I’m being a traitor, I’m playing this on my XBOX 360 as my laptop isn’t up to running the game (the graphics alone make it cry).
One of the criticisms I’ve heard of the console version is that it’s incredibly dark, and it is but I don’t think it detracts from the overall experience. The overall darkness gives the game that oppressive atmosphere that feels very post-apocalyptic, apparently the creators of the game were inspired by ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy and from walking down endless broken roads with occasional burnt out cars surrounded by post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland and (what I presume is a little homage to ‘The Road’) a shopping trolley every now and then.
The character creation system is incredibly creative and a very nice idea, being the opening part of the game where you are born and experience moments growing up that determine you traits and specialities. Once the story kicks off, it’s very Fallout-esque, you’re leaving the vault for the first time and you’re on a quest to find something (in this instance, your father).
The karma system is good fun, your in game actions influence how other characters react and treat you. I’ve been playing the good path because I want to experience all aspects of the game before I have a go at being evil (I can’t wait to blow up Megaton once I’m done with being good and re-start the game as evil). The lockpicking mini-game is starting to wind me up, mostly because I’m really rubbish at it and at first the computer hacking got on my nerves but now I’ve got the hang of it I like the challenge it presents.
I’ve already mentioned the darkness, and one thing that it does really well is making you jump out of your skin! The feral ghouls are horrific, you hear them and your locator thing warns you that there is one somewhere near by so tense up in preparation for a ghoul attack and then WHAM! the damn thing is behind you, right up in your face. The super mutants haven’t scared me much, they’re big and lumbering and you can see them as unlike the feral ghouls they don’t like to hang around in the dark damp sewers or down in the underground, the fire ants are a pain but once you do the quest to eliminate them then they won’t be a problem… molerats and mirelurks are good fun to fight. Oh and the blowflies? Damn creatures.
The combat system is interesting, like the original games you can enter into a specified targeting system (called V.A.T.S). Some people are going to love it, others are going to hate it, me? I love it. I find that you use so much ammo fighting without using V.A.T.S and if you’ve got a well maintained weapon (shotguns are my favourite) you can usually score some crucial hits. That’s another thing that’s awesome, you need to keep your weapon in good repair and you can scrounge bits from the wastelands to make certain modifications to your weapon.
Where the game falls down are the moments when you realise just what’s missing from this new version and sometimes the dialogue with the characters makes you want to send the developers a thesaurus and out on a script writing class. These are the three things that have struck me so far about the differences that I’m not to keen on.
1) Simplified Interface
You can’t interact with the game as much as the originals. Your various skills (medicine, repair, science etc…) are underused, you can’t use medicine or first aid skill on yourself and you can only initiate barter or repair if the game asks you. Also, whether you can do certain things such as a pick a lock or hack a terminal are restricted, if you haven’t got a high enough rating you can’t interact with it.
2) Too Many Drugs
This is probably to make up for the lack of medical/first aid interaction but it’s very easy to find stimpacks and other health helping drugs. At one point I was carrying fifteen stimpacks! I don’t recall ever having that many during my original Fallout experiences (maybe I was just a lousy scavenger). There seems to be many more drugs that will help you (Buffont) which are easy to get hooked on. In the original games getting hooked was bad, unless you find a certain Doctor in a certain town and are able to complete a certain quest for him you were screwed. In Fallout 3, all you need to do is head back to Megaton and hand over some caps to the Doctor and poof, cured.
3) Lack of Humour
The first games had a sense of humour ("Moo, I Say!") in not only the interactions with the objects but in the description that would pop up in the window. I miss that in Fallout 3. There is some humour in the game but it’s not as quirky or clever as the original games.
Overall I love the game, it’s not as good as the originals but I think it’s worthy to be the third in a series. Check it out.