Alan Smithee

Fallout 3, or as I see it: The Game of Morality

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This weekend, I had some free time and didn’t quite know what to do with it. Being the gaming whore that I am, I decided to go to my local GameStore to try and find something that I could waste a good chunk of my afternoon playing. After picking up and putting down about 20 used titles (they didn’t have what I really wanted) I thought of looking at what was ‘new’.

I hadn’t bought a new game for myself in months, I mean literally months. I perused the shelves looking for something, anything that would be worth my money and not be multiplayer reliant (I miss the good ol’ days when multiplayer was tacked on AFTER the single-player experience was finished).

I finally decided on picking up Fallout 3 after talking with one of the GameStore employees about the merits of it over the newest Persona game. I never played any of the other 2 iterations of the game so I didn’t quite know what I was in for but I thought perhaps if it is anywhere near as good of a game as everyone else in the gaming world says, it should be well worth my money.

So with my lunchbox copy in hand I sped home to play for as long as I was able before real life caught up with me. The introduction of the game was a pretty interesting way to start it all off, at least they incorporated the caracter creation screen into the game itself. But it was the growing up in Vault 101 that got me hooked. For the first time, instead of being told my backstory, I was living it. Do I decide to talk shit to the bully of the vault? Do I kiss the overseer’s ass and make nice with his daughter? Its all up to me.

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Sure, this gameplay is nothing new really. We’ve seen it in almost every WRPG that companies like Bioware and Bethesda have made in the last decade, The concept isn’t new, but how these companies continue to evolve the design that makes me think that many JRPG’s are now becoming more and more redundant in their story telling. It’s not that these games don’t excite me anymore (hell, I loved Lost Odyssey), but given the choice on how I develop as a character rather than being told I am a character is a real defining characteristic of an RPG and a trait that will determine which game I purchase.

Anyways onto the main topic that I wanted to cover, the eternal battle of internal good vs evil (morality) that seems to be the focus of many Western developed games (ie: Mass Effect, Bioshock, Oblivion, Fable). My character in the game right now is generally a nice enough guy, but isn’t adverse to doing hideous things if needs be. Most assuredly, if someone shoots at me, they’re going to die; let’s not also forget that my character steals from just about everyone (it’s a damned nuclear wasteland, what would you expect?).

The biggest moral decision that I’ve come across so far in the game has to deal with whether or not I blow up the city of Megaton…part of me thinks that since the people living there are so retarded to live next to an actual live nuclear weapon they deserve to die, but on the flip side of the coin I struggle internally as to whether it is right or not to slaughter a whole town of people trying to exist in the already ravaged world they inhabit.

I’ve heard that the explosion from the bomb is pretty spectacular which has me drawn more to blowing it up…I’m just uncertain whether or not I will.

It’s little decisions like this that make me think that the Western model of RPGs will eventually overcome the outdated model that most JRPGs follow. There’s enough space in my heart for both types of games, but I tend to find the ones with branching stories and hard decisions more memorable. I’m already recalling with fondness to my friends some of the outcomes of the same game they’ve been playing for months. Bravo to you Bethesda, this is one hell of a game.

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I have only one parting shot…can you please make your next game a little different than the Oblivion model? It’s a damn fine system, but I couldn’t help but draw parallels between both games. All in all, for a guy like me who is usually the most unlikely to pay full price for a game, this one is completely worth it and I can see myself playing for well over 100 hours. It’s just that good.

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