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Late to the Apocalypse

Updated on March 15, 2017
Gaylen Cook profile image

Gaylen is a lover of video games, poetry, food, sharing opinions, and her mini dachshund, Alva.

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A Glimpse into Nuclear Fallout

Fallout 3 is the third installment in Bethesda's line of action role-playing games. The series centers around the idea that the government created underground Vaults to prevent the human race from going extinct in the event of a nuclear fallout. These humans were hand selected and only around 1,000 humans were granted access into these underground safe havens.

Each of the games follows the life of one character from a specifically designated vault for the area. In Fallout 3, this is Vault 101 in the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. The humans that have made it outside the various vaults have built towns and settlements throughout the wasteland. One of these towns is even around an unexploded bomb. In addition to these towns and settlements, you can explore the ruins of various monuments in the areas including, but not limited to, the White House, the Washington Monument, and even an underground subway that was based on the Washington Metro.

There are also different factions that you can join within the area. The Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave are the largest and the most intimately intertwined with the story line. The Brotherhood of Steel is very similar to the army. They have some of the best technology, armor, and weaponry and want to assist the people living in the wasteland. While the Enclave are the remnants of the right-wing American government and is less interested in helping people and more interested in the Pre-War technology just sitting around the wastes. So while they may appear to be similar, these two factions function very differently from one another. Other factions include a group of freed slaves whose goal is to restore the Lincoln Memorial to help inspire others to rise to freedom, a group of cannibals, and a group of settlers that tend and care for plants in the region where plants are still able to grow.

So What's It Really About?

Now that you have some background knowledge on how the Fallout series works and the general setting of this particular installment, it's time to get into the fun part of the actual story line.

You'll begin the game in a step by step tutorial inside Vault 101. The year is 2258 and you're just being born. This is where you'll have the option of choosing both your sex and your name and seeing your parents for the first time. Only something goes wrong and your mother, Catherine, dies shortly after childbirth. From there on out, it's just you and your father, James. Through a series of time hops you'll learn more about your parents as well as what kind of player you might want to be. The Fallout series is heavily dependant on strategy to easily navigate the wastelands and everybody seems to have a different opinion about what the best strategy really is. You'll even get to attend your eleventh birthday party, where you'll have the opportunity to speak to other vault dwellers. They all say relatively the same thing: you're born in the vault, and you die in the vault. Nobody goes outside and nobody comes inside.

Fast forward to the year 2277, which makes your character 19. You're awoken by your best friend from Vault 101 warning you that your father has opened the vault door and escaped into the wastes. Vault security is looking for him with the order to kill. And the Overseer, the man in control of the vault, also wants you dead just for being associated with James. This is the first test of fight or flight within the series. Depending on how you applied your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. traits earlier in the game will depend on how easy it is for you to get through this segment with or without fighting.

No matter how you handle this situation, you still end up escaping the vault into the bright,sunny wasteland and discovering the world that the Overseer tried so hard to brainwash all of the dwellers into believing didn't exist.

From here on out, you're in control of what you do and how you get to the end of the story line. You'll be able to gain positive or negative karma, which will influence how settlers react to you and what companions you'll be able to bring along with you for your journey.

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Game Play

As I said above, how easily you can play through the game will depend on how well you utilize your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes. Also known as Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck.

  • Strength will affect how much you can carry and how much damage you do with melee attacks.
  • Perception deals with how easily you'll be able to spot enemies on your compass--the higher the perception, the more warning you'll have when enemies are nearby or approaching. It also affects the energy weapons skill, lock picking, and explosives.
  • Endurance dictates the amount of HP (or Hit Points, which is your health) that you'll start with. It will also affect the unarmed and big guns skill.
  • Charisma will affect people's general disposition to you as well as your speech and barter skills. Speech is one of the easiest things to utilize in the game as there are often "speech check" options in dialogues with different characters and settlers that you'll meet around the wasteland.
  • Intelligence is another easy one to utilize. It affects the number of skill points you're allotted for leveling up. Having an Intelligence of 1 will grant you 11 points per level. This number is increased by one for each Intelligence point that you assign. An Intelligence of 2 will grant you 12 points. And an Intelligence of 10 will reward you with 20 points per level, which makes it much easier to level up your skills very quickly.
  • Agility affects your total number of AP (or Action points in V.A.T.S., which stands for Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) as well as the small gun and sneak skills. It'll also affect how quickly you draw your weapon and reload it, if need be. This last part is particularly important to consider as your character won't stop in the middle of a reload to heal him/herself. So being able to reload your weapon quickly is definitely helpful for a character with lower HP.
  • Luck is a little bit different from the others in the fact that it affects how much ammo and caps you'll find. It'll also affect your critical hit chances when using V.A.T.S., which will vary between 1% and 10% depending on how many points you assign to this attribute.

There are a plethora of different strategy guides out there debating what the best use of these attributes is, so I won't go into that since that would make this a very, very lengthy article.

The game play is smooth and the graphical glitches are fairly minimal for a game that was released almost 10 years ago. And I really enjoy that you can play through the story line however you'd like. There's also a neat element of weapon and armor damage/decay that is present in some of Bethesda's other games, such as Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. As you use your weapons and armor, they're going to need repairs to keep them at their optimal functioning levels. You'll have to upgrade your repair skill to maintenance them well yourself. Otherwise you'll have to shell out some caps, which is the wasteland's version of cash, to a merchant with a decently high repair skill. Most of these merchants can't repair an item beyond 54%, so a lot of your items will only be functioning around half of its true capacity unless you find them new or increase your repair skill. This element only adds to Bethesda's successful attempt at bringing the realism to the nuclear fallout apocalypse.

Fallout 3 is a game that still holds its own in comparison with a lot of games today. In fact, I would say that the story line for this is one of the better games I've had the pleasure of playing through lately. So, if you're like me and chronically late in terms of discovering just about everything, I'd recommend picking up a copy of Fallout 3 if you're undecided about it. I'm glad that I did and I'm sure I'll play through it again, just like Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4.

5 stars for Fallout 3

© 2017 Gaylen Cook

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