Music:The Ink Spots - Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
Thank you, Capitol Wasteland, and I'm outta here!
So, I finished Fallout 3! What are my closing thoughts? I'll put it behind a cut because I'm going to spoil it like crazy, and I don't want to ruin the game for other people. Though sometimes it feels like I'm the only person on the Internet who has that much consideration. Um, anyway, here we go.
In general, Fallout 3 is a big step up from Oblivion, both in gameplay and production quality. Even though eventually you'd start recognizing re-used building tiles and such, there was a much better variety of architecture and interaction this time around. I also have to give the designers and coders credit for ambition. Not everything in the game is perfectly polished, but they seemed to err on the side of "what the hell, let's put it in anyway" which results in a lot more variety and fun. They also, by and large, did a pretty good job of offering flexibility to the player. I've been browsing the Fallout Wiki and have been impressed by the number of different ways there are to complete many of the quests and the variety of outcomes they can have, and how you're generously allowed to use various skills to short-circuit them if you've made the right investments.
(Though not quite all of them are that flexible, which is why I wasn't fond of the ending. Essentially, a plot device breaks down and you're railroaded into either going into the deathtrap-radioactive control room yourself to fix it, or browbeating a minor character into doing it, for which Ron Perlman berates your cowardice during the closing narration. Ya know, I had Fawkes with me, he could have gone in there in perfect safety, but no, that's apparently not an option.)
Playing tips: The best non-powered armor has got to be the Ranger Armor, which you can get for completing the Reilly's Rangers quest. It improves your Small Guns skill, has top-notch damage resistance, and can be repaired with any type of Combat Armor. The best gun is undoubtedly Lincoln's Repeater, which in addition to being highly accurate, repairable with common hunting rifles, and doing huge head-removing damage with .44 bullets is Abraham Lincoln's gun. It can be found in a display case in the history museum on the Mall. As far as perks go, I recommend you avoid temptation and skip Swift Learner -- it gives you more XP, but there's enough to do in the game that you'll max out your character anyway. Oddly enough my favorite perk was Animal Friend, as those mutated bears are otherwise a huge pain to fight.
I'll wrap this up by listing my favorite moments in the game:
My favorite quest: "Those!" It had so many layers to it and intersected with so many other storylines, it was a pleasure from beginning to end. Honestly it was like the mathematical ideal of an RPG quest.
The freed slaves repairing the statue in the Lincoln Memorial. When I first got into the Memorial Abe's statue was missing its head, which made me sad. That it got fixed later in the game was awfully nice.
Seeing the White House.
In the Dunwich Building there's a terminal running a voice-operated stenography program. It recorded the bombs falling when the atomic war happened, and did its mechanical best to transcribe the sound. That... made me sit back, made it real, more than all the ruins and radioactivity and skeletons combined.
The Ghoul mercenary outside the history museum who mocked me as a "tourist." It was amusingly painful because it was true -- I'd come into town to see the monuments.
Going into Paradise Falls and killing every last mother-lovin' one of those slavers with Abraham Lincoln's gun. Oh yeah, that's poetry. I have to say it was very kind of Bethesda to include a town (well, two, if you count Evergreen Mills) where a goody-two-shoes character like mine is nonetheless encouraged to just murder everyone. There's a real feeling of freedom in seeing a guy with a unique name and character model and you just know he's itching to give you a bunch of dialog lines and fetch quests and achievements... and instead you send his decapitated head bouncing around his living room like a rubber ball in slow motion. (It is in fact the case that there's a major quest and achievement you can only get in Paradise Falls, but seriously, screw those guys, they got what they deserved.)
When the Enclave showed up to seize the purifier. I was absolutely shocked; up until then, the only actual sign of the Enclave was those little Sputnik bots roaming around and the Enclave Radio signal, endlessly repeating the same saccharine homilies from "President Eden" -- and according to some of the townsfolk, that had been going on for decades. I'd assumed that the Enclave basically consisted of a one-room bunker somewhere containing an endlessly looping tape recorder and a skeleton. Then they show up in freakin' helicopters and power armor and start kicking butt. I was not even remotely expecting that.
After that, stumbling over Enclave checkpoints and propaganda all over the Wasteland. Checkpoints? In my Wasteland? These guys were genuinely pissing me off, especially after I was fighting some guys in a building and heard "President Eden" on Enclave Radio talking about how awesome the Enclave was for building the purifier (which of course they'd actually stolen from dear old Dad who really built it.) It was like he was taunting me personally.
Finding the crashed moon rocket in downtown DC.
I wasn't much of a fan of the whole Enclave base sequence, just because it wasn't nearly as free-form as the rest of the game managed. (This is similar to how I felt about the ending itself.) But the whole sequence where the mountain blew up after I convinced "President Eden" to issue the self destruct -- wow. That was art.
Noticing that the Enclave Radio signal was gone after blowing up Raven Rock. Ya know, you can cause a lot of trouble in Grand Theft Auto but I don't recall ever being able to terminate one of the radio stations.
Blowing up a couple of entrenched Enclave soldiers on the steps of the Capitol with the Fat Man, and watching their bodies describe graceful arcs through the sky.
Fawkes is the companion you can get near the end if you've been good throughout the game, and he may not be very aesthetically appealing but he is hard as nails. He jumped on that Super Mutant Behemoth in Evergreen Mills and pretty much killed it all by himself. With him around the entire Brotherhood squad made it to the Purifier safely at the end of the game.
Good times! I'm not sure if I'm going to jump on the upcoming downloadable content or not, as I really feel like I've buttoned this thing up. But in general I'm more than satisfied with my post-nuclear experience.
I wonder if it's time to go back and give the original Fallout games a try? My only ever attempt at playing FO1 lasted about five minutes as I was massacred by giant ants the moment I left the Vault.