, the remnants of the US government, mutants and more as you go through the world, reading secret data files and doing quests.
Bugs and Issues
When the game first came out it had a decent amount of bugs and major glitches. However, with the latest patch the game should run smoothly and all game breaking bugs I have heard of is supposed to be fixed.
Fallout 3 is a very good game that gives you an open post-apocalyptic world to explore that will give you hours upon hours of fun. I would rate this game higher if it were for the lacking magnitude of quests to complete.
Final Verdict: 8.5/10
More here: Fallout 3: Game Review