Discussion Review: Fallout 3

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I’m not going to waste any time here with some fancy introduction because, well, we’ve got a doozy of a Fallout 3 review here that’s already plenty long. Mike and I have been chatting about the game all week long and the result is the epic discussion review waiting for your attentive reading on the jump. I know I am biased here having participated in the discussion, but this has to be the fairest, most thorough Fallout 3 review anywhere. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Matt: It’s been a couple weeks now since we both first posted our initial impressions of Fallout 3 (read mine here and Mike’s here), and having finally completed the game — well, at least 30 hours worth, including the main story quest line — I can now given an honest assessment of the full experience.

Frankly, my view of the game really hasn’t changed all that much since my impressions of the first few hours. Fallout 3, though flawed in a lot of ways, is an amazing game, easily a contender for game of the year in my book. You can call it “Oblivion with guns” if you want, but it really is so much more than that. The similarities are definitely there, no one can argue that. But to simply label it “Oblivion with guns” is a cheap, superficial comparison that doesn’t do justice to how good this game is (and how vastly superior it is to Oblivion).

As you’ve said before, Oblivion wasn’t much of an RPG, but rather more of an open-world action game. Not Fallout 3. Sure, it has all the staples of an action shooter, but it has all the depth and complexity of a full-fledged RPG as well. Maybe not to the extent of the original Fallout games in terms of the dialogue and story development, but still, there can be no mistaking that Fallout 3 is first and foremost a role-playing experience.

The depth of character customization and development is pretty remarkable. I’d say it’s pretty much impossible for any two players to play the game and build their character the same way. You have so much choice over stats and skills to improve, and of course the added touch of perks to further distinguish what type of character you develop. Me and my best gamer friend have been discussing this game a lot too, and it’s been amazing how different each of our experiences with the game have been. I’ve made a character more adept with small arms, long range combat and brute strength, while he’s gone more of a stealth/non-confrontational direction using quick sneak attacks to take out enemies and speech skills to negotiate sticky situations. You have the freedom to play however you like.

Mike: One thing I love about the way VGBlogger reviews games is that rather than try to assign some grandiose numeric score that inherently forces the review to rank games against each other in a sort of arms race, a simple ‘buy / try / skip’ assignment puts things into perspective while the text of the review provides context. Why mention this? Because while I have stuff I read in your opening that I agree and disagree with, it is clear that we will both be labeling the game with a ‘Buy It’ – and that means that rather than quibble about score we can get into the fun stuff such as arguing about what works and what doesn’t in this massive game.

I definitely agree that calling this game ‘Oblivion with guns’ does a disservice – perhaps calling it Oblivion meets a real RPG meets the Fallout universe reimagined as a FPS meets … well, perhaps that is why ‘Oblivion with guns’ gets used. But my point is that while the use of the Oblivion engine is pretty obvious, and the fact that some of the design aesthetic comes from Oblivion (caves and sewers in particular), those are cosmetic things that bear little significance on the overall game.

Rather than just having a love-in, I’ll start by disagreeing with Matt on character customization: what you say is true – if you play the game like Mass Effect and ignore the world and just plow through the main quest. I have spent more than 50 hours at this point, and have more than one of my SPECIAL skills at 10 and several of my tag skills at 100. So while I would agree that you CAN build differently, there are so many extras available to help boost all of your stats that it is easy to max out characters. This wasn’t possible in Fallout 1 or 2 – you had to be much more sparing and careful with your allocation of skill and attribute points.

This is one reason I wish they hadn’t called this game ‘Fallout’, because I am now compelled to make constant comparisons, which will inevitably look like I’m some sort of fanboy tearing down Bethsoft’s effort, since Fallout 3 doesn’t live up to the other two games in the franchise in any way except for pretty graphics. But that is just reality – Fallout 1 & 2 are not just two of the top RPG’s of all time, they are in a rarefied group that represents the pinnacle of what the video game industry has produced. Fallout 3 is ‘just’ a really good game.

