2008 Reviews

Fallout 3 (GOTY Edition)

  • Review Date: 2012-08
  • Release Date: 2008-10
  • Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  • Rating: 9.5

As a reviewer, I can probably be quite harsh on some games. Not so much the budget, less-heard of games, but the popular titles that everyone loves and rave about. I find much of time they're not as great as the industry makes out.


For the whole of 2007 and 2006 I only rated five games above an 8/10. Admittedly, I missed some of the RPG's like Oblivion. But Fallout 3 is not over-rated at all, it deserves all the praise it gets and I'd say it's certainly in the top 10 games I've ever played.


A game to me is not just about the initial release, it's about the continued support from the developer and community. My favourite games; Quake, Quake 2, Half-Life, Doom 3, Crysis - they've all had expansion packs, they've all had hundreds of custom levels and missions created. That's the same with Fallout 3; beyond the huge initial game Bethesda provided five great addons and the community of custom releases and mods is huge. This would be the first game since Doom 3 that I would have topped over 100 hours playtime and I'm still not sick of it. I've been playing it every day for almost three weeks now and haven't even started on user made quests yet.


Fallout 3 is basically a first person shooter - my favourite genre, only with tonnes of RPG features thrown in to extend the game. An open world where you can go wherever you want, upgradable weapons and items, player upgrades, lots of looting and the dozens of side quests you can do. But strip all that out and you've still got a shooter, one which I would still enjoy! Only the critics would have a big whinge if it's just a shooter.


I have to say shooter lightly because for me it was more of a melee combat game. Once I completed the first DLC and got the shocksword with full upgrades, I could take most of the enemies in the game with it fairly quickly. There seemed no point wasting ammo when my sword did the job. Then with the addition of The Terrible Shotgun and few other massively powerful weapons, the arsenal was impressive. With the weapon upgrades you can do and the fact that there are so many weapons in this game, I could quite easily play over again with a completely different style of attack.


The most impressive feature of Fallout 3 is quite simply it's size and scope. By the end of the game I'd explored just about every area in it, save for a few buildings, zones and metro's in the DC area. But after a while most indoor areas look the same anyway. But it's a huge area you can play in. I spent more time just wandering around the wasteland exploring than most games in their entirety, at least lately. And that was only after I got a perk which unlocked all the locations on my map, otherwise I'd be wandering aimlessly.


It was a real pleasure to stumble upon some areas like Oasis, where you meet a tribe of tree people and have to kill their god, or Canterbury Commons where you have to stop a fued between two superhero's. So far I've probably only done half the side quests possible, although some that I've missed don't sound all that exciting. I've definitely done all the best ones.


One of Fallout 3's big flaws comes from the main quest and storyline. In comparison to how big the world is and how much you can explore, the main quest is tiny. It's over before you know it and you'll probably only have seen 20% of the game's areas. Maybe not even that. I do wish they'd pushed out the main quest a bit more, maybe even include some of the side quests as required. Broken Steel should definitely have been that game ending; at least the last Broken Steel quest. But that's perhaps what Bethesda were intending, for you to take it upon yourself to explore the rest of the world and find the quests you want. It's all down to exploring and surprising the player when they find something, rather than handing it to them with arrows to follow.


Back to the main quest, it also lacked a bit in storyline. After finding your daddy, it didn't really go much further other than the usual "find and kill the bad guys".


There were also some bugs and issues. Firstly, Windows Live refused to let me login and after much pissing around I finally just created a new Windows Live account, which worked. Alt-tabbing out of the game crashes it most of the time, especially if you leave it minimised for more than a couple minutes. It freezes A LOT! It didn't seem to happy so much earlier in the game, but once I turned some graphics mods on and start on the DLC's, I'd get a frozen game maybe 10% of the time between level loads. Then the occasional random freeze just during gameplay. This could be to do with the mods, who knows.


But the most significant bug of all was the game ender for me - I got to the final main quest ready for the big battle, and the conversation with Elder Lyons wouldn't initiate. It's apparently a problem with the Broken Steel DLC being included. Not much help when it's automatically included in the GOTY edition. What's worse, there aren't any fixes for it, and lots of players have met this bug. The only way I was able to continue was getting someone elses save game right after the glitch. Of course their character was rubbish and they had a tiny inventory compared to me, which didn't help matters. I don't know why Bethesday can't fix this issue - maybe not enough people have come across it.


Other problems? The A.I. isn't exactly perfect, but it's adequate. The abhorrent Windows Live is painfully slow at logging in each time you start the game. Fortunately loading times are lightning fast between levels. Some players might get tired of the same old wasteland, though I found it fine. I also found the Pip-Boy slow and cumbersome.


