Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another videogame review

Fallout 3

Yes, I'm aware that while I'm playing this you are all playing Skyrim. Most of you were finished with this game in 2009. But I spent two years in the mid-naughties as a globe-trotting transient and three after that refusing to buy an Xbox because I was only going to move to Canada and leave it. Well, I'm here now, dammit, and I'm catching up. So: Fallout 3. For a start, I love the atmosphere of the game, and the desolate Mad Max-esque environments. I have had a wonderful time building my character - who I tried to make look like me but has ended up looking almost exactly like Gordon Freeman - and going round interacting with the different NPCs, getting information on the game world etc. So far, so RPG.

Fallout 3's best point is that its a fully realised, detailed world that sucks you in. The side quests are interesting, if a little silly sometimes, and just roaming around the world discovering things is very diverting.

Then there are the bad points. The graphics are, even for a game of this vintage, a little bit basic. The models look rather cartoonish, a far cry from the realist models we're used to seeing today. This could be a symptom of "You Just Played LA Noire" syndrome, but I'm not so sure.

The AI in the game is unmistakably rubbish, with most enemies running straight towards you ready to have their heads taken off in the VATS aiming system. It's this system that actually provides most of the combat-based fun.

For instance, my character is a gun freak who specialises in rifles. My two favourite weapons are currently a backwater rifle that I stole from some hillbillies in Point Lookout, and the other is Lincoln's Repeater, which I stole from, well, Abraham Lincoln. It's a long story. The VATS targeting system allows me to deliberately shoot a slaver in the torso to see if I can make him do a backflip. If you must know, I can. The slow motion kicks in and you follow the bullet as it fires home, in a manner reminiscent of old-school Max Payne. Most of the time though, you'll just find yourself shooting people's heads off and watching them fly off with slightly confused expressions. It's great, but it doesn't stop the game feeling slightly old fashioned.

Other bad points about the game include the fact that its buggy as all hell. Frequently weird things will happen, for instance robots will spawn high up in the sky and then drop to their deaths. I have no idea why this happens. NPCs that are meant to be temporary companions will disappear for no apparent reason. And that's not to mention the fact that the game (this game only) seems to overload my TV and make it switch itself off. I have no idea why this happens. Other, more graphically intense games play fine on my system.

I have the game of the year edition, which features a bunch of DLC. I haven't played the Pitt yet, but from what I hear its a hell of a lot better than Mothership Zeta. That was a lot of dungeon crawling, with repetative enemies, for not much reward. Point Lookout, on the other hand, was much better. Interesting missions, different enemies, new weapons, a whole new map to traverse, good times. I would be hacked off if I'd shelled out money for Mothership Zeta though.

I know I'm complaining a lot, but this really is a good game. It's immersive and fun. I just wish I had played it three years ago when it first came out. In three years time, I'm sure I will enjoy Skyrim in the same way.

No comments: