The game of the week is Fallout 3, quite surprisingly (for me), because I never had the slightest intention to play it.
The plan was to let the Goonfather play it, maybe let a video roll while he’s at it, or get him to write a review after playing it.
Well, I ended up not making a video because I’m tired of crap quality videos (need to buy a real video camera some time). But the Goonfather did send me a review. Only it was like 200 words long and read like the back of a game box, ending with the words, “To know what happens next… play the freaking game.”
So I ended up having to play the game myself so I could write my own review.
Hired help these days, tsk.
Can’t say I regret playing the game, though. Fallout 3 is DA BOMB.
That was an accidental pun. I swear.
Table of Contents
- Fallout 3 — dark and delightful
- Calling all street fighters!
- Singapore gets on world gaming map
- Results of last week’s contest
- Win a 1GB Imation Nano Flash Drive!
Fallout 3 — dark and delightful
As testimony to the brilliance of Fallout 3, I shall risk the wrath of (nobody) to publicly declare that I would rather be playing the game now than writing this review.
Well… if there were somebody for me to risk the wrath of, I would.
I have never played any of the prequels, so believe me when I say that you don’t need to have played them to get yourself immersed in Fallout 3 immediately.
Also, because I have never played the prequels, I am blown away by how cool romping around in an irradiated wasteland could be.
Let’s go through some cursory info first. Fallout 3 is an action RPG incorporating shooter elements, set in a post-apocalyptic 2277. You can switch between first-person and third-person views at any time with the press of a button. Available for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, Fallout 3 is rated M18.
Okay, that’s all the cursory info you need for now.
Fallout 3 impresses from the moment you press the Start button on your controller (assuming you’re playing the Xbox 360 version like I am). The process of character creation has been creatively worked into the plot of the game so that creating a character is actually part of the story and gameplay.
For an RPG that doesn’t have multiplayer elements and which many gamers would play in first-person perspective, I’m surprised at the almost infinite possibilties for facial customisation.
I decided to pass on tweaking my face, instead settling for a preset face and hairstyle. Even then, I spent a good 15 minutes choosing from the presets. Even hair colour is amazingly tweakable with a 256-colour RGB slider.
Not that any of it will really matter in the grand scheme of things, since no one, including yourself, will see your character anymore after you’re done with this process. If you play first-person, that is.
If you’re in third-person, you’ll just be looking at the back of your character, anyway, and your shocking blue hair, for which you took 10 minutes to get the exact right hue, will be sadly hidden under an ugly bulbous helmet you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in 2008 Orchard Road.
You start off in the game by being a baby. Yes — and I can’t get over how cute this is — your very first quest in the game is to crawl to daddy.
By default, you start off in first-person mode so, yes, baby FPS!! It feels surprisingly heart-warming when your daddy praises you and talks to you in a loving tone while you gurgle back cutely.
I almost felt a lump in my throat.
One of your next quests is to read your baby book, which is a cutely disguised ploy to have you assign points to the standard abilities that your adult character will have.
It’s a thrill looking into the book, so I won’t spoil it for you by showing you everything.
You’ll spend the next 30 minutes or so playing through significant events of your childhood, while at the same time learning that you’re given a heck lot of leeway to dicate exactly what kind of person you want to grow up to be, through the dialogue and action choices that you make.
The karma system takes into account all your choices, gradually affecting how the environment interacts with you. You could choose to be good or evil or straddle between the two, never quite deciding.
I started off being good because that’s just the kind of person I am. ;)
But as I progressed through the game, I gradually spiralled down the path to the dark side after one honest mistake.
I took something that didn’t belong to me.
I lost some karma and the Goonfather accused me of being a thief. “See your karma dropping cos you’re a thief.”
“I’m not a thief,” I protested. “I just took something that’s lying around. People are supposed to do that in RPGs!!”
That was when he pointed out to me that performing actions highlighted in red makes your character a little more evil.
