|Developer(s)||Bethesda Game Studios|
Fallout 3 is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios, and is the third major installment in the Fallout series. It is the first game to be created by Bethesda Softworks since it bought the franchise from Interplay Entertainment, and was released worldwide in October 2008 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game is set within a post-apocalyptic, open world environment that encompasses a region consisting of the ruins of Washington, D.C. and much of the countryside to the west of it, that is referred to as the "Capital Wasteland", and within Fallout's setting of a world that deviated onto an alternate timeline thanks to atomic age technology, which eventually led to its devastation by a nuclear apocalypse in the year 2077 that is referred to as "The Great War", caused by a major international conflict between the United States and China over natural resources and the last remaining supplies of untapped petroleum. The main story takes place in the year 2277, around 36 years after the events of Fallout 2; it is not a direct sequel of the game.
Players take control of an inhabitant of Vault 101, one of several shelters created before the Great War to protect around 1,000 humans from the nuclear fallout, who is forced to venture out into the Capital Wasteland to find their father, after they disappear from the vault under mysterious circumstance, eventually finding themselves seeking to complete their father's work while combating against another group of the Enclave that seeks to use it for their own purposes. Fallout 3 was well received by critics and received a number of Game of the Year awards, praising the game's open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system, and is considered one of the best video games of all time. The NPD Group estimated that Fallout 3 sold over 610,000 units during its initial month of release in October 2008, performing better than Bethesda's previous game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which sold nearly 500,000 units in its first month. The game received post-launch support with Bethesda releasing five downloadable add-ons. The game also received controversy upon release: in Australia, for the use of and the ability to be addicted to alcohol and drugs; in India, for cultural and religious sentiments over the cattle in the game being called "Brahmin"; and in Japan, due to having a weapon called the "Fat Man", which releases mini nuclear bombs.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Plot
- 3 Development
- 4 Marketing and release
- 5 Downloadable content
- 6 Reception
- 7 Regional variations
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Unlike previous titles of the series, Fallout 3 is played from the first-person perspective, as with other titles by Bethesda, though players have the option to switch between this and an "over-the-shoulder" third-person perspective at any time after the initial stages of the game. While many elements from previous titles are used, such as the SPECIAL system, and the enemies encountered, combat is played out differently, while new features are included into the series.
Character Creation and Attributes
Character creation is done through a tutorial prologue that encompasses the different ages of the player's characters, which also covers tutorials on movement, the HUD, combat, interactions with the game world, and the use of the Pip-Boy 3000. The character's creation is done in steps, with the player first setting up their appearance along with what race and gender their character is, and the name they have. Next, they customise their character's primary attributes via the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system - Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck - which is retained in Fallout 3, and determines the base level of the Skills the game uses. What three skills their character focuses on can either be left to the choices they make with a series of question, or by choosing manually what they desire. Character creation is not finalised until the player finally leaves Vault 101 and enters the Capital Wastelands, allowing players the option to modify their character's appearance, primary attributes and Skill choices if they are not satisfied with their choices.
As the character progresses through the game, experience points (XP) are earned from accomplishing various actions, such as completing a quest, killing an enemy, and so forth, with a new level granted upon reaching the necessary amount of XP. A new level grants the player the ability to allocate points to the various Skills available and thus improve upon them, making them more effective; for instance, a higher lock-picking skill allows the player to be able to tackle more difficult locks on doors and containers, while a higher medicine skill increases the amount of health recovered with Stimpaks. Once the character achieves their second level, they can be granted a Perk, which offers advantages of varying quality and form, such as being able to carry more items, finding more ammo in containers, and having a higher chance to perform a critical hit. Many Perks have a set of prerequisites that need to be satisfied, often requiring a certain Skill level to acquire them, while a new Perk can be granted for every two levels earned by the character. Additional improvements to Skill levels can be made by finding Skill books, which confer a permanent boost to levels, while players can also search for and find a series of around 20 bobbleheads that also confer a bonus to these and also primary attributes.
