This game is one of my top five favorite games of all time, right up there with Chrono Trigger. It’s a fantastic game that almost anyone would enjoy because of the many different genres it encompasses. A really excellent game has good graphics and sound—not just good gameplay and story—and this is one of those games.
Remember when Elaine from Seinfeld didn’t want to open up her “vault” of secrets? Well, now she’s opening it. It’s Vault 101, and what comes out of it is you, some 19-year-old bearded man/woman, with the whole world in front of him/her (hereby referred to as him, because there are some cases in the game where characters do not use the appropriate pronoun). Oh, and what a world it is.
You see, the Communist Chinese have nuked the crap out of the Washington D.C. area. Whoops…thanks, George Bush. I guess we should have elected John Kerry 64 here. It’s the classic story of Dad runs away from home, and son must chase after Dad in a post-apocalyptic retro-futurist world. It’s the first time you’ve ever seen daylight, and the brightness overwhelms your character at first. After a few seconds, you pick up your 10mm pistol, tire iron, or whatever your weapon of choice is, and run away, killing the Capital Wasteland ruffians who murder anyone on sight, like those thugs in Terminator: Salvation.
Your mission is to find your dad, but more importantly, to do whatever you want. Help people, hurt people, sell salvaged junk, put live grenades in people’s pockets…the world is your oyster. A lot of people call this “Oblivion with guns.” My problem with Oblivion is that the story is boring and the magic system is very annoying, and to really succeed, you need to be good at specific skills. Fallout lets you play like you want.There’s a VATS system that turns the game from a fast-twitch first-person shooter into a turn-/statistics-based RPG where you can target specific body parts to cripple your enemy. Also, you can have one humanoid ally and your dog companion following you. Unfortunately they don’t really interact with you besides being a pack mule and helping you in battle, but it’s still good to have someone at your back.
You’re in an open world, and you can progress in the game however you want, and do whatever you want to do. After starting up initially and inputting your beard data, you can also choose you initial base stats, and take an aptitude test to determine your worldly “profession”; i.e., which skills are your main attributes (barter, energy weapons, pimping…OK not pimping, sorry). Most of this world is destroyed, but most of the major DC landmarks (Natural History Museum, Lincoln Memorial), are somewhat intact, so it’s a nice treat for anyone who lives in or has been to Virgina, Maryland, or DC.
In fact, I didn’t do many “main quest” activities until several hours into the game. Doing all the main- and side quests may take you around 90 hours, but that doesn’t include all the undocumented small quests, or the fact that quests can be completed several ways in some cases, given the Karma system. It also doesn’t include any of the DLC you can buy separately or get with the Game of the Year edition, if you’re so inclined. I can easily say that, for a single-player game, and perhaps any game at all, this has the highest replay value of all time. There’s just so much to do in Fallout 3.
There’s something for everyone: First-person shooter fans, RPG fans, beard aficionados (which I believe is 90% of the GameCola readers/writers). I can’t recommend this game any higher, and it’s probably as close to a perfect 10 as I’ll ever get. Just pick the damn thing up. You won’t be disappointed.