Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Silverdale, WA USA
The first two fallouts take place on the west coast, Fallout 3 takes place on the east coast and quite a bit of time has passed as well, so anything from the first two that you need to know is told to you in Fallout 3. Playing the first two will get you "into" the world of Fallout, which is honestly a really well put together, amazing world. So you should seek the experience from the first two, but don't let not having played them keep you from just firing up 3. I do highly recommend playing Fallout 1 before 2 though as they do tie together.
About Fallout 3 though... I may be the odd man out, but I really didn't think Oblivion was so amazing. It had some good graphics, and the size of the world was a pretty big wow factor for me, but once I started getting my own houses, killing things, etc., etc. I just had a hard time holding onto the core storyline. It was like the immensity of the world kept dragging me from it. Fallout 3 doesn't quite play out that way for me, which is why I love it.
Fallout 3's main quest is pretty straightforward, its all about your dad. I won't throw in any spoilers here, so don't worry. The quest takes you to several places where you learn about more quests and options that can help you become a better wastelander. The really nice thing is that despite the fact you might get sidetracked trying to help some slaves rebuild lincoln's memorial or you're debating blowing up that nuke the town was built around, many times the dialogue with people will lead you back to the main quest, fortunately not in an annoying way.
The world is truly free roam. If you run afoul of a couple deathclaws cause you went into the wrong cave, or an enclave patrol stumbles across you, well needless to say if you're not ready for it, it won't take long for you to find out. The world moves beyond you, there are roaming patrols, creatures move from area to area, its really pretty dynamic. The game does have a linearity to it though that will be hard to escape. For instance in DC, I felt many times like the rubble in my way should have been easily scaleable, but the designers felt otherwise and I was forced into one of the very many subway systems to get to the next area I wanted to go to, which leads to some frustration sometimes. Also, there are occasions in combat where things can get pretty hot and heavy, and the game really shines there, cars exploding around you, blood flying on your screen, sounds are dulled from the shockwave and you're trying to gun down that super mutie with a gatling gun. Very exciting.
The dialogue was really well written and the actors mentioned above did a great job, particularly McDowell. The side quests are excellent as well, very well thought out for the Fallout world though occasionally a bit predictable, which fortunately the game uses for some comedic moments. A radio dish has been broken and ironically another dish can be found, you get pegged to go get it, and the dialogue reflects that irony well with humour about "Let me guess, you want me to get that for you?" The game achieves a realism through dialogue because your character can be any number of different personalities.
Anyway, there are some bugs in the game that are pretty hard to get around, but there is a thread on the bethsoft forums that is the official thread for fixing game breaking bugs as best we can, many solutions for people have been found there if they're having problems. I personally never really hit any problems that were not my own comps fault, but thats just me. I've played the game from start to finish, and like some others, felt the ending was forced on me, and am somewhat disappointed by it, but such is life, it was still half decent and I'm working on my next playthrough to experience a different ending. This game isn't to be missed though, they obviously put a lot of hard work into it. The overall feeling is that they created this with alot of care and thought as well as respect for the first two games and made it into something new, which I'm ok with. Definitely check it out though as its an experience not to be missed.