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When Fallout 4 was announced, there were a lot of very excited fans. I was definitely one of them. In the excitement of the announcement, many decided to go back and replay older Fallout games. I was also one of those people. I’ve played Fallout 3 before, but never got a chance to finish it. Going back through and actually beating Fallout 3 sounded like a really good idea. For those who haven’t played it or for those who wanted to hear my take on the game, I’ve decided to do a full review, though it’s a bit belated.

 

Fallout 3 is a single player, action role playing game that utilizes a huge open world post-apocalyptic setting. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda had bought the rights to the Fallout series from Black Isle Studios/Interplay Entertainment, so this was Bethesda’s first attempt with the franchise. The game came out in late October of 2008 for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game got rave reviews across the board and was given Game of the Year in several instances.

 

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The game is set in the same universe as the rest of the earlier Fallout games. It takes place in the year 2277, which is approximately 200 years before the nuclear apocalypse that ravaged the United States. Many citizens ended up in “Vaults” underground that keep them alive during the bombings. The story’s protagonist is a character of the player’s choosing (male/female, looks, etc.) that resides in Vault 101. Things in the vault seem great at first, but after many years go by, events happen that force the protagonist to leave the vault. The wasteland that lies outside of the vault is deadly and full of secrets. As the main character explores the open-world area of what used to be Washington D.C., these secrets start to come to light.

 

The main story line is quite good. It has everyone that a person could want: family issues, secrets, exploration, evil groups vying for power, monsters, and an altruistic mission. There are many side quests as well that can push a player into playing for long, long time. The map is expansive and the tone really just make you feel like you are in the Capital Wasteland. The urban exploration alone in the game is well worth the price of the game. It was one of the first games that I actually felt overwhelmed over when I looked at the sheer size and scale of it. Once you go out of the vault, it really feels like you can go anywhere and do anything.

 

The game play is like a first person shooter to a degree. You can play that way if you want. However, the feel is more RPG with XP for kills, completing tasks, and quests. There is also a special combat system called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) that allows a player to pause time and pick special areas to attack on an enemy based on a probability percentage. It’s an interesting system that has a love or hate relationship with many Fallout 3 players. Luckily, you can choose whether you want to use it or not based off of how you want to play the game. This includes how a person levels up their character by choosing points in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, which stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. Players can also choose their way of playing by adding points to “Perks” that at given after leveling up. Want to sneak around and get stuff done that way? There are Perks for that. Want to go in guns-blazing? There are Perks for that. It creates the type of game play that is re-playable many, many times.

 

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The graphics looked pretty slick at the time that the game came out. The opening sequence for the game is probably one of the best in gaming history, as it sets the tone of the game quite nicely and has a really creepy feel to it. The 1950s retro feel with the nuclear apocalypse grays and browns gives the game a unique feeling. It’s one of those games that a player could fall in love with, one of those rare gems that only come around every once in awhile.

 

I completely understand why it was hailed as Game of the Year from many places. It’s a great game, hands down. However, because of its age, the game play feels a bit stiff, and the Gamebryo game engine just wasn’t quite up to par with what it needed to do. The gray and brown color scheme makes hours and hours of play a little bland after awhile (it looks like this fixed for Fallout 4; there are a lot of more colorful game footage out). Regardless, though, it’s an amazing game. It’s definitely worth a play or replay before Fallout 4 comes out.

No GravatarAre you a little bummed that summer is over?  Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean that you can’t go on a quick vacation.  Instead of a traditional one, how about a video game vacation?  Not only can you travel to some really cool places–both real and imagined–but you can do it from the comfort of your own couch!

Join Real Otaku Gamer for more video game vacation destinations!  After reading, make sure you take the survey at the end to vote for your favorite video game place.

Game: Fallout 3

Place: Washington D.C

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About: Ever wonder what D.C. would look like after a nuclear apocalypse?  Well, thanks to the wonders of video games, players don’t have to imagine anymore.  Fallout 3 focuses on the wreckage that occurs after a nuclear holocaust.  People buried themselves away in “vaults” and re-emerged to live among the wreckage.  During the game, players will wander around in the ruins of D.C., fighting mutants and helping others along the way.

Why Visit: There’s something both disturbing and interesting about looking at our nation’s landmarks in a state of disarray.  It may just be humanity’s fascination with “the end” that makes this gaming franchise so popular.  The large sandbox of a map that players get to wander around in also make this place well-worth it.

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Must See Areas:

  • Go disable a large atomic weapon in Megaton.
  • Visit the Capital Wasteland and our nation’s monuments turned to rubble.
  • Take a walk down the Potomac River. Just don’t take a dip because it’s radioactive.
  • Walk around the metro tunnels and fight mutants.

What do you think? Which video game vacation would you prefer? Click here to take the survey and let ROG know where you’d like to go. Be sure to come back next week for another location.

