Fallout 3

Fallout 3
Fallout 3 Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, Windows, PlayStation 3
Genre Nuked action RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 26
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

Last year, I played the first hour of the original Fallout, and I will admit, it didn't go so well. I made the comment that one hour just wasn't enough for a game like that, but I wasn't interested enough to keep going. Well, Fallout 3 has been out for some time now and the series has taken a gigantic leap into the modern, pre-apocalyptic age. I guess the game could be considered an action RPG first-person shooter with the option of being third-person, but whatever the genre is, this is not our father's isometric Fallout.

Times have changed though, and with Bethesda taking over the Fallout license, it seemed like the logical step was "Oblivion with guns." Whether you were excited for this prospect or not, it definitely seems to have panned out as the game was honored with many Game of the Year awards in 2008. But I like to form my own opinions, and set out to eventually give the Fallout series another chance. I had the opportunity a few months ago, when my brother-in-law asked me to help him play this game. I wandered around for a few minutes in complete and utter confusion, eventually killed some important story characters (and then the game auto-saved!), and was more or less left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

But I also like to give a game a decent shake, so here is its opportunity: the first hour of Fallout 3 on the Xbox 360.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Fallout 3 begins. Pip-Boy scrolls by riding a goat...? And then the game begins. I'm looking at some flickering lights while a '30s era tune begins playing. Ah, the lights were from inside a radio, which is inside a vehicle.

01 - It's an old bus, quite worn down though, and obviously unusable. We're getting our first look at the world of Fallout 3, and it's not pretty. Post-apocalyptic is an understatement. Buildings are crumbling, and soldiers in huge suits look menacing.

02 - Bethesda presents: Fallout 3. "War. War never changes." Seems similar to Fallout 1. The narrator describes man's obsession with violence and death. In 2077, the bombs went off and the world was changed forever.

Fallout 3 Liam Neeson Dad Vault

03 - It wasn't the end of the world though, just the end of a bloody chapter. Somehow we survived by hiding in Vaults. In particular, Vault 101 was closed, and never reopened. "No one ever enters, and no one ever leaves."

05 - A baby cries, it's... me? I'm looking up at some doctors and suddenly I'm asked to select my sex; "It's a boy." Daddy's saying hi, and then I'm asked to input my name. He won't say "Greg" though.

06 - Interesting, I get to pick my look too, this is definitely a unique character creation. There are a ton of options, and all the hair styles are named, including The Unsettler.

08 - Well, I could spend forever picking my look, so I move on. Oh man, my mom is dying and the nurse carries me away. It's one year later now, and I'm taking my first steps and saying "dada".

09 - Haha, my dad says he needs to go and leaves me to take care of myself. But like a Rugrat, I'm escaping.

Fallout 3 Youre Special Charisma

10 - I find the "You're Special!" book, which is actually all about helping me distribute my attribute points. This is actually pretty cool. Five points to distribute across seven attributes, I mostly go with intelligence and agility. With a little charisma.

12 - Dad's back, but he's not mad. He begins quoting the book of Revelation from the Bible, and then asks me to follow him. Ah, the door of our apartment tells me we're in Vault 101.

13 - Nine years later now, it's a surprise party for me! I'm awarded a Pip-Boy 3000, whatever that is. Hey, is my dad's voice Liam Neeson?

15 - I begin talking to the kids at my party, I get a few options of what to say, but don't actually hear me saying them aloud. Man, there are some real jerks here, who invited Wally Mack and Butch?

17 - I bring up the Pip-Boy 3000, there sure are a lot of options in this thing.

Fallout 3 Pip Boy 3000 Special

20 - It is so difficult for me to be mean to people in these kind of games, at least the first time around. Oh oh, Butch wants the sweet roll I just got as a gift, no way you idiot. Butch starts punching me when I refuse him.

22 - Officer Gomez seems to foreshadow that Butch is going ot be trouble in a few years. My dad tells me to meet up with Jonas in the Reactor level.

23 - Some woman talks to me as I leave the room, but I can't see her face because the camera decided to zoom in on the door frame. Oh, she wrote me a poem... Probably good I can't see her.

24 - I follow the signs to the Reactor and meet up with Jonas, seems like we're friends. My dad shows up again and gives me a BB Gun! Awesome!

26 - I shoot some targets, and then a radroach shows up! I enter V.A.T.S. mode and can target specific body parts. Now that's what I'm talking about. Wow, I can actually aim at my dad or Jonas, that's a bit creepy. I take it out with two shots to the torso, and then get my picture taken with my dad.

Fallout 3 Birthday Party Vault

28 - After that family moment, we fast forward to six years in the future. Dad tells me I've got a GOAT exam to take. Is this like the OWLS from Harry Potter? I ask him for a quick explanation, and basically it's all about finding me a job and bettering the Vault.

30 - We talk a bit about life and death in the Vault, really sounds like I'll be sticking around here... or not.

