Mario Katharsis: Fallout 3

Fallout 3 is a game that changed my life. Well, maybe it didn’t change it, but it came pretty damned close. I decided to get Fallout 3 on a whim whilst perusing the used game selections at Gamestop, during one of their “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” sales. I had already chosen The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (a satisfying button masher with breathtaking visuals) and Ninja Gaiden, and needed to snag myself the “freebie.”

I’ve heard good things about this, I thought to myself, picking up Fallout 3. And the rest is history.

Dogmeat: one of the most faithful companions ever encountered in a game.

I’m not a gamer who is great at first person shooters. Of course, when I say “I’m not great” I mean “I’m the worst who’s ever existed.” I haven’t yet figured out why that is, considering that FPS games pretty much boil down to the most basic of gaming instincts and controls. Now, I realize Fallout 3 isn’t a straight-up shooter, as evidenced by the option to play the whole thing in third person, but I went ahead and took the opportunity to play the action RPG from a first person viewpoint, so as to increase my skillz.

And hey, it worked! Playing the slower moving game as an FPS helped me become a better gamer. I adjusted my spatial awareness to accommodate my limited view of a mere rectangle full of pixels, something that always drove me crazy with shooters—I was constantly trying to unconsciously stick my head in the TV in order to gain a better view of what was around me. For some reason I do better when I can place my avatar’s body within the context of the world around it. But here I was, moving around with the same style of viewpoint that was the norm for Halo and the like.

I also avoided using VATS whenever possible, and shot and killed my onscreen enemies in real time.

Though let’s be honest, the only time I would get this sort of result was with VATS, so there was no way I was about to abandon it completely.

And when I first encountered a deathclaw, I died looking it straight in the eye. Immediately. Seriously, did anyone successfully kill one of those things the first time you ran into one? I feel like I was a pile of meat before I even knew what was happening.

When I burned Harold, his fiery face was the only thing filling my screen. When I came across a bunch of raiders tormenting a dog, I felt like it really was me versus a bunch of bullies, and I was the one meting out righteous justice. And when one of those stupid giant mutant crabs killed my dog shortly after I got him, I was the one who punched that giant crustacean in its tiny a**hole face.

Yeah, more like mireJERK.

Now? Now I can pick up any shooter and skillfully avoid thoroughly embarrassing myself, thanks be to my time in the Capital Wasteland. I may not be the queen of headshots (though I actually pull my fair share), but I can confidently say I can pick up and play any kind of game. I can tell people I’m a serious game journalist with nary a chink in my armor.

Except sports games. Booooring! Fifa 13? Come on. Just go outside and play soccer.

Mario Katharsis Rating: Star. Because now I can play all games. I am INVINCIBLE, mofos.


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