Week 8: Columbia
Week 7: Citadel
Week 6: USG Ishimura
Week 5: Skyrim
Week 4: Pittsburgh
Week 3: Pandora
Week 2: Chicago
Week 1: Rapture

 

By otakuman5000 On 8 Dec, 2011 At 12:58 AM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, Videos | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThe newest addition into the Elder Scrolls franchise makes its way to our consoles in a blaze of magic, fire, and glory. Bethesda brings all of their talent and cleverness in game design into this fantasy epic for all platforms. Be it Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or PC your choice to experience the land of Skyrim; you will not be disappointed at the grand scale this fantasy world has to offer. Add to the mix a soundtrack that brings to life the feeling of older fantasy tales, and you have one of the better games of the year. Even with all that being said, there is truth to be found in all of this, and that truth will be EPIC.

 

 

 

 

 

By otakuman5000 On 13 Apr, 2011 At 02:23 PM | Categorized As Editorials, PC Games, PlayStation, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 2 Comments

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The latest AAA RPG is out today, filled with all the bloody combat, gray morality, and sexy women, or men, that you could want. That’s a no-brainer for a day one purchase, right?

Here’s another question: Do you go ahead and put down $60 + tax of your hard-earned money on it, knowing that there is already DLC on PSN/XBLA, and that all this content will probably be available next year with the core game as the “Game of the Year Edition”? Do you pay $60 for a game that by all accounts plays like it’s still in beta-testing in hopes that the designers will release patches to make it run correctly in the next few weeks?

One of the defining features of the seventh generation of consoles has been Internet access as a standard feature. While online capability for game systems has existed since the early 1980’s, this is the first time we’ve had the infrastructure that enables everyone to be online, in the form of Xbox Live, PSN, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, or Steam. On the plus side, it has made gaming a truly social pastime. We can get onto Xbox Live, join a party with our friends, and rock it in everything from CoD: Black Ops to Bomberman. It has also brought us downloadable budget games that would otherwise have never been green-lighted by the platform holders or would have never been made due to the costs of publishing. The Internet has given us more freedom than ever before in our entertainment choices. And that’s a good thing.

Unfortunately, not everything is quite so rosy. Online-capable consoles have brought the ills of post-release patching, DLC, and DRM into our living rooms. Through the Internet, a publisher now has the uncontested power to control how much access you have to the games you buy, whether or not you have that access in the first place, and how you share your gaming experiences with your friends and family. Much of this access is determined by how much something can be “monetized” by the provider. Because consoles are now Internet-enabled, publishers looking to meet key deadlines like Christmas can also push a game out the door before it has been thoroughly tested or even completed, with the idea that any problems that crop up or even missing game modes can be addressed by the release of an online patch after the game goes to retail.  The Internet has given content providers more power and control than at any point in the past.

Let’s take a look at some of the buzzwords of contemporary gaming.

DRM

A well-known anti-piracy campaign from Britain in the 1980's

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is not a new concept. This concept was codified in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1996, at a time when the “information superhighway” was being rolled out for the general public. Prior to 1996, it was simply known as copy protection, exemplified with famous slogans like “Don’t Copy That Floppy (disk)” and “Home Taping is Killing Music.”

Game production is increasingly expensive, and it’s understandable that the publisher and developers want a return on their investment. When a game fails to perform at retail, designers are laid off, a promising franchise dies, and in the worst-case scenario, the development studio may get shut down completely. Another result is that publishers are encouraged to stick with sequels to proven franchises like Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed instead of introducing new properties. Publishers will often lay the blame for underperforming games on piracy, and more and more frequently, on the secondhand video game market. While it has always been commonplace for gamers to sell, buy, loan, and rent games, it is only within the past two years that publishers have raised the alarm over the used game market. Nevertheless, in the eyes of a publisher, every pirated or secondhand copy is a lost sale, and they seem particularly galled by used game sales, since the money that changes hands on a used sale is strictly between the seller and the buyer.

In order to counteract piracy and the used game market, publishers have long tried different methods. In the 1980s, it was common for publishers to implement copy protection that required the user to type in a piece of information from the game’s manual or packaging, the information being printed on paper that would show up as solid black on the Xerox machines of that time. As technology advanced, so did copy protection. Today, DRM often includes giving a limited number of installs of a game and requiring the game to periodically validate itself online with the publisher’s main server. While PC games have sported DRM, such as the notorious SecuROM, for years, these practices have now spread to consoles as well. Specifically for consoles, publishers have tried offering DLC with new copies as a positive incentive. EA and THQ have also experimented with a more punitive form of DRM, the online pass, where the buyer of a used copy of a game is required to pay an additional fee if he or she wishes to play a game online.

