Weary critics have called it “Oblivion with guns,” but that’s both a gross oversimplification and… not so bad. Oblivion was an incredible game, and guns make virtually everything better (Zelda with guns? Hell yes). But Fallout 3 can’t be epitomized with three words. It’s a carnival of ‘50s themed sci-fi neurosis - a cornucopia of Cold War delirium, radioactive cola, atomized entrails, and careening limbs. It’s drugs, robots, lasers, bounty hunters, raiders, warriors and giant mutants. It’s the stuff that consumed our grade school notebooks - the naïve but compelling dreams of listless children with ball-point pens.
It’s simple: Fallout 3 delivers. The story is hearty (but only as prominent as it needs to be), the combat is refreshing and addictive, the character development avoids banality and the air is ripe with a perfect mixture of radiation and gore. It doesn’t rely on the reputation of its predecessors, but it doesn’t deny them. Hell, even its bugs have a sort of charm (the technical ones, not the radscorpions - those bastards can suck it).
When, on more than one occasion, you walk into work looking unhinged and delirious because your consciousness was only just ripped away from the succulent innards of a game (by your damned alarm clock), you know you have a winner.
Fallout 3’s richly detailed dead world might be endlessly fun to explore, but it only barely edges out what Grand Theft Auto IV achieved in terms of creating a living world. Liberty City is vast, filled with hidden spaces and populated by swarms of believable characters that drive one of the most memorable and mature stories told this year, in any medium.
It also managed to turn a hard-edged, emotionally ruined Balkan mercenary into the year’s most recognizable and likable protagonist, and even his circle of irritating, clingy friends eventually won the affection of most of the people who got to know them. Also you can totally launch a car off the roof of a building and crash it into a helicopter while your friends stand around cheering. If that doesn’t deserve recognition, we don’t know what does.
Dec 19, 2008
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