An important statistic tracked by the game is Karma which is affected by the decisions and actions the character performs during the game. Positive actions to Karm include freeing captives and helping others, while negative actions towards this include killing good characters and stealing. Actions vary in the level of karma change they cause; thus, pickpocketing produces less negative karma than the killing of a good character. Karma can have tangible effects to the player, beyond acting as flavor for the game's events, in that it can affect the ending the player gets, alter dialogue with non-player characters (NPCs) or give off unique reactions from other characters, while also granting access to certain perks that require a specific Karma level. However, the player's relationships with the game's factions are distinct, so any two groups or settlements may view the player in contrasting ways, depending on the player's conduct.
Health, weapons and apparel
A character's health is divided between two types: HP and Limbs. While HP is the general amount of health that a character and other NPCs have (friendly, neutral or hostile) and which depletes when damage is taken, either from combat, setting off traps, falling from a height or self injury, Limb health is specific to each portion of the body - namely the arms, legs, head, and torso, although non-human enemies feature additional appendages, and robotic enemies feature different types of appendages. Limbs can be damaged in the same way as HP, though once depleted they become "crippled" and induce a negative status effect, such as blurred vision if the head is crippled, or reduced movement speed if one or both legs are crippled. Both HP and Limbs can be recovered through the use of medical medicine in the form of Stimpaks, as well as sleeping and visiting a doctor, while HP can be slowly recovered by consuming food and drinking water and/of soft drinks. Players can also be effected by other negative health effects, including radiation poisoning and withdrawal symptoms. While the latter occurs when the player's character becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol and confers negative effects if the player does not continue using them, radiation poisoning occurs when the character absorbs radiation, either by walking through areas with background radiation, and consuming food and drink that is irradiated with a small amount of radiation. The negative impacts of both can affect SPECIAL attributes, and can be treated by a doctor, though radiation can be dealt with by using Rad Away. Furthermore, the amount of background radiation absorbed can be reduced through the use of Rad-X drugs and special apparel, both of which improve resistance to radiation.
All weapons and apparel found within the Wastelands, regardless of whether they are a makeshift-weapon such as a lead pipe, or a gun, degrade over time the more they are used, and thus become less effective. For firearms, degrading into poor condition causes them to do less damage and possibly jam when reloading, while apparel that reduces damage becomes less protective as it gradually absorbs damage from attacks. When too much damage is taken, the items breaks and cannot be used. To ensure weapons and apparel are working effectively, such items require constant maintenance and repairs which can be done in one of two ways. The first method is find certain vendors that repair items, though how much they can repair an item depends on their skill level, while the cost of the repairs depends upon the item itself. The second method is for players to find a second of the same item that needs repairs (or a comparable item), and salvaging parts from it for the repair, though how much they can do depends on their character's own skill level in repairs.
In addition to finding weaponry out in the wastelands, the player can also create their own. To craft such weapons, the player must use a workbench, possess either the necessary schematics or the right Perk, and scavenge for the items needed to make them. These weapons usually possess significant advantages over other weapons of their type. Each weapon's schematic has three copies that can be found, and possessing additional copies improves the condition (or number) of items produced at the workbench, while a higher repair skill will result in a better starting condition for the related weapon. Weapon schematics can be found lying in certain locations, bought from vendors, or received as quest rewards.
