Fallout 3 Review
In The Beginning…
In the fall of 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis held the world in a grip of fear as the two great nuclear powers of the day, America and The Soviet Union, came as close as anyone ever has to unleashing their atomic arsenal upon the world. This foreboding fear of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War hung over society worldwide and influenced everything from movies to books, to television and video games. Mad Max, The Watchmen, Red Dawn (WOLVERINES!), and the Fallout Series are all prime examples of great works of art that were directly influenced by the Cold War. Fallout 3 is the latest game in this seminal series that started in 1997 and has won numerous awards over 6 different games. But after a change of developers and 10 years, can Fallout 3 live up to the success of its predecessors or is it just another rehash nostalgic cash-in?
Story and Setting
Set 200 years after the bombs fell, and 36 years after the previous game, Fallout 3 places you in the shoes of one of the lucky few who escaped the nuclear fallout by hiding in underground bunkers. You start out, strangely enough, being born in the game where your first glimpse is of your father. Your childhood serves as the tutorial of the game where you pick your appearance, gender, attributes, and starting skills, as well as where you learn the general mechanics of the game. This area also gives you the opportunity to master two very important features you will use throughout the entire campaign, the V.A.T.S. system and the PIP-Boy 3000.
V.A.T.S. or Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, allows the player to pause combat and plan their actions in a way that is more akin to turn-based gameplay. The player only has a set amount of action points, which is determined by your base Agility value. While in V.A.T.S., you can distribute your attacks across multiple enemies, as well as across one enemy’s body parts. This allows you to, for instance, disarm a target by aiming for his arms, making it extremely useful against enemies with a high amount of hit points.
The PIP-Boy 3000, meanwhile, is a wrist-mounted device that functions as a PDA of sorts, tracking all kinds of useful information like health status, inventory, location, in-game time, quest notes, and much more. The PIP-Boy can also be used to light up your immediate area thanks to its flashlight function, which makes traversing dark areas and caves a lot easier. The PIP-Boy is also host to the Fast Travel system, similar in function to the system used in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Once you have discovered (i.e., traveled to) a location, you can bring up your map and fast travel to that location as long as there are no enemies nearby and you are on the “world map”, which essentially means not in a cave or tunnel.