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Default RPGWatch Feature - Fallout 3 Review: txa1265's View

January 26th, 2009, 15:59
It's been a long time coming but we finally have not one - but two - reviews of Fallout 3. Today, Michael 'txa1265' Anderson takes a detailed look at FO3 in a massive 5-page article almost as epic as the game. A quick taste from the intro:
First and foremost: anyone who denies that Fallout 3 is 'Oblivion with guns' is either lying to you or themselves. At the same time, anyone who claims that 'Oblivion with guns' is all that Fallout 3 has to offer is being similarly dishonest.
Read it all here.
…and watch out for Corwin's opinion tomorrow.

More information.
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January 26th, 2009, 15:59
So I haven't spent much time comparing this Fallout to the earlier games. Why? Because it just doesn't matter. Fallout 3 is its' own game,
An excellent review. Probably the best I've read about Fallout 3. I do somehow disagree with your general approach of comparing F3 to F1 & 2 as little as possible.

Personally, I feel the moment one decides to buy someone else's intellectual property, and use the same name just adding +1 to the number after it, his work oughts to be compared and measured according to the original work in every way.

IMO, the only ones who are allowed to drastically change an intellectual property are the original creators themselves. Anyone else doing that is disrespecting an artistic creation. Just because you're rich enough to buy an IP, does that gives you every right? I don't like that. So I could buy Orson Welles's rights and make a spectacular FX-heavy action movie and call it "Citizen Kane 2", and anyone complaining "but hey it's not faithful" can I just get away saying "it's been years, plus I own the IP now, I can do whatever I want, today's audience wants more spectacular visuals anyways, and there's nothing forcing me to be faithful"?.

I still believe, and no argument seems to make me change my mind that, since Bethesda wanted to do something so different to Fallout 1 & 2, they shouldn't have called it Fallout 3. The game certainly wouldn't have been any less successful.
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January 26th, 2009, 17:16
I've been waiting for this,reading it now.

Edit:You've just broken Codex'es heart
Good review.I disagree with some points like the skill checks(demolitions skill is pathetic) and the "hardcoreness" of the game but overall your view isn't far from mine.
Last edited by Kostas; January 26th, 2009 at 17:51.
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January 26th, 2009, 17:55
To that I ask - have you ever been in subway stations for a major city?
I've never been to American subway, so I don't know about it, but central stations of London Underground, Moscow Metro and other older European subways are like real underground palaces in their imperial glory. Not that I was complaining to Fallout 3 stations though.
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January 26th, 2009, 18:03
Originally Posted by drum View Post
I've never been to American subway, so I don't know about it, but central stations of London Underground, Moscow Metro and other older European subways are like real underground palaces in their imperial glory. Not that I was complaining to Fallout 3 stations though.
The manhattan subway does have differing stations. But that's because it were originally three different companies that exploited different lines. So now there are even different sized tracks, and cars from the other one can't go on either of the others.

But that's all because of complex history, which isn't neccasarily the case for other cities.
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January 26th, 2009, 18:26
Very good review. A fun game, but it really shouldn't have been called Fallout.
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January 26th, 2009, 18:56
I agree with pretty much everything txa* said - but I think 4/5 is a little too accommodating… This was the first AAA rpg that I started and simply lost interest in. Yes, it was beautiful, and atmospheric but, eye candy aside, it just become dull too quickly. I have also just replayed Arcanum and VtM:B - chalk and cheese. Both games had me rivetted, discovering side-quests I'd missed etc. Unfortunately clever dialogue, good characterization and verisimilitude (and I don't mean simply 'it looks real'! I mean the world - does it stand up to scrutiny? Does it make *sense*?) seem to be be in short supply these days.
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January 26th, 2009, 19:34
Berlin has quite a diversity of underground stations.

Why didn't they choose Berlin as the place for the game ?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 26th, 2009, 19:57
Originally Posted by JuliusMagnus View Post
The manhattan subway does have differing stations. But that's because it were originally three different companies that exploited different lines. So now there are even different sized tracks, and cars from the other one can't go on either of the others.

