Posts Tagged Fallout 3

A Fallout 3 Moment : distress

“My family and I have taken refuge inside a drainage tube not too far from the relay tower outside D.C.”

“My boy is very sick and needs medical assistance.”

“Please help if you can.”

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Let’s speak frankly; this sort of ending was already hinted towards when I first got close enough to hear the radio signal. In other words, it’s predictable. However, it did give me a stir, even though I knew it was coming. It was a simple chain of events, and it worked well.

In a time when games are increasingly reliant on the “sandbox world” feature-slash-gimmick, this sort of little encounter serves to highlight the fact that ‘freedom’ is a relative(ly restricted) term in gaming, and very few things can match a scripted narrative.

PS: I don’t think it needs to be said that I looted what little they had left anyway. I mean really, you never know when this stuff’s useful. For one, I’ve been looking for a toy car for a while now; I need it to cobble up a Dart Gun.

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Fallout 3 : Operation Anchorage

While I’ll be the first to admit that military shooters – everything from America’s Army to Red Orchestra and ArmA to Faces of War – is “my sort of bag” (baby), the absolute most fun I had in Fallout 3‘s new Downloadable Content pack Operation: Anchorage was after I was actually done said questline.

(I would put a relevant screenshot here, but it was engaging enough that I totally forgot, and I’m not buggered enough to start a whole new character just for one pic.)

It was very fun, of course, gallery of bugs like its daddy notwithstanding, especially the first mission, “The Guns of Anchorage,” which makes me wish the game would let me use a red beret. And who could forget that memorable boss fight at the end when the Chinese General ran after you with a glowing electric sword? Me, I just backpedalled and tossed mines everywhere, then Gauss’d him at my leisure while his half-dead snarling corpse limped over. But I did save the last 1/20th of his health for my trusty Trench Knife.

But the fun really began after the questline ended and you were back in the ‘reality’ of the Wasteland, where you could get your hands on some of that exclusive antique equipment which functions better than the contemporary stuff, like the Chinese Stealth Armor – which when combined with the Shock Sword turns you into one badass Cyborg Ninja (or Chinese equivalent) – or Gauss Rifle.

Like so.

I went into the simulation at level 5 or so and came out level 7, so I still have plenty of time to play around with this stuff, the uncontested favourite of which is the aforementioned Stealth Armor, worn in the sim by the Crimson Dragoons (Chinese Black-Ops types with friggin’ swords) which generates a limited ‘stealth field’ when you use Sneak. Read: Active Camouflage. A permanent Stealth Boy? Hell yeah.

(Sam Fisher?!)

Sure, the character I played this with sucks at Sneak – in comparison, my first character could still reliably stealth-kill Enclave soldiers at the end of the game – but I might consider boosting that over the next few levels just to mess around with this awesome piece of equipment.

The winterised T-51b comes a close second for sheer badassness, though it’s a shame you can’t get the snow camo Combat Armor in ‘real life’ without cheating.

To misquote Zero Punctuation, the equipment alone (or should I say only the equipment) is worth “several barrels of particularly whimsical monkeys.”

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The Statistical Handicap Idiocy

…or, “Make a proper difficulty adjustment system, damn it.”

I’ll say this up front, I think Fallout 3 is a great game. Sure, it’s got very little resemblance to the original games, but then again, if Bethesda just replicated the gameplay, then people would just complain that they are playing a watered-down version of Fallout 2 (actually, I think they already use this complaint). But if there’s one thing I always hated, it’s the way Bethesda handles the difficulty adjustment.

This isn’t limited to, say, Oblivion and Fallout 3, but those are the examples I’ll work with.

So, for instance, on Normal difficulty, a Pistol shot would do maybe 5-6 damage to a human enemy. But then on a higher or lower difficulty, it would do 2-3, or 7-9, respectively. This is absolute bullshit, not because it’s artificially enhancing the difficulty – that’s the whole point of playing on harder settings – but because it’s artificially enhancing the difficulty in a blatantly visible way.

If it was “enemies have better accuracy” (ala Hell’s Highway), I can live with that. Maybe more enemies, okay. Even “enemies can do higher damage” is fine, but the really critical part is that there are always better ways to make things harder and more challenging for the player without giving a visible defect to the player at the same time.

Let’s go back to Fallout 3. Perhaps, instead of simply increasing the margin between your damage output and the enemies’, you could increase the amount of enemies – don’t overdo it, obviously. Give them better weapons and equipment. Or hell, you know, make them smarter. More reactive, more aggressive, the works.

Here’s an example of how it could be done, curtesy of Infinity Ward and Call of Duty. Every AI-controlled soldier has priority-setting in terms of “what to kill first.” The higher you bump the difficulty, the more likely it is for the enemy to target you instead of Private John Doe next to you. And, short of checking out the game scripts, it’s unlikely that the player will notice.

(Unless it was Call of Duty 2, which contained the absurdity of German Panzershrecks shooting at you before the Sherman to your right.)

Of course, it also altered the damage ratios, so you have less health as you progress up the rungs. Then again, this is balanced out by the fact that the enemies’ susceptibility to bullets does not change; they still won’t be surviving two headshots any time soon.

To wrap up untidily, don’t just throw in a half-assed difficulty setting for the hell of it.

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One crazy-prepared scavenger

I’ve been playing Fallout 3, and encountering the classic, “horde everything because something really bad might be around the corner” syndrome that hits every game with inventory management. This is the the problem with games emulating reality – it makes common gaming conventions really bizarre in hindsight. Consider the fact that, at given point in time, my male avatar lugs around four rifles and at least a crate of grenades and mines.

I mean, I don’t even use the Laser Rifle. Or the Sniper Rifle, except for the occasional long-range shot. If something really bad does pop up, it’s far more likely I’ll fast-travel home to fetch my mini-nuke launcher instead.

PS: Damn, post 666. I should’ve saved it for the Silent Hill Homecoming review.

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