But they did call it Fallout, and for many different reasons I’m glad they did. For all of the criticisms I will level later on, it is clear that the folks at Bethesda love the Fallout games and wanted to include as many little tidbits as they could. That makes exploring the world a joy – they did such a painstaking job of recreating a devastated wasteland out of the Washington DC metro area, with many familiar items from the area mixed in with things from the previous games. To me there is no question that this is far and away their best effort in this regard, greatly surpassing Oblivion.

A final thought for now: Fallout 3 is a ‘serious’ RPG of the sort that is unusual for Bethesda, but in the long run it will never be one listed in any serious RPG fan’s ‘top 10 RPG’s of all time’ list.

Matt: See, I can look at Fallout 3 a bit differently. I know you’re going to hate me for saying this, but I never really cared for the first two games. I’m not sure what it was, but around the same time the Baldur’s Gate series got me into PC gaming a friend singing its praises let me borrow Fallout for the first time and for whatever reason I just could never get into it. I’m sure if I went back and replayed both now I’d have a greater appreciation for them, but as it stands Fallout 3 is definitely my favorite game in the series. But that’s probably to be expected. I’ve always been a console gamer first while you’re hardcore on the PC side. Fallout 3 is clearly a console-ized RPG, so I can understand how you might not hold it up there with the originals.

To your point on the character development, I haven’t logged as many hours as you or maxed my character to level 20 yet (at 18 right now), of my 30+ hours so far I’d say it’s been a pretty even 50-50 split between the main storyline and side adventuring. At this point I’ve only been able to build my character as sort of a gunner type with high repair and lockpicking, but I haven’t even touched my melee and unarmed skills, I didn’t bother with science and my speech skill is about middle of the road. Surely as I reach the level cap and do more side questing my character will balance out a bit more since my main skills will be capped out and I’ll be forced to begin upgrading elsewhere, but at this point my character is still a small arms gunner and I don’t see any way of changing him out of that.

One thing I think we can agree upon is the combat. As a real-time shooter Fallout 3 is clunky at best — at least at first when your skills are low, the targeting and such gets a bit better over time if you improve your weapons skills — but the VATS targeting system makes all the difference. Pause-and-attack combat has been around in RPGs for a while now, but never in an FPS RPG that I can think of. Without it Fallout 3 would’ve been a clumsy first-person action/adventure like Oblivion, but with it Fallout 3 has that added tactical dimension of an RPG that just didn’t exist in Oblivion. It’s also the most entertaining part of the game when combined with the extreme gore and dismemberment system. Landing a critical hit and watching in slow motion as body parts launch into the air like fireworks is morbidly hilarious. It’s even more satisfying when you have a wounded enemy charging at you and at the last second you’re able to bring up VATS and land a headshot as the enemy is making his desperate final lunge.

Mike: Without taking this too far afield, I just want to mention that while we each have our personal thoughts and perspectives on various games, history is pretty clear on the standing of many games. There are many who abhor Final Fantasy VII, yet it is pretty roundly recognized as on of the great games in the jRPG tradition; same goes for Halo in the land of console FPS games; and the same goes for Fallout 1 & 2. I have friends who love loads of PC RPG’s, yet dislike Baldur’s Gate 2. My point is not that you (or anyone playing Fallout 3) needs to like or even play the others, but rather that understanding what made those games regarded as some of the best games ever made is helpful in understanding why so many PC gamers were worried about Bethesda handling this game and why older PC gamers have such a laundry list of gripes about Fallout 3.