The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, referred to as V.A.T.S., is a new element for the Fallout series and plays an important part in combat within Fallout 3. The system was introduced by Bethesda's developers, who described it as a hybrid between timeturn-based and real-time combat, so much in that while using V.A.T.S., real-time combat is paused and action is played out from varying camera angles in a computer graphics version of "bullet time". Using the system costs action points (AP), the amount of which depends on the weapon being used and thus limiting the actions of the player's combat during a turn. Through the system, the player can not only switch between multiple targets (if there is more than one around at any time), but also target specific areas of them to inflict damage - a player could either target the head for a quick kill, go for the legs to slow an enemy's movements, or shoot at their weapons to disarm them; for some enemies, they can put them into a berserker rage by hitting specific parts. The chance of striking a different area, displayed as a percentage ratio, is dependent on the weapon being used, and the distance between the character and the target; a character who is a higher level when using V.A.T.S is also more likely to hit an enemy with the system than a lower level character. The use of V.A.T.S. does confer a negative effect, in that it eliminates most of the first-person shooter elements of the game; aiming is taken over by the computer, and the player is unable to move as a means of avoiding attacks. Furthermore, ranged weapons are capable of hitting limbs, while melee weapons focus on the target in whole when using V.A.T.S.
During their travels across the Wastelands, the player can be accompanied by a single non-player character (NPC) companion, who can assist in combat. Which companion can accompany the player depends on who they have encountered that can join them; it is possible to not encounter all depending on how the game is played. Only one companion may travel with the player, and should they wish to take another with them, the first must be dismissed (either voluntarily by the player or as a consequence of other events) or die in combat. One unique companion the player can have, that can allow a third to join without issue, is a dog named Dogmeat, who can be killed during the game if the player misuses him or places him in a severely dangerous situation; the release of the Broken Steel DLC, makes it possible to replace Dogmeat, provided the player acquires a Perk that grants the opportunity of getting another dog.
Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, and within the region that covers most of the ruined city of Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. The game's landscape includes war-ravaged variants of numerous real-life landmarks such as the White House, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington Monument, with a small number of settlements dotted around the Capital Wastelands that consist of descendants of survivors from the Great War, including one that surrounds an unexploded bomb, another consisting primarily of ghoul inhabitants, and another formed within the hulking remains of an aircraft carrier. While the city can be explored, much of the interior zones are cut off by giant rubble over many of the roads leading in, meaning that access can only be achieved by using the city's former underground metro tunnels (loosely based on the real-life Washington Metro).
The region has two major factions within it - the Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel, both of whom differ to their counterparts in the west. While the Enclave is similar in goal to their western brethren, the eastern branch of the Brotherhood of Steel seeks to assist the people of the wasteland, though a small group rejected this and became outcasts who seek to resume their original goal of salvaging high-level technology. Other factions include a small group of former slaves who seek to inspire others for freedom by restoring the Lincoln Memorial, a group of wastelanders that feast on blood, and a group who tend and care for a region of the wastes where plants have become abundant.
For 19 years of their life, the player's character grows up within the confines of Vault 101 alongside their father James, a doctor and scientist who assists in the vault's clinic. While growing up, their father comments about their deceased mother Catherine and her favourite passage from the Bible - Revelation 21:6, which speaks of "the waters of life". Upon reaching their 19th birthday, chaos erupts within the vault when James suddenly leaves Vault 101, causing the paranoid Overseer to lock down the vault and send security forces after James' child. Escaping from the vault with the aid of the Overseer's daughter, the search for James across the wasteland begins at the nearby town of Megaton, named for the dormant but still active atomic bomb at the center of town, and eventually into the ruins of Washington D.C. and the Galaxy News Radio station, whereupon James' child, after helping the station's enthusiastic DJ Three Dog, is given the moniker of "The Lone Wanderer". Directed by Three Dog towards Rivet City, a derelict aircraft carrier now serving as a fortified human settlement, the Lone Wanderer meets with Doctor Li, a scientist who worked alongside James. Li informs the Wanderer that his parents were not part of Vault 101, but lived outside of it, where they worked together upon a plan they conceived to purify all the water in the Tidal Basin and eventually the entire Potomac River, with a giant water purifier built in the Jefferson Memorial, dubbing their work as "Project Purity". The projected ended abruptly when delays and Catherine's death during childbirth led James to abandon the project and seek somewhere safe to raise his child.
