I’ve written and deleted at least 9 opening paragraphs to my Fallout 3 review, each entailing and praising a different aspect of the game which I believe, without question, to be the game of the 2008. Throughout this game you do more than just push buttons and read text; you make decisions, you struggle to survive, you build relationships, friendships, a house, you save and destroy those who have nothing and everything, and you build a future for the world you want to call home among everything else. And the best part of it, you don’t have to do any of this. You want to. Information: Developer: Bethesda Game Studios Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Players: 1 Genre: Adventure/RPG/Shooter (3rd and 1st) Rating: ESRB: M Release Date: October 28, 2008 Truth be told, “A game of choice” describes Fallout 3 poorly. Not the choice aspect of the game per say, because it has it, but more so the “game” part of the phrase. Sure, when you break it down it is a “game”. However, it isn’t just a “game”. Fallout 3 is an experience of growing up, of making decisions, of building relationships, of finding out who you truly are. You have to remember, throughout the game and the review that you aren’t playing some other character, you’re playing yourself, and because of that you, as I and others, feel for what happens to other characters throughout the game, and there is a lot to feel about. This ”game” has to begin and take place somewhere though, and for Fallout 3 that place is in a devastated Washington D.C. where each and every day the homeless citizens fight for survival. Truly, in a place where America today smiles at the sight of progress and democracy there is only now chaos and death. History, importance, landmarks,… they are all just dust in the wind. And that’s all you see when you step out of your protective Vault 101 (A safe house you lived in your whole life and never went out of). No grass, no water, no signs of life. Without looking back, you begin your journey into hell. Going back isn’t an option either. You’ve been chased out by the Overseer, the first of the many people you will meet who are corrupted with money and power. So onward, like during most parts of the game, you must go forward like Frodo and Sam. However, in the entire DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area you must partake on a journey find your Dad and find out what happened that made him leave. Your journey may be one in which you care very little for people, blowing up towns here and there, killing merchants to watch their heads fly off. Or, your journey will be a heroic one, one that will inspire people to act like you and to create the glory that D.C. once was. It can even be a short one, one beaten easily in a week. Or, it can be a long one in which you find characters and experience things that reminds you why we love gaming in the first place. The story, however, I won’t reveal beyond what I said. Fallout 3 allows you to experience so many wonderful and dreadful things, and I refuse to take away those experiences which has made this game one of the best in all of gaming history. You level up in Fallout 3 by gaining enough experience. This experience may come from killing, lock picking doors (a skill needed throughout the game), hacking computers (a very unique part of the game), or completing missions. Upon gaining up a level you are given the choice of what "S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Stats," (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) to upgrade. Each one affecting what kind of perk you can pick which will also affect your experience in the game—especially due to the fact that you can only grow so many levels. I feel it’s important to mention though, regarding gaining experience, that this can leave either a negative or positive effect on you depending if you want to be good or evil. At certain parts of the game you may have to blow up a town, in another you may have to save a boy’s father from giant fire-breathing ants (I hate those so much…I killed every last one with such anger)! Completing both of these both have different affects on your Karma. Depending on your Karma certain things will be blocked from you and certain things will be allowed. I wasn’t lying when I said Fallout 3 is a game of choice. As you do wonder through the Wasteland and make decisions effecting your Karma you’ll probably listen to the radio. Although there are 2 radio stations, you will find yourself listening to the one run by 3Dog the most as the other one is a creepy guy saying he is President over and over again. On 3Dog’s station though, instead of him just talking, is 1940’s music. Sweet, sweet 1940’s music. While exploring the wasteland you will find yourself listening to music that seems alien to you but is actually only part of the not-so-distant past. Unique from every game I’ve ever played I found myself becoming a fan of the music as it became the one constant that I could hold onto throughout the game. Indeed, whether your hunting Super Mutants, or being hunted, with a hunting rifle, fighting off Raiders, chopping to bits fire-breathing ants ( :| ), and even nuking Behemoths off the face of the Earth this music will be the one thing that brings these moments all together. For that reason alone Fallout 3 has one of the best soundtracks I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. The image you see above is something you will see very often throughout the game. By pressing one button on the very simple and comfortable controls you will bring up this screen. With it, the game pauses as you choose where to attack whether it be with your sniper, handgun, or even baseball bat. The percentages tell you the chance of hitting it and the red health bar shows how much you’ll take off. While you don’t need to use this system and can shoot freely, whether that be 1st or 3rd person which can be changed on a whim throughout the game, you will find this something you wish every game had. Even if it seems weird at first it will grow on you, trust me. (Not to mention the graphics of Fallout 3.) You see, graphically this game too takes some getting used to. Everything is grim—there is very little vibrant color. However, after playing for a bit you’ll realize that although the graphics may be somewhat choppy they are unique and fantastic throughout the very large game, especially along with the voice acting which brings characters to life in a way that makes them seem almost real. Again, I repeat, Fallout 3 is the best game of 2008. I said it in the first paragraph and now I’m saying it in the last. There’s no beating around the bush with this one. Fallout 3 is the closest thing to virtual reality that we have. I have never felt so strongly for every decision I made about people who don’t truly exist. Not once have I been able to talk so long about what decisions I and another person made at this point and the next. Never before have I spent days exploring the vast, horrific and beautiful Wasteland because it was a fun, relaxing, soothing, and frightful adventure. What I'm trying to say is, everything I did in Fallout 3 wasn't because I had to. In fact, I didn't have to do anything, I wanted to because I loved to. Simple and blunt, Fallout 3 has everything you could want. If you haven’t played it you are missing a piece of you only Fallout 3 will bring you. For all the reasons I have said, Fallout 3 receives a 10/10.