So why would PC gamers be concerned? Well, first and foremost they look at Oblivion: they see it as a great example of what many consider the degeneration of the PC RPG. Obvious console design; overly large fonts and interface elements that hog the screen; a control system that was designed around the console controller and lacked flexibility for full PC customization; menus and dialogs that fail to observe the simple MDI interface principles – and hog the screen; an almost complete lack of choice-and-consequence; and on and on. But perhaps the biggest concerns center around a major strength of the Fallout games that is a major weakness of all of Bethesda’s games: writing. The dialogue, writing and humor of Fallout 1 & 2 are what have cemented the game in the annals of history. Bethesda is known for having excellent open worlds, wonderful lore, and … um, pretty games, I guess. The final potential cause for concern is that while Oblivion was nearing release and the PR machine going going full-speed, lots of stuff was said about quests and consequences and PC gamers … and as was detailed in a very funny article at RPG-Codex, very little of it was true. So when all of the interviews and previews were talking about quests and consequences and caring about the franchise and taking care of PC gamer fans of the originals … well, it should be easy to see the cause for concern.

OK … so I apparently ignored the part about taking this point too far …

I’m going to air some specific criticisms of Fallout 3 at this point … so I’ll start with the controls. I have caught loads of flak regarding my gripes about the control scheme being inadequate for the PC, which I view as a bit of a mixed bag: for some it is a sort of “it is a console world, deal with it” and for others it is a “aw jeez, another NMA fanboy who will never be satisfied”. There were relatively few who acknowledged that I had any sort of valid point at first. It took an inordinate amount of convincing! So here we go – I have taken time and played decent chunks of the game using my XBOX 360 wireless controller in addition to my preferred keyboard & mouse. And it is obvious from the contrast of playing the game both ways that it was designed with the console controller as the primary control method both in terms of design and implementation.

That isn’t so bad – getting around works great using either set of controls, as does the VATS system, dialog system, level-up interface, and so on. The problem I have is with the PIP-Boy – it is very simple to navigate using the XBOX 360 controller, but definitely more of a hassle for the keyboard & mouse. It isn’t a ‘killer flaw’, but you know what really gets under my skin? Bethesda went to such pains to talk about how they were going to make sure that the PC Fallout fan was taken care of, yet couldn’t bother to even allow you to map a keyboard shortcut to get directly to the map interface. I am not suggesting that they change the inherent interface – which is pretty much the same one from Oblivion – but rather that they allow some degree of *choice* to users. It seems like such a small thing – and was certainly mentioned enough in Oblivion reviews and as a concern in PC previews for Fallout 3.

Oh, and while I am on the subject of rampant stupidity, how’s this one: while you can remap the key used to bring up the PIP-Boy (default is TAB), you cannot change the fact that you still have to use TAB to exit. If there is anyone out there still arguing that I’m just suffering sour grapes, think about that one for just a minute and then tell me how I should be satisfied that it is anything but bad design that was never properly tested? All of that is a long-winded way of saying that the majority of the control system works pretty well, but a couple of design choices directly and solely make the game less convenient for PC gamers and feel like a slap in the face to long-time RPG fans.

I also wanted to talk more about the combat system based on your comments. One of the cool things about the nice mix of action and RPG is the ability to play different sections in completely different ways. I have at times wandered around pretending that I am playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in full FPS action mode, then spent hours pursuing quests and using VATS exclusively for combat. Both are fun and can feel very different, but each is flawed in a different way. I agree with your assessment of how clunky the game is as a shooter, but that I pretty much chalk up to the difficulty in translating RPG combat mechanics into FPS gameplay. Any game that does this suffers similarly, but games with modern weapons suffer worse – we are simply trained to think that when we get a gun it is our ability to line up targets that will determine the outcome. Having a real-time system that messes with your accuracy just feels like a sloppy shooter – and there are enough of those. But I actually praise Bethesda for doing that! Oblivion had completely eliminated the ‘to hit’ component: you hit 100% of the time you swung your sword at something.