Learning that James seeks to revive the project and continue his work by acquiring a Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.), the Wanderer soon tracks him down to Vault 112, and frees him from a virtual reality program being run by the Vault's sadistic Overseer, Dr. Braun, whom James had sought out for information on a G.E.C.K.. Reunited with their father, the pair soon return to Rivet City and recruit Li and the other project members to resume work at the Jefferson Memorial. Just as they begin testing the project, the Memorial is invaded by the Enclave, a powerful military organization formed from the remnants of the pre-War United States government, which continues to remain active despite the demise of their brethren on the West Coast thirty years previously (see Fallout 2). Seeking to stop them gaining control of his work, James urges his son to finish his work and find a G.E.C.K. before flooding the project's control room with massive amounts of radiation, preventing the Enclave's military leader, Colonel Augustus Autumn, from taking control of it, but killing himself in the process. Taking the remaining project members to safety, the Wanderer makes contact with separate branch of the Brotherhood of Steel within the ruins of the Pentagon, now known as the Citadel. With their help, the Wanderer travels to Vault 87, which had been used as a testing site for the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV), and recovers a G.E.C.K. from within the vault. But as they make their way out, the Wanderer is ambushed by Colonel Autumn and the Enclave and is captured.
At the Enclave base at Raven Rock, the Lone Wanderer is freed from their cell by the Enclave leader, President John Henry Eden, who requests a private audience with them, but Colonel Autumn defies Eden's orders, takes command of the Enclave's military, and orders the death of the Wanderer. Despite the setback, the Wanderer meets with Eden who transpires to be a sentient ZAX series supercomputer that took control of the Enclave after President Dick Richardson was killed off the West Coast. Seeking to repeat Richardson's plans, Eden reveals his intentions of using Project Purity to infect the water with a modified strain of FEV that will make it toxic to any mutated life, thus killing off most life in the wasteland including humans. The Enclave, who would be immune to the effects because of their genetic "purity" as a result of their isolation, would be free to take control of the area. Forced to take a sample of the new FEV, the Wanderer leaves the base, regardless of doing so peacefully or convincing Eden to self-destruct. Returning to the Citadel, where news of the Enclave's possession of the G.E.C.K. is known to the Brotherhood, the Wanderer joins them in an assault on the Jefferson Memorial, which is spearheaded through the use of a giant, military robot named Liberty Prime. Reaching the control room and dealing with Colonel Autumn, Li informs the Wanderer that the purifier is now ready for activation, but that the code must be inputted manually within the control room, meaning whoever goes in would be subjected to lethal amounts of radiation, with the matter made worse by the purifier being damaged and will self-destruct if not activated.
At this point, the Lone Wanderer can either:
- Do nothing and let the Purifier explode, destroying the Jefferson Memorial and killing everyone inside in the process.
- Sacrifice themselves and input the right code that is hinted throughout the game
- Send Sarah Lyons into the chamber and give her the right code.
Except for the first choice, the Wanderer has the choice of introducing the modified FEV into the purifier or not, which further affects the ending. Whatever the choice, a bright light enshrouds all, and the Wanderer's father narrates the ending they created, including any actions they took that had an influence on the wasteland.
Broken Steel Ending
Although the main story ends here, the introduction of Broken Steel creates a new choice with the ending, in that the player can send one of their radiation-immune companions into the chamber to input the right code. Furthermore, the game remains open-ended from this point onwards, with either the Wanderer or Sarah surviving the radiation they were subjected to, and recovering a two weeks later to the news that the purifier is working well and supplying clean water to the people of the waste, or has been having an adverse effect on life thanks to the introduction of the modified FEV.
Fallout 3 was initially under development by Black Isle Studios, a studio owned by Interplay Entertainment, under the working title Van Buren. Black Isle Studios was the developer of the original Fallout and Fallout 2. When Interplay Entertainment went bankrupt and closed down Black Isle Studios before the game could be completed, the license to develop Fallout 3 was sold for a $1,175,000 minimum guaranteed advance against royalties to Bethesda Softworks, a studio primarily known as the developer of The Elder Scrolls series. Bethesda's Fallout 3, however, was developed from scratch, using neither Van Buren code nor any other materials created by Black Isle Studios. In May 2007, a playable technology demo of the canceled project was released to the public.
