Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mother Gamer Plays Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition

I know. How could I have not played Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas? There are many games I haven't had a chance to play and as I've gotten older, I've become a little more discerning about which games I buy right away and sometimes I just miss a game or two here and there. I also wait until things go down in price and only really pay full price for a game if it's something I know I really want. Again, that comes with being an older nerd. At any rate, when I saw that I could buy Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas for 10 bucks, I did jump at the chance and I was excited to play. I started with Fallout 3 first of course and it was quite an interesting adventure.

The opening sequence was intriguing with the lone wanderer being born and of course this is so you can choose to be a boy or a girl and design your character and decide their race. I went with Asian girl and as I was picking out all the facial and hair designs, I wondered why there were several varying choices of bald. I mean, I get it. It's Fallout and with spiffy things like radiation poisoning hair falls out and people are bald, but so many choices of bald over actual hair. It was weird. I found a hair choice I liked and everything was great and I started my Fallout 3 story.

So the time jumps from baby to ten years old were interesting for getting to see how life was for my lone wanderer in Vault 101 and there was a birthday party for me where I get my very own Pipboy. Neat. Wandering around talking to everyone including a ridiculous bully named Butch (I was not nice to him and punched him. That was my freaking birthday dessert damn it!) was cool and it definitely sets the story up nicely. Then the time line jumps again and my character is 16 years old and has to take the G.O.A.T. (Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test for Fallout newbies) to decide what they'll be doing.

16 and ready to take the G.O.A.T. test. 

A last time jump happens and the lone wanderer is 19 years old and the main story of Fallout 3 begins. The Overseer's daughter and my friend Amata, wakes me up to tell me that her dad is losing it because my dad has left the Vault. Initially I was shocked and wondering what the heck she was talking about, but it turns out it was true. Dad left and didn't say a damn thing to me about it so of course I have no idea what's going on. Amata tells me she'll help me to leave because she doesn't know what her dad will do, so here I am running around trying to escape the Vault and thinking, geeze this is a messed up situation.

I was trying to play the chaotic good path, so I didn't kill the Overseer out of respect for my friend even though her dad was a freaking paranoid psycho. I managed to escape Vault 101 and here was this vast world in front of me and I couldn't wait to explore especially since the setting was in Washington D.C. a place I was familiar with having grown up in Virginia. So I set out to explore what was now known as the Capital Wasteland.  I discovered the town of Megaton and the people surviving in the Wasteland and picked up some quests as well. Megaton was definitely cool with all the different houses and the crazy atomic bomb that is just there in the center of town. 

Enjoying the view of Megaton. 

From there the big thing in Fallout 3 is finding my lone wanderer's dad and getting some answers about why he left and what exactly he was up to. There's all kinds of main quests and side quests for hours of game play giving the impression of a vast world. There's all kinds of danger in the Wasteland too ranging from Super Mutants to Mirelurks which definitely kept me on my toes. There's all kinds of weapons too and of course I liked that I could modify and build my own. You get companions who travel with you too and that includes everyone's favorite canine Dogmeat. I did like the fact that you could have two companions travel with you. I ended up choosing Dogmeat and my Super Mutant friend, Fawkes. They both worked really well together with taking down enemies. There's also two factions of the Brotherhood of Steel, the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood Outcasts. They seemed to have different ideas about what they should be doing. I did like Elder Lyons the leader of the Brotherhood of Steel though. There was a kindness and gentle wisdom to him that was incredibly likable. I did find it amusing to see Maxson and MacCready (they're in Fallout 4) as kids in Fallout 3. They seemed so different from who they are now. I actually liked Maxson better in 3 because he seemed a little kinder and a little more open.

Taking down a Mirelurk. 

My lone wanderer did find her dad and got to actually talk to him about what he was up to. Project Purity was a cool concept; the idea of clean water for everyone in the Wasteland was great and the fact that he figured out how to make it work was also great. I just didn't understand why he couldn't tell his own kid what he was up to and instead just left without saying a word and his excuse was the Vault would keep me safe. Really? Sure. I was so safe with the Overseer and his goons trying to kill me. It was hard to stay angry with him though when he was so apologetic and then proceeded to say nice things to his kid about how proud of her he was for surviving and trying to be a good person. 

Then, dad and daughter team up to work on Project Purity. I did do some side quests along the way before getting back to the main story. I enjoyed exploring the Capital Wasteland and seeing some familiar places such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. There's even a quest where you can break in to the White House to get somewhere. Granted the majority of it is destroyed, but it was still a pretty neat quest. 

Checking out the Jefferson Memorial with Dogmeat.

Of course in the main story, things don't go as planned thanks to the shady people simply known as The Enclave. That's where the Brotherhood of Steel comes in as you work towards the common goal of eliminating the Enclave who apparently have an issue with the idea of everyone in the Wasteland getting pure water that isn't irradiated for free. Again, I ran around and did more side quests for more level grinding and more things. I did like that I got a free house for helping the people of Megaton by quietly disarming that atom bomb before it blew everyone sky high. One of the vendors there sold themes for the Megaton house and I went with pre-war which was nice with a 50s retro feel.

Cool, I got my own house!

Did I enjoy Fallout 3? Absolutely. That isn't to say there weren't flaws. This is Game of the Year Edition so there was no excuse for a lot of the issues I had. This included all the DLC titles and these were fun to play. I especially liked the Broken Steel and Mothership Zeta quests. I also liked the nod to the Cthulhu mythos with the Dark Heart of Blackhall quest. The big thing was the constant game freezes. Mothership Zeta was especially bad with this and it got incredibly frustrating. I did all the tricks suggested; turning off the auto save and clearing some data. That helped a bit, but every once in a while the frame rate would drop and the game would freeze. It turned out this was a common problem on the PS3 and I found myself annoyed with it. Sure, it wasn't a big deal because I could just reload my last save and it would be fine. However, it does take away from the atmosphere of the game when that happens. There would also be odd glitches like Dogmeat walking up in the air above me or my character would disappear and there would be bits and pieces of me visible such as my hair and my hands. That was incredibly weird. The controls were a little clunky and I actually had to change the difficulty to very easy until I got used to them. It wasn't a big deal, but it was noticeable. 

I love the Fallout series and there's so much to enjoy about them. However with things like this happening, Bethesda should be embarrassed. For as long as the game has been out, there's no excuse in not fixing known issues especially when it comes to dropped frame rates and the game freezing. It made me glad that I follow my mantra of save my game and save often.

Technical issues aside, I did have fun playing Fallout 3 and liked the story a lot. The characters were good and the different paths I could take for the storytelling  were great because it did make me really think about what choices I wanted to make during my adventure. I'm glad I finally got the chance to play it and it was a great game. Now, I'm ready to check out Fallout New Vegas! 

*Fallout 3 is playable on these platforms: PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360

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