I have played enough hours of Fallout 3 with nothing but real-time shooting to say that it is not a great shooter, but it is an area where you can see an immediate impact from advancing your skills by a decent amount. Generally speaking, using real-time mode will put you into a situation where you are chewing up so much ammo that you will impoverish yourself making trips to replenish your stocks and leave you frustrated at the general inaccuracy. Also, while the enemies are not too bright, they seem to suffer fewer weapon-related problems, meaning that an even exchange of fire with an enemy with similar hit points will almost always end up with you dead. But then, this really is not a FPS and really shouldn’t be judged as such.

VATS (Vault-Tec Assist Targeting System) is the other combat system. It is a pseudo-turn-based system that attempts to offer a more tactical method of dealing enemies that is entirely based on your character’s skills and also on location and positioning information. For example, an enemy right in front of you might show a 95% chance of hitting them in the head, but the same enemy partially obscured behind a wall a hundred or so meters away would have perhaps 16% of a headshot. The mechanic works by allowing you to allocate your ‘action points’ to various shots with your current weapons at different locations on any of the enemies in your field of view. Once you allocate all of your actions, you accept them and then the game takes over and shows all of your shots carried out in a variable angle slow-motion camera.

I agree with you that without VATS the game would have been a terrible mess, and that it is an ambitious attempt to bridge the real-time and turn-based systems, but I do not hold such a high opinion of the results as you. It is a really good idea that was ruined in implementation, reducing combat to so simplistic and repetitive that it makes it feel more like an exploit than a feature. First off, you get action points to spend in a ’round’, similar to the earlier Fallout games. However, in the earlier games those rounds were ‘serial’, meaning I took my turn and had to wait for the enemy to take their turn before I got another chance at action. Fallout 3 doesn’t work that way – the rounds are always happening, so while your actions are playing out, so are your enemies’ actions. It seems like this could spell disaster if you ended up in a trap facing several enemies (which happens fairly often). However, while in VATS mode you only take 10% of damage. Also, when your actions are used up and you are dumped back into real-time mode, you can just run away and find some cover while your action points recharge – which doesn’t take long at all. Then you jump out, re-engage VATS, and start over. So you will win most battles by a strategy of ‘VATS & run’.

Another problem I have with VATS is the ‘Final Fantasy Effect’. I have never been a big fan of combat systems that mystically transport you to some other arena to play out combat before bringing you back to reality. In some games – such as Heroes of Might & Magic (or the recent & wonderful King’s Bounty remake) – it really makes sense and is integral to the way the game plays. In games like Valhalla Knights it has a major negative impact on the experience. It is a staple of so-called JRPG’s, so many gamers raised on Nintendo, Sega and Sony consoles are very much used to the mechanic. In Fallout 3 you are not so much transported to another place as you are displaced from controlling the action, left to watch the actions play out in slow-motion with no ability to just get to the end of the VATS session or speed it up or whatever. As I have leveled up I’ve gained action points, so now I get to do enough things per round that it gets boring waiting to return to the action. It reminds me of the non-skippable ‘victory dance’ from Final Fantasy III for the DS … it is nice the first few times but annoying after that. In Fallout 3, the first few heads bouncing down the road were a hoot, but after several hundred … I just want to get back to the game.

Unlike Oblivion, where the combat was pretty binary – too easy for most but too hard if you leveled-up too rapidly – Fallout 3 has combat that is challenging but not impossible. There is some local ‘enemy level-scaling’ but it is also quite possible to wander into an area that is way over your head. I remember my first few minutes in the Super Duper Mart seemed to be full of more ‘load games’ than killed enemies! And as I criss-cross through the waste-land working on quests, sometimes I will walk rather than ‘fast travel’, and so I encounter areas where I take no damage as well as others where it is a brutal struggle. One of my favorite things in the ‘old school’ RPG’s was that they were unforgiving in their difficulty … and while Fallout 3 isn’t ‘brutal’ by any stretch, it is quite willing to tell those who cry ‘wah I died!’ to ‘shaddup and reload and fight SMARTER next time!’. And that is something I really like.

I think that is enough about combat and probably time to stop for now … hopefully we can talk about quests and writing and other elements next!

