The infinite potential of Fallout 3

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... developed a favorite radio station.

The music of Fallout 3 is the music of the actual world. Your Pip-Boy 3000 is like the iPhone of the future wasteland, delivering whatever radio stations you’re close enough to pick up. You can listen to Enclave Radio, delivering the rambling “fireside chats” of a (supposedly) long gone president. As he calls on his people for action, and fondly remembers the pre-war days of baseball and Main Street, you begin to fill in the world’s history.

Or, you may prefer listening to Galaxy News Radio, on which DJ Three Dog discusses the world’s current predicament. Through snippets here and there, he’ll teach you survival tips, warn you of dangerous raiders and debate the merits of zombie rights. Listen carefully and you may even hear him mention you... and your missing father.

Then again, maybe you’d like the stations that play 1950s radio plays, or the stations that play music from the first Fallout game.

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... stole anything we could get our greedy hands on.

Hey, practically every item in the game was up for grabs, and grabbed it we did. Food, alcohol, cameras and even spoons, toasters and coffee pots were suddenly part of our collection. But, like everything in Fallout 3, there were consequences.

Take the stuff and you can sell or trade it for money or better equipment. Steal enough and maybe you can finally afford that weapon schematic they’re selling in town... the one that will enable you to use everyday objects, including the very things you’re pilfering, as deadly ammunition.

Showing restraint, however, could reward you in other ways. Fallout 3 tracks your karma and reacts accordingly. Develop a bad enough reputation and the game’s good guys will send contract killers to take care of you. Develop a goodie-two-shoes reputation and bad guys might do the same.

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... waited. And waited some more.

The one hiccup in our time with Fallout 3 was the loading. Whether entering a new area, or warping across the map to revisit an old area, the load times were a tad lengthy. Luckily, they’re entertaining as well. How else would we have learned that the USA annexed Canada, that Alaska was finally liberated from the Commies, that Sugar Bomb cereal is the best or that equestrian robots are every little girl’s dream gift?

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... shot a two-headed cow, obliterated a rabid dog to glowing ashes and laser sliced a mole rat in half as its jugular vein splattered blood all over our screen.

You’ve seen thescreenshotsandvideos. If you haven’t, take another look – the violence is truly spectacular.

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... wrote a book, with our own blood.

As we mentioned at the beginning, we weren’t allowed to tackle any of the missions on the main storyline. No matter, though, as the side quests are enormous and multi-layered enough to take hours. Half our play time was spent helping Megaton’s supply merchant prepare a wasteland survival guide. Sounds easy enough, right? A little writing, editing and info gathering, perhaps?

Wrong. First, this woman wanted us to visit an abandoned shopping center to check food and medicine supplies. She conveniently forgot to mention that the grocery store decorated with rotting corpses and infested with an army of gun-wielding raiders. Second, she wanted help testing her radiation cures and, of course, wanted us to be the guinea pig subjects by exposing ourselves to as much radiation as possible. Finally, she wanted to research land mines by – you guessed it – having us bring her back a live one.

Don’t worry. If you think all of that sounds too dangerous and time-consuming, you can always skip the quest entirely and try some other ridiculously dangerous and time-consuming side quest instead. If you do decide to help the crazy lady, though, may we recommend the squirrel stew, iguana bits and dirty water for dinner? They radiate the body quite nicely.

Oct 3, 2008