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Dean's Electronics: Repairing Fallout 3

Posted on Thursday, May 21 @ 19:01:28 Eastern by

Welcome, fellow readers, to our Special Edition issue of Dean’s Electronics. Normally, we would be teaching you how to repair your trusty weapons and electrical appliances, but since we were so humbly sponsored in Fallout 3, we thought it would give our friends at Bethesda some tips on how to survive the next "Capitol Wasteland".

Of course, we can’t say enough good things about our teammates - just look at our glowing review - but for many reasons, it didn’t receive our Game of the Year award, let alone consistent marks above a 9 out of 10, straight across the board (it did win the GotY award at GDC, great job!, but it also lost to LittleBigPlanet in the Game Design category). Perhaps it was the rush for a holiday release or the sheer enormity of its scope. Just talking about its storyworld has game writers blushing. But the seemingly polished veneer has nicks and bumps that we hope will not mar the eventual, inevitable, we-better-have-one Fallout 4. So let's hope they listen to our friendly advice, because everyone has its best interests at heart (and if you don't, I'll slap you with a Mole Repellent stick).

No Bugs and Glitches

It may be too much to ask for a game whose scope is so grand to have no glitches at all, but it seems that the developers weren’t able to get all of the kinks out. I didn’t experience any gaming-ending bugs during my adventure (until Broken Steel, that is) but there were plenty of awkward moments, some of which forced me to load my last save. Crouching and standing in tight corners can get you caught in an inescapable position, and NPC characters occasionally get caught in the landscape. The worst instance of this is the residents of Megaton simply disappearing into negative space, which can end your game if you need to speak with them to continue the main quest. (Should be patched by now, but to find them, you actually have to jump over the gates of Megaton by hopping to the very top of Lucas Simms’ house and then march along the invisible landscape to Jefferson High School.) And we have no idea what to call what can only be called a breach into the fabric of reality. Sometimes a black wirey dustball appears in the sky as if nega-space is about to rip into the universe. (Praise thy holy noodly appendages?)

The Ending

(**Spoilers**) Among the larger complaints is the lack of an ending that is worthy of Fallout 3, which begins on the overriding theme that “war never changes”. It’s an interesting note that isn’t terribly explained or thoroughly analyzed throughout the game, and for the extremely short duration of the ending, it encapsulates the story as well as a plastic bag covers a Swarovski crystal chandelier. Despite all of the variations of the ending, largely depending on your decisions and karma level, none of them carry the same density as the experience of trekking through the vast Capitol Wasteland, encountering a large cast of well-voiced characters, and completing multiple quests that are insightful and well-designed in its branching paths.

A two- to three-minute montage of the decisions you’ve made throughout the story is an anti-climactic resolution that does not tell you much (or really anything) that’s new. It would have been much more dynamic to have a stunning cinematic on how you’ve impacted the Capitol Wasteland and its inhabitants forever, your name spoken only as myth and legend. Either that, or the game should never have ended, especially if you didn't die because you sent the paladin in to die in your place (you scum!).

Broken Steel thankfully and admirably alters the ending by providing several additional options for starting Project Purity through the kindness of several companions, and eliminates the ending by providing an epilogue sequence of three continued story missions. Better yet, you can continue to explore the wasteland after the ending is over, though there's nothing preventing you from making a save right before Project Purity and reloading that save after seeing the ending. It doesn't resolve the lack of a follow-through in the montage and the theme, but it does change Fallout 3 for the better.

The World After Has No Color

Well… except for lots and lots of red blood. I’m not certain why so many high-profile franchises have chosen a color palette that is seemingly inspired by leaded gasoline on a cement pavement. It’s one thing to emphasize gritty realism; it’s another to forget that colors like purple exist.. While this dirt-ridden style does create an intriguing contrast for one particular green area in the wasteland and the many bottles of neon-pink Nuka-Cola Quantums, there aren’t enough of these contrasting areas to hide the fact that the Capitol Wasteland is just one giant mound of irradiated sepia earth and man-made debris. It’s like God forgot to use color-safe bleach.

Of course, that makes the land of fallout that much more menacing, but the absence of saturated, rich colors just doesn’t make much sense, especially since there are so many paint guns lying around. Outside from natural coloring, there are plenty of chemical dyes and synthetic paints (and toxic green Super Mutant flesh) that can stain clothes and make the environment much more vibrant. In fact, having a quest that is about retrieving bunches of fake flowers or paint colors from some knock-off of Home Depot (say, Dome Repo) wouldn’t be such a bad idea. At the very least, Tenpenny should be able to afford rare artwork in its original condition.

Oh, and the sun should still rise and set with the same rainbow spectrum in the sky even after hundreds of years, let alone millions of years later. Just because there is a lack of life doesn’t mean there should be a literal lack of color. Why is it I can see the moon, but not the sun?

People are also going to make their homes cleaner and have better interior design sense, if just a better sense of organization. Yes, the world is bleak and dusty, and water is in short supply, but most homeowners still care about keeping their settlement as sanitary as possible, instead of treating their living space as if they just set it up ten minutes ago. Layers of rust and mildew line the walls of every room and hallway, and a set of broken furniture is never too far away. If most people can repair your weapons and armor, they should be able to repair broken shelves that are thrown against the wall in their living room.

Plus, why is everyone living with dead bodies? Skeletons are simply everywhere. You can go to the most currently war torn place on earth, and people still take the dead bodies out of their houses.

And what ever happened to birds? Apart from the black-colored birds circling Megaton, there are no birds seemingly anywhere else. And if any creature could survive nuclear fallout, it would be something with wings, or at the very least... vultures.

Abstinence Working Too Well?

Without slithering into the bottomless pit of pornography, the anarchic Capitol Wasteland could have had a higher presence of sexual and promiscuous behavior (in other words, tapping, ha, ha, ha). Anyone would expect that a lack of law and order would give certain men and women the freedom to act out their deviant fantasies in sex crimes, perhaps even with mutual consent, especially if at any waking (or non-waking) moment, some Lone Wanderer can just sneak into your hovel and slay you. There probably won't be many neighbors around to bother with the, umm, "noise", so why not go all out having, umm, "fun"?

And really... in the vast ****ing wasteland ... only one hooker? In just Megaton? And all you get is Well-Rested, which you can get from sleeping in your bed. I can only think of one other thing you can do to yourself to get well-rested, but even then, sex with another person should feel much, much better than it does in Fallout 3.

There's an absence of love that pervades the wasteland (likely intentional), but then again, that means there are no babies. With mankind on the verge of extinction, you would think that procreation would be a topic on the lips of the most abstinent priest. A pregnant woman should receive as much as attention as one does in Children of Men. And think of the possibilities that romance and sex could have on the story, just considering how a world of fallout has impacted (or perhaps, not impacted) love? Let's get some GTA dating in here along with a little hot coffee.

Even a pregnant dog is enough. Think about the puppies. The cute, cute puppies. You wouldn't want to hurt them, right? Right?!
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