It was then that I decided it was easier being evil because resources are scarce in a post-apocalyptic world. If you don’t steal, you’ll die of hunger or thirst or, worse, radiation poisoning, before the sun goes down. (But that was before I found out painfully that if you’re evil, sometimes you get ambushed by well-meaing folk trying to rid the world of evil.)
So, I was in this clinic, trying to steal some medicine to heal myself because I needed it really badly and the medicine was just lying there. Only I tried to do it while the doctor was sitting there watching, and he wasn’t too impressed.
“Thief!!” he called me and then tried to clobber me over my head.
I did what any self-respecting RPG player would do: Clobber him back.
And that was how I murdered my first innocent. In doing that, I also killed the one and only doctor in the city (which looks more like a village). Luckily, I had chosen to specialise in medicine before arriving at the city, so I didn’t really need a doctor hanging around.
This is where the game is so infuriatingly infuriating.
There are way too many skill customisation options. It’s hard to choose. You feel like you need everything in order to survive, but you can’t have everything.
Should you specialise in combat, put all your points in the several kinds of weaponry available? Or do you want to become like a charismatic religious leader, influencing, manipulating and hypnotising your way to victory? How about being a whiz kid so you can hack computers to gain entry to restricted areas? Or be a medic? Or a crook, sneaking around, picking locks and pickpocketing? Why not a mechanical genius so you can make your own weapons?
You can actually do all of the above, and more. But you might not succeed if your relevant skills are not high enough.
To make up for driving you nuts, the game throws in a fun personality test to determine your aptitude. This kind of helps people who don’t want to decide.
The test is also a precursor to the brand of dark humour which you will be faced with through the rest of your journey in this sick, twisted world.
I just love this game to death.
Until it exasperates me again by making me choose yet more abilities. At every level, besides getting points to pump into basic abilities and career skills, you get to choose a perk. These are bonus skills that help you navigate the hazardous world a little easier.
Again, you will find that you want everything.
Combat in Fallout 3 is catered to both experienced FPS players and, uh, not so experienced ones.
You can fragfest your way through the game, or you can make use of a nifty feature called Vault-Tec Assisted Targetting System (V.A.T.S.). It allows you to stop time and zoom in on a targetted area of an enemy’s body. Scroll through body parts at leisure to pick the part you want to shoot (or hammer) at.
Once you’ve made your choice, a cinematic animation will play in slow motion, rendering in exquisite detail the severing of limbs and the flying of heads and the spurting of blood. My eyes popped out the first time this happened.
(The above is the tamest screenshot I could find, out of respect for squeamish people.)
The Goonfather was quite impressed by the blood show, although he tried not to admit it. (Remember, he’s playing a good guy and hasn’t yet killed anyone brutally.)
“You are so disgusting!!!!” he said, after I completed a particularly graphic decapitation demonstration.
Oh, yeah, when you loot a body, the clothes actually come off. It’s quite a sick thing, leaving your victim lying there half naked in a pool of his/her own blood. It’s even more sick having to wear those clothes immediately after pulling them off a still warm body.
That’s the kind of thing Fallout 3 makes you do!
I didn’t kill the lady above, by the way. The giant radioactive roaches did. I tried to help her but it was too late. (And since she’s dead, anyway, might as well loot her. It’s called survival.)
I realise most of my screenshots here are in third-person (because it’s easier to navigate through darkness and rubble that way) so here’s a first-person screenshot with my character holding the weapon of the day: a rusty lead pipe.
In a world as crazy as the one in Fallout 3, it is often very difficult to hold fast to your beliefs and “do the right thing”.
While I was exploring the local church (which looks more like a juvenile clubhouse), I discovered tons of books placed haphazardly on bookshelves. I didn’t know how they could be of use to me, but I took them anyway, since, according to RPG 101, if it’s there, you should take it.
Ever the voice of morality, the Goonfather gasped out loud, “Gasp! How could you steal from a church?!!!”
“These people are freaking worshipping an atomic bomb,” I shot back.
And they are. There’s an undetonated giant atomic bomb half-buried in the middle of the city, with a handful of kooks gathered around it, listening to the head kook sound off his sermons in resounding, reverent tones.