The gameplay itself was fun and solid throughout. I did find it quite easy, especially in the early stages - perhaps until I installed the MMM mod which made a difference to the difficulty. There was a period where I was getting sick of killing the same old enemies and just wanted to explore. The easy difficulty perhaps isn't helped by giving you beds you can sleep in, almost whenever you want provided enemies aren't around so you can teleport to one, that instantly replenish your health. Still I was only on 'Normal', and this is a game probably more for console players.


I haven't mentioned much about the actual art direction and design itself, but suffice to say for a world this big, it looks absolutely terrific. There are many different styles here, not just wasteland but underground caverns and caves, hideouts, factories and military complexes, metros and many destroyed towns and cities, as well as thriving ones. There is enough for me, especially considering the hours I've sunk into this game. When you think about just how big the world is and yet there's so much detail and exploration, it must have taken a massive team to design all these areas.


Overall, while I haven't played most of 2008's best releases (Mass Effect and Dead Space still to come) I very seriously doubt anything with touch Fallout 3 as 2008's game of the year, especially if you get the GOTY edition with all DLC's included.






Operation Anchorage

This is a unique litle mission where you play a simulator from the past taking on the Chinese during a historical war. It starts out well as you fight on snowy mountain cliffs and bunkers but falls into a mediocrity in the end where you take out a flat and average designed industrial area. The inclusion of health regenators scattered around was interesting; they never ran out for me so it made the mission too easy. It's a must-do mission though to get the weapon and armor upgrades and the shocksword!


The Pitt

This mission takes place in a similar theme to the rest of Fallout 3, only much more industrial and dark. It's a factory and steelworks area where slaves are put to work. Your mission is to free the slaves. Not terrible, but I didn't like the look of the levels as much as the rest of Fallout 3. But it was at least a nice change of pace.


Broken Steel

I did end up playing this based on another players' saved game. This now explains why the main quest of Fallout 3 ended so abruptly without any end battle at all. Because Broken Steel is the true ending. This is different to all the other DLC's in that it actually relates to the main storyline of Fallout 3 and takes place in a number of existing areas in Capital Wasteland. That's not necessarily a good thing, because I've seen all these kind of areas before, and the finale at the Enclave military base was even more uninteresting than Operation Anchorage. On top of that, the enslaught of Enclave was too - I found it too difficult to actually enjoy it. Framerates also dropped considerably.


Point Lookout

This is quite an interesing DLC, because it doesn't feel like the rest of the game to me. It takes place on a mysterious island, full of exploration, and feels more like an old adventure game like Myst. Which is definitely a good thing as I thoroughly enjoyed it. While the main quests aren't too long, there are several side quests. The only problem was the initial battle was too difficult, then after that there was barely any combat throughout the DLC.


Mothership Zeta

The least liked of the DLC's? Well I enjoyed it. It did really show some weaknesses, especially with the average A.I. of the aliens. But the new weapons were good, with tonnes of ammunition. The health of some of the aliens can be a bit boring as you're hacking away for too long. The worst addition were the turrets. I thought developers had got beyond the inclusion of turrets in games? Overall it was great to see a new style and the ship did look quite cool, albeit very cramped at times which can affect gameplay.




Suggested Mods


After playing most of the game without mods, I eventually researched many of the top ones to see how I could improve Fallout 3, so here's a few suggestions below. I only included enhancements, not additions such as new quests and areas.


NeilMc_NMC's Global texture pack for Fallout 3

This is a must-have. Unless you have a slow computer and you can't higher quality textures, this provides a massive different in the level of detail in the textures of Fallout 3. Everything becomes much clearer and better looking.


Marts Mutant Mod

While MMM provides many new features, it's the variety in creatures that really stood out to me. Many new creatures and mutants, new skins and different versions of creatures all with their own unique strengths and stamina. It's not a good idea starting afresh with this mod becomes it does increase difficulty. I eventually had to turn it off when I got to Broken Steel - battling the normal Enclave was hard enough without Enclave Deathclaw Alphas and Super Mutant Enforcers mixed in.



No question about this one, it's a must have to give the game much more beauty to it's environment. No more of the ugly green drab look, Fellout brings colour to the world and some much better skies. Sadly it renders night time almost pitch black. You won't be wandering the nights anymore with Fellout.


F3ProjectRealityMkI also provided much better environments and weather effects, but when it started raining or snowing the framerate dropped to unplayable levels. So only use on a super computer.


Magic Pip-Light, which is pretty important to see at night if you're running Fellout.


Run Faster, which just makes all the characters in the game move a bit faster than the painfully slow default speed. It's not cheating because all your enemies move faster as well.


Games for Windows Disabler, drastically reduces loading time of the game.


And don't forget ArchiveInvalidation Invalidated and Fallout Mod Manager and Fallout Script Extender required for running many mods.