Fallout 2 is one of my favorite games of all time.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped into the boots of the savior of Vault 13, but I’d figure the number would have to be close to triple digits.
For the most part I skipped Fallout 1, largely due to the absurd degree of enjoyment I experienced from my time with the sequel.
That being said, Fallout 2 had a charm to it that few other games, in my eyes; have managed to live up to.
There’s just something about the inherent minimalism of the first 2 Fallout games, and indeed most text heavy adventure games; that lends so much to the experience.
Reading a graphic description of how I just blew some poor shmuck’s eyeball out his ear, while watching the same shit different day stock death animation play out; was a primitive gameplay element that really worked for me.
Which brings me to my feelings on Fallout 3.
In short, I really didn’t care much for Fallout 3.
Being as it’s a Bethesda product, I came into the game fully expecting the game to play like “Oblivion With Guns,” (and equally shitty animations) and to be honest; I don’t think anyone could dispute the fact that it does.
There was a time in my life when I played a lot of Oblivion.
I missed out on Morrowind, but regardless; Oblivion was a neat game with a colorful world and an impressive breadth of content to uncover.
Sure, there were a shit ton of problems and issues that cropped up while you played it, but for the most part; my time with Oblivion was a positive experience.
Fallout 3 however, despite borrowing several ideas and gameplay systems from Oblivion; just didn’t do it for me.
The first major problem that I’d like to address in Fallout 3, was the fact that the dialogue system feels weak compared to Oblivion, or even previous Fallout games.
That’s right, I said “first.”
As stupid/pointless as the speechcraft system in Oblivion was, I kind of liked the idea of playing a brief mini-game to stand-in for the very real process of developing a rapport with someone.
In short, Oblivion gave one the option to improve their standing with a person through idle chit-chat, thusly expanding the number of subjects they could converse with them about; and the depths of which they could probe into said topics.
Fallout 3 ties it’s dialogue options directly to your character’s skill ratings, with speech skill centric options being listed with a percentage of success statistic.
In other words, if you have a high enough rating in appropriate areas; then a special speech option becomes available.
What I discovered, early on; was the fact that all of these special speech options, were the “right” thing to say.
In Fallout 2, the “right” thing to say wasn’t necessarily the appropriate thing to say.
I can recall an instance or 2, particularly in New Reno; wherein I said something that seemed lucid, that seemed like what needed to be said; only to have the character I was speaking to take offense to my logic and blow me off.
This wasn’t because I didn’t have a high enough speech rating, but rather because I failed to read the character of their personality properly, and simply said the “wrong” thing.
By my reckoning, there wasn’t a single person I wasn’t able to talk down in Fallout 3.
With all of the “right” dialogue choices clearly outlined for me, all of the guess work and intricacies of conversations faded away the moment my skill ratings got high enough.
Honestly, the “right” comments were so boldly outlined; that I’m pretty sure I managed to get through more than a few conversations without even reading what people were saying.
That’s enough about that, let’s move on; shall we?
I think a huge part of the problem for me, was the scrounger/pack rat mentality the game instills in you through scattering usable/pick-up-able items fuckin’ EVERYWHERE.
I understand that about 80% of what you find in the game is in fact junk, and not really all that useful; but the fact of the matter is, there’s simply too much shit to pick up/look at/jam up your ass.
Seriously, I don’t even want to think about how many minutes or hours of my life I spent dumping shit out of my inventory, picking up a busted-ass rifle, using said rifle to repair my slightly less busted-to-shit rifle, and re-picking up my previously dumped shit.
I hardly got anywhere in the main story of Fallout 3, quitting around the time I first got power armor; but rest assured, I did every fuckin’ fetch quest and sidequest up to that point.
I’m a completist, I do shit like that.
That’s why sandbox/open world games never work out for me, ’cause in trying to do everything, I end up accomplishing nothing.
*Ahem!* Let’s get back on topic, shall we?
Another gripe I had with Fallout 3 that was somewhat similar to the hoarding bid’ness of the gameplay, was the fact that items and equipment felt somewhat “cheaper.”
I use the word “cheaper” in the sense that, with so many items strewn about the environments; the frequency of quality items, or failing that; shitty items that can be pawned for profit, made most every item I ran across seem far less important or special.
In Fallout 2, good armor and guns were really fucking hard to get your hands on unless you were a really skilled thief, had a shit ton of money, or managed to kill someone equipped with said items.
All of the above methods required either high skill ratings, a little energon, or a lot of luck to enact.
Not only that, even if one were to have all of the above going for them; the number of items in any given environment was significantly lower than in Fallout 3, resulting in items being scarcer, and thusly more vital.
