Bethesda delivers a refreshing take on the Role-Playing game, making it accessible to both RPG lovers and shooter fanatics. Fallout 3 provides an amazingly realistic post-apocalyptic atmosphere with compelling gameplay that will keep you entertained for hours.
Fallout 3 has possibly got one of the most complex, yet cohesive gameplay mechanics that has ever been seen in a game. The game begins with the birth of the main protagonist; at this point you can customize (to a great extent) what your character will look like when he or she is older. The main character also has 3 different, but equally important statistics that can be upgraded. The first of these is Skills, Skills are upgradeable every time you level up for example Lockpicking, Science, Medicine, Melee Combat, Big Guns and many more. The second statistic which is also upgradeable to a certain extent is S.P.E.C.I.A.L., this is a set of attributes that are chosen at the beginning of the game and range from Strength and Perception to Agility and Charisma. These skills are not upgradeable every time you level up, but are upgradeable during certain side quests. The third and final set of statistics is known as Perks, one of which can be chosen after each level up. These RPG elements should please RPG fans, but the level limit is placed at Level 20 in this game. The reason for this is so that the player can't be good at every skill, and can't get every perk, because of this you have to choose what to upgrade carefully.
Fallout 3 can be played in either Third-Person view, or First-Person (hit L1 at any time to switch), but personally I'd say the First-Person view is better. Combat is accessible to almost everyone, because the game can be played like an RPG or FPS. The integrated V.A.T.S., or Vault Assisted Targeting System, can be used during combat (hit R1) to fire at an enemy automatically. This system relies on Ability points and a percentage of accuracy, based on a variety of conditions e.g. distance from enemy, luck, weapon range, condition of weapon etc. If you don't like this uncertainty you can always rely on your own skills and play the game like a standard First Person Shooter.
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One of the best features of Fallout 3 is the ability to do almost anything in the game. Almost everything can hacked, lock-picked, stolen and almost everyone can be killed (except children, don't ask me why I was trying to kill a child in the game). Due to this Fallout 3 is similar to Deus Ex, but takes this freedom to do almost anything to a much higher level.
The story is surprisingly engrossing, it makes the player want to play the game, so-much-so that playing the game for six to eight hours a day still does not seem enough. Also unlike many RPGs, the side-quests have very satisfying and rewarding plot-lines. Some side-quests even give you specific perks and abilities that are, although not essential, unique and surprisingly useful throughout the course of the game. All the quests in the game have multiple endings; there is usually a good or bad path to each quest. This can raise or lower your karma level, depending on what actions you take. The karma level in turn decides on how your character interacts with others, and allows you to recruit a person with similar ideals to help you throughout your journey.
The dialogue system is similar to the dialogue system in Mass Effect, for those that don't know how that system works; it is simply a list of things available to say depending on what you have learned throughout your journey in the Capital Wasteland and the level of your Speech or Barter skill. The dialogue is inferior to Mass Effect in one way; the main protagonist does not speak...ever, despite this Fallout 3's dialogue system is one of the best available.
In terms of graphics Fallout 3 looks very good, but not as great as you'd expect a next generation game to look. This isn't helped by the fact that the PS3 version of the game looks slightly worse than the Xbox 360 and PC versions in some ways, as well as the various bugs relating to the PSN (it's recommended to log out of the PSN before playing the game).
There is no doubt that the game looks better in first person than in third person, switching to the third person view once will put you off immediately from touching the L1 button ever again. In third person view the main character's animation is poor, and looks like he/she doesn't make contact with the ground properly. Despite this the game looks fantastic as a whole and the environments reflect a truly realistic post-apocalyptic world. The audio is fantastic and helps to solidify the post-apocalyptic feel to the game.
Bethesda have managed to deliver a great must-have game, with fantastic graphics, an open world environment and a huge variety of weapons available to use. Whether you own a PS3, Xbox 360 or PC, be sure to buy this game for your console of choice. Fallout 3 is not perfect, but definitely a great game.
Overall Score: 9.5/10