Unless you’re living under a rock, I’m sure that you’ve heard about Fallout 3 and how awesome it is.  If there is any doubt, or you just want some more to read about the game because your sickeningly addicted to it, then feel free to absorb my words as they project into your eyeballs and are interpreted by your brain goo.

Fallout 3, to put it simply, is one of the greatest games ever made.  Frankly, you shouldn’t even be reading this if you haven’t played the game yet.  Turn off your computer, rub your eyes a little bit, and go out and get the game.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

If you don’t want to read my long-ass review, watch this video (SPOILERS!) which shows enough crazy awesomeness that you may be convinced here and now. Lots of words will follow if this isn’t enough for you.

The game takes place in the not too distant future of mankind.  Nuclear fire has ravaged the world and now the survivors do what they can to eek out an existence in a land of hostile extremes.  You play as a child raised in an underground vault, where the privileged few hid away during the nuclear firestorm.  You’ve spent all of your life in the vault, as has everyone else that lives there, so it’s all you or anyone else knows.  “We’re born in the vault, we’ll die in the vault” as the saying goes.

That is until your father suddenly disappears one day, leaving the vault (and you) behind as he heads out into the capital wasteland.  He leaves no information behind as to his motivations, but you quickly head off to find out the whole story when it turns out the leaders of the vault want you dead.

From the moment you turn the game on and start a character, the developers are tugging at you with emotional puppet strings.  For some reason, playing through the tutorial as a baby and growing through to adulthood really brought about a sense of connection with the characters in the game.  While I might not have really gave a crap about the father character had I just popped in the game and had a story handed to me, the interactions that your character has with their father really makes you feel the bond between them.

It’s just a great example of Bethesda’s attention to detail and love of their craft.  The entire game screams polish and care.  It’s very obvious that Bethesda’s people were and are fans of the Fallout franchise that they’ve lovingly resurrected.  There are those who will still complain that it’s not like the original Fallout games, but I call it progress.

Yes, there are problems.  It is still Fallout, though, and Fallout doesn’t have to be an isometric 2D CRPG.  It does definitely feel a lot like Oblivion, so if for some crazy reason you thought Oblivion sucked, then you should probably go back to your cave and chill with the rest of the inhumans because you probably won’t get much from Fallout 3.

Unlike Oblivion, you don’t have different experience points, so you can’t just jump around to build up your athletics.  Pretty much everything you do, from killing a bastard to picking a lock to disarming a landmine, will grant you some experience points, and it all goes to the same pool for leveling up.  Once you level up, though, you have a lot of hard choices to make.

Unlike a lot of other RPGs, you will not get to a point in Fallout where you will max everything out.  Trying to be good at everything will make you good at nothing, and probably dead a lot of the time.  Specialization is the key here, and while certain situations will arise that will make you wish you had put points elsewhere, that’s just the nature of the beast.  I can’t tell you how many times I had wished I’d have put more points in lockpicking, for example, but I made up for it with a quick wit (high speech) and computer skills.

This is where a lot of the beauty of the system comes from.  Talking to other people who play the game, you will constantly hear different things that happened at the same point in the game.  While Dan may have pickpocketed the codes to a door from some wasteland raider, I sweet-talked him into just handing them over, for example.

Every level you get to spend a certain amount of points on your skills, which include the obvious, like guns and explosives, to slightly more mundane (but quite useful) things like speech and repair.  You also get to pick perks that will do strange and wonderful things depending you what you pick and what your stats are.  Some do simple things like increasing your small arms skill while others do crazy things like having a mysterious dude in a trenchcoat show up every once in a while and blast the living hell out of your enemies with his magnum.  His mystery is only exceeded by his power.

The graphics and sound are incredible, and I’ve never felt such wondrous loneliness while playing a game before.  Wandering around the destroyed countryside surrounding the D.C. area just takes one’s breath away.  I would lose myself in the visual and areal experience for hours, just… walking and being out there in the middle of a destroyed Washington.  It really is something that has to be experienced to be understood, but trust me when I tell you to turn the sound up and the lights down and just… explore.

You’ll probably be better off exploring anyway, as the main game’s storyline probably only takes fifteen to twenty hours to complete if you don’t get sidetracked at all.  It’s a stupendous story with plenty of twists and turns along the way, but if you just play through that and don’t do anything else, you’re missing out on what makes Bethesda such an awesome developer.  Frankly, I think most anyone will find it hard NOT to get sidetracked, at least for a while.

