Friday, November 5, 2010

Fallout 3

No, the title is not a typo or something. Playing a lot of time-consuming MMORPGs, I tend to be way behind the curve with playing single-player games. So while everybody else is on Fallout: New Vegas, I just recently started playing Fallout 3. The joys of digital distribution: You can get a two year old game for half the price, and if the reviews were good two years ago, the game probably still is good today. Only that in this case, with Fallout 3, in spite of good reviews and starting out enthusiastically, I got bored rather quickly.

The start of Fallout 3 is great. Playing a character from birth on is brilliant, and I really liked how creating your character with stats and skills was woven into playing your childhood. And at first I liked leaving the vault and exploring the wastelands, scavenging the post-apocalyptic ruins for useful scraps. So I played, and played, and played some more, and 8 levels, lots of quests, and a bunch of hours later I was *still* scavenging post-apocalyptic ruins for useful scraps. More specifically I was searching still the same desks, file cabinets, and metal boxes, all of which look the same, for the same bottle caps, junk, and handfuls of ammo. There aren't all that many different containers in this game, and most of the loot isn't really exciting. I ran through endless same-ish looking metro tunnels, fought the same types of enemies over and over, until I just couldn't bring myself to continue. Yes, the characters are very well done, and the freedom to explore is great, but I found the main story-line a bit weak, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland soon gets repetitive.

Now at the heart of it Fallout 3 is a game of managing scarce resources. That should make the fights interesting, because the less ammo you use and the quicker you kill with minimal health loss, the better off you are. Given that, I'm not sure it was a good idea to design Fallout 3 with two different combat systems. And maybe I'm just lousy at aiming, but in my case the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) is much, much more efficient than playing Fallout 3 like a first-person shooter. I just get close to the mob, hit the key to enter V.A.T.S. mode, select 3 headshots, and easily kill about every monster with 3 or less bullets without getting a scratch myself. Not very exciting, and not very tactical either; I would have hoped that an alternative "turn-based" combat system would have more interesting choices than the obvious "shoot the head" best option. Playing the game like a shooter doesn't make it any more tactical, but I waste a lot more ammo and get wounded more.

Well, shooter games are always hit-or-miss with me, even if they are part role-playing game. I liked Bioshock and Call of Duty 2 a lot, but some shooter games I just don't warm up to. Life is too short to play games I don't really enjoy, and so I'll just stop playing Fallout 3 and try something else. Just goes to show that even a game with excellent reviews isn't necessarily for everybody.

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