In Fallout 3, I can’t think of a single moment wherein I couldn’t afford to buy whatever the fuck I wanted, nor can I think of a time in which my inventory wasn’t full of decent shit that I was never going to use due to the extraordinary wealth of better shit I’d run across on a regular basis.
I think the worst example of this that I can think of, was at the very beginning of the game.
I just came out of the Vault, and the game told me to go to Megaton.
Given that I’m me, and I’m not one to go anywhere without looking for hidden goodies first; the first thing I did, was run up onto a collapsed highway.
To my surprise, I happened across a hoard of bandits that wanted my nuts.
Despite my being armed with little more than a baseball bat, using the power of circle strafing and bunny hopping; I beat the ever-loving shit out of about 20 bandits and took all of their shit.
That’s right, I fought 20 bandits, with a bat; and took all their good shit, thusly putting me ahead of the curve in terms of equipment and weaponry for, I don’t know; THE WHOLE FUCKING GAME.
Speaking of killing 20 bandits with a bat, that brings me to another gripe I had about Fallout 3: the “cheapness” of life within the game.
Killing someone, anyone; especially in the early portions of Fallout 2, was a fuckin’ EVENT.
Given the turn-based, purely statistic based structure of Fallout 2’s gameplay, it was very much appropriate that difficult battles; wherein your character or his party were severely outclassed or outnumbered, were really fuckin’ hard to win.
I’d never say Fallout 2’s combat was realistic, but it’s inherent difficulty made it seem appropriate given the nature of the game’s environment.
Fallout 2 was a mean game that often took it upon itself to dick-slap you across the face and remind you that, as cool as your character was; he was still just a man.
As opposed to a Batman, who is of course a symbol; and thusly cannot be killed or corrupted.
Fallout 3 seems to have tossed this concept out the motherfuckin’ window and into a 4-lane highway.
As mentioned above, I took out 20 bandits, with a bat; all within the first 5 minutes of the game.
Admittedly, that was kind of cool at the time, as I can recall humming the Conan theme at some point during all the mayhem and carnage; however after it started happening every 5 minutes, it started to bother me.
During my time with Fallout 3, I killed hundreds upon hundreds of raiders, robots and crab monsters.
I did that in Fallout 2 as well, (with the exception of the crab monsters, of course) but the only difference is; it took me the whole fucking game to achieve said kill stats, not the first half of the game.
You what’s really fucked up though?
Of all the things I killed, I’m pretty sure I ended up taking out Super Mutants more than anything else.
The LOU FUCKING FERRIGNO’S of the Fallout universe.
In Fallout 2, Super Mutants would utterly wreck your shit.
You could be decked out in power armor, and rockin’ a motherfuckin’ Bozar; but Super Mutants could still tear your ass up unless you came in with a plan.
In Fallout 3, I found myself killing Super Mutants with alarming regularity.
Not only that, I did so with leather armor and a fuckin’ hunting rifle.
To be fair, I could do that in Fallout 2 as well, but only because that game afforded you the option of scoring pinpoint shots to people’s eyes and radioactive packages; making it easier to disable or severely cripple your enemies.
*Sigh* Believe it or not, I’ve got more; so I’m just gonna’ dump these last few gripes in bullet point fashion.
Money is far too easy to acquire, given that anyone will buy anything from you for a decent price, even if you never put a single skill point into barter like I did.
Dungeon textures and layouts are cookie cutter at best. There wasn’t a Vault or cave I walked into that felt at all different or unique.
Karma is too easy to acquire, (through giving water to the unfortunate) nor is it seemingly all that important.
Perks are too frequent, and too powerful. Seriously, since when does Bloody Mess give you a damage bonus?
Weapons and enemies aren’t varied enough. Like the dungeon textures, everything kind of felt same shit different day.
Anyway, there’s probably other shit I can say about Fallout 3; but in all honesty, I think I’m running out of steam.
I bought Fallout 3 for $10 retail, knowing full well that I probably wasn’t going to like it.
From what I read and saw before picking it up, it seemed to me like a pretty good game; but in my heart, I knew from the get go that in my eyes; it just wasn’t Fallout.
In all, it’s still a neat game world; with some neat characters and places, but for me it all just seems like too much.
I think the first-person perspective and 3D engine hurt the game in the sense that it forced the game world to contain all the things that a real world would.
In the real world, cans probably would be fuckin’ everywhere following a nuclear holocaust.
In the world of Fallout 2, said cans indeed were apparent; however they served as static scenery and couldn’t be interacted with.
In Fallout 3, pointless interactive shit like this is fuckin’ EVERYWHERE, simply because; in order to maintain the illusion of a livable 3D world, it must.
Anyway, I ended up selling my copy of Fallout 3 to my brother; so for me, the nightmare is over.
Hopefully this marks the end of my days raging on Fallout 3.
Come to think of it, here’s hoping my brother doesn’t suffer the same fate…