33 - I encounter some Tunnel Snakes in the hall, no, they're not an enemy, they're some leather jacking wearing gang. Ah, they're the jerks from my party. Paul can't stop saying, "Tunnel Snakes rule!"

35 - Well, time to challenge Butch to a fight, it's been a long time coming. Hah, we rumble for a bit and I V.A.T.S. punch Butch, but then he calls it off, little wuss. Ah, it's the GOAT testing room.

37 - The teacher explains the rules, there's an American flag on the wall with some weird star pattern. Oh, the first question... what the? Something about a quantum harmonizer?

Fallout 3 Radroach Vault

39 - The questions are obviously trying to figure out more about my personality. Hah! I've been exposed to radiaton and a mutated hand has grown out of my stomach; what's the best treatment? That sounds pretty cool actually.

43 - The GOAT is over, and I get to select three skills from a list of 13. The game has pre-selected Explosives, Melee Weapons, and Science. Seems fine with me I suppose.

44 - Three years later, 19 years old now. Amata tells me to get up, she says my father is gone! He's left the Vault, and the Overseer's men have killed Jonas... poor guy. Amata is the Overseer's daughter, but she's trying to help me.

45 - She gives me some bobby pins to pick a lock and also her father's pistol. Should be useful. I grab my BB gun and a baseball bat, and Officer Kendall shows up to give me some target practice.

46 - Wow, the camera goes third person and slows down as I knock his chin out of the Vault.

Fallout 3 Vats Mole Rat

47 - Vault 101 is going to hell, this place is chaos.

48 - Butch actually asked me to help his mom, I told him I would, but the only woman I find is dead. Maybe I was too late? Officer Gomez just tells me to get out of there.

50 - It's really fun to smash radroaches with my baseball bat using V.A.T.S.. Very squishy.

51 - Just took out the security chief, hopefully that's it for the human resistance.

52 - Even better, I find Officer Mack who killed Jonas, and destroy him in three gigantic swings. I confront the Overseer and demand him to hand over his keys.

Fallout 3 Lockpicking

53 - Oh, Jonas' dead body, he has a note from my dad. Time to pick this lock. You actually have individual control over both the bobby pin and the screwdriver, that's pretty cool. The lock opens easily.

55 - I search a locker and find the Overseer's computer password, well, that will making hacking easy. The password is AMATA, and is entered automatically. I open the Vault door and make my way down to it.

56 - Making my way out now, doubt anyone has been down here in a while. The door is rolled aside and I'm free. Amata approaches, and I ask her to come with me. She says no though, maybe she can become Overseer.

58 - Some guards want to rumble though, three of them, and they're not going down without a fight. I need to up my health with a stimpak I found. Once I whip out my pistol though, they go down in a bloody mess.

60 - The Vault door closes behind me, as I enter the Capital Wasteland. Without as much as a cutscene, I'm outside, looking over the world. In the far distance, I can see what's left of Washington D.C. And that's the end of the first hour of Fallout 3.

Fallout 3 Washington Dc Capitol Building

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 26

What was awesome: V.A.T.S. was a ton of fun. Whether I was squishing radroaches with my trusty Louisville Slugger or taking headshots against the local security force, I always felt like I was in control with the system. Fighting outside the system seemed sporadic and awkward, but freeze time to set up that perfect sequence of blows? Yeah, sometimes I like that amount of control. At least the game seems to cater towards both kinds of players, and everyone in between.

And while there wasn't any "action" per se for about 25 minutes, I still had a lot of fun through all the growing up sequences. It's a great way to teach the game's basic controls while being entirely original and fresh.

What I liked: This is the kind of first hour I like to play, a linear experience that develops the world I'm going to immerse myself in while teaching me the controls in interesting ways. I'm not saying I'm against non-linear games, I just think that the sandbox gameplay should be saved until after introductions have been exchanged.

What I didn't like: Dialogue just seemed a bit off, I wouldn't have minded if they pulled away from the first-person view while talking with someone and going for a more cinematic angle. Looking directly into their eyes was just... creepy. Uncanny valley achieved.

Gameplay: Fallout 3 moves very quickly, fighting was a bit awkward for me when not using V.A.T.S., but brilliant when it was activated. There is a ton of stuff to explore and investigate, and so many objects to collect. If anything, I fear that inventory management might be a bit too overwhelming.

Fun Factor: V.A.T.S. is great fun and is truly the next evolution in RPG action games, and really all around, this was a very fun first hour. Even something as simple as lock picking was interesting.

Graphics and Sound: Great looking environments, an excellent soundtrack, and some creepy looking people. But hey, they got Liam Neeson to voice your dad, how cool is that? I'm glad I was able to make it outside the Vault in an hour though, it was great looking over the desolate landscape.

Story: Like I said above, I enjoyed growing up with my character and learning about Vault culture by being immersed in it instead of being told about it. Of course, the first hour ends with what I'm assuming is the game's main mystery: the disappearance of your dad. Definitely has me intrigued.

Would I keep playing? Yeah, I'm really interested to see where the game is going.

Fallout 3 Megaton Wasteland