Thursday, 20 August 2009

Review of Fallout 3 - Part One: Intro & Combat

Well, I got around to "beating" the game (by which I mean: getting to the ending), and I think it's about time I offer my opinion on Bethesda's action-rpg, Fallout 3. Be prepared though, as this is a long one. This is strictly the introduction to the review, and the review of the combat portion of gameplay.

I love the little lightning-bolt in the logo.

To be honest, It's been a while since I've felt such a feeling of duality with a game that I've felt like quitting gaming (mainstream at least) altogether. I think the last time this happened was after playing Final Fantasy 7, and maybe for similar reasons. It's not really a bad game... but I can't honestly say that it's a great game either. There's a lot of reasoning behind both sides, so let's just dig right in.

See, I went into Fallout 3 knowing a few things and expecting a few issues. Yet I expected a decent RPG using a first-person-shooter as its core game mechanic. And in a way, it delivers. Sorta, kind of. In a twisted way.

See, my main problem with Fallout 3 is that there's some great ideas, and there's certainly lots of room for greatness. Yet it just feels like Bethesda "phoned it in" and forgot really crucial aspects. It's like they wanted to tack together an RPG's elements (like stats, leveling, vast world, sidequests, item systems, status effects, and turn-based combat) with a first-person-shooters elements (in this case, shooting people, free movement, and stealth). And for the most part it succeeds pretty well.

V.A.T.S. is where I really had a problem though. It's a nice idea; you can briefly stop time, select opponents body parts that you specifically want to hit while being given a warning of your chance to hit, and then shoot them up by using Action Points.

I'll talk about the super-mutants later. Needless to say, yikes.

But, there's a few flaws with this mode:

1. It breaks immersion. All control is suddenly wrenched from your hands, and while shooting you cannot bob and weave in the slightest. You just have to stand there and get shot while you shoot. Not to mention that after V.A.T.S. is used, there's a split second where you can't move cause you haven't gained back control.

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!

2. It limits the damage you take while just standing there. I mean, this was obviously created as a work-around for the fact that you can't bob-and-weave. And I'll admit, you probably take the same amount of damage in V.A.T.S. as you would if you were properly bobbing and weaving. Here's the issue though: V.A.T.S. stands for "Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System". It doesn't stand for "Vault-Tec Targets For You and Prevents Movement System While You're Near-Invincible" I mean, I know that VTFYPMWYNI wasn't as popular a name due to pronunciation issues, but it would've been more authentic.

Oh you know on second thought this doesn't hurt so much.

3. You cannot win a difficult encounter using V.A.T.S. alone, making V.A.T.S. practically pointless anyways. You're not going to win this game if you're bad at FPSs. Okay, that's an overstatement, but the game will be a whole lot harder. This makes V.A.T.S. in its current form practically pointless.

Actually, a better improvement to vats would be to not auto-fire at all, but auto-lock-on and engage bullet-time. What do I mean by that? Well, basically it would work like this:

1. Press V.A.T.S. button to bring up target selection.
2. Select a target based on hit chance and what you're aiming at.
3. Press the confirm button, and bullet-time gets activated.
4. The player returns to normal combat, having full control over moving and shooting, except their crosshair is locked onto the specific enemy area. AP drops constantly while in bullet-time.
5. Either the AP runs out, or the player presses the V.A.T.S. button again. If the former, bullet-time ends and the cross-hair unlocks. If the latter, you either start again at #1 or can disengage lock-on and bullet-time, returning to normal battle.

Personally I think this would work better, and would solve a lot of problems.

Now I would like to say that V.A.T.S. is indeed very satisfying in its current form. Especially when it changes camera angles to show off a good shot. Unfortunately these shots tend to come up even while not killing someone. Near the end of the game, I was finding them boring and repetitive. A better thing to do would've been to make them sparser, sorta like in Max Payne, by only doing the special-angle shots on kills and only rarely. (For those who don't know what I mean, if you snipe someone and kill them there's a chance that the camera will follow the bullet.)

So yeah, in summary: The combat is pretty good, but V.A.T.S. should've been handled differently.

Images used in this review do not belong to me, nor do their contents. I took none of them myself, but merely found them on Google. I assume no ownership and am using them for referential purposes. If you do not wish them to be used, simply send me an e-mail and I will replace them.

1 comment:

  1. get good weapons (preferably special weapons), repair them to the best condition you can, have more than 2 ''official'' weapons to play with (i have 5, 2 for close quarters combat, 1 for medium ranged combat, 1 for long range and sneak combat, 1 for massive damage if the need arises) plan your character (skills and perks) and some hard battles can be won using vats alone. at first i've done a character but on level 20 it wasn't very good and i didn't knew why it was so weak, now i have made a planned character and it's level 10 now and it's way more powerful than the other one at level 20. do not believe in some stuff that the game says, the maximum skill level on some skills isn't 100 and you can make it way bigger than 100 with no cheating and not taking advantage of any glitches, just good planning and a good knowledge of the game. plan the way you will deal with your enemies (i will do X if i find a raider and Y if i find a super mutant behemoth and Z if i find a deathclaw and so on...). stockpile items that you might need. if you want to level fast get the science and lockpick bobbleheads fast and put some points on these two skills, many times you will gain more XP just by doing lockpicking and hacking than for killing enemies, rest 8 hours to gain the XP bonus. these are fallout 3 golden rules i guess ;). even if someone is a bad player of this type of games, there's no way it can fail if following these rules.