Attack Of The Fallout 3 Reviews

Today is embargo-lifting day, which means a whole mess of write-ups on Bethesda’s latest RPG have spilled onto the web. The scores, unsurprisingly, are extraordinarily high.

Which probably means I’m going to get my arse kicked for not loving it quite as much as everyone else.

It’s a review I’ll admit I struggled with, finding myself caught between the rock of real excitement at all the options the game offers and the hard place of extreme annoyance at some of the decisions Bethesda made – many of which are direct hangovers from Oblivion and are a bit more galling second time around. Particularly, I’m hyper-sensitive to not-quite-there characterisation in RPGs, and tend to feel that if you can’t make the acting absolutely spot-on, you’re better off with subtitles. (On that note, I enjoyed the Witcher EE quite a bit more with the still-awful English dialogue turned off in favour of subtitled Polish.) While it’s the 360 version I reviewed, I wrote and scored with the PC version (and this ol’ platform’s vast RPG heritage) in mind, which is possibly one reason I’m a little less super-enthusiastic than consolefolk, for whom this’ll be a bit more of a diamond in the rough.

I’ll talk more about it here later I’m sure, but short answer – a fabulous world and certainly not the mindless action game the more vocal anti-Bethesda lobby had pegged it has, but some of the lousy production values and the absolute necessity for ultra-violence keep me from truly loving it. A unquestionable must-play (even, I think, for the most rabid anti-Oblivion AIM) and a gift to explorers, but God, what a bit more slap’n’polish could have done for it. I absolutely cannot wait to see what the mod community manages to do with such a great world design, though.


  1. Dreamhacker says:

    The Fallout-cult is locked and loaded for the flamefest!

  2. Pavel says:

    Did you give it 9.6, 8.8 or 9.5 ? Its confusing,regarding what you just wrote here and the big score in that article : /.

  3. Pavel says:

    (Not that I care about scores…but still). Why can’t I edit my posts? : (

  4. Alec Meer says:

    Weirdly, IGN show the US score in big numbers regardless of which locale’s review you’re reading from. I’m the UK one.

    (For the thousandth millionth time, the edit plugin is broken as an unintended side-effect of adding the forum. We’re casting about for a fix but haven’t found one yet.)

  5. Pavel says:

    Thank you for clarification, I thought you were the UK one, but had to be sure. Thanks for making the time to answer edit question for a millionth time as well : ).

  6. Tei says:

    How long is the game?, It feels like a console game or a PC title?

  7. Ian says:

    The IGNite AIM are giving Alec’s review quite a slating…

  8. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    To name but a few: friendly NPCs that run directly in front of your bullets (even in the slo-mo VATS mode);

    “Right guys, Fallout’s turn-based combat was so piss poor because of AI! Realtime is definitely going to fix that!”

  9. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Oblivion with guns? Oblivion with bugs, more like.

  10. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I’m reading the bits of negative criticism and thinking – was the high score in any way influenced by it? Seems like while there were serious issues there, somehow, they didn’t count towards the score.

  11. aldo says:

    Weirdly, IGN show the US score in big numbers regardless of which locale’s review you’re reading from.

    That’s a political metaphor right there, that is.

  12. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Oh man, this bit is great. Look at the final table after the closing comments:

    “8.0 Sound

    The soundtrack’s brilliant, plumping for period jazz and uber-patriotic brass bands. The acting leaves a lot to be desired, but when you’re roaming the wasteland you won’t hear too much of it.

    9.0 Gameplay

    The soundtrack’s brilliant, plumping for period jazz and uber-patriotic brass bands. The acting leaves a lot to be desired, but when you’re roaming the wasteland you won’t hear too much of it. ”


    I’m still wondering if it was worth a 9.

  13. MonkeyMonster says:

    Excellent review I feel – not having played the game of course but now more raring to try it out and practice headshots… and you are darn tooting with that key line in your review – robot butlers are just fun! If only I could have one at work…

  14. subedii says:

    Am I the only one confused by how 8.8 is somehow a low score? Or at least so low as to warrant disdain for being out of line with the rest?

  15. Alec Meer says:

    Diogo – that bit’s a mess-up by internal IGN, not me. But according to the angry readers, it makes me a “douche”, apparently.

    Should have read “There’s a ton to do and see, and when it lets you achieve stuff by talking and sleuthing rather than simply shooting, it’s magnificent. It’s a shame it undermines its brains by making the combat animations so puerile”, incidentally.

