Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fallout 3: Good Karma

I forced myself to write a glowing post about Fallout 3 only a few weeks ago. Just to level out my cosmic balance. But since the game got praised into high heaven by just about every other body on the planet, I'll try and keep it short.

When you look past all the flaws in Fallout, there is still a good many reasons to play this game.
And in fact, I have loved my time in the wasteland.
Maybe we can chalk this up to escapism and a hunger for exploration.

Maybe most interesting of all is the greater story found in Fallout 3. And i'm not talking about the main story line, because that, in fact, is rather bland in comparison.
Once you set out to explore this blasted world you're free to explore deserted and destroyed ruins of buildings, each of which could be considered a chapter in the big book of fallout 3. Each of which is a bite-sized short story. Told in the form of audiotapes or through the environment. In some cases you'll even meet the short story protagonists in the flesh. Or, what's left of it anyway.
Not only are these stories stand-alone, they each and all have their own level design. A beginning and an end. Some of the better ones are actually quite linear. Some have a very nice reward at the end. Like the bobbleheads you can collect.
On a side note: the bobblehead that came with the collectors edition is awesome. And I must have been one of the happy few that actually got the Outcast statue with it aswel.
Of course, some stories are told through side quests. But with these my imagination wasn't as actively involved, and it generally has more impressively written dialog.
Yes, the dialogues in Fallout 3 are quite bad. Have I mentioned this before? I don't know, even I don't read my blog. But rest assured it's not all bad.
some of the dialog is quite good. And well acted. If you know anything about the voice talent in Fallout 3 you're probably thinking of Liam Neeson right away. He's a good actor and his voice sounds comfortably familiar but the actual performance is a bit monotone.
No, the best actor in the game is Malcolm McDowell as President Eden. He's the most likable, life-like and sympathetic person around. Wink wink, nudge nudge. If you've played the game you'll understand the irony.
The runner up is the guy who voiced Harold, one of the most memorable characters. To bad he's not even listed on imdb.com, which implies he's not even a registered actor. Wink wink, nudge nudge. sigh.
Maybe we should list the likes of Bob Crosby, Roy Brown and Cole Porter. Since they add so much atmosphere and character to the world of Fallout.
On a special note: this game has one of my personal favorites, Paul Eiding in it. Unfortunately Bethesda had him only do his old man voice. Which is such a waste.

What else is a major appeal in playing an RPG? For me, Building a character is a big part of the fun.
The type of character you play influences gameplay quite a bit. And as with all RPGs, you take out of it what you put in.
Pre-building a character in your mind does kind of kill the spontaneity, but it helps to define how you will play the game, and what the experience will be like.
On my first play-through I was a good character, a saint with a gun dealing judgement on the lawless. The character was build to be the infiltrator I played in Mass Effect, and so relied heavily on stealth and long range combat. Using sniper rifles and energy weapons.
My second character was made into a medium to close range combat powerhouse using heavy armour, explosives, heavy weapons and melee combat. He's also an evil slave trading computer hacking bastard with a short temper and. I enjoyed playing him the most. But I think a lot has to do with the fact I understood the RPG mechanics behind the game better, and so was more effective at making this character work. Short of abusing the game.
The second time through I played almost entirely without VATS, playing it as a shooter (I do like aiming manually). Which I recon was more fun. If not for fallout's clunky combat mechanics. Luckily, burning ghouls to a crisp at close range doesn't require a lot of aiming and is great fun regardless.
If you want to explore the entire game without getting bored of it all, you'll have to set your own goals a bit though. So what I did was set out to reach specific goals for each play session. Like, explore the Nuka Cola Factory, go get the Luck Bobblehead. Go get this piece of armor. Collect this unique weapon. In many cases couldn't have done it without the Wiki (looking up locations of some of the gear) though. So again, the spontaneity is kind of lost. But I recon it's okay since I don't have 200 hours to spend on one character. And there's other games I would like to play. Like Dawn Of War 2. Which is another game where you shoot up green hulking monstrosities under the rule of a fascist leader.

As a close I would say that once a character is built, all loot has been hoarded, all quests are completed and the map has been fully explored, the game is done.
And as it stands, I'm done with Fallout 3. Unless future downloadable content provides a big enough draw, I might be done for a while.
If not, there seems to be a healthy mod community out there, and so far I've been seeing some interesting mods. Maybe all my wishes will be granted in the end (or I should make my own). But thus far I haven't bothered. Maybe for a future play-through in a world where days run 48 hours long, transportation is eliminated due to new portal technology, and every week there's spaghetti-Friday.
I already know what I'd want to play. A neutral unarmed combat stealth lady-killer ninja cyborg.
Yeah, that sounds great...

3 comments:

Chuck said...

You forgot Dan Castellaneta [of Simpson's fame] doing the voices of all of the ghouls, in addition to several others.

Chuck said...

You forgot Dan Castellaneta [of Simpson's fame] doing the voices of all of the ghouls, in addition to several others.

Chuck said...

Sorry for the double post...didn't mean to.