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"Fallout 3"


"Fallout 3" was developed by a company in Bethesda, MD, so as a game featuring a local setting of post-apocalyptic Washington, DC, I liked the general look and feel of this ginormous role-playing game...but, ultimately, the game was too ginormous for me.

After spending more than 42 hours trying to finish the game, I was ultimately unsatisfied with the game's story even if I liked working my way through it.  200 years in the future, Washington, DC is an irradiated warzone where many residents live in underground vaults set up by the government to foster life where it is safe.  You, the player, start out literally from birth to learn that your father has left you in a safe zone vault in northwest Washington, and at the age of 20, you set out on your own to find your father and learn more about the hell that is our world.  Taking place in either a first-person or third-person perspective, you go through a traditional mix of shooter and RPG/level up system to find your father, as well as solve mysteries and fulfill quests throughout the Capital Wasteland.

The game, like many other titles on 360 or PS3, is incredibly stunning in terms of its visuals.  The characters move fluidly, the nasty enemy creations are fun to watch in motion, and the scope of the world is impressive.  The interface for the player is mainly through an arm brace called the Pip-Boy 3000 (it basically pulls up like a quarterback's plays on an arm brace), which monitors your current quest, weapons and armor, perks, attributes, skills, etc.  Fighting happens in real-time, either through a standard first-person shooter format, or through V.A.T.S., the game's targeting system that allows you to target specific parts of enemies to cripple limbs or eliminate them altogether.  This allows for some fun moments, as you blow the leg off of a bear or the arms off of a soldier to take them out of the picture in slow-motion (naturally, it had to happen in slow-motion!!).

But, over the course of 40 hours, this gets repetitive and taking down Mole Rats and Super Mutants (two of the game's roughly 20 unique baddies) while walking through tight hallways becomes a bore.  Add in long dialogue sequences driven by on-screen text and voice-over work, and sometimes, "Fallout 3" has built-in pauses that lengthen a long affair.  I didn't even do the majority of the side missions; once I figured out this would be a long game, I started passing up some of the mini-missions to shave time off the bottom line.  It could have easily taken 55-60 hours to see the whole game.

And, as this is a story-driven game for one person, there is no multiplayer, so there's that...for a person that has the time to drive through this thing, it's not bad, and occasionally, it's pretty good.  But, I thought it was never great and its story--and, worse, its ending, which almost led me to fling my controller out the friggin' window--could have used some major work.  "Fallout 3" will probably go onto the shelf and stay there for a while!

Rating:  $40


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09