The lights are on
Survival is a key element in video gaming. If you want to beat Halo, you have to learn to use all the weapons efficiently to survive. If you want to make it past the first level of Bioshock, you have to search every nook and cranny for ammunition, money, and first aid kits. Every video game has the element of survival in it even if we don't realize it. Then comes along Fallout 3, which slaps you in the face with the harsh, bitter reality of what survival truly is.
You start off in Vault 101, an underground vault where you and your dad both grew up. As you make your character (in what I would call a very shallow character creator) you start as a baby, grow to a teenager, slowly forming all your skills, perks and attributes, and eventually become an adult. Which, unfortunately, is when your dad decides to up and leave the vault for no apparent reason. Naturally, you hastily follow him out into the harsh Capital Wasteland that was Washington DC. From the first step into the Wasteland, to the end of your adventure, it's now a game of survival.
Resources are scarce, and most things you find in the Wasteland are irradiated giving you radiation points upon consumption. In the beginning taking on some "Rads" is worth it just for some health. You'll find yourself drinking irradiated river water, eating meat off a dead animal you found, or scraping together enough caps (currency) to be able to buy a stimpack in town. You'll feel hopeless, alone, and desperate. Not to mention the enemies you'll encounter on your treks through the Wasteland will make you want to run back to your bed in the vault and hide under your covers. Ghouls that absorb radiation, Super Mutants wielding Chain Guns, giant radiation infused scorpions, the list goes on. If ammunition wasn't scarce enough, enemies will soak up your bullets like a sponge, water. This is where the super-handy V.A.T.S comes in. With the press of a button V.A.T.S will stop time completely and let you target an opponent's body parts so you can cripple limbs or blow up heads. Not only is this effective to take down quick and powerful opponents, it also saves you ammunition with it's accuracy. You'll find yourself using V.A.T.S a majority of the time, because the aiming system is a little sloppy and you'll find yourself missing a lot until you get the hang of it.
The first time you talk to someone you'll realize that you're playing a Bethesda game. Though this time around they got a lot more variety in their voice-acting, and the dialogue is well-scripted. However, the acting is still like watching cardboard talk and you won't find yourself getting attached to any of the characters.The soundtrack isn't much to talk about either, but the occasional radio will throw out a catchy tune. There are however some glitches in the textures, and sometimes you can see a gun sticking through a wall, but nothing to mar gameplay.
You would think it would be a difficult task to put Fallout and Oblivion together and come out with a hit, but Bethesda did it with ease. With solid RPG and FPS elements and a satisfying plot, I say Fallout 3 is definitely worth surviving until the end. Especially if you want to fight alongside a communism neutralizing, liberty spreading, giant robot with a bomb dispenser on it's back.
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