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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  1. You know, I JUST started New Vegas about 3 days ago, having never played any Fallout game. I was told by bunches of friends to just skip 3 and go straight into NV. Thoughts?

  2. No, play 3 first. They aren’t tied directly together, but I found Fallout 3 much better.

    Also, author, isn’t the aiming system in this game based on the roll of a dice? If that’s the case, and I think it is, use vats.

  3. I bought NV when it was on a Halloween sale on Steam. I played Fallout 3 prior, and did love it, but I think NV is just superior. I’m currently stuck on one of the DLCs, so I’ve been steadily playing for only like an hour a day right now, but it’s overall just better, in my opinion. The story is more clearly set out than FO 3’s, for instance, and my first companion (a sniper) is a total boss. Though in terms of attachment, he’s no Dogmeat.

    On the subject of the first Deathclaw encounter: I was heading towards my house in Megaton (just outside the main gate) when suddenly it comes charging over the hill, getting chased by a bunch of scavengers. Bastard flew directly at me, sliced once, promptly chopping my entire body in half and then got shot down by the scavengers.

  4. I still never got Dogmeat. In fact I went thru almost 2/3rds of the whole game and got to level 18 before I even realized I could get a sidekick. Even now, the only sidekicks I have are the super mutant and the ghoul. I kinda stopped playing a while ago after getting caught in a few other games. I plan to go back and finish 3 and then finally start New Vegas once I finish watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

  5. I left Dogmeat at our home in Megaton once and when I came back to get him, he was gone. Bethesda, you bastards. Your glitches broke my heart once again. No way does playing Fallout prepare you for a hardcore FPS, Clemens. Take them skills into Halo multiplayer and let’s see how invincible you feel then.

  6. I really liked NV too. 3 will always have that special something because it taught me how to shoot, obviously. Plus, I traveled to DC for work shortly after finishing my first playthrough and actually found my way around the city from my memory of the game. Which was totally awesome. In my experience, people who played Fallout 1 and 2 tend to prefer New Vegas. 3 was my first foray so it became my baseline.

    Michael: VATS is a dice-roll style aiming system, is that what you mean? Otherwise it’s a basic FPS situation. I used VATS too, mostly for the slow motion decapitations. And sometimes there were too many onscreen enemies and I just wasn’t fast enough.

    Mark: Deathclaw don’t give a sh*t!

    As for my Dogmeat story: He got beat up a bunch of times and lived to bark the tale, then one day we ran into a nest of mirelurks near the river and one of them took him down. Wasn’t quite as sad as when my horse died in RDR, but it was a definitely blow to the gut. I feel like I must have forgotten to heal him after a fight. Fortunately I got Fawkes soon after and things were right as rain.

    Oh trashcanman, I had no power to write my piece last week. How I’ve missed you! Of effing course it didn’t prepare me for a hardcore FPS. It was my training wheels, is all. Then I worked through Halo’s single player campaign, and after that I was able to avoid making a complete fool of myself when playing multiplayer with my college buddies. I’ll admit, I’ll never be good enough to even hold my own in a multiplayer Halo match now. But you know how I feel about multiplayer, so it’s no skin off my back. I’m just glad I don’t have a gaping FPS hole in my gamer oeuvre anymore. Feeling invincible is awesome, even if it’s fleeting and under a very particular set of circumstances.

  7. I found New Vegas boring. By the time I wandered up to the strip, I had been playing so long I just didn’t care any more. Also, there were so many factions it was a pain in the ass.

    It also didn’t help that when you piss off the Legion, you get those squads of super-men chasing after you who shrug off sniper-rifle head shots as if the bullets were marshmallows.

  8. Fallout 3 rules. NV just didn’t grab me like 3 did.
    I miss having Cass as a companion in NV, she was easy on the eyes and I’d follow that ass anywhere…. But there was something about running around the countryside with Fawkes and destroying all we surveyed. I tell you, we could take on armies that Fawkes and I.

  9. @Sara

    Michael is right. While your success in VATS is 100% dependent on your stats, they also have an effect on shooting outside of VATS. If you have a low rating with the kind of weapon you’re using, you’ll find that you miss shots even with your shot appears to be lined up perfectly. It’s a classic RPG roll of the dice. This is a design choice as Bethesda wanted to make a first person RPG and not a straight FPS. Leveling and VATS would have to point if you could just headshot everyone from the start.

    I believe your aim was weighted more heavily in New Vegas, but there was still that roll of the dice element.

  10. Interesting, I didn’t know that. Learn something new every day, thanks to you guys. I did notice that I had an easier time shooting when I played Halo’s single player campaign after I finished F3. I thought it was just an indication that the shooting mechanics were clumsier than a game actually designed to be a shooter.

  11. I rented this game when it first came out rom gamefly and i couldnt past figure out how to get past the test when youre a kid. I really want to replay this game.

    Am I a lil slow for not getting past that part? Can someone help?

  12. @Mijo are you talking about the G.O.A.T., where you’re in the classroom? I did a playthrough where the game bugged out and I was stuck in that classroom, unable to go anywhere else or do anything. I couldn’t progress without taking the test, but I wasn’t able to take the test. Had to reload a ways back which sucked, but then it worked fine.

    If your problem was anything like that, it probably won’t happen a second time. And Fallout 3 is only ten bucks on Steam, so pick it up and tear in!

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