Tuesday 31 March 2009

The end of nights we tried to die

I finally got around to finishing Fallout 3 over the weekend, only six months after most people, but still. There may be a few people waiting ’til it’s out on budget, so I’ll try and be unsatisfactorily vague and mysterious, but some spoilage may follow…

When we left our Wasteland Wanderer, all was well. Apart from the whole nuclear war business, radiation, evil mutants etc. And in the game, ah. The central plot was ticking over, but generally taking a back seat while I roamed the wasteland exploring, having a splendid time visiting museums, slaver towns and factories, killing mutants and raiders, taking their stuff, and furnishing my house. Thumbs up. Having explored a pretty big chunk of the map (though not all of it, I’m sure) I thought I’d carry on with the main story, and wandered off to Vault 87; in fairly short order there was an obligatory “I’ve been captured” sequence, an uninspired breakout from what seemed a particularly lax minimum security establishment, a conversation with President Eden that only seemed to have one outcome when I wanted to explore some different options, and another escape that mostly involved NPC ‘bots doing the hard work. At this point the plot kicks into full “we must strike RIGHT NOW!” mode, so while I believe you could continue to wander around the world in general, that wouldn’t really sit right with me. One final assault, a sort-of confrontation with the sort-of bad guy, and… game over, man, game over.

I seemed slightly superfluous to the whole business. Conversations didn’t offer a very wide variety of options, just shunting the inevitable forward, and NPC’s did most of the heavy fighting while I tagged along, used an occasional stimpack and taking pot-shot at anything I noticed that was still alive (not much, usually). Granted, the huge slogan-shouting nuke-chucking robot was brilliant and made for a thoroughly enjoyable romp in its giant stompy footsteps, but I was more a spectator than active participant. The game up to that point had been a series of neat little vignettes, of communities and individuals, of slightly crazy memorabilia collectors and mad scientists and super heroes. The whole Enclave vs Brotherhood business had teased at being an interesting set-up, especially with Eden’s radio broadcasts, but they wound up as two fairly dull bunches of people in power armour, supposedly one good and one bad, but I can’t say I saw that much difference (not in a good, moral ambiguity, difficult decisions way, more they were just both equally uninspired), so the Ultimate Final Confrontation was rather… meh. And then that very final non-decision (are you a: noble or b: a git), a bit of a recap, and b-bye.

I think I’m going to load an earlier save game, or even start again from the beginning, and explore some more, as up until Vault 87 it was a really great game, it’s a shame the end lets it down rather.

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