Fallout 3 Reviews

Another big roundup as positive reviews (though with minor-to-major niggles) keep surfacing on the web. Ars Technica (buy it).

Nonetheless, like every other RPG lover out there, I have been anticipating the release of Fallout 3 since Bethesda first announced it was working on the title back in 2004. Poised to use gameplay elements and upgraded technology from Oblivion, including Gamebryo, Havok, and Speedtree, I could not help but wonder if the team would alter some of the maddening game play elements I felt hindered Oblivion’s experience. Previously, enemy skill levels automatically adjusted to match the player, destroying the player’s ability to overpower enemies who once proved difficult. Or how about enemies repopulating dungeons that were cleared out during a prior quest? I felt Oblivion pleading with me to paint all over its huge canvas, but despite my effort, it would inexplicably wipe my work clean. I want to exist in the world in a way that makes more sense, and that’s what I was hoping for from Fallout 3.

The only thing more pronounced than the hand-wringing over this title was the hope that it would actually live up to its name. We’re happy to report that the humor, violence, and open-ended nature of the original games arrived intact. While most $60 games only last eight hours or less, we put 50 hours into the game before writing this review. Come with us to see what we found.

Game|Life 8/10.

And then it dawned on me: Nothing in Fallout 3 is funny.

Certainly, you’d expect a post-apocalyptic wasteland to be depressingly bleak. But what the first two Fallout titles did so well was to show that even in the darkest of times, the irreverent human spirit remains. Interplay was very good at crafting a number of fun in-jokes and meta-references the encounter with Dr. Who’s TARDIS, for instance that elevated the series above the average RPG.

Fallout 3, by comparison, is much darker. In the first hour of gameplay I encountered no less than three drug addicts — not including my own character, who picked up a nasty Jet addiction. As if to drive the darker theme home, Bethesda even included a side quest where you’re given the option of becoming a vampire. This kind of thing is quickly becoming a trademark of the publisher’s titles, but in a futuristic world it seems out of place.

Fallout 3’s story isn’t bad. Actually, it’s incredibly deep and nuanced, and stands up against any recent RPG’s. But it just isn’t as good as those of past Fallout games. It’s not enough of a flaw to deduct points from the game’s score, but longtime fans should be aware of the issue.

GameZone 9.4.

The story of Fallout 3 isn’t as epic as I first imagined, but it’s at least satisfying when you get deep into the title. Players will experience a heaping amount of choices they’ll have to make and several of them surround the life or death of an NPC. You see, Capital Wasteland isn’t a cheerful place to live everybody hates everybody. This dog-eat-dog world is all about survival and the only person anyone cares about is themselves. So NPCs will provide you secrets and insights about other people to better their own lives. Whether it’s a henchman of a bar owner telling you how to steal his money and kill him or a bigot giving you information on where to find a party of ghouls to murder, Fallout 3 is an a extreme world that doesn’t like to take (no) for an answer. Within the first few hours of gameplay, you’ll learn that the best way to play Fallout 3 is to play as the anti-hero (i.e. Wolverine, Gambit, and The Punisher) who is only needs to look out for number one (a.k.a. yourself).

HEXUS 8/10.

Primarily though, the characters lack, for want of a better word, character and the desolate brown coloured wasteland never feels that exciting to explore.

It’s easy to play Fallout 3 with Oblivion in the back of your mind, but if you do that, you’ll regret it. It simply doesn’t live up to its impeccable standards of gameplay and presentation. Still, if you can get past the first couple of hours of slow gameplay, you’ll still spend hour upon hour exploring the vast wastelands, enjoying the new combat mechanic and collecting anything and everything you can lay your grubby hands on.

Platform Nation.

Fallout 3 does not really have too many flaws which hurt the game. In fact, I would almost say that this game is almost perfect, almost. The biggest negative think about Fallout is the amount of time that you will have to put into the game, but you can not really fault Fallout for this as it is a RPG, and an amazing RPG at that. For myself, I accrued a little over 20 hours of gameplay to finish the main story and only a couple of the many side quests. For the casual market this will be an issue, that and the complexity of the game. Flaws are just not something that I noticed in Fallout. I had a single game freeze, the load times were on par with most other games. My only real complaint is the lack of a flashlight. At times it would be hard to see and the only thing I could do was to raise the in-game brightness . As you can see, I am reaching for a complaint as there are few with this game.

Total Video Games 9/10.

The Karma system however is perhaps an area of contention for long-standing fans of the series. Adding or deducting points based on your good or evil acts the setup is a little too clinical for its own good. It’s all too easy to change your alignment as and when you need (purified water to beggars or stealing), and whilst we can understand Bethesda not wanting players to become too restricted by one or two choices, the setup may be a little too ‘black and white’ for fans of Fallout. Morality is a grey area in reality and it would have been more satisfying to see things a little more muddied up instead of the calculated approach that Fallout 3 adopts whilst adding some weight to your decisions wouldn’t have gone amiss Megaton aside.

Crispy Gamer Buy It.

A lot of the gameplay involves picking your way through the sad leftovers of civilization, looking for things you can use. Ammo, raw meat, liquor. Cigarettes and sensor modules to trade for gun repairs. That one guy said he wanted Sugar Bombs. Oh, and you need a pilot light from a stove to make a flamethrower. Wasn’t there an old stove in that diner shell to the northwest? It’s a hardscrabble existence. Inflation might kick in by the end for power gamers, but otherwise, it’s a delicate barter economy struggling its way into currency, using bottle caps as money to even out the trades.


With Fallout 3, Bethesda hasn’t so much created a game as they have created a living, breathing slice of post-apocalyptic America for you to survive in. Much like a Vault dweller taking his first steps into the sunlight, it’s easy to be initially overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of the game, but once you learn the ins and out of life in what’s left of the Washington DC area, you’ll find that you aren’t so much playing the game as you are living it. While it only took me thirteen hours or so to complete the main storyline from start to finish, that’s not the way to experience Fallout 3. Be prepared to invest a large amount of time and you’ll be rewarded accordingly.

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