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Review: Fallout 3

Russ Pitts | 28 Oct 2008 04:01
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Most games put you into a pure fantasy world, where, if something really bad does happen, it's easy to forget about. Those aren't real people getting slaughtered, after all. They're elves or some kind of fantasy people, living fantasy lives in their fantasy world. Videogames, like Half-Life, set in a facsimile of our world invariable involve some gesture of fantasy so unbelievable it makes the destruction of its world somewhat tolerable.

Fallout 3, on the other hand, is the possible apocalypse. It's our world, destroyed by us, in a way that's completely within the realm of possibility, nay, inevitability. The fact we aren't living in a world eerily similar to Fallout right now is owing to highly improbably acts of sanity on the parts of those with their fingers on the football, and a great deal of luck.

Break open a door to an abandoned house in Fallout 3 to find shelter from a deranged lunatic who's booby-trapped an entire town with tripwires and mines and is waiting on the top floor of a ruined office building with a sniper rifle to pick off whoever's lucky enough not to get blown to bits and you'll find a typical American suburban home, complete with refrigerator, radio and queen-sized bed. On the bed, you'll find the bodies of the two people who lived there, still wearing scraps of their 200 year-old clothes, their skeletal remains embracing each other in the exact same way they held each other when they died during the initial atomic attack.

You'll also find the body of the guy who came here before you, was struck by a mine and bled out. You know that's what happened to him because you followed his blood trail to this house, and discovered his corpse, missing one leg, not ten feet from the door. If you go through his pockets, you may find the bullets you need to take out the guy with the sniper rifle, who's not some lunatic bent on world domination, just a guy protecting his property from folks like you, gone mad after a lifetime of trying to survive in an inhospitable wasteland.

Bottom Line:After the apocalypse, only the strong will survive. Fallout 3 gives us a glimpse of whether we'd really want to. It is, by turns, hilarious, enthralling, and downright terrifying. And it's easily one of the best games I've played all year.

Recommendation: If you like role-playing games, the post-apocalyptic genre or both, then this game is a must-own. For those unfamiliar with either, I can't recommend it. It's far more user-friendly than the originals, but still not for casual players.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Russ Pitts is now wondering if he'll ever play another game, or if he should insert Fallout 3 into his Xbox and tape the door closed.

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