    Subedii – no, you’re not the only one. Most people will only see the first 8 and ignore the .8, I suspect.

  16. Pavel says:

    I wonder why doesn’t Bethesda hire better animators? Or is it engine limitation (doubt it)? Because this is really weird..not that Fallout game is about animations, but still.

  17. Tei says:

    If you have never played Oblivium and you like guns, this is your game.

    In other news:
    Here is Morrowind with infinite view mod:
    link to

  18. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Alec – I know the mess wasn’t your fault, I just found it potentially funny :) “The gameplay? Well, there’s sound and stuff…” :lol:

  19. Alec Meer says:

    Tei – man, that’s pretty. Now I need to go play Morrowind again.

  20. danielcardigan says:

    “I absolutely cannot wait to see what the mod community manages to do with such a great world design, though.”

    Is there any word on official modder support?

  21. nabeel says:

    Can’t wait to play the game. Interesting take on reviewing, most reviewers have glossed over those minor niggles; do you think it comes from being a PC gamer who’s used to good UI and patchable rough edges?


  22. Korgan says:

    At last, a review with some vestige of sanity. Also, the ratings inflation is maddening. 8.8 is “above average” or something these days? Why do reviewers need a 0-10 scale when no POS ever gets less then 5 anyway?

  23. Feet says:

    I think I’ll wait till my PC upgrade in the new year before I buy this, by then some of the issues Alec outlined may have been fixed. Having read Alecs review and the EG review, I think PC is the best choice purely for the mod community support.

  24. Alec Meer says:

    While I’m guessing here, I don’t think the higher scores are glossing over stuff so much as trying to ensure a more interesting game does stand out amidst an endless sea of Christmas action titles. You need to be a buyer’s guide as well as a critique. Similar concerns did occur to me, but I reasoned it wasn’t like this would have a shortage of massive scores.

  25. subedii says:

    Alec, even an 8.0 is a very high score. I honestly can’t see room for complaint on low scoring here. Unless you’re referring to the “my favourite game must be 10!” crowd.

  26. NeonWraith says:

    Ok, so what if I’ve played Oblivion and wasn’t really impressed? Should I still try this?

    Also, seriously, since when is 8 a low score? I mean, on a 1-10 scale, 8 is pretty gorram high..

  27. Alec Meer says:

    subedii – Yeah, exactly those folk. Doesn’t help that there /are/ a few 10s out there. And those do baffle me. I could quite easily have justified a 9, but there’s some cock-ups the game just slaps you around the face with.

  28. Dante says:

    @ Diogo

    Surely you mean Oblivion with MORE bugs.

  29. Denis says:

    I’m finding the reviews interesting, and noting how they seem to range in their opinions of what does and does not work (some of which I shrug against and realize it comes down to preference), but that the scores rarely fall below an 8 even if the game does somehow have these issues.

    It seems this is a title that even if annoying in parts is attracting attention, but not one that is completely being glossed over as with GTA and MGS 4. The litmus test will be whether we’re still talking about it in appreciable terms many months down the road; much as we do with Bioshock, even if we didn’t like how the game turned, it made us passionate because the glimmers of what we saw.

  30. Alec Meer says:

    if it makes things any easier than all this head-scratching over very precise numbers, here’s an instant-o-RPS verdict.

  31. Feet says:

    One thing all reviews seem to agree with is that the VACS system is ingenious and awesome way to gear the combat toward RPG while still playing in an FPS stylee. If it’s genuinely that good, I hope other RPG\FPS games rip it off.

    I think, without that I wouldn’t even think of buying it. I’m just a bit of a TBS whore, and the TBS combat is something I think I’d enjoy so long as I could scale back the gratuitous deaths as well.

    What’s with the infantile death sequences anyway? This and the new BiA game both have this terrible “feature” in.

  32. Bobsy says:

    As much as Optimus Thumb is awesome, it’s getting a little dated now, shurely? New thumbs are needed!

  33. aldo_14 says:

    Oh well, guess this is on the Xmas list then (Mrs Aldo won’t let me spend any more money myself :( )

  34. Nallen says:

    Following Farcry 2 and Warhead both being purchased on the strength of reviews, I’m saying B*****KS TO REVIEWS, YOU LOT ARE FULL OF IT.