But that's all because of complex history, which isn't neccasarily the case for other cities.
Wow, wouldn't this have been be a cool background detail for Fallout 3, though? Stuff like this breathes life into an otherwise dead environment, but I don't know how Washington D.C.'s subway stations are.
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January 26th, 2009, 20:24
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
Edit:You've just broken Codex'es heart
They wrote like 5 positive reviews for Fallout 3.

edit: So, now that I've finished the review, I can say that it's much more critical than most of the Codex reviews
Last edited by pnutz; January 26th, 2009 at 20:42.
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January 26th, 2009, 20:34
I agree with pretty much everything txa* said - but I think 4/5 is a little too accommodating… This was the first AAA rpg that I started and simply lost interest in. Yes, it was beautiful, and atmospheric but, eye candy aside, it just become dull too quickly.
My thoughts exactly. Txa's review was really spot on and he clearly gave a lot of thought before writing it. I must agree how addictive and atmoshpheric game f3 is. Exploring the wasteland and shooting supermutants with my lincoln repeater is tons of fun everytime. Still somehow the game manages to get so dull so damn fast. I feel so lonely out there because too many npcs are so shallow and thin. The problems with dialog are well known, so i won't bother repeating here what Txa described. Its just so heart breaking because many questlines have tons of potential, but but for some reason I just don't get much satisfaction for solving them. I simply don't care enough about the npcs.

Moreover the problems with gameworld plausibility are more than evident. Like not seeing any forms of manufacturing.or farming. Where do they get their endless supply of medicine, alchol, food and clothes?

If Benthesa ever wishes to improve their games, they should read what Txa wrote. I for one enjoyed Mass effect a lot more than fallout 3 because it has a strong storyline and intresting npcs. When can we see similar quality in benthesa games? When will they hire a full time writer to do this kind of stuff?

Despite the flaws its still a fun game to replay, but sadly nothing more.
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January 26th, 2009, 21:18
Good writing, Mike! You obviously put some thought into this and showed good judgement. Your review is a valuable one that will surely stand out. You did The Watch proud!

Still, I had some issues with it as someone who hasn't played the game and is still on the fence about buying it (hey, it's me!). The conclusion didn't seem to jibe with the introduction: "Here's how various groups of fans will view Fallout 3" vs. "None of that really matters at all." I can see the point, but it doesn't actually add up for me.

What I want from a review is information I can use to make a decision, in this case whether or not I should buy Fallout 3. I did get plenty of that from this article but thought it strayed outside the lines of a review, ultimately becoming a verdict from a veteran RPGer about Fallout 3's overall value.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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January 26th, 2009, 22:41
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
What I want from a review is information I can use to make a decision, in this case whether or not I should buy Fallout 3. I did get plenty of that from this article but thought it strayed outside the lines of a review, ultimately becoming a verdict from a veteran RPGer about Fallout 3's overall value.
That's what I expect from a "day of release" review as well (or anything published within one month). And I can't stand the fact so many people slap articles so early after the release of a game and claim it's a "review", when really they're still under the influence of hype and excitement and "newness".

In the case of txa1265 though, being that it's been a few months now, and that all has settled, and people who loved the game at first but soon got bored (such as myself), I believe he can call it a review, and really give his judgment/opinion. So when he gives it a 4/5, I might not agree, but that's just a matter of opinion, I can't complain he lacks perspective to honestly judge the game.
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January 26th, 2009, 22:48
DC's subways are very clean (or they were when I was there 10 years ago) and functional, but they don't stand out artistically. There are tons of cool mosaics in the NYC ones. There is even a book you can get from the MTA (regulatory authority) that guides you through the various things that are represented in the different subway stations. That said, the whole damn thing is falling apart. Nearly every week, there is a switch malfunction at 59th and Lex. The damn technology is from the 40's!

They're spending $4-5Billion to put a much needed 2nd ave line in, but in truth, they'd be better off spending it to modernize and repair the existing system. If they don't, it might end up looking like the Fallout game soon!

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January 26th, 2009, 23:52
Good review txa1265 - maybe I should give Fallout 3 a try.

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January 27th, 2009, 00:19
I agree with everything written in the review.
Still, I think 3 stars would have been fair enough.

It's NOT a Fallout games for fans of Fallout 1/2 but it is a fun game.

It's a huge improvement over Oblivion but it's got a lot of flaws, the biggest of which is the lack of a solid combat system and the awful to mediocre writing (not to mention some of the voice acting - most of the actors sound as if they're acting for a 2nd grade class room).

So far this reviews feels like many reviews I've read: A long list of flaws are revealed along with the realization that the game is still fun. Again, I agree with this but the final scores should reflect more upon the negative points. 3 out of 5, hell 3.5 out of 5 seems perfect.