Matt: Excellent point there. I think there is often this sort of piss-contest mentality amongst gamers to justify their favorite game picks and how they are better than those of other players. I am a diehard RPG fan, but as mentioned I didn’t particularly dig the first two Fallout games, both widely revered as classics of the genre. But to your point, I’m not one of these gamers who just dismisses them as lame games just because I didn’t like them. I recognize that they were influential in shaping and revolutionizing the genre, so I very much respect them as all-time greats.

But back to Fallout 3… You won’t get any disagreement from me about the consolization of the game. I’ve only played the game on Xbox 360 and have no way of knowing how it compares to the PC in terms of controls, but I certainly trust your comparisons of the two and clearly see how this is not in the vein of a true PC-style RPG. What I will say though is that Fallout 3 controls beautifully with a console controller. You can map weapon hotkeys to the D-pad for on-the-fly swapping, and the Pip-Boy interface, while probably a bit more complex than need be, is easy enough to navigate once you know where everything is at.

As for the combat system, many of your complaints about VATS are totally valid. After a while seeing the same slow-mo animations becomes redundant, and since your action points do recharge so quickly it is easy to exploit using the “VATS & run” trick you mention. But honestly none of these things bothered me in the least. I never got tired of blowing the heads off of mutants or raiders, and certainly found the game plenty difficult to where even using some of the loopholes in the VATS system didn’t necessarily make the game any less challenging. Personally, I find it hard to fault games for being repetitive. All games are inherently repetitive if you think about it, especially RPGs. But the great games find a way to deceive the player with a feeling of diversity even though you are basically doing the same actions over and over. For me, Fallout 3 is one of these games that always seems fresh and exciting even though you’re pretty much doing the same thing.

Something I do wish was more diversified, though, were the environments. I know it’s a war-torn, post-apocalyptic wasteland and there’s only so much that can be done within that setting, but I still feel more effort could’ve been put into at least differentiating certain environments. When you explore one subway tunnel, you’ve explored them all because they all look identical and generally seem to have near-identical layouts. Same with houses and vaults. The wasteland itself, the towns you visit, and the immediately recognizable DC architecture are rendered in spectacular detail, grandiose scale, and impeccable authenticity, but the indoor locales all seem to have been designed from a default template that was cut and pasted as needed. I certainly can’t argue against the game’s engine though. The drab colors and ruined landscape sure are ugly, but Bethesda rendered that ugly so beautifully. As I mentioned in my initial impressions piece, that first moment I stepped out of the vault and saw the wasteland stretching out as far as the eye can see was a transcendent moment in gaming that I’ll never forget.

However, that’s not to say the graphics are all on the up and up. Character models, like Oblivion, are still a little too robotic and lifeless to be truly believable. Trying to play the game in third-person shows this the most. Why Bethesda even put the option for third-person play is beyond me. It looks so dreadful that it’s like playing a completely different game. Fallout 3 is more polished than Oblivion by a country mile — the framerate and draw distance in particular are infinitely better — but there are bugs and glitches here and there that are easy to nitpick at (body parts magically passing through other objects, characters getting stuck on the environment, dead bodies occasionally hovering in the air rather than falling all the way to the ground, etc.).

Most of the game’s flaws are easy for me to look past simply because the experience as a whole is so deep, compelling and ambitious. But in all my hours with the game — completing the storyline, solving numerous side quests and just plain roaming the wasteland — one thing really stood out as the game’s clear weak point: the lack of consequence. I enjoyed the main storyline, the writing and dialogue is excellent overall (though not in the same league as the first two Fallouts), and many of the subplots discovered from optional exploration are well worth the extra investment of time and effort. The problem is I never felt that any of the dialogue choices I made or quest paths I chose really had an impact on how the game played out. For example, the Tenpenny Tower quest. You have the choice of helping the zombies infiltrate the tower or eliminating the zombies for the snobby tower inhabitants. Thinking I could cut through and screw both factions (because I didn’t care for either), I went ahead and killed Tenpenny himself. I got good karma for doing so, but the action didn’t alter anything within the framework of the quest or even impact characters that I was sure it would impact. I killed Tenpenny and no one in the tower even acknowledged that it happened. I was expecting a more tangible feeling that how I chose to play the game would affect how the world and its characters viewed me. Receiving freebie items from citizens for being a stand-up guy isn’t what I’d call a rewarding consequence.

