Nov 12 2008

Fallout 3 was disappointing

Published by at 4:16 pm under Video Game Review

The controls worked pretty well, but the visuals and musics made this game a chore.


1.  The first-person perspective made this game look relentlessly grimy and depressing.  Over the 20 hours it took me to beat the game, the only remotely pleasant-looking location was Tenpenny Tower, which only had one quest.  Would it have killed them to add a city or two that looked clean?  For example, Fallout 2 had the New California Republic.  Nothing in the DC area has been cleaned up in the hundreds of years since the nuclear war?  Ick.  Not even Stalker looked this bleak.

2.  The writing was forgettable. Fallout 2 had extraordinary scenes.  For example, one quest had you play chess with a talking plant to learn how to outsmart a mutated radscorpion.  The closest that Fallout 3 got to that sort of zany brilliance was a quest that locks you in a demented computer simulation (Pleasantville meets The Matrix).  A sadistic scientist then sends you on a ridiculously perverse murder spree where you have to kill people in creative fashions.  (For example, you can place roller skates on the stairs or sabotage an oven, but you can’t enter combat).  But even the Pleasantville simulation looks mercilessly depressing. Eww.

3.  The combat system was a pleasant surprise. The first-person perspective was surprisingly smooth, even on my 2004 computer.  But there are far too few kinds of weapons and enemies.  Supermutants got boring very quickly, but they’re the main enemy for at least 75% of the game.

4.  The plot felt like a tired rehash of Fallout 2.

5.  The ending was superlatively awful. The concluding cinematic is so disappointing that it’s hard to believe.  Arcanum, for example, had a cinematic affected by each of 20+ quests.  For example, if you saved the Shrouded Hills silver mine, the cinematic showed the town flourishing; if you let the mine die, the town withered away.  Fallout 3 only had two possible outcomes based on how you completed the final quest.  Ick.

Even in the ending, the visuals are mercilessly bleak and grey.  My hero sacrificed his own life to restore clean water to Washington, but even then we don’t see any clean water. I would have closed the game’s closing cinematic with a cheerful shot of the sun rising over the immaculately gleaming reflecting pool, and the Potomac River, and finally the Atlantic Ocean.  After 20+ hours of unrelenting death and dirt, we’ve earned some pleasantness.

6. The use of Washington landmarks was entirely uninspired.  Only the museums were used well.  Other than that, it was pretty much like “we need to place the final battle somewhere, so why not the Jefferson Memorial?”

7.  The Vaults were grossly underused.

8.  Even though 1950s music is terrible, Fallout 3 offered only two radio stations: a Radio Free America that plays 1950s songs and a propaganda station for a military dictatorship.  I spent the game listening to the propaganda station because its patriotic tunes were at least remotely listenable.  Eww.  After twenty hours of Dixie and militaristic exhortations, I almost wanted to give 1950s music a try.  Almost.

9.  Fortunately, Fallout 3 mostly avoided caustic political sermons. Fallout 2’s preachiness annoyed me.

10. The plot had a lot of holes and inconsistencies. For example, Dr. Braun (the crazy doctor at Vault 112) was a Vault-Tek doctor before the war, right? So he would have been 200+ years old when the story transpires.

11.  I didn’t like the stat system very much.  Agility and perhaps Intelligence were too important relative to the other stats, particularly Charisma and Endurance.  (I also found strength useless, but there are a few types of character that could use it).

12.  The giant robot scene was pretty kickass. I won’t spoil it for you, but there’s a giant robot. And it’s pretty kickass.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Fallout 3 was disappointing”

  1. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Nov 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I watched a friend play it, and she sabotaged the robot in that woman’s house and made it kill her.

  2. Jacobon 12 Nov 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Weak! You could have sabotaged the oven and asked her to bake you a pie, or you could have left a roller-skate at the top of the stairs. The killer robot was a bit too obvious, I think. 🙂

  3. Aperioson 13 Nov 2008 at 3:36 am

    Braun is 200 years old, as are all the other people you “kill” in Pleasantville. They’re living people in pods that keep them alive indefinitely, suffering death after death (same pain as, but no peace after) at the hands of Braun.

    He’s been torturing people who cannot die for 200 years. He’s that twisted.

  4. Jacobon 14 Nov 2008 at 12:46 pm

    OK. I suppose in a sci-fi story, we can accept that his brain could be sustained by the Matrix for 200 years.

  5. Ragged Boyon 15 Nov 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Well, at least all the ugliness was beautiful, if that makes since, with the next-gen graphics. It was very immersing. I felt like I was right there in that wasteland frantically shooting (and missing) at radicals and ghouls with the V.A.T.S system (which was kinda cool).

  6. Jacobon 15 Nov 2008 at 3:43 pm

    It was very well-rendered ugliness, but after a point it really wore thin.

  7. Bapmanon 22 Nov 2008 at 1:16 am

    I don’t know what you guys played but for me F3 was everything I wanted in the new Fallout game.

    First-person view totally immersed you in the world.

    No minimap world roaming… you actually had to walk aka free roam like GTA. Playing at night, lights off… the feeling of loneliness and a dangerous wasteland was just creepy in the awesomest way.
    It ran very smoothly, even on a low spec machine at med to high setting.

    Has the whole Deus Ex feel so even if you’re not a RPG fan you can play like a really hardcore first-person shooter.

    Every character had dialogue.

    The story may not have been as awesome as FALLOUT 2 but you know what… just like EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was never topped, neither would be that game. The sidequests were plenty and fun, too.

    I’m still playing this game and it’s just… sheer fun! I love this game!

    Sure, it could’ve used more weapons, more villains and more in your face missions like Fallout 2 and the ability to kill EVERYONE [especially Braun] and of course… hehehe… HOs.

    But honestly, the game gave so much in other way that these were just nitpicks!

    Stop being so judgmental and be supportive. We could’ve easily gotten a crap game but we didn’t. The makers put their a lot of effort into it so how about instead of complaining, we should thank them.

  8. Jacobon 22 Nov 2008 at 3:20 am

    “Plenty of sidequests…” what? According to a Fallout 3 walkthough I’m looking at, Fallout 3 only has 28 side-quests, a scandalously low amount. In contrast, Arcanum (made in 2001!) had more than that in a single town. And, of course, none of Fallout 3’s miniquests affected the ending cinematic. What the hell?

    I suppose I would be more supportive if the game were, you know, good. When I spend money, I grade the game by whether it is satisfying, not whether it is as crappy as it could have been.

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