|This guy *will* fuck your shit up.|
Of course all gamers have their preferences and biases, but I try to be as objective as possible when I make a judgment on the worth of a game. That being said, I think that I have a fairly objective opinion about the Bethesda FPS RPG Fallout 3 and Obsidian's (published by Bethesda) Fallout: New Vegas. Why is my opinion not biased? Because I didn't play any Fallout title prior to 3, which was released just a few years ago. I've got no nostalgic allegiance attatched to the series.
If you don't know what the games are about, you're a character who lives in a post-apocalyptic America. In this alternate universe, China and America nuke the shit out of each other in 2077. Fallout 3 takes place in what used to be the US capital of Washington D.C. (called the Capital Wasteland) in approximately 2177, and New Vegas takes place in what was once Las Vegas in about 2277. Your character starts from humble beginnings, and if you play it right, you will end up being a god damned walking nightmare to your enemies.
What makes the game great though? Well first is the gameplay itself, which is probably the most important aspect of any game. It's a First Person Shooter but it's also an RPG. This means that it has a lot of story elements and the whole "level up" process like an RPG, but instead of turn-based combat in which you select your actions and moves, you actually do all the shooting yourself. To add an element of depth to it, when you level up you not only get to improve your skills and abilities, but you get to select from a list of perks that give you pretty good bonuses on shit.
For example, you can get the "bloody mess" perk. What's awesome about that is not only does it give you an overall +5% damage buff, but it makes the enemies you kill more likely to explode into pieces. That's something that makes this game fucking amazing: the unbridled graphic violence. You can decapitate someone, sever every limb, or just cause their body to completely combust into tiny bits. Oh god is it a wonderful thing.
The second big thing that makes both games so good is the vastness of the world you're given to roam. There's tons of quests and neat places to visit. Wandering the actual capital in FO3, seeing the Whitehouse, Congress, Washington and Lincoln Memorials delapitaded from years of neglect and nuclear war is quite an awe inspiring sight. The design team did an amazing job at portraying what it would look like in that situation. The scenery is breathtaking. Also, the theme of the setting is 1950's America. In the Fallout universe, American culture stopped in the 1950's.
The game itself is technically wonderful, visually pleasing, but that's not all. What really sets this game apart is the extremely dark, yet humorous tone of the game. This is the end of the world, and of course there is chaos all over. Raiders murder and rape people, there are gigantic factions of people who are trying to control and reshape the world, some benevolent but most are nefarious. The world of Fallout is a bleak one where there is little hope for anything getting any better, especially when you take into consideration that you, the player, can decide to be a vile shithead that only increases everyone's pain.
How can all this be funny? How can they possibly make light of such a horrifying world? Well I don't know, but they pull it off. You know there's something different about it in the FO3 intro movie, where we hear a radio playing "I don't Want to Set the World on Fire," in a wasteland that has been utterly decimated.
Of course we wouldn't find anything funny about that if we were living it, so why do they try to be funny? Maybe it's because we should find it funny in an ironic way. Society would surely collapse and revert back to a primitive form of culture should nuclear war wipe out all infrastructure. We've spent thousands of years getting to the point we're at now, where we can call ourselves civilized and enlightened, yet we have the ability to wipe it all away in a very short period of time.
Or maybe they're trying to say that if you didn't decide to commit suicide, if you were committed to living and carrying on, then perhaps you'd have to have a sense of humor about it. Why go on living life if you didn't? Life seems pretty pointless if you're not interested in squeezing out even just a little enjoyment.
So with all these things put together make them both amazingly excellent games. For those of you who haven't heard of it or played it, I highly *highly recommend it. And for those haters out there, I know there are some, you probably wouldn't know a good game if it bit you on the ass.