Leonard Boyarsky, art director of the original Fallout, when asked about Interplay Entertainment's sale of the rights to Bethesda Softworks, said "To be perfectly honest, I was extremely disappointed that we did not get the chance to make the next Fallout game. This has nothing to do with Bethesda, it's just that we've always felt that Fallout was ours and it was just a technicality that Interplay happened to own it. It sort of felt as if our child had been sold to the highest bidder, and we had to just sit by and watch. Since I have absolutely no idea what their plans are, I can't comment on whether I think they're going in the right direction with it or not.".
Bethesda Softworks started working on Fallout 3 in July 2004, but principal development did not begin until after The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its related extras and plug ins were completed. Bethesda Softworks decided to make Fallout 3 similar to the previous two games, focusing upon non-linear gameplay, story, and black comedy. Bethesda also chose to pursue an ESRB rating of M (for mature) by including the adult themes, violence, and depravity characteristic of the Fallout series. They also decided to shy away from the self-referential gags of the game's predecessors that broke the illusion that the world of Fallout is real. Fallout 3 uses a version of the same Gamebryo engine as Oblivion, and was developed by the team responsible for that game. Liam Neeson was cast as the voice of the player's father.
In February 2007, Bethesda stated that the game was "a fairly good ways away" from release but that detailed information and previews would be available later in the year. Following a statement made by Pete Hines that the team wanted to make the game a "multiple platform title", the game was announced by Game Informer to be in development for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.
During a March 21, 2008, Official Xbox Magazine podcast interview, Todd Howard revealed that the game had expanded to nearly the same scope as Oblivion. There were originally at least 12 versions of the final cutscene, but, with further development, this expanded to over 200 possible permutations in the final release, all of which are determined by the actions taken by the player. Bethesda Softworks attended E3 2008 to showcase Fallout 3. The first live demo of the Xbox 360 version of the game was shown and demonstrated by Todd Howard, taking place in downtown Washington, D.C. The demo showcased various weapons such as the Fat Man nuclear catapult, the V.A.T.S. system and the functions of the Pip-Boy 3000 as well as combat with several enemies. The demo concluded as the player neared the Brotherhood of Steel-controlled Pentagon and was attacked by an Enclave patrol.
Several actors of film and video games lent their voices to Fallout 3, including Liam Neeson as James, Ron Perlman as the game's narrator, Malcolm McDowell as President John Henry Eden, Craig Sechler as Butch DeLoria, Erik Todd Dellums as Three Dog, and Odette Yustman as Amata Almodovar. Veteran voice actors Dee Bradley Baker, Wes Johnson, Paul Eiding, and Stephen Russell also provided voice overs for the game. The Fallout 3 soundtrack continued the series' convention of featuring sentimental 1940s big band American popular music, the main theme, and few other side songs recorded by The Ink Spots and The Andrews Sisters; in addition to a score written by composer Inon Zur. The soundtrack of the game included artists such as Roy Brown, Billie Holiday, Billy Munn, Cole Porter, and Bob Crosby.
Marketing and release
A teaser site for the game appeared on May 2, 2007, and featured music from the game and concept art, along with a timer that counted down to June 5, 2007. The artists and developers involved later confirmed that the concept art, commissioned before Oblivion had been released, did not reveal anything from the actual game. When the countdown finished, the site hosted the first teaser trailer for the game, and unveiled a release date of "Fall 2008".
