Fallout 3 (2008)

Fallout 3 came out back in October, and it's taken me until the end of March to finish the game. That's because it's packed with an amazing amount of content in an open-ended sandbox type of game. It has a main story line that you can follow, but a ton of side quests can distract you, in a game that can last up to 60 hours or more.

Bethesda has done an amazing job, with visuals that are vivid in this first/third person, billion polygon, 3-D world; really giving you that feel of what the future would look like torn up by nuclear war in this post-apocalyptic rpg. Itís also populated with quite a few NPCs that have you doing everything from finding lost children to researching the ďWasteland Survival Guide.Ē There are also a ton of unlockables, like being able to get your own house where you can store stuff. It even comes with a used bed where you can rest, restoring all of your hit points.

The game uses real-time combat, and I was impressed with V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) which allows you to drop into a turn-based combat mode, specifically targeting enemy body parts and gaining critical damage bonuses that can have a grotesque impact. Itís fueled by the players agility, so putting maximum points into this is important, and it can really save on ammo if youíre not good at first-person shooters.

The game has carried over a few things from its predecessors, like the perk system. Just like Fallout 1 & 2, the perk system allows the player to gain specials abilities each time they level, anything from boosting primary stats to unlocking exploding corpses. There are so many perks that you canít choose all of them before completing the game, adding to the replay value of this title.

There's also a great soundtrack going on, featuring old 1950s tunes on one of the stations that you can pick up using your Pip-Boy (a wrist computer), but after playing the game for over 20 hours, listing to the same station of 10 or so songs starts to get old. Maybe if there were a few more stations to tune in to. I found one, but never got it to come in strong enough to hear it that well, and nobody really wants to listen to the Enclave and all of their propaganda.

The game is even slated with some downloaded content that will unlock the level cap from 20 to 30 and give it a different ending. I'm thinking about getting this. I only completed about half of the game so far, even though I did get to the ending cut scene and canít play that saved game anymore. But I can back up to an earlier saved game, playing through the rest of the content and seeing the new ending. I wasn't too happy with the way this one ended, so maybe Bethesda will come up with something a little punchier. I can only hope.

The game does suffer from everything looking like some color between brown and rust. The ground is brown, the buildings are cover in rust, and after awhile it feels like everything just blends together with nothing standing out. Though things like Rivet City, a city built on an aircraft carrier, help to break it up a bit. This is really a minor point though, in a game that has so much going for it.

Fallout 3 is superb game that has a strong story line with plenty of side quests to keep you going for hours. The characters are memorable and the quests impacting, as the game keeps track of your actions and how you deal with people, Karma has been brought over from the previous games as well. Bethesda has recreated a wasteland for the modern gamer to bribe, steal, or kill their way through. So make sure to take your Rad-X, the irradiated waters of the waste might have you growing an extra arm. A must have for any fan of the series, and a great example of open-ended game play that matters, Bethesda does it again! This game is well worth your time.