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Fallout 3

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Fallout 3
File:Fallout 3 cover art.PNG
Developer(s) Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher(s) Bethesda Softworks
Director(s) Todd Howard
Producer(s) Todd Howard
Gavin Carter
Ashley Cheng
Designer(s) Emil Pagliarulo
Joel Burgess
Adam Adamowicz
Programmer(s) Guy Carver
Steve Meister
Artist(s) Istvan Pely
Adam Adamowicz
Josh Jones
Mark Lampert
Writer(s) Emil Pagliarulo
Composer(s) Inon Zur
Series Fallout
Engine Gamebryo[1]
Platforms Microsoft Windows,[2] PlayStation 3, Xbox 360[3]
Release date(s)
    Genre(s) Action role-playing[5]
    Mode(s) Single-player

    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. The game was released in North America, Europe, and Australia in October 2008 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

    Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, 116 years after the setting of Fallout, 36 years after the setting of Fallout 2 and 200 years after the nuclear apocalypse that devastated the game's world, in a future where international conflicts between the United States and China culminated in a Sino-American war in 2077, due to the scarcity of petroleum reserves that ran the economies of both countries. The player character is an inhabitant of Vault 101, a survival shelter designed to protect up to 1,000 humans from the nuclear fallout. When the player character's father disappears under mysterious circumstances, the leader of the Vault initiates martial law and sends security forces after the player, who is forced to escape from the Vault and journey into the ruins of Washington, D.C. to track their father down. Along the way the player is assisted by a number of human survivors and must battle a myriad of enemies that inhabit the area, now known as the "Capital Wasteland".

    Fallout 3 was critically acclaimed and received a number of Game of the Year awards, praising the game's open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system. The game is considered to be one of the greatest 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 including the use of and the ability to be addicted to alcohol, morphine and other drugs, in India for religious and cultural sentiments over the cattle in the game being called Brahmin, and in Japan due to a weapon called the "Fat Man", which launches mini nuclear bombs.



    File:Fallout3 special.jpg
    The Pip-Boy 3000, shown displaying the player's current skill ratings.

    The game starts with the main character as a newborn, whereupon the player determines the race, gender, and the general appearance of their character. As a one-year-old baby, the infant reads a child's book titled You're SPECIAL, where the player can set the character's starting S.P.E.C.I.A.L. primary attributes: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. The character gains a set of Skills with base levels determined by these attributes. At age 10, the character obtains a Pip-Boy, a computerized wristwatch which allows the player to access a menu with statistics, maps, data, radio, and other items. The character also obtains their first weapon, a BB gun, which you then use to kill a radroach. At age 16, the character takes the Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test (G.O.A.T.) to determine the three Skills they wish the character to focus on.[6]

    As the character progresses through the game, experience points are earned that are used to achieve levels of accomplishment. Upon achieving a new level, the player receives a set of skill points that can be assigned to improve any of the Skill percentages. For instance, increasing the lock pick skill grants the player the ability to pick harder locks to unlock doors and supply crates. A Perk is granted at each level, which offers advantages of varying quality and form. Many Perks have a set of prerequisites that must be satisfied, and new Perks are unlocked every two levels.[6]

    An important statistic tracked in the game is karma. Each character has an aggregate amount of karma that can be affected by the decisions and actions made in the game. Positive karmic actions include freeing captives and helping others. Negative karmic actions include killing good characters and stealing. Beyond acting as flavor for the game's events, karma can have tangible effects to the player, primarily affecting the game's ending. Other effects include altered dialogue with non-player characters (NPCs), or unique reactions from other characters. Actions vary in the level of karma change they cause; thus, pickpocketing produces less negative karma than the killing of a good character. 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. Some Perks require specific karma levels.[7]

    Health and weapons

    Health is separated into two types: general and limb. General health is the primary damage bar, and the player will die if it is depleted. Limb health is specific to each portion of the body, namely the arms, legs, head, and torso. Non-human enemies will sometimes have additional appendages. When a limb's health bar is depleted, that limb is rendered "crippled" and induces a negative status effect, such as blurred vision from a crippled head or reduced movement speed from a crippled leg. Health is diminished when damage is taken from being attacked, falling from great distances, or accidental self injury. General health can be replenished by sleeping, using medical equipment (stimpaks), eating food, or drinking water. Limbs can be healed directly by injecting them with stimpaks, by sleeping, or by being healed by a doctor.[8] Along with the health, there are 20 bobbleheads that can be found throughout the game that will give the player bonuses to attributes and skills. Each bobblehead is an iconic Vault Boy figurine in a different pose. Three of them have to be found in different time periods in the gameplay; otherwise they will be lost.[9]