DLC

DLC, or downloadable content, is a more controversial issue, since unlike with DRM, there are potential benefits to both the publisher and the end user. DLC takes different forms depending on the game and genre. For FPS’s, it usually comes in the form of map packs for the multiplayer modes. Fighting games usually relegate it to extra characters or costumes for existing characters which do not impact the actual game. In RPGs, it can take the form of side quests as well as optional weapons or armor. Sometimes the DLC is fairly superficial, but other times, it is quite extensive, as with Fallout 3’s Broken Steel pack, which allowed continued play after the core game’s rather abrupt ending and upped the level cap from 20 to 30. In addition, there are many free-to-play (FTP) games whose revenue largely comes from DLC, known as microtransactions. This model has long been popular in South Korea and China. In the United States and Japan, it has been adopted by a number of MMORPGs who are not able to compete with the popularity of World of Warcraft as subscription games. It is also the revenue model of choice for the new breed of “social” games made for platforms like Flash, Facebook, iOS, and Android.

Publishers are increasingly offering controversial “day one” DLC as bonuses for purchases of new copies or for preorders, and while that is seen as a more positive incentive to buy new than an online pass, there are protests that gamers are having content intentionally withheld from the game for the purposes of milking it. The issue is even thornier when it is discovered that the DLC is nothing more than a code that unlocks content already printed on the data layer of the disc itself, which is considered to be the property of the purchaser under the First Sale Doctrine of the Copyright Act of 1976.

Publishers claim that DLC is a way to add value for customers, particularly buyers of new copies, and certainly it is a way for them to receive additional revenue from a copy of a game that in the past would have been completely lost to them once it was sold. From gamers, the opinions are mixed. While there are those who decry DLC as “nickel-and-diming,” there are those who enjoy the ability to continue the story of a favorite game beyond the main quest. There is also the question of paying real money for virtual goods, as some “free-to-play” games can cost money beyond a one-time $50-60 purchase for a retail game.  In one extreme case, parents have reported getting bills totalling hundreds of dollars for microtransactions from Smurf Village, a popular iOS FTP farming sim, a controversy that both Apple and the publisher, Capcom, have worked to address.  In this case there is the issue of the ethics of marketing seemingly cheap, tempting DLC to kids, who are more impulsive than adults on average,  as well as parental supervision and control of their kids’ online activities.

Bugs

As anyone who’s played a Lionhead, Bethesda or BioWare RPG lately can attest, bugs in retail games are becoming more and more noticeable. Bugs can range from graphical errors like broken textures, missing limbs, and floating items, to features of the game that don’t work correctly. In some cases, a bug can cause the game to freeze up, requiring a press of the power button to reset the game and losing all the progress you’ve made.

Bugs in Fallout: New Vegas

Now, there is no such thing as “perfect” code. Every piece of software has at least some degree of imperfection. In this day and age, a game has billions and billions of lines of code, and it is impossible to nail down every imperfection. It’s also been argued that the HD generation games are more complex than ever in terms of graphics and gameplay.  The argument goes that in an open-world environment like Fallout, it’s impossible to account for every possible variable a gamer can throw at a game’s graphics or physics engine.

However, some games have been buggy and even unfinished, almost to the point of feeling like a $60 beta test. A glitch in the system because a programmer didn’t anticipate a gamer doing such-and-such is one thing, but what about random freezes, screen tearing, floating limbs? If these things are encountered routinely by customers, shouldn’t the game’s testing team have caught them? It’s also not like working on a PC environment, where a game has to run on a variety of different hardware and software configurations. A 360 is a 360 is a 360, or that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

With consoles routinely Internet-capable, a lot of developers seem to be relying heavily on post-release patching to try to fix problems that come up after release, especially when the publisher is setting an absolute deadline for the game to be released, come hell or high water. However, patches are not always timely. Furthermore, there’s also the question of what happens to a game once all the servers are shut off.

The extreme version of these bugs actually comes in the form of hardware errors, like the 360’s RROD and E74 errors and the infamous “ApocalyPS3” that happened on March 1 of last year.  These oversights on the part of the platform holders result in inconvenience and expenses for customers, and millions of dollars in expenses for the platform holders to placate their customer base and avoid tarnishing the image of the console for potential new customers.

So, are bugs the inevitable price of the kind of complex graphics and game mechanics today’s gamers demand? Is it right for publishers to expect consumers to spend more money on games that seem unfinished?

The Wallet Vote

Ultimately, the design choices listed above are dictated by what the market will bear. While angry gamers may protest online passes or DLC vocally on Internet forums, they are preaching to the choir. Unless an unpopular DRM scheme can be proven to negatively impact the sales of a game that uses it, as happened with Spore, publishers will assume their customers are OK with it. As long as people are willing to pay $15 for multiplayer map packs, publishers will keep releasing them… and perhaps test the waters with incremental price increases. It is up to everyone to vote with their wallets as to what they do or don’t want from their games.

And if we are okay with online passes and day-one DLC, those things have gotten their foot in the door. What will we be asked to do next?