On June 5, 2007, Bethesda released the Fallout 3 teaser trailer. The press kit released with the trailer indicated that Ron Perlman would be on board with the project, and cited a release date of Fall 2008. The trailer featured The Ink Spots song "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire", which the previous Fallout developer Black Isle Studios originally intended to license for use in the first Fallout game. The trailer, which was completely done with in-engine assets, closed with Ron Perlman saying his trademark line which he also spoke in the original Fallout: "War. War never changes". The trailer showed a devastated Washington, D.C., evidenced by the partially damaged Washington Monument in the background as well as the crumbling buildings that surrounded a rubble-choked city thoroughfare.
A second trailer was first shown during a GameTrailers TV E3 special on July 12, 2008. The trailer zoomed out from a ruined house in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and provided a wider view of the capital's skyline including the Capitol Building and Washington Monument in the distance. On July 14, 2008, an extended version of this trailer was made available, which besides the original content, included a Vault-Tec advertisement and actual gameplay. Both versions of the trailer featured the song "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" as recorded by Bob Crosby and the Bobcats.
On July 11, 2008, as a part of promoting Fallout 3, Bethesda Softworks partnered with American Cinematheque and Geek Monthly to sponsor "A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout 3". The festival took place on August 22–23 at Santa Monica's Aero Theater. Six post-apocalyptic movies were shown which depict life and events that could occur after a world-changing disaster, including Wizards, Damnation Alley, A Boy and His Dog, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and Twelve Monkeys.
|Standard||Collector's||Limited||Survival||Game of the Year|
|Game disc & manual||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Vault Boy Bobblehead||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Power Armor figurine||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|PIP-Boy 3000 clock||No||No||No||Yes||No|
Fallout 3 was released in five separate versions, only three of which were made available worldwide:
- The Standard Edition includes the game disc and instruction manual with no extras.
- The Collector's Edition includes the game disc, manual, a bonus "making of" disc, a concept artbook, and a 5" Vault Boy Bobblehead, all of which is contained in a Vault-Tec lunchbox. In Australia, the Collector's Edition is exclusive to Gametraders and EB Games.
- The Limited Edition includes the game disc and manual, as well as a Brotherhood of Steel Power Armor figurine. This edition is available only in the UK through the retailer Game.
- The Survival Edition includes everything from the Collector's Edition, as well as a model of the PIP-Boy 3000 from the game which functions as a digital clock. The Survival Edition is available exclusively from Amazon.com to U.S. customers only.
- The Game of the Year Edition, which includes the original Fallout 3 game as well as all 5 of the downloadable content packs, was released on October 13, 2009 in North America and October 16, 2009 in Europe. It was released in Australia on October 22, 2009, and in Japan on December 3, 2009. It was made available on Steam on December 17, 2009.
Bethesda's Todd Howard first confirmed during E3 2008 that downloadable content (DLC) would be prepared for the Xbox 360 and Windows versions of Fallout 3. There are five DLCs: Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta, released in that order. Of the five, Broken Steel has the largest effect on the game, altering the ending and allowing the player to continue playing past the end of the main quest line.
Originally, there was no downloadable content announced for the PlayStation 3 version of the game. Although Bethesda had not offered an official explanation as to why the content was not released for PlayStation 3, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian speculated that it may have been the result of a money deal with Bethesda by Sony's competitor, Microsoft. When asked if the PlayStation 3 version would receive an update that would enable gameplay beyond the main quest's completion, Todd Howard responded, "Not at this time, no." However, in May 2009, Bethesda announced that the existing DLC packs (Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt and Broken Steel) would be made available for the PlayStation 3; the later two (Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta) were released for all platforms.
On October 1, 2009, a New Xbox Experience premium theme for the game was released for the Xbox 360. Consumers could pay 240 Microsoft Points, or by having downloaded all other downloadable content. The PlayStation 3 received a free theme, featuring a Brotherhood of Steel Knight in the background, and includes symbols from the game as icons on the PS3 home menu. In December 2008 the official editor, known as the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) was made available for the Windows version of the game as a free download from the Fallout 3 website.
