Fallout 3

by Mike Shea on 3 November 2008

is the best roleplaying game I've played in years. It's better than Fable 2 in many ways, though the two have such divergent settings and stories that it is hard to compare them. However, unlike the on-the-rails feeling of Fable 2, really opens up a world for you to explore. Granted that world is filled with radioactive water and giant mole-rats, but its the first game in a long time where I said "I think I'll go west" and let the adventures find me.

The atmosphere of envelopes you. It feels just like you're in the Road Warrior, scrounging for every shotgun shell, wondering whether you should shoot this non-hostile guy just to take his six .32 calibur bullets and his water. I found myself thinking like I was in the wastelands where laws haven't existed for 200 years and every living thing is a potential threat or a potential walking bag of resources.

Another key to 's success is the VATS system, a pseudo-turn-based system for selecting which part of the body you want to shoot and your odds of hitting it. Rather than taking the easy first person shooter route, the VATS system falls back to using the tactics of older roleplaying games that most new ones have tossed aside. My only complaint with the VATS system is that you're limited in how often you can use it so you end up scooting and shooting like you do in most first person shooters. This is one major reason why is far superior to Oblivion, a fantasy RPG by the same developer.

There are plenty of bugs in this game, but for some reason I am less annoyed by them than I was in Fable 2. I've seen graphical geometry glitches such as getting stuck halfway into the ground. I've seen some pretty lousy framerate drops. I've seen some bad screen tearing. Your character also looks bland compared to the high-poly character models in current generation FPS games. Playing in third person is embarrassing. Your character looks like he's constantly slipping around on ice. Clearly the game was meant for a first person point of view.

I'm already 10 hours into , reached level 7, picked up about ten different types of weapons, and I'm just now getting back on the primary story line. I've heard complaints from others who reached level 20, the maximum level, before even starting the main storyline. That's because 's game world is fun all on its own. Exploring the basement of a bombed out school or an abandoned Nuka-Cola factory is an adventure unto itself. Who needs little golden trails pointing you towards where you should go next. Let the radioactive wind be your guide.

and Fable 2 are both excellent RPGs. It is wonderful to have them both but if I had to choose one, it would be .