    There are secondary health factors that can affect performance. Chief among these is radiation poisoning: most food is irradiated to a small degree, and parts of the world have varying levels of background radiation. As the player is exposed to radiation, it builds up, causing negative effects and eventually death if left untreated. Radiation sickness must be healed by special medicine named Rad Away or by visiting one of the Wasteland's doctors. Radiation can be prevented by the use of Rad-X which increases radiation resistance. The player can become addicted to drugs and alcohol, and then go through withdrawal symptoms if denied those substances. Both afflictions can blur the player's vision for a few seconds and have a negative effect on SPECIAL attributes until the problem is corrected.[10]

    Items can become degraded and become less effective. Firearms do less damage and may jam during reloading, and apparel becomes gradually less protective.[11] This will eventually result in the item breaking altogether. Items can be repaired for a price from special vendors, or, when the player has two of the same item (or a comparable item), one can be repaired using salvage parts from the other. Players have the option to create their own weaponry using various scavenged items found in the wasteland. These items can only be created at workbenches, and only if the player possesses the necessary schematics or Perk. These weapons usually possess significant advantages over other weapons of their type. Each schematic has three copies that can be found. Each copy improves the condition (or number) of items produced at the workbench. 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.[12]


    File:Fallout 3 V.A.T.S. Screen.PNG
    V.A.T.S. shown being used. Real-time action is stopped and the player can see the probability of hitting each enemy body part through percentage ratio.

    The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or V.A.T.S., plays an important part in combat. 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", creating a combat system that the Bethesda developers have described as a hybrid between timeturn-based and real-time combat. Various actions cost action points, limiting the actions of each combatant during a turn, and the player can target specific body areas for attacks to inflict specific injuries; head shots can be used for quick kills or blinding, legs can be targeted to slow enemies' movements, opponents can be disarmed by shooting at their weapons, and players can drive certain enemies into a berserker rage by shooting out things like antennae on various overgrown insects and combat inhibitors on armored robots. However, the use of V.A.T.S. also 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. Each body part has a percentage of hit chance, and generally the closer the player character is to an enemy the higher that percentage. The higher level the character using V.A.T.S is, the more likely that character will hit their enemy.[13]


    The player can have a maximum party of three consisting of the player's character, a dog named Dogmeat, and a single non-player character (NPC). Dogmeat can be killed during the game if the player misuses him or places him in a severely dangerous situationa;[14][15] it is possible to not encounter Dogmeat at all depending on how the game is played.[16] One other NPC can travel with the player at any time, and in order to get another NPC to travel, the first one must be dismissed (either voluntarily by the player or as a consequence of other events) or die in combat.
    a In the "Broken Steel" DLC, the level 22 perk "Puppies!" allows the player to gain a puppy if Dogmeat dies.



    The desolate area of the Capital Wasteland, where Fallout 3 takes place.

    Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, 200 years after a war over resources that ended in nuclear holocaust in 2077. The setting is a post-apocalyptic retro-future, covering a region that includes Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland.[17] 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. The area that the game is set in, known in-game as the Capital Wasteland, holds a number of small settlements of the descendants of survivors from the Great War. Many inhabitants were killed during the nuclear holocaust and the Wasteland is now little more than a barren land nearly devoid of healthy water, food, plant and animal life due to the extreme radiation levels. However, there is a small settlement in the north part of the Capital Wasteland where plant life is abundant.[18]

    The player begins the game inside Vault 101, where they were raised, before escaping out into the Capital Wasteland and facing its many dangers. The Capital Wasteland is home to a number of mutated species of creatures such as two-headed cattle called Brahmin, radscorpions, molerats, and mirelurks. Many of these creatures are generally hostile to the player and will attack on sight. The Wasteland and the city proper is home to several hostile groups, including super mutants, feral ghouls, raiders, slavers, mercenaries, and robots. Of note are the various Vaults—underground structures designed as shelters to protect inhabitants from the dangers of nuclear war (and also for more sinister purposes). In the Washington, D.C. area, many of the roads are blocked off with giant piles of rubble. The player can navigate around the city using a system of underground metro tunnels that connect with other locations (loosely based on the real-life Washington Metro).[19]

