Friday, June 8, 2012

Fallout 3 Mod Review - Alton, IL

Fallout 3 Mod Review - Alton, IL

Score: +5/-5

Summary: New worldspace. Feels too much like the Capital Wasteland.

Why Get This: You like the Capital Wasteland post-apocalypse feel and want to explore more in that environment.

It's sad to say bad things about something when so much work has obviously gone into it, but just because a mod is big doesn't mean it's good. Just because a mod has a lot of fans doesn't mean it's good either (case in point: the severely flawed Oblivion mod Tears of the Fiend). There are basic elements of game and story design that can fail a game or mod by ruining your experience.

The mod isn't particularly bad, either. Overall, my feeling is that it is mediocre, just on a vast scale compared to other mods. Some of that is, obviously, personal opinion. If, for example, you are not bored of the Capital Wasteland ambiance, then this mod lets you continue in that vein, and have some new quests to do. For me, there's a sense of "nothing new to see or do".
++ It's a new worldspace to explore, especially if you have searched through the entire Capital Wasteland already.
+ There are various non-quest-related locations to explore, some of which are laid out quite interestingly.
+ Voiceovers and .BIK movie sequences.
+ Less busy outdoors compared to the Capital Wasteland where you can't run in any direction for more than 15 seconds without having to kill something.
- Quite a bit of the world is essentially cut-and-pasted from Fallout 3 and modified. For example, New Godfrey is a stripped down version of Megaton. This may or may not bother you. For me, there was too much of a sense of familiarity. I didn't download a worldspace mod to see the Capital Wasteland again. This really made me truly realize just how much effort really goes into Fallout 3, where just about every location is very different from every other. They even tried to make each trainstation in Fallout 3 have its own character even though they necessarily all look very much alike.
- Needs more polish (such as doors that can be Activated but do not open; and NPCs that have no dialogue at all when you talk to them). For a large enough worldspace that this mod is, that is a lot of work with very little return since the key aspects of the mod (world and quests) presently work without breaking -- which is more than many smaller mods can say. This made me appreciate all the grunt work that goes into Fallout 3, which is of course very much bigger.
- The story progresses in an implausible way. For example, the Underground Railroad initially distrusts you, so to let you prove yourself, they entrust you with restoring their power? Nevermind that if you were really an enemy, you now know where that is and can sabotage it? A later scene shows just how weakly the story is put together (nicely summarized by this forum post):

Vault overseer guy: "Yeah, so we were like...mistreated and starved and stuff! That's why we butcher loads of people! So join us and help us butcher more people!"

My character: "I MIGHT have been more inclined to help you if you hadn't had a guy bash my face in with a bat before stealing my stuff on two separate occasions. Learn to be diplomatic, moron, and you MIGHT actually make friends."

Vault overseer guy: "OMG! I thought you would be different! :'("

*he leaves you in an easily escapable situation instead of killing you after you said you'd fight for his enemies.*
- You are captured and stripped of gear in a couple of cutscenes. This is only because the script disarmed you. Otherwise you'd have shot back and killed all the baddies. Surely there was another way to present information or have a dialogue with the main bad guy. Instead, the storytellers decide to use one of the most annoying events in roleplaying: Automatic capture of your player character. In this case, it is made even worse by how implausible it is.
- The quests were boring enough that I didn't bother continuing past the choose-your-side scene. Mostly they were go-there-kill-that events which weren't more interesting than encountering some raiders in the Wasteland.

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