I picked up Fallout 3 last week because, y’know, it’s supposed to be pretty good. I even have friends that loved the first two, so what could go wrong? Well, I struggled through the first few hours, and then came to a conclusion: I pretty much hate this game. Don’t take this to mean it’s a bad game! I just had issues with it that others may not.
In theory, the setting sounded cool; in reality, it was the epitome of the tired “next gen graphics = brown and grey” joke. The thing I was looking forward to most, the dialogue, was long-winded and buried me with trivial options. Hearing stories about, say, blowing up a town if I wanted sounded cool when I heard about it –- but in practice, all I really did in those moments was shrug my shoulders and say, “Oh.” In short: there was a lot of great stuff if you were on the right wavelength, but I personally wasn’t having fun. It just wasn’t for me.
[[image: ar_110408_fallout_01.jpg:Next gen. Now with more brown.:center:0]]
After I realized this, though, I kept playing, kept trying to find that one crucial thing that would click and make me like it. Eventually, though, I had to admit defeat and do a bit of soul-searching: if I didn’t want to play, why I would do that to myself? The answer I came up with: Fallout 3 is supposed to be one of the best games of the year, and I’m definitely a gaming enthusiast, so I’m supposed to like it. That’s it.
I think the root of the problem stems from growing up playing games in the NES/SNES era. Back then, every “major” release was well-documented, thanks to Nintendo Power and the like; the only limiting factor was money. Year after year, it was pounded into my head that I should play the coolest games that came out, and since I was a little kid, I certainly had the time to. These days, however, gaming has ballooned to allow for a much wider variety of AAA titles, and publishers have refined their techniques so they can better serve whatever slice of the gamer pie they’re trying to please, resulting in a huge number of games that are probably pretty good — if not for everyone, then at least for the targeted audience.
Unfortunately, that nagging voice in the back of my head still tells me to play the best of the best every year, even though I’m convinced I would be better suited to some of the less-hyped niche titles. The last time I was completely hoodwinked by that voice was Portrait of Ruin; I’d decided I was burnt out on Castlevania for awhile, but the impressive preorder packaged managed to snake away my money anyway. Fallout 3 was the first time hype alone has managed to get me, though, and that truly scares me.
[[image: ar_110408_fallout_02.jpg:Next gen. Now with more gray.:center:0]]
Long story short, I managed to return Fallout 3, and I cancelled a preorder or two on a couple other games I wasn’t really sure about to boot. I’ve already gotten the games I was looking forward to most -– that looked the most fun — this holiday season, so with one or two exceptions, my wallet and I should both be a lot happier. It seems like a no-brainer, but I guess the moral of the story is: there’s plenty of great stuff to go around, so make sure you buy what you want, and not what you probably should.