Games of a Decade: Fallout 3

As part of 10 Years of Games Asylum, the site’s fine writers are each choosing one game to represent the last decade. Now it’s Matt’s turn.

Having to choose a ‘game of the decade’ was of course a colossal task. Shenmue II and Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic were both contenders but Fallout 3 beat them purely because the amount of time I spent walking Capital Wasteland is more than the amount of time spent in those two games together. That amount? A vast 70 hours.

The worrying thing, at least for me, is that those 70 hours were put into it in a very short time span. According to my 360, the first achievement I unlocked was on 20th November 2009 while the last was on 8th December. That’s an average of 4 hours a day for 18 days. Irk!

Although it features many staple RPG elements, from skill points to experience levels, it’s the least po-faced RPG I can think of. There’s a sense of humour throughout, from the town that’s been overrun by two people who are convinced that they’re superheroes to the weapons that you wield.

Things like the giant robotic fist and the railway spike gun – which makes a noise like a stream train – aren’t powerful enough to use as main weapons, but they’re fun enough to carry around in your arsenal to rough up some of the weaker enemies. The game world is constantly coherent too with plenty of diversions and distractions like random buildings and houses that just beg to be explored. Rummaging around dead people’s homes looking for items of interest is curiously addictive.

Set in Washington DC and its dusty barren outskirts, the city centre is a no-go area until you’re strong enough to take down the super mutants. Once you are in the city though the sights of Washington are yours to explore including the Washington Museum and the Lincoln Memorial, which has a mission involving finding Lincoln’s missing head. People are constantly asking for your help and advice – cue plenty of sub-quests – and the answers that you choose will determine your character. Soon word spreads of your good deeds over the airwaves, making your positive and kind moral choices pay off.

The five mission packs, which were released a month or two apart after the game’s release, are a little bit of a mixed bag. I haven’t found anybody yet who like Mothership Zeta – a mission to escape from a dull, corridor filled, spaceship – but there’s lots of love to be had for The Pitt and Point Lookout. The latter sees you becoming a slave for a steel mill and has some very strong moral choices to make while Point Lookout is set in a seaside resort. What’s interesting about Point Lookout is that it’s in an area that wasn’t hit by the nuclear bomb, so the backdrops are a lot greener and richer.

The Broken Steel add-on is a bit of a cheeky one – if you want to continue the story after finishing the main game then it’s an essential purchase, at an extra cost to you. Then there’s Operation: Anchorage, which is set in a virtual reality war simulation and thus plays more like a typical first person shooter. Each of these add-on packs has new weapons and enemies. Handily, you’re able to take the weapons back into the main quest. Mothership Zeta is filled with crystals worth a small fortune and a long list of high-powered plasma guns, so it’s often recommended – despite its dullness – to gamers who want to get ahead quickly.

Although I was well aware of Fallout 3’s glowing reviews upon release, I delayed playing it for a few months as I didn’t have enough spare time back then for the commitment that it requires. A similar thing is now happening between me and Fallout: New Vegas, only this time round I’m not scared of committing, but rather I’m waiting for Bethesda Game Studios to sort out the infamous bugs and glitches with a nice big patch. It’s a good job I haven’t decided to hold my breath, or I’d be looking like one of Fallout’s ghouls by now…

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