By Bryant Francis
Welcome to the apocalypse–or, at least, the apocalypse as envisioned by Bethesda Softworks in their newest release, Fallout 3. In this latest addition to the Fallout universe, you play as a resident of one of a series of “vaults,” which were designed to keep paying citizens “safe” in the event of a nuclear war. When your character reaches the age of 19, your father (voiced by Liam Neeson), suddenly leaves the safety of the vault without any kind of warning, forcing your character to chase after him into the nuclear wasteland surrounding the Washington, D.C. area.
That about amounts to the guaranteed storyline of Fallout 3. You, the player, are key in determining exactly who your character is, what they do, and how they interact with the world around them. You can be a kind, helping citizen or a cruel and unforgiving raider who randomly dispenses nuclear devices onto the local populations–or neither, choosing to be a nomad. Whatever choice you pick, the game easily adapts and provides you with an adventure that matches whatever attitude you’ve taken toward your fellow post-apocalyptic survivors.
Fallout 3 also benefits from some incredibly good writing and voice acting–so far, most of the characters I’ve encountered haven’t had the same voice, which keeps the experience immersive and interesting. The writing manages to carry the grim facts of this dying and violent world, along with a cynical and fairly intelligent sense of humor that brings irony to any situation. My favorite line so far has been in reference to an atomic bomb laying smack in the middle of a small town. When I asked a local mechanic how I could disarm it, she replied “Oh, what would you want to go do that for? It ain’t harmed nobody.”
To wrap things up, Fallout 3 is definitely one of the strongest gaming experiences offered this holiday season, backed by a strong voice acting cast, deep and detailed gameplay and incredibly witty writing. Even if you haven’t played the previous Fallout games, or Bethesda’s previous blockbuster title Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls, you can definitely find something to enjoy in this latest trek to the end of the world.