A Fallout 3 Review/Confession

Posted by Will Ooi | Posted in Favourites, Gaming | Tags: , , , , | Posted on 17-12-2008-05-2008


Originally posted here


[I will probably get in trouble if certain people read this blog. But here it is anyway]

A bit of context, just to get it out of the way early on: I tend to take my gaming addictions a bit far sometimes, and I absolutely love open world games. GTA III had me hooked like a junkie as I enjoyed the exploration and sightseeing within Liberty City; taking my time doing missions in order to fully appreciate it all, the wonderful digital city: soaking it in, the geography, the design, the personality. These virtual escapes then followed with Vice City, San Andreas, and of course, GTA IV. Oh the time and sick days spent on that one.

None of that intense training could prepare me for Fallout 3, however. Nope. Bethesda have well and truly destroyed me.

Doing all-nighters. Taking days off work. Cancelling dinners and movie outings. I really did all these things. I just needed a few more hours to scour the world for those 30 Nuka-Cola Quantums, finding that leaf blower to make my custom weapon, to get some ant pheromones for the chick in Rivet City, to grab all the loot from vanquished Talon Company Mercs and to repair and compress my inventory space, to travel through subway tunnels in DC looking for those Super Mutant behemoths…on and on it went. And with a game as vast and as open as this one, there’s never a shortage of things to do – there just aren’t enough hours in a day to be able to do them all.


Upon reaching the maximum of Level 20 (a bit of a disappointment to be honest, albeit a life-saving one) it dawned on me. It was as if my body had been detached from my mind; the former reduced to conduit slave status whose sole purpose was to punch buttons and serve the latter which was, and had been for a while, floating in its own virtual space within the DC Ruins of the game. It was 5 am. I had played all night. Then, a voice. My voice. I was glad to hear it.

“Man, you’re not taking very good care of yourself. If there was no maximum level, you’d be just like one of those World of Warcraft freaks who plays all day every day within those game cafes eating instant noodles, the only difference being that you’re too tight to pay the monthly subscription fee which is probably in itself fair enough given that I don’t agree with regular payments for MMOs either (despite the fact that I AM your mind and it’d be contradictory for me NOT to agree, but lets not go there). Look at what GTA IV did to you. You lined up unnecessarily for the midnight launch just to play in the early hours of the morning, having to drag yourself off to work with little to no sleep even though the game was hardly in short supply and you could have easily picked it up the next afternoon. And, going back further, look at what San Andreas did during your uni years: skipping class to stay home and deck yourself out with green bandanas and ammo for your AK47 as you took over gang territory in the name of the Grove Street Families. Ah, memories”.

Then my alarm rang and the voice of reason was gone. 7:40 am. Another choice presented itself to me, and even though I was (kind of) back in real life, I could still see the dialogue window from the game, complete with response options:

“Your alarm has gone off, alerting you to the fact that you need to get dressed and go to work. However your eyes are bloodshot and their lids extremely heavy given that you’ve played the game non-stop, overnight, with only a carton of orange juice as sustenance. You decide to…”:

  • Abide by the laws of society and get dressed and go to work, trying not to collapse, dead, on public transport along the way
  • Take a nap for a few hours, then go to work. After all, being late is better than not being there at all!
  • [SPEECH 100%] Take a sicky

Option 3. Success!

Once the decision was made though, away went any remnants of my fatigue, seemingly magically and almost immediately. So guess what I did? Yep. I salvaged ammo from the dead Super Mutants, went back to where I told Dogmeat to stay, and fast-travelled around to look for more locations to fill up the empty spaces of my map, inevitably finding yet more new places and distractions to keep occupied. Fallout 3 isn’t without its flaws; the character animations are often stiff, there are clipping issues and a ton of glitches and bugs, the AI of NPCs is often questionable at best, and given the combination of the game’s scope plus an unreliable Local Map, it is incredibly easy to get lost within internal environments – particularly the other Vaults. But everything else about the game? Bloody hell. Fallout 3 is one of the best games I have ever played, and is definitely my favourite game of 2008 even amongst such distinguished company this year. The world, the characters, the story, the dark humour: you could say that I’ve been ‘immersed’ in it.


So today, amazingly, I’m back at work and typing all this down. I know! Crazy isn’t it! I’ve seen the sun, and it is beautiful. Let’s see then, doo do doo do doo, what will my options be for tonight? Take a wild guess.

I’ve heard all the advice before, too. “Just go to sleep, moron. It’s not hard”. “Be more mature about it and control yourself, you overgrown child,” etc etc. But I’m telling you, completely honestly, the open world video game is my vice, my Kryptonite. It gets me EVERY time. I am an addict, and I admit it with much shame and self-loathing. Maybe it’s to do with wanting to escape from one’s own reality, finding salvation in a world that follows different rules with alternate social underpinnings. There must be something deep down inside, a hidden reason behind this type of addiction; something Freudian perhaps. One thing is for sure though after this whole saga: even if I do absolutely love savouring these digital worlds and all the little details they offer, taking my time to free-roam to my heart’s content (if not the rest of the body), I really cannot wait until Fallout 3 is truly over and I’ve seen all that there is to see – if only just to escape my own personal Vault 101.

But then there’s the option of playing through again as someone evil. Jesus. Christ.

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