Resurrection: Fallout 3
The dark side…
Resurrection: Fallout 3
Resurrection is a regular feature in which Resolution takes a look back at a game from way back when. Although its lonely atmosphere won the game plaudits, Sam Giddings explains why it left him less than impressed with FALLOUT 3.
Let’s go back in time a couple of weeks. It’s the end of the month. Saturday. My bank account lies in ruins. A trip into town to trade some games beckons. I rummage through the pile, trying to sort out anything that might fetch me a fair rate of exchange. Fallout 3 stares back at me, dusty and neglected. I pick it up, hesitate, put it back. I’ve been meaning to return to it for months now, and I promise myself yet again that I will, and soon. Then I wonder: “why?”
I pick it up again, my resolve clear.
I feel as if it’s somehow my fault that I don’t enjoy Fallout 3. I feel as if I haven’t made enough effort. Everyone else seems to like it. Forum threads are heaving with praise, critics gush over its never-diminishing returns. I feel like the lone voice of dissent, the guy standing there saying, “Look! The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”
I loved Bethesda’s previous offering, Oblivion. Fallout 3 uses the same engine. But something just doesn’t sit right with me and Fallout. Actually, it’s not just one thing. It’s several things that bug me.
The first is the control system. Oblivion was primarily based on melee combat, with a lot of area effect spells. You could run in, hold down the trigger button, and gleefully hack away at a troll or bludgeon a wolf to death. The thief class could sneak in and make a serious offensive using a backstab, and mages could throw fireballs at the fauna. In short, imprecision didn’t matter.
In Fallout 3, however, shooting is key. Sure, some weapons work better than others, but once VATS has run its course and I have to cower behind a rock while I wait for it to recharge, I have to trust in my FPS skills. Only, Fallout 3 isn’t an FPS. It’s an RPG, and the floaty crosshairs reflect this. None of the weapons have any real heft, and the controls slide around without weight or substance. It creates a disconnect that I can’t get over, but – more importantly – I keep bloody missing whatever I’m shooting.
Early on, this aggravation is compounded, not eliminated, by the turn-based VATS. I queue up a long line of attacks, only to see my laser beams fly off into the distance like a light show at a rave. In Fallout 3, this translates into dying a lot. It introduces the paranoia of constantly having to save every five seconds, which breaks any immersion. In some ways, this is a masterstroke of mercy. I’m constantly at odds with the cloying animosity of my surroundings, and any interruptions are a welcome relief.
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