The characters are all unique and the rewards for helping them are often too good to pass up, and I’m not talking simply better weapons or money.  Each side quest could be a part of the main story on their own.  I recall one quest where I was trying to track down the whereabouts of a runaway android that took me all over the capital wastes looking for clues.

There are side quests and hidden locations aplenty in Fallout.  As big and empty as things seem when you’re out there wandering around, it also seems like a new adventure is just hiding around every stone or inside every trashcan.  You’ll experience things as simple as escorting a lady across the wastes to as complicated as stealing the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives.

There are even “quests” which will not even show up in your quest log, like helping the guy in charge of the pump house in Megaton fix leaky pipes.  He’ll simply mention that it needs done, and you can go do it whenever you feel like it.  If you do it he’ll keep paying you for any scrap metal that you find, so it’s very much worth it.

The greatest part of Fallout 3 is the feeling that your decisions actually make a difference.  The sort of things that you do in the wasteland can have far-reaching and permanent consequences.  If you kill someone, they will not be replaced by another faceless NPC.  That dude is dead.  This includes anyone you have following you in your party.  If Dogmeat (your faithful canine companion) bites the big one, he’s gone forever.  It really forces you to think about what the people who may be following you are up to, whether or not to get into certain fights, and what equipment they should have.

For the most part, this includes quest givers also, though apparently anyone related to the continuation of the main story will simply fall unconscious instead of outright dying.  I don’t really agree with this being that this is a game about hard choices, but I understand where Bethesda is coming from.  They have to cater to a much weaker and coddled gaming public than in RPG days of yore, so no more will you see messages like Elder Scrolls 3 telling you that you just killed a pivotal storyline NPC and that the main story can no longer be completed.  Gamers these days just don’t like to have failure as an option.

Another thing that bugged me is the apparent fear of sex by Bethesda.  Fallout was never an overtly sexual game, but sticking to it’s mature themes there were sexual encounters in the two previous iterations of the franchise.  I remember two very vividly.  One was getting caught sleeping with some farmer’s daughter and being forced into a shotgun wedding.  For the rest of the game (or at least, until she died) she would follow you around the wasteland nagging you about everything.

Another was being able to star in porno movies for cash in San Fransisco.  You got to pick a porn name and once you were in one, some NPCs would notice you from the movie and yell out about how much they enjoyed your films.  I always went with Arnold Swollenmember.  Hell, in both games there was a perk you could pick up called Kama Sutra Master which made you very good at sexual encounters.  Again, it wasn’t anything that played into the game on a constant basis, but it was there and it was an option to get certain quests and stuff moved along.

So far, I have noticed only one sexual act in the entirety of Fallout 3, and it was so bland you could hardly even consider it mature at all.  There is a prostitute in the bar in Megaton who says that if you rent a room, you get her also.  If you pay for the room, she’ll go up and go to sleep on the bed.  That’s it.  You can then use the bed to sleep in, but nothing happens.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I am a pervert, but I certainly don’t get my jollies banging video game chicks or anything. The simple fact that I can shoot a dude in the face in slo-mo and watch his brains and eyeballs go flying yet can’t even get one black screen with some sound effects seems a little bit strange to me.  Maybe it’s just the pervert in me, but seeing how the world of Fallout is so shitty and people are desperate to do whatever it takes to survive, you’d think selling one’s body for money or food or something would be a little more prevalent.

Perhaps some of my disdain for this design decision comes from playing Fable 2, where you can bang pretty much anyone who has genitals.  Fable 2 seems so much more cartoony and childlike compared to Fallout with the exception of it approach to sex.  Fallout makes Bethesda seem like they’re afraid of the carnal pleasures or something and to me it really is a missed opportunity to further show the desperation of wasteland life.  Granted, it doesn’t really detract from the game in any way, it’s more of a matter of principle for me.  Blood and guts and eyeballs are perfectly fine, but God forbid we see a nipple.

My only REAL problem with the game (it’s virgin-esqe stance towards sex not withstanding) is the few glitches and bugs that pop in from time to time.  It’s a huge game so these things are bound to slip through the cracks, but I did encounter at least one glitch that prevented me from completing a quest.

I had the option to teach a town how to defend themselves by using skills that I was good at.  One of the options was to help them build robots to use as guards, but after I made my decision, the robot parts I was supposed to use were not to be found.  Apparently, there is a problem with the physics engine and fast traveling that will sometimes cause dead bodies and such to “bounce” off the ground at tremendous speeds, sending them flying to God knows where and, with this quest at least, making it all but impossible to find them.  It was simply a matter of loading a save game and choosing a different path, but the simple fact that I had to do that, to me, makes that a game-breaking bug.