This game just kills me.
Considering the staggering number of choices you can make throughout your career, each of which will open up a different series of consequences that will snowball to a climactic end, you could replay this game to death and then still find that you haven’t completely exhausted every option and explored every corner.
Well, I haven’t reached the end yet but I’m already considering a few different replays.
The only flaw I can think of for this game is the awkward animation of the avatars. It’s a little bit painful playing in third-person view because you don’t want to believe that the guy (or chick) lumbering along clumsily in a funny hunch could possibly be you. (And when you go into stealth mode, it’s duck walk circus.)
But the voices are great. I have a habit of speed reading through subtitles and cutting short voiceovers, but sometimes the voices are so good that I feel compelled to listen through them.
Frankly, for a game of this league, the minor flaws become nothing.
There’s a lot more I can say about Fallout 3, but I want to get back to the game, dammit. So… to know what happens next… play the freaking game.
Calling all street fighters!
The Goonfather is pretty good at fighting games (a legacy of his wayward youth), so I asked him to take part in the upcoming Singapore Arcade Showdown.
But he said, “Dowan lah. The kids who spend all their time at the arcade are damn good lor.”
I think he was speaking from experience.
So I need to find another champion to root for.
WILL IT BE YOU?
Featuring Street Fighter IV, The King of Fighters 98 and Tekken 6, the Singapore Arcade Showdown will be held at Suntec Convention Centre on Nov 22-23, as part of Anime Festival Asia (AFA08).
Almost $3,000 worth of prizes will go to worthy champions. You have until Nov 18 to sign up for it.
Singapore gets on world gaming map
Xbox fans, you could soon be playing a game on your Xbox 360 which was fully developed by Singaporeans!
News has just been released that a Singapore team managed to beat 7,800 participants from 100 countries to win the top prize of US$40,000 in a global game development contest organised by Microsoft.
Team Gambit, led by NUS undergraduate Bruce Chia, won the Dream-Build-Play 2008 contest with its acrobatic puzzle game called CarneyVale: Showtime.
Second place (US$20,000) went to a team from Venezuela, who submitted a game called Battle Tennis.
Well, word has it that you might be able to download the winning game from Xbox LIVE Arcade as early as Nov 19, in conjunction with the launch of the New Xbox Experience!
I am so proud of my fellow Singaporeans. Can’t wait to be a circus freak!
Results of last week’s contest
I posed a stupid “challenge” for last week’s contest, asking readers to explain what they would do if stuck on a deserted island with only a soccer ball and a pack of dental floss.
This was to win a FIFA09 game!
I should stop making contests like that because I really have a hard time when it comes to picking a winner. (Using Mr Randomiser is so much easier.)
I decided to use Mr Goonfather to pick this week’s winner.
I e-mailed him all the entries (minus the names of the contestants) and got him to pick the best response.
Mr Goonfather picked entry number one!
And entry number one belongs to RN1209!!
RN1209’s winning entry:
Assuming it’s a jumbo pack of dental floss, I’d start weaving myself a makeshift net. I’ll then place the soccer ball into the net and tie it to my person. Hopefully, that’ll be a good enough floatation device for me to swim away from the island and find some other island with people I can play football with. :)
Congratulations RN1209! You win FIFA09!!!
Mr Goonfather will contact you soon and throw a ball at your head!
Thanks to all the participants and your great answers!!
Win a 1GB Imation Nano Flash Drive!
Here’s this week’s giveaway!
It’s a 1GB Imation Nano Flash Drive with “The STRAITS TIMES” etched on it!
It’s cute! Only 4 cm in length!
And I’m bringing Mr Randomiser back this week.
Please post a comment of at least 30 words, including the words “LET ME WIN”, to qualify for the randomising!
Closing date is Nov 6, 2008, 11:59 pm.
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You’re feeling cheated because Gamer Girl Friday looks somewhat short today. Well, not really. The Fallout 3 review is so very long.
And there are no other game reviews this week because Fallout 3 is da bomb. And I want to get back to playing it.
So, adios amigo!