Saturday, January 17, 2009

Flawed Fallout?

Note: This is the final post in a series this week themed around Fallout 3 in which I take a brief look at some things in the game that annoy me. You can find the other four posts: here, here, here and here.

After spending the week praising Fallout 3 for being different and immersive, I thought I would end this week's look at the game with some of the things that bug me. These are only minor gripes, irrelevant to my enjoyment of the game and gripes that I can ignore with no hesitation at all but even so I thought it would be best to mention them here anyway.

The first one is something that I am sure many players of Fallout 3 would actually enjoy using so please take this with a grain of salt. Customisation in the game is, to me, pointless. I understand the reasons why it was included but even so I feel that it is irrelevant to the overall game. You create your character at the start, choosing various facial features and eventually settling on a look that you are happy with for your character. You then spend the majority of the game not seeing the appearance of your character and the various Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) do not react to how you look in any way, shape or form. This comes across as pointless to me and it is disappointing that I feel that way. I mean, I appreciate the effort that has gone into building the character customisation so to see it hardly be used afterwards is kind of annoying. One of the reasons it is pointless also happens to be my next issue with the game, but before I go into that let me just clarify that I have no issues with the customisation that involves your character's attributes and perks, I just have an issue with the appearance side of the customisation that has no real relevance to the rest of the game.

Another thing that seems to be pointless and unnecessary for the game is the two viewpoints -- first and third person -- that can be used. Again I realise why it is included and arguably including it gives more aid in customising a player's experience to their preferred way of playing, but in my own experience the only viewpoint I have ever used is the first-person one. So the third-person perspective serves no use to me as a player, is irrelevant to my gameplay and completely useless. When you consider the fact that the animation for your character in third-person is poor, it makes me question why Bethesda bothered to include it. If the perspective was more relevant, then quite possibly the customisation of the appearance of your character mentioned above would be more relevant to the game too, opening up the possibility of having even more unpredictable and interesting things happen in the game when conversing with the various locals of The Wastelands.

Beyond those two, adventuring through The Wastelands and trying to explore at night can be quite annoying. Normally I love the night in games but I feel that Fallout 3 is too dark during the night. Sure, I could change my brightness settings to accommodate it but really I shouldn't have too. Not when there are stars and a moon shining in the sky that should be providing enough light, but no, The Wastelands at night are as dark as the caves and sewers that you find yourself in from time to time. Other minor issues I have with the game include how hard it can be at times (although that is more my fault than the game's), how hard it can be sometimes to find a character you want to speak to like a Doctor and those damn Metro Stations when you first start to play and have to use them to reach say, the Museum of Technology. You get used to their designs of course, but they are far too overwhelming when you first reach them even with a quest marker to help you.

So there you have it, the minor and boring issues I have with the game. That concludes this post and indeed the week-long look at Fallout 3. I enjoyed doing it because it finally saw me posting regular content to the blog, hopefully you enjoyed it too because I plan on spending more weeks taking a look at various games in the future. Until then however, happy gaming.


Jorge Albor said...

I haven't yet finished Fallout 3, so I've been avoiding your other Fallout 3 posts so far. I'll get to them when I am less inclined to indulge in spoiler territory. I did read this one though.

I agree with you on the customization complaint. I think its a symptom of a general flaw, perhaps inherently, with this type of game: You can do almost anything, but most amounts to almost nothing. For example, I generally take everything, including the clothes off a persons body. My character wouldn't do that, but there is an incentive, no matter how small, to do so. I would prefer to have the option of turning off even the possibility of looting useless things.

The vastness of the wastes are cool, but my movement is just slow enough, and battles are smooshed inbetween inventory management sessions, that getting from point A to B is a huge hassle.

Anyway, just venting.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your stance on 3rd person perspective. I used it frequently. I found it quite useful for stealth situations when out at some ruined cities. It was a good tool to help me plan my movements based on environment and enemy location, and got me through a lot of tight spots when my character was a lower level and the game was slightly more difficult.

I assume most people just build a tank-ish character and plow through enemies with VATS, but I was always laying mines, killing enemies with their own traps, etc, and played a lot more cautiously for the fun of it. 3rd person perspective was essential to these ends and the sinister enjoyment I experienced through my subterfuge could not have been done without it.

In conclusion, Fallout 3's 3rd person camera (which is infinitely better than Oblivion's) is a great feature of the game that can help take the play to a whole new level (for those daring enough to try).

Steven O'Dell said...

@Jorge - Fair enough on avoiding the other posts. They aren't too spoilerific but I understand why you are trying to avoid the spoilers because it is something I try to do all the time. I hate it when something is spoiled for me and that doesn't just apply to games. Hope you enjoy the game as much as I have.

@Anonymous - Fair enough. I guess that goes to show just how many different experiences and ways of play there can be for the different players of Fallout 3 and other games like it out there. Perhaps when I finally get around to finishing the game and play it again as a different character, I will try the third-person perspective some more and see if it does indeed offer a different experience similar to the one you mention in your comment. :)

Scott Juster said...

Your point on customization encompasses my views on the subject exactly. So many games have customizable characters and then proceed to strip customization of all its relevance.

Why make a custom character in a game like Rock Band when it in no way changes the mechanics? Bah!