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19 Reviews

Fallout 3

Mutants, monsters, madmen, murderers... say hello to your all-new Nuclear family.

There's a good chance the 3 at the end of this game's name might not mean anything to you, so we'll start with a history lesson. Sit up straight. Tuck your shirt in. And stop staring at Patricia!

The original Fallout games were PC RPGs set in post-apocalyptic America, cherished for their vast scope.

In between all the quests to save your tribe from disease and starvation, you could enjoy a career as an X-rated movie star, prize fighter, lackey to the mob, and so on, potentially being forced at gunpoint to marry a farm-hand along the way. And then potentially selling your spouse to slavers. It's tough out there in the Wasteland.

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Elder Scrolls: Oblivion developer Bethesda has now continued the series, and by and large it's been totally faithful.

Fallout 3 starts by letting you play through some pivotal scenes of your character's childhood spent growing up in a huge commercial nuclear bomb shelter.

It's only when your character reaches age 19 that he actually leaves the place, bleary eyed and wearing a ridiculous gaudy jumpsuit, and takes his first shaky steps into what's left of the USA in the year 2277. It's up to you to guide him to fame and either glory or villainy, hopefully picking up a dirty great suit of military-issue power armour along the way.

And it's brilliant, for reasons we'll get to. But first we need to say that this is not the game a lot of Fallout fans will have been hoping for, and it's going to be responsible for massed moaning as a result. Things are much simpler and more vicious this time around.

Fallout 3 uses the Oblivion engine, and inside Fallout 3 (just like Oblivion), is a beating heart of dungeons, loot and killing stuff. Sewers, metro stations, other vaults - if it's underground, it's out there and it's full of bad guys who are perfectly content to hang around in the dark waiting for you to come along, slaughter them and take their pants.

Hell, if you're fighting one of the weirder mutants, and you're in a cave, and you're using a melee weapon, you could be playing Oblivion.

This simplification of the source material seeps into every aspect of Fallout 3. Characters are more polarised into good guys and bad guys, settlements are decidedly weird and wacky, and an assortment of comedy hats and stat-boosting bobblehead collectibles can be found throughout the world.

The bobbleheads can even be placed on a special display rack in your house. This might not mean anything to you, but to the die-hard Fallout fans it's going to hurt.

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But that's enough about those poor suckers. If you're new to the series or can just put all that behind you, chances are you'll have tons of fun pottering around the open world on offer here and meddling in everything from manhunts to matchmaking.

Once your character leaves the Vault you've got a good ten square miles of ruins and wasteland to explore, and while Bethesda has learnt a bunch of lessons from Oblivion, the biggest one is clear from the start. It's now really rewarding to just explore the world that's been built.

The eyes have it
Fallout 3 is all spectacle. Cresting a hill and finding a ruined suburb or a bandit base set up in a quarry brings a great feeling of discovery, even if the odd locale does turn out to be barren and uninteresting.

For the most part the attention to detail is impressive, and anyone who had fun poking around rooms and piecing together what happened in BioShock will be right at home here. The world of Fallout 3 might be less tight than BioShock, but the scale more than makes up for it.

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