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Fallout 3 received "universal acclaim", according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. 1UP.com's Demian Linn praised its open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system. While the V.A.T.S. system was called "fun", enemy encounters were said to suffer from a lack of precision in real-time combat and little variety in enemy types. The review concluded, Fallout 3 is a "hugely ambitious game that doesn't come around very often". IGN editor Erik Brudvig praised the game's "minimalist" sound design, observing, "you might find yourself with nothing but the sound of wind rustling through decaying trees and blowing dust across the barren plains ... Fallout 3 proves that less can be more". The review noted that the "unusual amount of realism" combined with the "endless conversation permutations" produces "one of the most truly interactive experiences of the generation". In a review of the game for Kotaku, Mike Fahey commented that "While Inon Zur's score is filled with epic goodness, the real stars of Fallout 3's music are the vintage songs from the 1940s". Will Tuttle of GameSpy commended the game for its "engaging storyline, impeccable presentation, and hundreds of hours of addictive gameplay". Although Edge awarded the game 7 out of 10, in a later anniversary issue it placed the game 37th in a "100 best games to play today" list, saying "Fallout 3 empowers, engages and rewards to extents that few games have ever achieved".
Some criticisms were the bugs in regards to the physics and crashes—some of which broke quests and even prevented progression. The AI and stiff character animations are another common point of criticism, as is the ending. Edge stated that "the game is cumbersome in design and frequently incompetent in the details of execution", taking particular issue with the nakedness of the HUD, the clarity of the menu interface, and that the smaller problems are carried over from Oblivion. Edge liked the central story but said "the writing isn't quite as consistent as the ideas that underpin" and that the "voice-acting is even less reliable".
From its release in October to the end of 2008, Fallout 3 shipped over 4.7 million units. According to NPD Group, as of January 2009, the Xbox 360 version had sold 1.14 million units, and the PlayStation 3 version had sold 552,000 units. The Xbox 360 version was the 14th best-selling game of December 2008 in the United States, while the PlayStation 3 version was the 8th best-selling PlayStation 3 game in that region and month. Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, a market research firm, estimated that the game had sold 12.4 million copies worldwide.
Fallout 3 won several awards following its showcasing at E3 2007. IGN gave it the "Game of E3 2007" award, and GameSpot gave it the "Best Role-Playing Game of E3 2007" award. Following the game's demonstration at E3 2008, IGN also gave it "Best Overall RPG", "Best Overall Console Game", and "Overall Game of the Show" for E3 2008. Game Critics Awards gave the game "Best Role-Playing Game" and "Best of Show" for E3 2008.
After its release, Fallout 3 won numerous awards from gaming journalists and websites. At the 2009 Game Developer's Choice Awards, it won overall "Game of the Year" along with "Best Writing." It was also awarded "Game of the Year" by IGN, GamesRadar, GameSpy, UGO Networks, Gamasutra and the Golden Joystick Awards. The game also won "Xbox 360 Game of the Year" from Official Xbox Magazine, GameSpy and IGN, while winning "PC Game of the Year" from GamePro, GameSpy, GameTrailers and GameSpot, with the latter two also awarding it "Best RPG."
At the end of 2009, Fallout 3 was featured in IGN's "Best Video and Computer Games of the Decade" (2000–2009), with the game being placed top game of 2008 and seventh overall game of the decade. In 2012, Fallout 3 was also exhibited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum . Fallout 3 was voted for and won the "Adventure" section for the platform "Modern Windows." That same year, G4tv ranked it as the 75th top video game of all time.
Shortly before the game's release, IGN posted a review of the game, citing numerous bugs and crashes in the PlayStation 3 release. The game also contained a bug, causing the game to freeze and the screen to blur when friends signed out of and into the PlayStation Network. The IGN review was edited shortly thereafter, removing all references to the PS3 version's bugs, causing controversy in the PlayStation communities. Reviewing PlayStation 3 Game of the Year edition, Digital Chumps and Spawn Kill confirmed that most bugs remained, citing occasional freezes, several animation, and scripting issues along with other bugs, requiring a restart of the game. Even IGN retroactively cited bugs with the original release as well as the Game of the Year edition, calling it "a fantastic game", but warned players to "be aware that you might have to deal with some crashes and bugs".