Mike: Just a little follow-up on combat: you are right. I’m nitpicking, really. I have replayed Soldier of Fortune II about 20 or so times now, and I never tire of popping heads or blowing off limbs. And so in every gaming session of Fallout 3 I will without fail break out the sniper rifle and pop off a few heads, take out the mini-gun and obliterate some monsters, and use the flamer to torch some big baddies. I take time to wander around partly to seek out these encounters in real-time mode, while I tend to use VATS more in confined spaces. I definitely think there are some areas of improvement in both the real-time and VATS modes as we’ve both mentioned, but given the degree of improvement compared to Oblivion’s combat system, I look at this as just the first promising step into the future for Bethesda!

When it comes to graphics in games, I am a bit schizophrenic. On the one hand I love ‘indie’ games like the Avernum and Geneforge series from Spiderweb, have been replaying stuff like Wizardry III from 1983 and Might & Magic II from 1988 using DOSBox, and in general rail against folks who dismiss classic games based on lousy graphics alone. On the other hand, I keep my gaming systems up to date and tweak settings to extract the best quality and performance from every ‘AAA’ game and am very critical of games in that category with lacking graphical performance or quality. Bethesda has clearly positioned their last few games as ‘graphics leaders’, meaning that I look at them with an exacting eye. I thought that Oblivion was a mixture of beauty and ugliness … whereas Fallout 3 is more about ‘beautiful ugliness’. I agree with you that the faces are still ‘funky’, but they seem better than in Oblivion.

The external environment and recreation of the Washington DC area is … staggering. You described it perfectly in your first impressions, so there is no need to go further. I showed it to my family and they thought it was pretty amazing stuff. As for the interiors, I look at it like combat – Oblivion had three dungeons repeated ad nauseum … whereas Fallout 3 has many more base elements to work with. They still repeat too much stuff from place to place – there was one block of buildings that had me checking my map because it looked identical inside and out to another place I’d visited before! But I’ve heard complaints about the subway stations looking identical. To that I ask – have you ever been in subway stations for a major city? From city to city they change but within a city they are nigh on identical. Overall I thought Fallout 3 was a great looking game, and it performed very well without a single crash during my dozens of hours of playtime – including alt-tabbing many times.

I have heard someone say that reading any ‘honest’ review Fallout 3 review is like listening to someone argue with themselves; and in our case it is like four discordant voices – two saying it is great and two shouting about all of the flaws. There are loads of other things I could talk about regarding this game, but rather than delve into too much more detail I’ll just put them into a series of ‘Love / Hate’ statements – because that is the way it seems, most things in the game are either amazingly good or amazingly bad.

– I LOVE how many skill checks there are throughout the game, and the way I can see the impact of my specializations directly in my actions.

– I HATE how quickly I was able to level core skills to the point that I seldom felt like I was missing ‘the other fork in the road’.

– I LOVE the loads and loads of side-quests that allow me to take different paths to complete.

– (As Matt mentioned) I HATE that the end-results of so many of these cool quests feel sterile and unsatisfying.

– I LOVE the gorgeous settings and environments

– I HATE how I am constantly confronted by the cognitive dissonance of how none of the stuff around makes any reasonable sense … I mean, 200 years after full-on nuclear destruction leveled a city and we have working computer terminals?

– I LOVE the lock pick game – it really required skill and showed the impact of your tag skill.

– I HATE the hacking mini-game … it is random and boring and you can skip failure by stopping and restarting infinitely without penalty.

The one final area I have to expound upon is the writing. I hate to end on a sour note, but for all of the excellent things that Bethesda put into this game – wonderful environment, nice RPG elements, cool shooter elements and a nice action-point based combat solution – they chose to skimp on one of the core elements of RPG design: the writing. Peter Hines said in a Eurogamer interview “Dialogue wasn’t a battle we wanted to pick. … we just don’t have unlimited monkeys and typewriters.” Sadly, it shows. Anyone who has played the game can tick off some cool quests that they have encountered, and I agree – there are loads of cool quests. But the majority of the associated writing and dialogue is mediocre at best and cringe-worthy all too often. The part that bugs me the most is that the main quest is perhaps the most dreary and lifeless part of the whole game.

The bottom line is this: while RPG’s like Two Worlds get slammed for their stilted language and poor translations, many of those look like fine literature next to some of the blather that passes as dialogue in Fallout 3. They have fixed some of the egregious ‘side banter’ you could stumble upon in Oblivion to feel more natural, but there are many times where you will have already killed an enemy but their dialogue continues until it finishes. But even in context the dialogue is just plain poorly written and provides no intrigue, humor or immersion. It isn’t even about comparing to the other Fallout games … the characters are poorly developed stereotypes, the dialogue doesn’t follow anything like a natural flow, and what people say doesn’t begin to reflect the reality of their situation or convey any sense of what is going on.

So I talked early on about feeling forced to compare this Fallout to the earlier games … yet I have really not done that much. Why? Because it just doesn’t matter. Fallout 3 is its own game, set in a universe that many of us know from past games, but all of that is about as relevant as the Night Watch books are to whether or not you enjoy that game. OK, maybe that reference doesn’t work … but the point is that this is a very good game loaded with excellent features and enough bugs and flaws to completely obliterate most games. Somehow it all works; somehow you can forgive the silliness and lack of depth and closure and lousy writing and combat issues and on and on. Somehow you just keep coming back, trying to avoid hitting the end of the main quest so you can just keep on exploring the Wasteland. I cannot say it is the best game I’ve played this year – it falls behind King’s Bounty, the just released Geneforge 5 (for the Mac only right now, I had the privelege of being on the beta test team), and the recently released NWN2: Storm of Zehir expansion. But it is a really good game, certainly one of the better games I’ve played and one that I wholeheartedly recommend as a ‘must buy’ to all *adult* fans of RPG’s and action / shooter games.

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Matt: Ah, so you hated the hacking mini-game too I see. Random and boring is right!

But back to more important subjects… I really don’t see the writing as being nearly as bad as you. Saying the dialogue in Two Worlds is like fine literature compared to this is nonsense in my opinion. Fallout 3 has a much better story and script than Two Worlds does at its finest moments. Is it the greatest writing and story development we’ve seen in an RPG? Certainly not. But I found the core storyline compelling and many of the characters interesting to chat with. Again, my problem with the storyline throughout is that there never seems to be any resonating consequence to the dialogue choices you make.

Between our two previous impressions pieces and this epic discussion, I’d say we’ve dissected Fallout 3 about as much as humanly possible without going completely overboard (OK, maybe we did go a bit overboard here, but screw it, this game deserved the thorough examination!). It’s so interesting to talk about a game like this from two very different perspectives. As a console gamer at heart, I am clearly more forgiving of certain aspects of the game simply because my expectations were next to none. I was never a bleeding heart fan of the first two games so there were no standards for the game to live up to for me. To say my expectations were far exceeded would be an understatement. Fallout 3 has consumed so much of my time the past few weeks that it’s made me not even care about many other hyped recent releases. Any game that can hold my focused attention so much that I’ve yet to even look at games like Gears of War 2, Fable II, and Resistance 2 must be pretty spectacular, right?

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Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PC and Xbox 360, also available for PS3
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 10/28/08
Genre: RPG
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!