Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Issues with my PC .feat Bethesda and Fallout 3

Last month I finally decided it was time to do something about my computer, for the last year it has been giving me constant low memory warnings and it got to the point where using firefox was enough to almost brick my machine. I should have seen the warning lights sooner, when ever I gave the PC a tap I'd find myself greeted by a cloud of dust. The PCs memory was wiped and the insides cleaned. You should have seen the dust it when the shell was opened, it was like emptying a hoover, a hoover used every day for 5 years without ever being cleaned or emptied. The experience made me think of an archaeological dig and how it must feel brush down a 5,000 year old slab to see if it could be restored to its former glory.
Amazingly the computer works better now than it did when it was new, I don't know what the manufacturer put on the hard drive but whatever it was is now wiped out of existence, never to mess up my system again.

Not mine but you get the idea.

Anyway the work on my computer means it will be a long time before I start seeing performance issues again. Now would be the ideal time to take advantage of my box and what better way to test my rig than a Bethesda game.

To get the obvious out of the way. Fallout 3 does look better on PC than it does on a console, even on medium it was easy to see the quality gap in graphics. A mouse and keyboard suits the game better than a control pad. Whenever I tried to scroll between targets using the V.A.T.S targeting system on a pad I could never get the game to aim where I wanted it to, I'd be aiming for the head but the game would keep scrolling between the arms and legs. On PC I'd just point, click and kill.

There is some truth in what people say about Fallout 3 being an Elder Scrolls game with guns. The two games are practically brothers when put side by side. They are both open world action role playing games, playable in a 1st and 3rd person perspective, they both run on the same engine using a similar interface, both games use moral systems and so on.
Do not think bad of this, Oblivion was a great game but it does bring up issues regarding repetition, how many times will Bethesda be able to get away with making all their games the same? This probably won't be an issue when you consider the video game industry sees yearly updates of big titles.

All this is irrelevant though and doesn't really reflect on Fallout 3 now does it? I've put 50 hours into Fallout 3, 75 if you count the time I spent on the 360 version, it would be fair to assume I was taken by the game. But assumptions are not recommendations nor do they give out answers, if they did I wouldn't be writing this blog post.

The game revolves around you, the lone wanderer, a lowly vault dweller who is sent out into the open, post-war, nuclear wasteland, a most unpleasant place with a look of death about it. Out in the open you have a choice to make, you can help all those in need and become the savour of the wastes, you can go the other way and become a raging god of war killing and taking whatever he wants or you can play it down the middle and have no strong feelings.
What ever path you take don't expect any major differences in the game, by the end of it all you will still be king of the wasteland with more weapons, ammo, money and items than you could ever need.

I've been to worse places.

This brings us to the issue of balance, the game expects you to tackle quests in a set order but it is easy to skip half of them. This approach can make the game harder as you didn't spend 20 hours building your character up by taking side quests like the game expected you too. This can leave you with an underdeveloped character with little in terms of weaponry and supplies. Even with this small blip in the road it is always possible to turn the difficulty down so the radioactive monsters become less spongy.

When it came to freedom of choice the combat was probably my number one in Fallout 3, while there are multiple ways to go about combat I found my suited style was to run in recklessly and shoot everything until it exploded into a massive pile of gore. Truth be told I didn't choose to play like this I'm just terrible at stealth. The stealth itself isn't anything fancy or on the level of a game like Thief but it does have one big feature I adore, the ability to put a live explosive in an characters pocket and watch them panic as the grenade blows their legs off.
As a story experience I can't criticise Fallout 3 for being too spread out, the main game only requires you to visit what accounts to 1/5 of the capital wasteland which is fine but and this is a big but, did half these areas really need to be underground ruins? I am glad we had the side quests as a distraction from the repetitive boredom associated with sewer levels and I am also glad the game lets the player take the long way around to landmarks skipping the sewers and tunnels entirely.

The gore can get a bit nasty at times.

Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition also features the 5 downloadable content expansion packs.

Broken Steel – An expansion of the main game, if you had to pick a DLC this would be the first one to get, not because it is the best but because it raises the maximum level cap from 20 to 30 while also introducing new items, features and enemies. You also need this DLC in order to play the game past the ending.

Operation: Anchorage – This was actually the first downloadable content package released for Fallout 3. The add-on takes place inside a computer simulation of the war between America and China responsible for the apocalyptic nuclear fallout. This may have been my favourite add-on, it takes the game in a completely different direction, making it interesting again.

The Pitt – This add-on opens up new areas in the game world and makes the player feel vulnerable by making them work their way back up in order to regain their weapons and amour. The moral system is also more balanced in The Pitt with morals being more grey zone as oppose to the Capital Wastelands Black & White moral system.

Point Lookout – This expansion takes place on a swamp island and is gigantic, the map is about 1/3 the size of the capital wasteland. It is here where the enemies start to get incredibly spongy, the foes in point lookout are much stronger and require a great deal of damage before they go down. This is another strong content pack with some very interesting areas and enemies.

Mothership Zeta – This was the final downloadable adventure for Fallout 3 and it is by far the weakest of the set. The enemies require an even harder kicking than those at point lookout, don't bother with your wasteland weapons they are more or less ineffective against the Aliens who patrol Mothership Zeta. The entire quest consists of fighting through corridors while fighting off hordes upon hordes of Aliens. If you only want a few expansions then make sure you do not get this one.

When it comes to big open games very few do it better than Fallout 3, just be sure to save often so a glitch gremlin doesn't ruin hours worth of progress like it did to me.


  1. Regardless of your reason for traveling this vast (and I truly mean vast) wasteland, you will be forced to fend off packs of savage raiders, slavers, and various forms of mutants - whether mutated variations of familiar wildlife or entirely new creatures which are the result of 200 years of life in the irradiated wastes. Combat against these dangers involves an intriguing mixture of real-time combat and the V.A.T.S. system, which lets you freeze the action to queue attacks on one or more enemies and even target specific body parts. These V.A.T.S. attacks are more likely to cause critical damage and are a great way to sort out the chaos of tough battles. The game also offers a wealth of combat options through weapon variety and character specialization.

    Fallout 3

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