Fallout 3 - Retrospective Insight

User Rating: 9 | Fallout 3 PS3

Warning: Spoilers

Opening Story:

The player is introduced to their protagonist via the literal birth of the character in Vault 101, where the bond between the protagonist as a baby and his father voiced by Liam Neeson is initially established. You are first introduced to Vault 101 from birth canal perspective on the hospital bed, the narrative builds as you experience influential events in your character's early life. You meet the vault inhabitants at a childhood birthday, then encounter bullies and complete exams to your own discretion to build the personality of the main character through moral decisions and conversation choices.

The exit of your father to the expansive and unyielding wasteland, signals the move away from the dingy, dark vault to the agoraphobic, dangerous landscape of the wasteland. A harsh world, full of large radiated wildlife, aggressive super mutants, Forbidden Planet inspired robots and confrontational Mad Max esque gangs to name only a few potential foes.

The imaginative stories behind the vaults that pickle the wasteland keep the Fallout narrative diverse and entertaining with ensued doomed black humour. The chaotic scenes in each vault are caused by the sadistic scientific Pavlovian experiments of the militant Enclave. One vault was filled entirely of possessed clones of the original inhabitant called Gary. Another vault contained inhabitants that were informed that they would need to vote annually to decide which vault inhabitant would perish until a remaining group rebelled to discover the truth behind the cruel experiment. After venturing the vast, unforgiving apocalyptic wasteland each vault acts as an unpredictable and enjoyable oasis.

The pockets of story and lore are encountered throughout the main storyline and in the smorgasbord of side-quests. As with all Bethesda titles the engrossing side missions can grow and act as a welcome distraction from the main quest to further explore the geography and meet a range of the wasteland's occupants. The engaging main mission continues until the dramatic yet disappointing crescendo at the water purification plant. This was universally seen as a poor and somewhat abrupt conclusion to an excellent title when the player could have so much more of the game to explore. However, thankfully Bethesda have rectified this with release of the Fallout: Anchorage DLC. The DLC allows the player to progress past the original games main ending and further continue the experience in the wasteland.

Style and Technology

A cutscene of Fallout 3 can be instantly recognisable – due to the juxtaposition of the imagery of the apocalyptic future with its futuristic technology set in 2277. Jarring with the Art Deco period architecture and interiors frozen in time by the catastrophic events of nuclear war. It is distinctive as your character can stomp past an Art Deco tower block in their Brotherhood of Steel power armour whilst shooting gargantuan super mutants with a futuristic plasma rifle. All while an uplifting yet ironic wartime hit such as 'I Don't Want To Set the World on Fire' by The Ink Spots (1941) is playing on your pipboy radio.

The adaptable and distinctively tactile weapons and technology in Fallout 3 and 4 are products of the world around you. Each weapon mimics the personality of the apocalyptic and mechanic environment, each weapon can be adapted, improved and reflect each fallen tribe member that they are scavenged from.

The aesthetic representation of the apocalyptic colonies, military factions and predicted futuristic, scientific advancements create an entertaining and engrossing world. Full of black humour to contrast the harsh civil war raging in the wasteland. The distinctive style, VATS weapon targeting system, artistic design down to the appearance of the mutated two-headed cattle (Brahmin) separate this game from your average, generic first person shooter to make this one of the pioneering epic games of the 21st Century.