Impressions: My First Three Hours With Fallout 3

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Oh yes, Fallout 3 has finally landed! Get your copy yet? Me? Got mine in from Bethsoft yesterday and as previously mentioned I’m back today to report my early impressions.

After painfully sitting at my desk finishing a few things up with my early 360 copy starring me in the face just begging me to crack it open and get playing, I eventually got my chance to get started around 8 PM last night and subsequently spent the remainder of the evening engrossed deep inside Fallout 3‘s barren, post-apocalyptic Washington DC wasteland landscape. Altogether I was able to get in a smidgen over three hours of play time in, and the best part is it didn’t seem like I had been playing that long at all. Once I got into the game it was like I was truly inside that world and the time just flew by. That’s how immersive Fallout 3 has already proven to be.

You start the game locked away in the survivalist community of Vault 101 and spend the first, oh, hour I guess living peacefully within the vault in what is essentially a playable character creation prologue in which you get to shape the early path of your character under the tutelage of your father, voiced by the instantly recognizable Liam Neeson. The early story and character development is set up so brilliantly, but I don’t want to spoil any of it for you.

Needless to say, stuff happens in Vault 101 and your path eventually leads to the war-ravaged wasteland above. Taking your first steps outside the underground vault is one of those transcendent moments in gaming. Vision initially blurred by the sunlight, your character’s eyes slowly adjust to see a desolate landscape of rubble, ruined buildings and collapsed highway overpasses stretching out in front of you as far as the eye can see. I was literally left starring at the screen in speechless awe for about a minute just taking in the view. From that moment on I knew I was in for something truly special.

Picking my jaw up off the floor and wiping the drool from my face, I pushed forward to my first destination, the village of Megaton. There I met up with the locales, picked up my first few quests and ventured back out into the wasteland to explore. Thus far the quest system has been fantastic. Even early on the quests have been fairly deep and involving, not the simple fetch type tasks that typically make the first few hours of an RPG feel like busy work. Choices you make in completing these quests also affect the growth of your character and the world around you, represented by karma you can earn by doing certain deeds. Up to now I’ve experienced three moments of seemingly consequential significance, however with only a few hours under my belt I have no way of knowing yet how these events my decisions caused will play out in the long term (which is why I’m not reviewing the game in full just yet, of course).

Heading out of Megaton I then spent a while just sort of roaming around, taking in the sights, killing some mutated insects for fun. You know, just seeing what the world had to offer before eventually making my way over to the Super-Duper Mart for my first real quest in the outside world. Thankfully Bethsoft made traveling easy with a quick-port feature that lets you instantly jump to locales you’ve previously visited from the world map screen in your Pip-Boy 3000 wrist computer. No, it’s not realistic, but I don’t care. Tedious travel is one reason I tend to dislike many open-world games. Not a problem in Fallout 3 though!

Once I arrived at the Super-Duper Mart I got my true taste of the beauty of the game’s combat. Fighting individual bugs was one thing, but investigating a store guarded by a gang of raiders was something else entirely. For my first three tries or so I got my ass handed to me until I shook off my FPS mentality of charging in guns blazing and settled into using V.A.T.S., the game’s awesome combat system that enable you to pause the game and pinpoint your target and what part of their body you want to attack. The gunplay itself feels kinda clunky at times in terms of real-time aiming and shooting, especially when dealing with a group of moving targets, but the V.A.T.S. system slows things down and provides the RPG-like depth and strategy the game needs to excel. It also provides a satisfying punch of gore as you pinpoint limbs and send body parts flying with critical hits, complete with slow-mo cam effects that accentuate the brutality (and are often quite humorous).

Clearing out Super-Duper Mart left me battered and bruised, so at that point I decided to head back to Megaton to report my quest findings (I had to search the store for food and medicine), sell off some loot and call it a night. I still need to get a handle on certain aspects of the combat and see how profound of an effect my choices and deeds really do have on the game world, but with three hours under my belt I am thus far blown away by what I’ve seen from Fallout 3. It’s a cut above Oblivion in every way, I’d say. Graphics, engine performance, combat, depth of character development, quests… you name it.

Worth all the hype? Absolutely!

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!