    The game takes place in an alternate version of history that sees the 1940s' and 1950s' aesthetics, design and technology advance in the directions imagined at the time. The resulting universe is thus a retro-futuristic one, where the technology has evolved enough to produce laser weapons, manipulate genes and create nearly-autonomous artificial intelligence, but all within the confines of 1950s' solutions like the widespread use of atomic power and vacuum tubes, as well as having the integrated circuitry of the digital age. The architecture, advertisements and general living styles are also depicted to be largely unchanged since the 1950s, while including contemporary products, such as a robotic rocking horse for children in one advertisement, or posters for the underground vaults that play a central role in the storyline of the game.


    The introductory sequence introduces the player to their character's father, James, a doctor and scientist in Vault 101. James frequently makes comments about the player character's deceased mother Catherine, and her favorite Bible passage, Revelation 21:6, which speaks of "the waters of life".

    The main quest begins 19 years later, after the player is forced to flee Vault 101 when James leaves the vault, throwing it into anarchy and causing the paranoid Overseer, the leader of the Vault, to send his security force after the player. The search for James takes the character on a journey through the Wasteland, first to the nearby town of Megaton, named for the undetonated atomic bomb at the center of town, then the Galaxy News Radio station, whose enthusiastic DJ Three Dog gives the player the moniker of "The Lone Wanderer". The player travels to Rivet City, a derelict aircraft carrier now serving as a fortified human settlement. Here the player meets Doctor Li, a scientist who worked alongside the player's father. Doctor Li informs the player of Project Purity, a plan conceived by Catherine and James 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. However, continued delays and Catherine's death during childbirth put an end to the project, and James took the player's character as a newborn to raise them in the safety of Vault 101.

    After investigating the Jefferson Memorial, the Lone Wanderer tracks James to Vault 112, and frees him from a virtual reality program being run by the Vault's sadistic Overseer, Dr. Braun. James and the player return to Rivet City, and James reveals he sought out Braun for information on the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.), a device that contains the components needed to finally activate Project Purity. James and Doctor Li lead a team of Rivet City scientists to the memorial with intent to restart the project, but the memorial is invaded by the Enclave, a powerful military organization formed from the remnants of the pre-War United States government. James floods the project's control room with radiation to stop the Enclave military leader, Colonel Augustus Autumn, from taking control of it, killing himself (but Autumn survives), his last words urging his child to run. The Lone Wanderer and Dr. Li flee to the ruins of the Pentagon, now a base for the Brotherhood of Steel and now known as the Citadel. With Project Purity still inoperational even with the Enclave occupying the site, the player travels to Vault 87 to find a G.E.C.K. and finish James's work. The player finds the Vault to be a testing site for the FEV (Forced Evolutionary Virus), and the source of the Super Mutants in the Capital Wasteland. After the player acquires the G.E.C.K., the Wanderer is ambushed by the Enclave and captured.

    At the Enclave base at Raven Rock, the player is freed from their cell by the Enclave leader, President John Henry Eden, who requests a private audience with them. En route to his office however, Colonel Autumn defies Eden's orders and takes command of the Enclave military, ordering them to kill the player. Fighting their way to Eden's office, the player discovers Eden is actually a sentient ZAX series supercomputer who took control of the Enclave after their defeat in Fallout 2 on the West Coast thirty years ago. Eden wishes to repeat the plan of then-President Dick Richardson using Project Purity, infecting the water with a modified strain of FEV that will make it toxic to any mutated life. This plan will kill most life in the wasteland including humans, but the Enclave, due to their genetic "purity" as a result of their isolation, will be immune and free to take control of the area. The Wanderer, provided with a sample of the new F.E.V., is given a choice to either leave peacefully or convince Eden to self-destruct the entire base. The Lone Wanderer escapes Raven Rock and returns to the Citadel.