The only other bug or glitch I can think of are strange graphical anomalies and placement problems.  There were several times when exploring the ruins of a school or church or whatnot that I’d see things clipped through the walls.  You know, severed arms or coat racks just poking through a solid brick wall.

The other was a strange inky black craziness that seemed to follow me wherever I went for a while.  It was apparently a rocket launcher that I shot out of someone’s hands that went into some physics engine nightmare and was stretched and warped into incoherency.  It was a little freaky and a bit annoying but nothing that was disastrous to the overall experience.

Overall, I’d say that things were pretty smooth.  You can definitely see improvements over Oblivion with this version of the engine.  There are no more of those annoying pauses every so often as you travel the world, for instance.  There is a bit of pop-in and the like, but nothing too dramatic.  The sound, as I said before, is fantastic.

I recommend turning the music soundtrack the whole way down to really experience the desolation of the wasteland in all its glory.  Hell, even if you don’t the in-game music is decent enough and generally doesn’t get in the way of the aforementioned desolation.  The radio stations bring a lot to the game though and listening to them while exploring can sometimes make you feel even more like you’re the last living thing alive.  I highly recommend the Agatha’s Song questline and unlocking that radio station.

Fallout 3 is definitely a must-own game for anyone with a gaming system at all.  Hell, if you don’t own one, you should go out and get one or upgrade your PC or something.  Games like Fallout 3 are why people play games in the first place, and it should not be missed under any circumstances. It’s a 10 out of muthafuckin 10, biznatches.




  1. Oddly enough, even with the engine improvements and things in Fallout 3, I prefer Oblivion. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it might be the crappy gunplay, which forces you to use VATS to get any kills, which gets old after a while when none of your guns ever hit anything at any kind of range. Just a thought. Still, Fallout 3 is super duper awesome.

  2. “but the simple fact that I had to do that, to me, makes that a game-breaking bug.”

    The game has a “game-breaking bug” but it’s still 10/10 perfect? If the game is BROKEN how can it get the best score? You know a game can get a 9/10 and still be bloody amazing…you don’t have to give a perfect score if you really like it.

    What’s a game that’s perfect without game breaking bugs? A 15/10?

  3. 10/10 isn’t necessarily “perfect”. 10/10 is more like “definitely buy the game”- and John clearly feels that this game is so good that even with the bugs it deserves your attention.

  4. Weird – So a five star restaurant never gets an order wrong? A movie with two thumbs up does not have a single line of crappy dialog? I don’t agree with the idea that any game could possibly be perfect and to hold this medium at such a standard the would prevent me as a game critic from giving a game a “perfect” score is laughable. The game is awesome. Even with the few flaws in the game there is no reason not to buy it. Besides that, that particular bug simply will not happen to everyone. For some people the robots you need will be right there and quest will be quit acheivable. Uner the right set of circumstances, the bodies will “bounce” away making them very hard to find. It’s fairly random and I’ve read on forums that some people have found them right outside of town and some have searched for hours before they found them. I’m not willing to put in that kind of time or energy to get around a bug that I can simply quit/load and pick a different option.

    Sam – I personally found sniping guys from a distance to be more accurate out of VATS than in VATS, depending on the weapon. My sniper rifle as certainly deadly accurate at times, even when VATS only gave me a 8% chance for a head shot. When it was that low I didn’t use VATS and did it manually and generally managed to pull it off.

    Cookigaki – I’m glad you approve! Hopefully they’ll put ninja suits and swords in the DLC for you.

  5. So is 9.5/10 not “definitely buy that game”? Or 9/10? How about 8.5? All those scores say to me “Wow that’s an amazing game!”

    If it’s not a big bug then it’s not “game-breaking” – you have used the wrong description. It’s simply a nuisance in the way you’ve described it. If it was actually “game-breaking” the game would be broken. A broken game does not get 10/10.

    And still. “The game is awesome, there is no reason not to buy it.” I’ve read other Ripten reviews – LBP is awesome, it got 9.5/10. You don’t need to give 10/10 for a game to be “awesome.”