This game is getting way too many 4/5, 9/10, A-, 95/100 scores and this is just going to encourage Bethesda to keep doing the same thing with their next releases. It's not perfect and it's not close to perfect. It is a highly flawed game that is also entertaining.
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January 27th, 2009, 00:26
Just wanted to add, I think presentation is influencing many reviewers (just like they did with Oblivion).

I mean, the scores for Arcanum reflect the shortcomings of the game: poor combat system, lots of bugs. But that game far outshines Fallout 3. Except for it's dated-even-when-released engine.

But lets look at a more recent game: MoTB's scores were nowhere near Fallout 3's either and that game had less flaws. The engine was probably the most glaring, it's just clunky in general.

But otherwise it was an excellent game. Still it scored around 80 average (which is fair, imo though I'd score it a bit higher myself) yet Fallout 3 is averaging around 95.

Why? Maybe 1st Person, high res, HDR/Bloom, FPS (of FP Hacker in Oblivion's case) hybrids really have become all the rage.
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January 27th, 2009, 00:54
I agree with most criticisms in the review and *some* of the good stuff. I find 4/5 is to high a score though and it didn't really mirror the review (of course, the reviewer pretty much points this out).

With Fallout 3, a fairly big part of my first playthrough was the "high" for me. While there were a thousand things I could complain about, I had fun with it and found the exploration addictive enough.

But when I decided to test out the replayability, I was very disappointed despite the fact that I made a character that was almost the opposite of my first one. I firmly believed that this game had many choices & consequences, but after replaying it (or trying to, I never finished it the second time) I found the experience to be *very* samey which is really unfortunate.

A lot of these problems comes down to character building because it is really easy to design a character that gets to access almost everything the game has to offer. Much of the importance of character creation is really played down from the previous Fallouts, especially the SPECIAL stats (incredibly unbalanced, with a few useful ones and the rest downright useless, which is reflected in how much you can raise them during the actual game), the removal of traits, the decreased importance of tagging skills and the fact that we get perks on every level up now.
Even on my first character I ended up with a pretty much "jack of all trades" character, or as much as you can in the game. I could access most stuff, while still being really strong in combat.

Upon my second playthrough, I did an "evil" character which I even designed with no combat skills. And even so I had absolutely no problems on the difficulty above normal (called hard? can't remember), and the "evil choices" often doesn't have any good effect on them. For Megaton, you get absolutely nothing for being evil and blowing it up. You get the suite at Tenpennys (which has the same functionality as the Megaton house) but nothing more of any weight (you can still do the Tenpenny quests if you decide to save Megaton for example). Instead of bounty hunters, you get the Ranger dudes after you.

The game is filled with stuff like that, where you may get an option on how to solve something but it doesn't really come back to you in an interesting way at all. An obvious solution to this would've been to have the classic ending slide, but
there isn't even that.
I don't *need* strong reactions from every choice I make, it's not that. But I felt like I barely got anything from Fallout 3. And it's a shame, because I really felt there would be based upon my first playthrough.

As such, while I felt the game was a huge step up from Oblivion in terms of roleplaying, I was left with a really strong feeling that whatever choices I made didn't really have a big effect as I'd like them to be. Once that set in, I put the game down and I haven't played the game since. To bad.
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January 27th, 2009, 01:25
PLEASE read what 4/5 MEANS in our reviewing system; it does NOT mean 80%!!
Stay tuned for my take tomorrow. It's difficult having to follow such an excellent, detailed review from Mike, but hopefully I have taken a slightly different approach.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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January 27th, 2009, 04:42
Thanks for all the kind words!

As for my score, remembering there are no half-stars, here is an evolution:
0/5? Eliminated as soon as I stepped into the wasteland.
5/5? Killed before I left the Vault.
1/5? the implementation of VATS alone deserved better than that.
4/5? Hmmm … not sure …
2/5? The amount of exploration, skill checks and stuff to do was better than that.
3/5? Again, hmmm … but the multi-path quests and multi-stage quests that involved various locations, NPC's, intertwined with other quests, used skill checks, optional non-combat solutions and so on … all said it should be a bit higher.

So I was left with wondering about 4/5 and knowing it should be higher than 3/5 … with no half-star I landed on 4. And as Corwin says, it actually fits well with the scoring.

— Mike
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