Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fallout Frustrations

The final comic from Penny-Arcade's contribution to Fallout 3 promotions. I'll own up to the fact I didn't play the original Fallout 1 and 2. I wasn't much of an adventure gamer, I spent most of my early years in the Eastern market playing the (at the time) Squaresoft and Capcom titles. However, I know the worlds they are set in, and anything post-apocalyptic is my bread and butter.

Fallout 3 is a great game with very strong connections to it's adventure/RPG roots. However, there are still crippling game design problems that drive me batty when trying to play it:

Loading/Saving features are a fundamental game design problem, strongly evident in many RPG, FPS and Action/Adventure titles. While the two latter genres have (somewhat successfully) overcome this problem with checkpointing and crafty level design, non-linear RPGs have a much tougher time. I'm against gamers quicksaving/loading to ensure a perfect performance yes (because of the disconnect with immersion), but I am for putting a certain degree of freedom in the gamer's hands because no game can have a perfectly shaped experience. It's very dangerous territory to tread.

I certainly don't enjoy being forced to live with certain consequences, because I love to experiment with certain actions. But, I really hate being punished by losing an hour or two of progress because I simply forgot to dislodge myself from the immersive grasp of the game and hit a few arbitrary buttons in the main menu.

Console FPS Controls
This problem mainly applies to the xBox 360 version

I'm deeply afraid of the day those kids that were raised on Halo using sticks, will beat out the ones raised on Counter Strike. First person shooters on the console (using dual-analog sticks) are tricky to play, especially for newcomers. A lot of tricks and "hacks" have been put in games to assist players such as adding camera decay or auto-aim features. Unfortunately, Fallout 3 has nothing of the sort, at least not that I've seen.

It's very frustrating to not be able to shoot a guy hitting you with a bat because you can't put a reticle over top of him, whereas in real-life you would just point for the nether regions and unload. The shooting controls are clunky and annoying and just not that fun, especially for a game that puts combat fairly high up on the feature list.

Maybe I should just get the game for PC?

I love the atmosphere and world that Fallout is set in, there's just so much in the way of me actually connecting with it, and enjoying it.

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