    With the knowledge they possess, the G.E.C.K. and the means to activate Project Purity, the Brotherhood assault the Jefferson Memorial, spearheaded by a giant robot named Liberty Prime. In the control room of Project Purity the player confronts Colonel Autumn, and has the choice to persuade him to give up or kill him. Dr. Li informs the player that the purifier is ready to be activated, but the activation code must be input manually, and also that the control room is flooded with lethal amounts of radiation. The Lone Wanderer is forced to choose between sending Sarah Lyons of the Brotherhood inside the extremely irradiated purifier or entering themselves. Whoever enters into the chamber inputs the code hinted at throughout the game, that being 21:6, and dies from a radiation spike.

    If the "Broken Steel" DLC is installed, the player survives if they activate it themselves, but they also have the option of sending one of their radiation-immune companions to enter the code and start the purifier with no casualties. The player also has the possibility to enter the F.E.V. sample into the water prior to activation, having adverse post-ending effects on the game's side quests.


    Interplay Entertainment

    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.[20] Bethesda's Fallout 3, however, was developed from scratch, using neither Van Buren code, nor any other materials created by Black Isle Studios.[21] In May 2007, a playable technology demo of the canceled project was released to the public.[22]

    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."[23]

    Bethesda Softworks

    Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3 booth at the Games Convention 2008

    Bethesda Softworks started working on Fallout 3 in July 2004,[24] but principal development did not begin until after The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its related extras and plug ins were completed.[25] Bethesda Softworks decided to make Fallout 3 similar to the previous two games, focusing on 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,[1] and was developed by the team responsible for that game.[26] Liam Neeson was cast as the voice of the player's father.[27]

    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.[26] Following a statement made by Pete Hines that the team wanted to make the game a "multiple platform title",[28] the game was announced by Game Informer to be in development for Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.[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.[15] 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, 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.[29]


    Several actors of film and video games lent their voices to Fallout 3, including Liam Neeson as James,[27] 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.[30] The soundtrack of the game included artists such as Roy Brown, Billie Holiday, Billy Munn, Cole Porter, and Bob Crosby.[31]

    Marketing and release

    "Prepare for the Future" promotional campaign at the Metro Center station in Washington, D.C.


    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.[32] When the countdown finished, the site hosted the first teaser trailer for the game, and unveiled a release date of "Fall 2008".[33]

    On June 5, 2007, Bethesda released the Fallout 3 teaser trailer.[34] 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.[35]

    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.[36] 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.[37]

    Film festival

    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.[38]

    Retail versions

    Features Edition
    Standard Collector's Limited Survival Game of the Year
    Game disc & manual Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Bonus DVD No Yes No Yes No
    Concept artbook No Yes No Yes No
    Vault Boy Bobblehead No Yes No Yes No
    Lunchbox case No Yes No Yes No
    Power Armor figurine No No Yes No No
    PIP-Boy 3000 clock No No No Yes No
    Downloadable content No No No No Yes

    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.[39] In Australia, the Collector's Edition is exclusive to Gametraders and EB Games.[40]
    • 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.[39] The Survival Edition is available exclusively from to U.S. customers only.[41]
    • 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.[42] It was made available on Steam on December 17, 2009.[43]

    An Xbox 360 version of Fallout 3 and Oblivion double pack was announced for release in North America on April 3.[44]

    Downloadable content

    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.[45][46][47] 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.[48]

    Originally, there was no downloadable content announced for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.[45] 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.[46] 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."[49] 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.[50]

    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.[51][52][53] 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.[54][55]



    Aggregate score
    Aggregator Score
    Metacritic 93/100 (X360)[69]
    91/100 (PC)[70]
    90/100 (PS3)[71]
    Review scores
    Publication Score A[56]
    Edge 7/10[57]
    EGM A, B+, A+[58]
    Eurogamer 10/10[59]
    Famitsu 38/40[60]
    Game Informer 9.5/10[61]
    GameSpot 9/10 (X360/PC)[62][63]
    8.5/10 (PS3)[64]
    GameSpy 5/5 stars[6]
    IGN 9.6/10 (X360/PC)[65]
    9.4/10 (PS3)[66]
    OXM 10/10[67]
    PC Gamer (US) 91%[68]
    Publication Award
    9th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards Game of the Year 2008[72]
    Best Writing[72]
    IGN Best of 2008[73] Game of the Year 2008[74]
    Best Xbox 360 Game[75]
    Best RPG[76]
    Best Use of Sound[76]
    GameSpot Best of 2008 Best PC Game[76]
    Best RPG[76]
    Golden Joystick Award 2009 Ultimate Game of the Year 2009[77]
    PC Game of the Year 2009[77]

