Thursday, 6 March 2014

Fallout 3

And so it begins, a mad little adventure in radiation

Stunning, amazing, awe-inspiring. These are words I use to describe myself on a regular basis. But enough about me, let's talk Fallout 3. I won't be using this to reference between Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, but to look at the game purely from the angle of the game itself. It's an intriguing and impressive game given the scope of the development and to bring about what seems to be a sort of 1960's sort of America into a nuclear (don't...) apocalypse and subsequent aftermath of the world.

The concept is this. Nukes were coming and the world was going to radioactive war and the powers that be decided to build a series of underground Vaults to hide people away. It worked to a point. A lot of people were left top-side to burn in the radiation fires and some managed to hide away under the ground to survive and thrive there while at the same time, many other situations arose where the vaults were used as experimentation sites.

Time for VATS, pick your body part and roll the dice to take your chances
YOU! The Hero(ine) are born, literally born from your mother straight into Liam Neeson's arms where upon you're aware of a situation where your mother dies and you're brought up by your father inside of the Vault. Jump forward a bit and it's baby's first steps time where you get to determine all the lovely number-crunchies that equate your stats and perks, a few more jumps give you a quick rundown of gunplay and the VATS system for targeting and attacking enemies, then we've a little situation where you're taking a test... or dodging the test, or just pratting around with the settings. Giving us a lovely little introduction to the idea that you can quite simply talk your way out of various situations and settings.

So you've got yourself a series of ways to play the game. The straight up, brute force method; the negotiator that can out-talk and out-think a ham-sandwich, or the middle ground of being a sneaky little bugger and doing all the naughty things that one would love to do, like planting bombs in people's pockets.

However, invariably the game world decides that shit has to go down, hit the fan and send tits up with a lead balloon before I mix up any more metaphors and launch YOU The Hero(ine) out into the world with a quick pause to double check if you're sure on the things that have happened so far, i.e. This is it, no way back now. Next stop the wide, wide world outside. And dear god it's big out there and very bleak.

The first time I stepped outside I was actually left in awe of the desolation wrought upon the landscape. The damaged buildings, destroyed villages, burnout shells of structures left with the chaos of their scaffolding in place and the dark oppressiveness came crashing down after creeping up like a stalker that stabs people with a knife made of suicidal impulses. It's really THAT bleak looking. Then I happily gallivanted off to go enjoy the world and kill things.

Rundown but stunning to behold, an ugly beauty.

However, this game is HUGE. I can't stress that enough. It's not quite like Huge on the scale of Just Cause 2 scale of games but there's the whole indoors thing going for it instead and a lot more variation in game and plot direction which compensates for the situation somewhat. Trust me when I say it's big, bleak, bad and will happily hand your arse to you on a silver platter and wipe it for you before slamming it back in your face. Because of this size, you get to do whatever you like to do in the game whenever you feel like it, though not as freely open as Daggerfall. If you want to follow the main quest, feel free to do so, if you want to raid some slavers then go do that. If you would like to run around and get into fights with the locals or nearby wildlife, do it! Or just rob the place.

So you're out and about, picking up lead pipes, pistols and getting chased by the nearby gangers while trying to find a place of refuge before realising that maybe you need to go find out what happened, what went wrong at the vault and why you and your father where rushed out of the door faster than Speedy Gonzales with a rocket stuffed up his arse. During this tour of the land you'll meet inhabitants of established towns and be given the chance to help them while levelling up your stats, or hinder them and become a bit of a demonised prick around the wastelands.

This is the sight that greets you upon exiting the vault and it's breath-taking.

There's a lovely little levelling system within the game. Kill something and get experience points, complete a quest for even more. Once you hit the level limit you can then choose a perk and boost some stats depending upon your intelligence and other perks already selected. So you could focus on hacking machines, learning science (which lets you shoot better with lasers...), getting better with light guns, heavy guns, your fists, fixing things, medical stuff to heal yourself and others, bombs and explosives, picking locks and so on. Though it all depends upon what you want to run for and how you want to play the game. Sometimes it's worthwhile going through the game as a smooth-talker and con/lie/cheat/seduce your way up the ladder until you get to the final boss and talk them out of doing whatever they're doing.

On top of this is the karma meter which swings back and forth depending upon a) how you resolve issues and b) how many non-combatant people you kill. Usually. The more of a fuckpig you are, then you'll get roving gangs of do-gooders coming to kill you and claim the bounty while the same is said for the other end of the good/bad spectrum with high level shitbags hunting you down because you're making everyone else look bad by comparison. The hardest way to play the game is be in the middle of it all and remain neutral to all situations. This does mean you can't hire certain people if you're too good/neutral/bad as they won't acknowledge your interests are in tune with their own, or some pseudo-bullshit along those lines.

Act effectively, because THIS one, will end you quickly.

It's a little broken in one regard, I blew up a town and slaughtered hundreds but were still considered to be a bastion of purity because of all the other tasks I'd done on the way there. Thankfully, there are some real brain-benders of situations where it's not so clear-cut as to the best way to resolve a situation. Namely, the Ghouls (intelligent... sometimes... zombie looking people) getting into a well-preserved, prestigious establishment. You could go on and try to change people’s ideas on the racism between one human and radiated one, you could wipe out all the ghouls, you could negotiate or attack the people with/without the help of the ghouls. But whatever is the outcome, it's never good. Situations like this need to be encouraged more often, force players into taking difficult paths with no clear outcome and even going into things with the best of intentions, can all backfire and blow up in your face.

Just a shame these happen so rarely in gaming.

Combat is a bit of a mixed bag, in that you can run in and take the usual first person perspective approach and go in guns blazing, or throwing explosives, or punching anyone out for it. Or there's the VATS system which seems to try to be something akin to Turn Based Combat in Real-time. You get to freeze time, pick a body part and see the % chance to hit the area and the resulting damage it could cause before applying the effect and seeing if it comes true and kill the target. All of these things can be improved and hampered by things like your arms being damaged (affects accuracy) using a weapon you're unskilled in (lowers damage effectively and/or accuracy) or being very familiar with such weapons which boosts your accuracy and damage to 95% and high hitting powers.

"After the last house party, we decided the riot wasn't worth the costs..."

Or blow them up into pieces if you're using the explosive perk that turns enemies into chunky dog chow. The added bonus of VATS gives you a lovely slow-motion effect of the fight while it plays out and if you kill the enemy, you get to watch them ragdoll it to their demise, best done with several rockets and send them sailing over the horizon. It's an interesting addition and comes in very hand in some of the more intense fights, or when sniping something over long distance... with a rocket. The bottom line is that for the most part, aside from the occasional odd camera angles, it is very fun.

I won't be reviewing the DLC for now as the overall gameplay doesn't change for the most part so the reviews I'll bring in another session on the blog as it'll be going over the story and missions and whatever little extras there are but the gameplay remains the same for the most part throughout all the DLCs.

Water water everywhere, and all of it to drink. But you won't want to.

Looking at the core game though, it's fun; it's shocking in the right doses and will happily draw you in with the effective pacing and engrossing gameplay and storylines, marred only by the game forcing you into a final choice that can be utterly pointless and stupid in the end-game if you've characters with you that can survive radiation. THAT aside, you'll spend a long time exploring, getting sidetracked to explore some more, explore and keep going until you've found ALMOST everything.

Then you'll play again to be an absolute shit to the world and become the evil bastard you rightly should be.