  35. Voidman says:

    Have they kept all the “wacky” features in? Exploding car wrecks? Exploding bodies? Life-un-like animations? Intelligence-insulting quests? Strong emphasis on combat? Mind-blowing AI? How about those 100+ possible endings?

    I dread to visit one of the nefarious fanboy domains, the vitriol is likely to seep through the screen glass and melt my face.

    By the way, 8.8? Most generous, though inconsistent, I feel, with the content of the review. You must have had some spiffy time sir, no?

  36. MonkeyMonster says:

    How dare thee sir, mock or deride the thumb of power!

  37. Ben Abraham says:

    I much prefer the RPS verdict system. So much simpler, and yet also clearer.

  38. Dinger says:

    I think it’s one of those incomprehensible podcasts where Alec and Kieron are in a shower stall with a dictaphone, and one of them mentions a game review. The other asks, “Oh yeah? What’d they give it?”

    I believe numbers are useful. What’s the difference between 7, 8, 9 and 10? A seven means a fan of the genre will be willing to overlook the weak spots. An eight claims that those with a passing interest in the genre will enjoy it. A nine puts all gamers on notice that they will like this game. A ten means even those who don’t own the platform in question should at least buy the game, if not a platform to run it on.

    By this set of definitions, the more hardcore the gamer, the lower-score games s/he’ll put up with. There’s no solution to the AIM issue, but based on this, one possible way to mitigate the numeric score police is to have a “hardcore gamma” running the opposite direction, from 0 (Spoiled rich kid) to 10 (table-top troglodyte). That way, you can claim that _because_ Fallout 3 has a hardcore gamma of 2-7, it only gets an 8.8. If it had a hardcore gamma of 1-6, it would have made 9.2, easy, but then the game, not the review, would have pissed off the AIM.

    But that’s why I pity the reviewer and the numeric system. And he knows, he just can’t win. If he refuses, someone else will put the figures for him.

  39. Thirith says:

    Thing is, though, I don’t think there are many games that will be enjoyed by people who don’t like the genre. I’ve never found a RTS that I finished, simply because I don’t enjoy the gameplay mechanics. I’ve never found the “9/10 means any gamer will enjoy this” very applicable. It’s just that some genres (e.g. FPS) are more popular than others.

  40. AbyssUK says:

    Can we have a PC review? Has anybody played the PC version? Have you noticed the 360 and ps3 discs are 40 quid while the pc discs are just 24.99 at awesome.

  41. Alec Meer says:

    Kieron and I do take a lot of showers together.

  42. Thiefsie says:

    Ordered this yesterday, and with the flood of reviews all read I’m quite happy I did.

    Being that Fallout is up there in my top 5 games of all time I just had to at least give it a shot.

    I feel a little sad for Pacifism not being an option, and the desexualisation, and no kid killing, and probably an overall lack of detail from the originals. But hey, I get to return to the amazing Fallout world… and that alone makes it sound worthwhile.

  43. Alec Meer says:

    I did complete one quest by repeatedly punching a child in the face.

    There are some truly great moments, honest. I just can’t share ’em without going all spoileriffic. It’s sort of like Vampire Bloodlines, in that there’s some superb setpieces and quests stacked alongside a fair bit of treading so-so combat-centric water.

  44. Nallen says:

    Slightly more interested now…

  45. Voidman says:

    Yes, but did it explode?

  46. AbyssUK says:

    I’d like to point out that most places seem to be 5 quid cheaper than steam.. how does that work…

  47. AndrewC says:

    It would have broken the 9 barrier if there was sexualised kid killing.

  48. Shadow Aspect says:

    I suspect there may not be a proper editor this time around. Reasoning: It’s a GfWL title, and as such, using mods might make Achievements easier. This being the case perhaps Microsoft had some say in it?

  49. Cataclysm says:

    Maybe they’re working on a 10-1 scale, where 1 is awesome and 10 is extremely poor. In only them circumstances could 8.8 be counted as a “low score”.

  50. Thiefsie says:

    I was just curious, you seem to be saying the ending is craptacular, as have some others, but also I read one review (can’t remember now as I’ve read them all) that was saying the end was phenomenal, yet did of course say it ends there without the option to roam afterwards… (I don’t want to guess why…. )

    Any reason why the ending is bad? The ending images with 100s of permutations sound a little lame but good enough I suppose? Does the story wrap up in a nice way.. and can be solved in a few ways – a la the original Fallout?