SPOILER ALERT FOR FALLOUT 3
Seeing as how the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim releases in a little over a week (Vote for what console you want Kat to play Skyrim on!), I wanted to take a look back at another game brought to us by Bethesda, Fallout 3. I know that this game is old news; heck, even the full game expansion pack is likely old enough to be under $30 at your local retailer. But I wanted to take a step back and examine what made Fallout 3 great.
When Fallout 3 first came out, I was only mildly interested, if that. A game about a post-apocalyptic, war-torn land, with crazily mutated beings wasn’t exactly up my alley. A friend brought the game over and showed me the gory head explosions (or whatever limb you happened to target) and seemed even less likely that I’d want to try it.
Months later, the Game of the Year edition went on sale at Target. I decided to purchase it and give Fallout a try. After all, Bethesda had also given us the Elder Scrolls games, so that should say something good about Fallout. Fallout 3 starts off pretty safe, with you growing up as a child in a vault that has protected you from the ravages of the radiated Wastelands. Escaping the vault was both nerve-wracking and thrilling. And stepping out into an eerily empty town with partially or mostly destroyed houses set a great, lonely tone. It was a relief to finally make it to Megaton, knowing that there actually were survivors out there. I decided to keep up with the ‘Following in His Footsteps’ quest. I wanted to see Liam Neeson *ahem* – dad – again. Unfortunately, since I’m such a Scaredy-Kat, going into the tunnels caused me minor panic attacks (Feral Ghouls, Super Mutants?!!! Limited ammo?!!), and I gave up. You have to admit, some of the creatures are very creepy. (Centaurs!!?)
A month ago, I decided to pick the game back up, and was sucked in. I found Dogmeat, and having a companion by my side made me feel much better about traversing the Wasteland and even… tunnels. Once I had this confidence, I was able to see Fallout for the great game it actually is. There are so many aspects to Fallout, so much to do and see.
For one, this certainly is no kids game. There’s the more obvious limb exploding and violent deaths, but there’s also a lot of rough language, sexual aspects, and just plain horrific events. Visiting Minefield and seeing a smaller skeleton than most in a room that contains kids toys is just heart wrenching. The whole deserted mood of Minefield is haunting (no pun intended). Did anyone else pick up through their conversations that Jericho raped/attempted to rape Jenny Stahl? And of course, there are the perks: Lady Killer, Black Widow. There are actual sex benefits to choosing this perk (at least for a woman as a Black Widow), and one being a threesome, in fact. Nova is there for more than just viewing pleasure.
Another is that this game, the whole Fallout series, presents a unique idea that hasn’t been explored as much as a genre like fantasy has. And they do it damn well. The vistas, while fascinating as a torn apart and gritty world, don’t exactly make me want to live in such a world. But they speak strongly for what the game is portraying. The mood created in the game is often lonely, always eerie, and deserted. Most of what you encounter in the Wasteland is going to try to kill you. Finding a town might be a safe harbor, but you can’t rely on that. In fact, a lot of the towns will have something nasty lurking inside; Raiders, mines, fire ants, super mutants. But in a world like Fallout, that fits perfectly. It’s to be expected.
The story of Fallout is great because, while there is plenty of tension waiting around every corner, and you never know what you’ll encounter next, but there’s hope in this dark world. There’s hope that life will continue, despite all the hardships, and that what’s been destroyed can be rebuilt. And that’s really what keeps me playing.