Fallout 3 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Fallout 3 box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Bethesda Softworks 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Bethesda Softworks 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 28, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Fallout 3 utilizes both a first and third-person perspective during play. Players are free to choose between the two at the click of a button. You can even zoom in and out for a more withdrawn or over-the-shoulder perspective. Unfortunately, the standard shooter controls are not very good. That's actually an understatement. Any shooter fanatic will find the controls to be utterly imprecise. The accurate run-and-gun gameplay of titles such as Call of Duty 4 is simply not present in Fallout 3, and the first several hours of play are plodding and frustrating. In fact, the game plays as if it were a ported PC title; it begs for a mouse and WASD keys.

Fallout 3 screenshot

Consequently, instead of relying on years of acquired shooter skill, players will have to make use of the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System or V.A.T.S. for short. V.A.T.S. is a combat mechanic that uses action points (AP) to freeze the screen during encounters and allows you to strategically pick ideal body parts to decimate your foes. This system works quite well and is used to devastating effect as your character improves.

However, the game relies on the V.A.T.S. mechanic far too much. Instead of rewarding players with AP after skillful real-time shooter takedowns, AP will constantly regenerate, allowing players to use V.A.T.S. almost exclusively. In fact, I found myself running backward or hiding behind cover until my AP meter refilled during the majority of fights. All in all, V.A.T.S. is an interesting mechanic, but it's not particularly well implemented. And, when the novelty wears off, players are left longing for a more conventional approach to combat.

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Outside of the fully realized, detailed world, the game's presentation suffers from an outdated engine: Gamebryo. The resolution is crisp and the landscapes are impressive; however, the unrealistic ragdoll physics during the V.A.T.S. animations, flat and generic textures, repetitive environments, and poor, emotionless facial expressions combine to make the visual experience decidedly less than stellar. The background music, radio function, and sound effects are all nicely captured, but the star-studded voice acting is fairly grating; the silly comments made during fights and the consistently inane conversations detract from the overall sense of accomplishment.

Fallout 3 screenshot

Fallout 3 is an interesting title that will satisfy the throng of Oblivion fans who have patiently awaited some kind of sequel. This title employs a lot of that game's conventions but significantly freshens up the formula with the distinct setting. For lovers of the genre, it's tough to go wrong with Fallout 3. However, if you're strictly a shooter fan or enjoy free-flowing combat, the plodding pace, vast amount of content, and RPG hallmarks (such as heavy inventory management, non-essential quests, and character leveling) may bore you. It's a good game, but certainly not without its faults. A new game engine and better controls would have served this title well.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.9
Graphics
The resolution is crisp, the landscapes are impressive, and there are a lot of clever details to be found in the massive world. However, the unrealistic ragdoll physics, often inaccurate V.A.T.S. animations, flat textures, repetitive environments, and poor, emotionless facial expressions combine to make the visual experience decidedly less than stellar.
3.6
Control
Having the ability to completely customize the control mapping is a great feature. Unfortunately, the shooter mechanic is clunky. The game plays as if it were a ported PC title; it begs for a mouse and WASD keys.
3.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The background music, radio function, and sound effects are all nicely captured, but the star-studded voice acting is fairly grating; the silly comments made during fights and the consistently inane conversations detract from the overall sense of accomplishment.
4.5
Play Value
There is so much to do in this game it's almost overkill. There is an enormous amount of quests, character development options, factions to join, and territory to cover. If you get hooked, you'll be playing this title for months!
4.0
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Take in the sights and sounds of the vast Capital Wasteland! See the great monuments of the United States lying in post-apocalyptic ruin! You make the choices that define you and change the world. Just keep an eye on your Rad Meter!
  • Vault-Tec engineers bring you the latest in human ability simulation - the SPECIAL Character System! Utilizing new breakthroughs in points-based ability representation, SPECIAL affords unlimited customization of your character. Also included are dozens of unique skills and perks to choose from, each with a dazzling variety of effects.
  • The wizards at Vault-Tec have done it again! No longer constrained to just one view, experience the world from first or third-person perspective. Customize your view with the touch of a button.
  • Feeling like a dastardly villain today, or a good Samaritan? Pick a side or walk the line, as every situation can be dealt with in many different ways. Talk out your problems in a civilized fashion or just flash your Plasma Rifle.
  • At Vault-Tec, we realize that the key to reviving civilization after a global nuclear war is people. Our best minds pooled their efforts to produce an advanced version of Radiant A.I., America's First Choice in Human Interaction Simulation. Facial expressions, gestures, unique dialog, and lifelike behavior are brought together with stunning results by the latest in Vault-Tec technology.
  • Witness the harsh realities of nuclear fallout rendered like never before in modern super-deluxe HD graphics; from the barren Capital Wasteland, to the danger-filled offices and metro tunnels of DC to the hideous rotten flesh of a mutant's face.
  • Even the odds in combat with the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System for your Pip-Boy Model 3000! V.A.T.S. allows you to pause time in combat, target specific body parts on your target, queue up attacks, and let Vault-Tec take out your aggression for you; rain death and destruction in an all-new cinematic presentation featuring gory dismemberment and spectacular explosions.


  • Screenshots / Images
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