  6. This a difference of opinion. Landis is of the opinion that a score is a rough indication of how good a game is. Where as Weird is one of the guys who only thinks that score matters. A score is only a rough indication of what a reviewer feels. A lot of people would agree. A review is only one man’s opinion. If you don’t agree with a review get over it. Look at a different review. No game is perfect. A lot of people would agree that 10/10 is prime. Not perfect. Hope this clears things up for you. Sorry if I sound jerkish.

  7. I don’t think that’s the case at all. Review text should reflect the score, and the score should reflect the review text.

    If you want to give a 10/10 you certainly don’t say the game is BROKEN.

  8. I think what John means is that the particular bug breaks the game for him AT THE TIME, but a simple reload fixes it and it’s not a permanent problem. It’s not game-breaking like, say, every time he shoots a missile the game freezes or anything like that, but the one issue did at that point break the game and it IS a bug.

    It’s likely just your interpretation of the term “game-breaking” that is causing you to feel how you do about the review, but I don’t think John meant it in quite the same way you are taking it. The game as a whole is not broken — there is just a bug that messes up that part of the game, is easily fixed, and only happened to him that one time. The only reason he made mention of it is because it is a KNOWN issue that other people have experienced as well, and if you were unaware of it or didn’t take steps to correct it, it could, in fact, ruin the game for you, or at least ruin that part of the quest.

  9. Well that’s not the implication of the term “game-breaking.” It is generally used to express distaste that a bug completely spoils a game if it is encountered. This is especially true when given in this context;

    “It was simply a matter of loading a save game and choosing a different path, but the simple fact that I had to do that, to me, makes that a game-breaking bug.”

    We’d respect the Ripten score scale more if the 10 was used less liberally.

  10. If you don’t like the way we score our games go somewhere else. I hear Patrick is at work at another site and he feels the same as you that no game should be scored perfect.

    As far as what I meant when I said it’s a game breaking bug, I mean that, when I encountered that problem I could no longer move forward on the quest, which means, to me, the game is broken. I reload a saved game and choose a different option and PRESTO-MUTHAFUCKIN-CHANGE-O the game is no longer broken. When the bug was encountered, it ruined the game for me. Granted, it wasn’t a main quest so I could have very easily finished the game without doing that particular quest, but that’s just not good enough.

    Also, RIPTEN breaks the scores down in half-point increments, so It’s not like I could give the game a 9.9 or 9.8, which is what I probably would have done given the option. When rounding, however, 9.9 or 9.8 is closer to 10 than it is to 9.5. Personally, I do not believe in the entire numerical scoring system because of bullshit like this. Read the fucking review and form a god damned opinion like intelligent human being instead of having it broken down into a number and spoon-fed to you. But hey, that’s the way the industry is for some reason, probably because people are god damned idiots.

    Again, if you don’t like the way Ripten apparently hands out tens, go the fuck somewhere else. Stop wasting your time and ours by reading our stuff and then commenting on how much you didn’t like it. If you just have a problem with the way I review, email the Editor-in-chief, Chad, and tell him how much I suck and get me fired. Or, email him and tell him you could do a better job and start writing for the site.

    Either way, I’m sorry that you do not agree with the review score and I’ll try better in the future to make sure that my score is more indicative of what you, Weird, personally feel the text indicates.

  11. John: Don’t swear at me. You’ll only lose readers that way. Debate and defend how your score matches your text, but don’t get aggressively defensive.

    And I don’t want you to get fired, and I doubt you would anyway, even if you said Fallout 3 was a pile of sh*t and then gave it a 10/10.

    I’m just glad your review didn’t fail as badly as this one: http://i41.tinypic.com/11t8j6w.jpg


  12. Wow, that is pretty bad. No wonder he got demoted.

    But yeah, we here at Ripten are opinionated people. John loves Fallout 3, and even though there was a “game-breaking bug”, he couldn’t go as low as a 9.5 because the game really is a 10 (even though 9.5 is still a fantastic score).

    Reading through some comments on our stories, you may notice that some people lack the finesse that you have to make a critical comment without being outright offensive, and that makes our writers somewhat more likely to lash out. Please don’t take it personally — I’m glad you had the decency to laugh it off. I’m not trying to apologize for John or even say that he was wrong, but our writers are individuals and can express themselves however they wish. In fact, we’ve had much worse responses than this, though I’d like to think that most of the time people deserve it :)

  13. oops forget them i held down the enter button instead of the of shift so ill start again

    who says that the bug ruined the game he might of loved it so much by the time he realised a glitch he'd already fixed it and started playing a game so maybe the game is so good he doesn't care about it that wat i think it is.