Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fallout 3

I have to admit I have become a convert. I bought Fallout based on my brother's glowing recommendations and the fact that Steam was selling the goty edition for $15. Initially I had trouble understanding the widespread adoration for the game. There are several offputting aspects to the beginner Fallout experience.

First of all, the game defaulted to a third person perspective which seemed to work but made it difficult for me to select exactly what I wanted. It took me longer then I'd like to admit to discover the first person option. Once I found it, the game became more comfortable and instantly more familiar.

Secondly, the mechanics of the game required a major adjustment for me. This was partially the fault of my feelings of familiarity in the first person approach. Gun accuracy was probably the biggest complaint I held for the next ten hours of gameplay. It took me that long to realize it was up to the player to determine and craft a character according to their preference. Taking careful aim and shooting at something only to miss entirely was a problem I struggled with until I began to understand these mechanics more fully. I have since discovered game guides which lay out in no uncertain terms the paths to different gameplay styles, but I feel lucky to say I discovered these paths on my own through the experience provided by the game. This was initially a frustration but it is now something I hold dear about the Fallout experience. The game itself is an adept teacher - capable of showing the player how to reap the most benefit from it through in game experiences alone. I discovered different playstyles simply through necessity. My lack of experience with the game left my character penniless with no ammo and no stimpacks to restore health. Unwilling to start over, I discovered how to play the game with melee weapons and without using stimpacks. Through that experience I was able to discover how to properly play with guns so I could conserve my resources and remain effective longer. It was an interesting experience and I like the game for it. Eventually I did make a new character and start over, just to experience everything in a more concentrated and customized manner.

Thirdly, the lack of resources was confounding. I had the hardest time breaking out of the mold of needing currency. Once I did so, though, and learned to barter I found the game much more enjoyable. At first I spent hours and hours hauling junk back and forth, selling it to every vendor I could find. Eventually, though, I ran out of vendors and junk and caps (Fallout currency). I kept mistakenly selling things I would later learn I needed. Buying back was costing me too much. Repairs also had drained my resources. I learned through playing that junk could be traded for what I had to buy while necessities were easily stockpiled in the containers in my home. With a simple change in my approach I went from destitute to wealthy in a matter of hours. It had a steep learning curve but was, in the end, an enjoyable one.

I started off playing Fallout like Borderlands, but learned through the game's harsh and unforgiving climate to adopt a new playstyle - one that conveyed the sense of a ravaged wasteland very effectively.

Two complaints I still hold against the game. 1) The main storyline is very short. 2) The game starts of too slow. If you don't make it through the first two or three hours of gameplay, you'll miss the great game laying underneath.

In the end, I have to say Fallout is a fantastic game. I recommend it to all.
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