I finally finished Fallout 3. The time on my last save game was 98 hours and change. As you can tell, I didn’t exactly rush through the game; I spent a lot of time on those side quests and just poking around, looking at things — I knew I was close to the end, but there was just so much stuff to do. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and end it, leave some of the yet-unseen stuff for my next playthrough.
I’ve heard some people complain that if you just stick to the main quest, the game is over pretty quickly. That’s an idiotic complaint; you might as well whine that if you keep your eyes closed in a movie, you don’t see anything. The amount of content in this sucker is nothing short of amazing. I still had open side quests I could’ve gone after when I wrapped this thing up, and I know for a fact that I still hadn’t even explored everything in the Capital Wasteland. I know there’s still a lot to see and do; I was a complete goddamn saint the first time around, and that alone clearly ruled out a lot of the content.
When I reviewed the game, I gave it a perfect 10/10 score on Tilt.tv. I don’t do that a lot, if only because if you throw that around indiscriminately, inflation’ll make it a meaningless score. (Not that scores are terribly meaningful anyway, but that’s another post.) On the other hand, you need to hand it out sometimes — otherwise the scale doesn’t really go that high and it becomes a meaningless score all over again. The other game I’ve given a perfect score to in recent memory is GTA IV (off the top of my head, I can’t remember the last time I did it before that), and I’ll stand by both scores: I think they really are just about as good games as they could be expected to be, given their ambitions and the current state of the technology the industry is using.
Which is not to say that these games are utterly perfect. They aren’t. Fallout 3 certainly has its faults — a few bugs, the dialogue trees sometimes follow a logic no human mind can fathom, things like that. Just looking at some of the textures makes it pretty obvious that its graphics are nowhere near the top of the current crop of games, and the pop-up can be pretty gruesome as well… if you care about that sort of thing, and I can’t say it bothers me at all. But it is a flaw, and I am aware of it. Some things do actively bother, like the way radscorpions seem to sink into the geography a lot of the time, or the disappearing robot bug in Big Town (which didn’t make completing the mission in an acceptable way impossible, but it pissed me off just the same). That dialogue thing in particular drives me up a wall, because the talky bits really interest me — hell, they’re what give the action and the exploration the context that makes the game so awesome, and when it fails, it really jars me out of the experience.
So no game is perfect. But Fallout 3 hits that sweet spot somewhere between ambition, innovation and the reality-imposed limits of the production that simply cannot be ignored if you actually want to release the game at some point — the perfect being the enemy of the good, and all that. Realistically, I couldn’t really expect it to be much better; the flaws are more than made up for by the game’s superb atmosphere, the vast amount of content, the sense of being there, the pure fun the game offers, all that good stuff. I like that it manages to treat American history and ideals with a certain degree of reverence without coming off as stupid or jingoistic while simultaneously dealing with the results of blind patriotism in a firm “show, don’t tell” fashion. I mean, it’s a smart game. And hell, it even features an actual innovation to the stale FPS formula in the form of the V.A.T.S. — when was the last time that happened?
So, yeah. I’m very pleased with it. For me, it’s pretty much the game of the year; I can’t think of any other game that’s kept me this entertained and… uh, I guess content would be a good word to use. I’m happy with the game, you know? I’m having a genuinely great time with it.
Next up: playthrough #2, now as a complete motherfucker. Rest assured, this time the Overseer’s getting two in the back of the head just for looking at me, never mind all that mouthing off. Because that’s the kind of an unbelievable bastard I intend to be on my second Wasteland outing. Hell, I think we’re going to see a mushroom cloud, too. I’m just saying that I could see myself touching those fireworks off, you know? We’ll see where rolling like that takes me.
I bet it’s going to be great.
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