A dump of good intentions
There are very few games that have been successful in capturing the essence of a post-apocalyptic society, and fewer even manage to build an appealing narrative around it. Fallout 3 manages to do both, and not just in a run-and-gun sort of way, it offers an engagement where one ends up spending hours and hours engrossed in quests and objectives. A sequel to the RPG series developed by Interplay Entertainment, Bethesda took the Fallout franchise under their wing and gave it an overhaul, making it an First/Third-person shooter open-world RPG which allows the player complete control over the game progression.
The story begins with the player character emerging out of the mother’s foetus into the hands of their father, voiced by Liam Neeson. In early stages of your childhood you’re acquainted with various features of game in the form of learning as a toddler and setting up what you will grow up to be, selecting your personality traits in the form of SPECIAL – Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck – which affects your gameplay throughout till the end. A player may choose to allot any number of points to these features, or use all of the points in one area depending on his or her style of play. Fallout gives you the option of playing as a hero or an anti-hero – be an angel of peace or a blood-thirsty warrior, this is measured by the in-game feature called Karma. Karma can not only define how you play the game, but it also affects your interaction with the non-player characters, specially your companions. Every companion has their karma requirement: some companions can only be acquired through good karma, others only through bad karma.
One companion in particular who doesn’t care what your karma is and can be acquired early on in the game, is a faithful mutt called Dogmeat. Dogmeat follows you through thicks and thins and never once goes berserk on you even if you have a fluctuating karma, and is very hard to kill, making him a formidable match to your foes. Fawkes is a mutated green-giant who can also be asked to accompany you if you have a good karma.
Combat in Fallout 3 is as versatile as it offers both first-person and third-person engagements, and If you have a flair for turn-based shooters, VATS is for you. Valt-tec Assisted Targeting System, or VATS for short, is a first-person iteration of turn-based combat. Once activated, it freezes the enemies and provides the player with ample time to target and disable opponents. Just like health, VATS has a bar which runs out fast if you use it frequently so a combination of tactics and actions is required to get through obstacles.
From SMGs to machine guns, grenade launchers to nuke launchers, the weapons’ roster in Fallout 3 offers a diverse range of offenses. Energy weapon aficionados have several energy weapons at their disposal including Laser and Plasma rifles and pistols. The game takes creation seriously enough to give gamers the option to create their own weapon combining material salvaged from across the wasteland. These weapons include the conveniently named Shishkebab, a flaming sword that incinerates enemies upon dismembering them; Railway rifle, which fires railway spikes able to land a crippling shot and pinning enemies to background objects.
Keep it coming
DLCs in Fallout 3 offer additional content with their own set of stories. Mothership Zeta involves the player character getting beamed up into a gigantic alien vessel where you have to fight a horde of waist-length extra-terrestrials in order to get back to earth. Point Lookout tells the tale of an island with its own set of mysteries and unique enemies. Operation: Anchorage is a Matrix-like experience which takes you in World War-II era where you have to acquire knowledge so you could unlock a secret armoury back in your time. The Pitt takes you to a post-apocalyptic dystopia where a revolution is brewing, and it is up to you to separate fact from rumour and hysteria. Broken Steel extends the game further where you are introduced to the government and ultimately pick a side which will determine the fate of Capital Wasteland. This particular DLC opens the game world to indefinite play.
“…In the world of videogame are few games better than Fallout” – Todd Howard, E3 2015
True enough, Fallout 3 is a game with yet unrivalled gameplay and an experience that spans a huge open-world map, player-dependent progression, and hundreds of hours of gameplay.