When I first started playing Fallout 3, I said on Twitter that it was basically a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod for Oblivion. I still think that’s true, but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing.
I was a huge fan of the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R., so when the second, Clear Sky, came out, I was expecting more or less what they originally promised in the first. But, and I think this is largely because they had to shove a second game out of the door just a year after the first, it was buggy, the maps were mostly uninspired rehashes of things from the first game, and it just wasn’t as interesting because it didn’t feel like something new.
If Fallout is a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod for Oblivion, Clear Sky was a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I lost interest after maybe a week, when the first patch broke all my saved games. Which brings us to Fallout 3. I loved the original Fallout, never played most of the second, and after the failure that was Clear Sky, I needed a new post-nuclear-armageddon FPS/RPG. Fallout 3 came out around the time I was giving up on Clear Sky, so I was set.
A quick diversion: For some reason, Fallout fans are among the most noxious on the internet. I’m not sure why, other than the fact that a game that, among other things, lets you get hooked on drugs and fire rocket launchers at children is probably going to attract a somewhat more deranged fanbase than say, The Sims. So I started reading the no-rules Games forum on Something Awful, “Your Console Sucks”, in an effort to get away from Serious Business Fallout fans. The down side is that now I can’t talk about the game without wondering what the most pro weapon is, or just how many sub-optimal character choices separate a scrub from a scrublord. It’s colored my impressions of the game, to say the least, in that I went in not expecting too terribly much beyond a fun distraction for a week or two.
What I got, in short, was goddamned amazing. The Fallout series made the jump to 3D in largely the same way that Grand Theft Auto did - it’s not exactly the same, but it is unquestionably better. Details after the jump.