I just got Fallout 3 and, so far, I'm really enjoying it. Fallout is one of my favorite franchises ever. Bethesda has really captured the feel of the franchise, including its dark humor. Many people disparagingly referred to Fallout as "Oblivion with Guns" when they first heard that Bethesda was making this game with a 3D first person viewpoint. And, yeah, it does feel a lot like Oblivion in parts:
- stiff voice acting
- NPCs sometimes change their voices depending on which conversation item you select
- NPCs like to walk into each other
- running in the third party perspective looks RIDICULOUSLY bad...
- NPC AI pathing is wretched
But those are very minor flaws; the voice acting and other minor issues aren't so bad that they ruin the experience. And while combat is flawed, it works well enough. The VATS system is fun, but real time combat, swinging a handcrafted Deathclaw at a radscorpion is no different than swinging a sword in Tamriel. And I never found that to be terribly exciting. Fallout 3 does not appear to have a cover system, which is unfortunate, because that game system helped make ranged combat in Mass Effect (the other notable story-based RPG with guns to come out in recent times) quite enjoyable.
The thing that made the original Fallout games great was that it gaves you CHOICES. You always had multiple ways to approach problems. You could talk your way past a difficult opponent, take them down by force, sneak by when they turn their back on you, or go the long way around them. In the original Fallouts, you could even (with great difficulty) play the entire game without ever (directly) harming anyone! You were often asked to difficult decisions, and being the good guy was rarely the easy way out.
This Fallout is no different. Very early on you are given the ability to make decisions with very permanent aftereffects. There are so many dialogue options and unlike many games, they do make a difference. Many choices you make open up more choices in the future. Its truly staggering how different the game can be between playthroughs even from the very beginning of the game! Every other game on the planet claims to give you choice, but this is the game that truly delivers.
While some people might get hung up on the subpar combat system, if you are looking for a ROLE PLAYING experience, and were wondering where the ROLE in "role playing game" went, well, it went here: Fallout 3.