Controversy and fandom
Not all fans are happy with the direction the Fallout series has taken since its acquisition by Bethesda Softworks. Notorious for their support of the series' first two games, Fallout and Fallout 2, members centered around one of the oldest Fallout fansites, No Mutants Allowed, have criticized departures from the original games' stories, gameplay mechanics and setting. Criticisms include the prevalence of unspoiled food after 200 years, the survival of wood-framed dwellings following a nuclear blast, and the ubiquity of Super Mutants at early levels in the game. Also criticized are the quality of the game's writing, its level of verisimilitude, the switch to a first-person action game format, and the level of reactiveness of the surrounding game world to player actions. In response, Jim Sterling of Destructoid has called fan groups like No Mutants Allowed "selfish" and "arrogant"; stating that a new audience deserves a chance to play a Fallout game; and that if the series had stayed the way it was back in 1997, new titles would never have been made and brought to market. Luke Winkie of Kotaku tempers these sentiments, saying that it is a matter of ownership; and that in the case of Fallout 3, hardcore fans of the original series witnessed their favorite games become transformed into something else.
On July 4, 2008, Fallout 3 was refused classification by the ACB in Australia, thus making it illegal to distribute or purchase the game in the country. In order for the game to be reclassified, the offending content in the Australian version of the game would have had to be removed by Bethesda Softworks and the game resubmitted to the ACB. According to the ACB board report, the game was refused classification due to the "realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method [bringing] the 'science-fiction' drugs in line with 'real-world' drugs".
A revised version of the game was resubmitted to the ACB and reclassified as MA 15+ on August 7, 2008, or not suitable for people under the age of 15 unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian; this new rating ensured that the game could retail legally in Australia. According to the ACB board report, the drug content was not removed entirely from the revised version of the game, but the animation showing the actual usage of the drugs was removed; the minority view on the decision stated that the drug content was still enough to warrant a refused classification rating.
In a later interview with UK gaming magazine Edge, Bethesda Softworks revealed that there would be only one version of Fallout 3 released worldwide, and that this version would have all real-world drug references removed. It was later clarified that the only change made would be that morphine, a real-world drug that would have appeared in the game, would instead be renamed to the more generic "Med-X".
Release in India
On October 22, 2008, Microsoft announced that the game would not be released in India on the Xbox 360 platform. Religious and cultural sentiments were cited as the reason. Microsoft stated, "Microsoft constantly endeavors to bring the best games to Indian consumers in sync with their international release. However, in light of cultural sensitivities in India, we have made the business decision to not bring Fallout 3 into the country." Although the specific reason was not revealed in public, it is possible that it is because the game contains two-headed mutated cows called Brahmin, or that Brahmin is also the name of an ancient, powerful hereditary caste of Hindu priests and religious scholars in India, or its similarity to the spelling of brahman, a type of cow that originated in India. Brahman, a breed of Zebu, are revered by Hindus.
Sensitivity in Japan
Bethesda Softworks changed the side quest "The Power of the Atom" in the Japanese version of Fallout 3 to relieve concerns about depictions of atomic detonation in inhabited areas, as the memory of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain strong in the country. In non-Japanese versions, players are given the option of either defusing, ignoring, or detonating the dormant atomic bomb in the town of Megaton; in the Japanese version, the character of Mr. Burke is absent, making it impossible to choose the detonation option. Also in the Japanese release, the "Fat Man" nuclear catapult weapon was renamed "Nuka Launcher", as the original name was a reference to the bomb used on Nagasaki. According to Tetsu Takahashi, responsible for localizing Fallout 3 to Japan under his company Zenimax Asia, the available actions prior to localizing "The Power of the Atom" and the ability to kill civilians almost got the game banned by CERO before it received an Adult Only Rating.
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