Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fallout 3

The holidays are finally over so it’s back to the normal routine, but not without a few new games to dive into during those precious spare hours.

My wishlist was pretty long this year. All in all, there are so many different but great games out there: Deadspace, Fallout 3, and Mirror’s Edge are chief among them. I picked up Fallout 3 in an after-Christmas sale at Target. It seems quite appropriate that I got a post-apocalyptic game at a recession-inspired sale.

I knew that I’d like Fallout 3, but as it turns out I love Fallout 3. At first it feels very much like Oblivion. I found myself saving after every encounter and fighting while running backwards. But the V.A.T.S. system in Fallout 3 is incredible and the switch from swords to guns makes a huge difference. I don’t know if I can go back to Oblivion now that I’ve started pausing each encounter and carefully selecting which limb to shoot. Of course, the icing on top of cake is watching actions play out in slow motion.

Beyond all of the neat effects, the Fallout 3 world is vast and detailed. I’m still early on in the game and I’ve decided to simply start wandering. There’s a certain drama that comes from never knowing what to expect over that next hill, or what you’ll find in the next building.

Just last night I stumbled upon a group of slaves locked in a standoff around a few pints of clean water. One of them offered to give me half of the water if I helped him fight off the rest. I agreed and immediately found myself engaged in a close range gun battle.

Not long afterwards, I opened the door of an abandoned police station. It turned out to be not-quite abandoned; a group of super mutants were holding some captives. I negotiated booby traps, slaughtered the grisly green beasts, and saved these kind people. Later, I’ll be offering them guns and escorting them home.

Fallout 3 has a really rich upgrade system, which is old-school enough that it can be tedious to assign skill points. The game is also a bit hard to jump into – I keep wondering if I just needed to give Oblivion more time before it really struck a cord with me. In a strange way, Fallout 3 is actually the game I wish GTA IV had been; an infinitely detailed open-world game with new discoveries and important choices to be made at every corner. I suspect I’ll keep playing Fallout 3 until I’ve discovered everything.

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