    Fallout 3 received "universal acclaim", according to video game review aggregator Metacritic.[69][70][71]'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".[56] 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".[65] 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".[78] Will Tuttle of GameSpy commended the game for its "engaging storyline, impeccable presentation, and hundreds of hours of addictive gameplay".[79] 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".[80]

    Some criticisms were the bugs in regards to the physics and crashes—some of which broke quests and even prevented progression.[65] The AI and stiff character animations are another common point of criticism,[81][82][83] as is the ending.[81][84] 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".[57]


    From its release in October through the end of 2008, Fallout 3 shipped over 4.7 million units.[85] According to NPD Group the Xbox 360 version has sold 1.14 million units and the PlayStation 3 version has sold 552,000 units as of January 2009.[86] The Xbox 360 version was the 14th best-selling game of December 2008 in the United States, while the PlayStation 3 version was the eighth best-selling PlayStation 3 game in that region and month.[87] Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, a market research firm, estimates that the game has sold 12.4 million copies worldwide.[88]

    Fallout 3 was one of the most played titles in Xbox Live in 2009, and Games for Windows – Live in 2009, 2011 and 2012.[89][90][91]


    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.[92][93] 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.[94] Game Critics Awards gave the game "Best Role-Playing Game" and "Best of Show" for E3 2008.[95]

    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."[72] It was also awarded "Game of the Year" by IGN,[74] GamesRadar,[96] GameSpy,[97] UGO Networks,[98] Gamasutra[99] and the Golden Joystick Awards.[77] The game also won "Xbox 360 Game of the Year" from Official Xbox Magazine,[76] GameSpy[76] and IGN,[75] while winning "PC Game of the Year" from GamePro,[100] GameSpy,[101] GameTrailers[102] and GameSpot,[76] with the latter two also awarding it "Best RPG."[76][103]

    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[104] and seventh overall game of the decade.[105] 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."[106] That same year, G4tv ranked it as the 75th top video game of all time.[107]

    Technical issues

    Shortly before the game's release, IGN posted a review of the game citing numerous bugs and crashes in the PlayStation 3 release.[108] 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.[108] The IGN review was edited shortly thereafter, removing all references to the PS3 version's bugs, causing controversy in the PlayStation communities.[108][109] 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.[110][111] Even IGN retroactively cited bugs with the original release, as well as the Game of the Year edition, calling it "a fantastic game", but warning players to "be aware that you might have to deal with some crashes and bugs".[112]

    Controversy and fandom

    [Fallout 3] is not a Fallout game. It's not even a game inspired by Fallout, as I had hoped. It's a game that contains a loose assortment of familiar Fallout concepts and names ... Electricity, pre-war electronic equipment, powered and still working computers (just think about that for a second), working cola & snack machines, weapons, ammo, scrap metal (needed by many), and even unlooted first aid boxes are everywhere.

    —Vince D. Weller, long-time No Mutants Allowed member, former RPG news site director, and lead developer of The Age of Decadence[113][114]

    Not all fans are happy with the direction the Fallout series has taken since its acquisition by Bethesda Softworks. Notorious for their vitriolic support of the series' first two games, Fallout and Fallout 2,[115][116] members centered around one of the oldest Fallout fansites, No Mutants Allowed, have cried foul over departures from the original games' stories, gameplay mechanics and setting.[116] Minor criticisms include the prevalence of unspoiled food after 200 years, the survival of wood-framed dwellings following a nuclear blast, and the ubiquitousness of Super Mutants at early levels in the game.[116] More serious criticisms involve the quality of the game's writing, a perceived lack of verisimilitude, the switch to a first-person action game format, and the reactiveness of the surrounding game world to player actions.[116][117][118] 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.[113] 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.[116]

    Regional variations

    Drug references

    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.[119][120] 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".[121]

    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.[119][122] 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.[123]

    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".[124]

    Release in India

    On October 22, 2008, Microsoft announced that the game would not be released in India on the Xbox 360 platform.[125] 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."[126] 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.[127]

    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.[128] 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.[128][129] 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 got an Adult Only Rating.[130]


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