Fallout 3 Impressions


Fallout vs Oblivion

Fallout and Oblivion are very different style of games. Personally, as a huge Fallout fan, and an Oblivion hater, I was nervous that I was going to get more Oblivion than Fallout. Oblivion felt like like it came out of a random fantasy RPG generator: the story, stats, towns, and quests all felt completely generic and uninteresting to me.

I previously said that I would rather play a game by the old Fallout team using the Oblvion IP rather than the Oblivion team using the Fallout IP. I was wrong. Bethesda nailed it. They authentically captured all the magic and personality that made Fallout 1 + 2 great, and they evolved the whole experience further.

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Pros

  • Decision Trees: There are tons of decision trees to this game. Beyond basic good/evil decisions, there are tons of dialog trees and optional questing routes to take. I love this mechanic and wish more games would use this.
  • Flexible Game Progression: All game missions and objectives can be completed in multiple ways. Characters can take many different useful combat specializations and extra specializations and play the game in very different ways.
  • Nails RPG Basics: Stats, combat, story and atmosphere are the cornerstones of a traditional RPG, and this game really nails all of them.
  • Stats: All RPGs have tons of stats, but a mediocre RPG has bland, generic stats that make leveling up feel like a chore. The stats in this game are all fun. None of the stats are worthless, each one lets you do cool stuff in the game. It’s fun to choose perks and it’s exciting to get to assign new points. The stat system is basically the same as Fallout 1 + 2, but it was great back then, and it’s very well integrated into the current game.
  • Combat: The combat is fun. It’s mostly picking a body part and rolling the dice. It’s got strategy, and the rag doll death animations are very satisfying and fun to watch.
  • Story Line and Atmosphere: This isn’t Shakespeare or anything, but by RPG standards, the story is very entertaining and fun to play along with.
  • Authentic Fallout experience: Bethesda did a phenomenal job at capturing the the personality and experience of Fallout 1 + 2 while using new tech and making several major improvements.

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Cons

  • Glitchy: This game doesn’t have a few glitches, it has tons of them. However, most of them are mostly minor. The worst glitches required a game restart. These glitches can be irritating but they have a fairly minor impact on the overall experience.
  • Repetitive Art: Thee overall style is good, but the art assets felt very repetitive throughout the game. Most environments looked the same.
  • Character Models and animation: The character models all have a very stiff feel to them. It seems like artists designed separate head, torso, arms, and legs while a crude program stitched them together and animates them.
  • Anticlimatic: The game felt like it had a long, slow start of killing bugs and such, and when the game finally felt like it was really getting going, it abruptly ends.
  • Fallout Remake Rather Than Sequel: This is a completely new engine, and has completely new dialog and characters, but the overall story arch, and game progression felt exactly like Fallout 1 + 2. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it is a great formula to begin with, but the game felt like a Fallout remake rather than a sequel.
  • Combat quirks can be gamed: Monsters can’t open most doors, so a popular tactic is too use all your action points on targeted attacks, leave the room, relax and recharge in safety, then reenter the room with full AP and repeat.

Bottom Line

This game has tons of flaws, but ultimately, this is an awesome RPG. I’m not a huge RPG fan, but this is easily the best RPG that I’ve played since the earlier Fallout games. It’s addicting, exciting, and does full justice to the Fallout license.

I got a solid twenty hours of playtime in, but my biggest gripe is that the game ended too quickly. I can’t wait to see Bethesda take this concept further with a bigger, better sequel.


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by Mike on December 31st, 2008

    I’m not huge into RPG’s either but this is on the short list for my game of the year. The main quests left a little to be desired but the side quests are very entertaining and take you to some very interesting locations within the game world. The biggest drawback to me is how you can be kinda screwed on collecting certain items. Anyone who gets “locked in” the final encounter knows what I am talking about (fortunately this didn’t happen to me since my most recent save was not from within that specific area) and how certain bobble heads cannot be found if you’ve completed main quests. Oh well, there is always the second playthrough which I’m sure I’ll do again.

    Looking forward to the DLC for this (I got the 360 version). Kind of a shame Microsoft paid to keep content from appearing in a particular version but that is old news at this point.

    Also anybody that doesn’t have this can get it for $39.99 at Target this week. Can’t really go wrong at that price.

  2. #2 by Segitz on December 31st, 2008 [ 1470 Points ]

    I loved this game… I played hours on end… but the main story… UGHH… first of all it is totally anticlimactic, short and ends boring…

    Some sidequests however are fantastic!

    But, there are some kinks I had… there were clearly not enough weapons and enemys… I found myself killing the same enemys over and over again. Also the animations, just like in Oblivion sucked. The game crashed on me SEVERAL times, which was mostly not an issue (it autosaves every time you enter a new building etc. which happens quite often) and also all the train stations were boring, as they all looked alike.

    But I do like the Trophies… none of them are chores (unlike many other games like MS2, Warhawk…).

    And no DLC makes me sad… Maybe I’ll get them for the PC, but that is a very big maybe.

  3. #3 by Gary on December 31st, 2008

    You finished the game in 20hrs, Darrin? I’m 21hrs in and haven’t even done the 2nd part of the main story. I’ve been exploring and doing side quests.

    It’s a far superior game to Oblivion. I’ll definitely play through a 2nd time and be a complete bad arse rather than aim for the good karma. Not sure if my conscience will allow me to be evil though…

  4. #4 by Darrin on January 1st, 2009 [ 17143 Points ]

    Actually, I double checked, and I finished in 24 hours according to game clock. I did a few side quests, but clearly there were many more. I wasn’t rushing at all, and really took my time on some parts.

    I always play the “good” karma path when there is a choice, but I had to break that a few times during my playthrough. Did you play the childhood simulation (without a walkthrough guide)? Or did you have to deal with the slavers?

  5. #5 by Gary on January 2nd, 2009

    Childhood simulation? Slavers? If they are side quests I haven’t done them yet. I’m currently on the last chapter for the Survival Guide. Over 25hrs and still haven’t progressed with the main story at all.

    Dogmeat is a permanent resident at my ‘apartment’ though. The stupid dog kept getting killed. :-(

  6. #6 by Trev on January 3rd, 2009 [ 26623 Points ]

    i beat the game in just under 50 hours doing a fair amount of side quests and reached rank 18. although i never found the dog.
    must say that this game is amazing. i’ve been talking about it to everyone and people who who don’t even like games are fascinated by it. only problems i have encountered are the odd freeze but it only stalled on me twice to force a reset so no biggie. the trophies are very well implemented too and i can’t wait to start my second play through to get the rest.


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