I am a spoiled gamer. For the past few weeks I have done little but play videogames and write about them; in between deciding that I don’t want to pursue a PhD and career as a life-long student, of course. However, that is not exactly what has spoiled me.
I’ve been playing Fallout 3 for the past two days (pretty much to the exclusion of all else) and while it’s certainly a lot of fun, by my reckoning it seems weirdly perverse to award the game a 10 out of 10 score, as a number of outlets have. I can’t help but wonder if these reviewers were even playing the same version of the game as me. A 10/10 game you expect to be polished to perfection and bug free. Fallout 3 is not. A 10/10 game you expect to push gaming conventions forward in new and unexplored directions. Fallout 3 largely does not. Finally, a 10/10 game you expect to be as good or better in every respect to other, lesser scored games of a similar vintage and again, I cannot help resist making certain comparisons that say Fallout 3 is not.
The main thing that I find particularly hard to swallow, amplified a hundred fold by the fact that the last game I played was Far Cry 2, is the sense of embodiment in the world. Far Cry, in this respect, is the more truly Next-Gen game in my opinion, and I discussed how a sense of embodiment is one of its greatest achievements in a previous post. While there are obviously other areas of the game that are less inspired, the importance of what Hocking and his team have achieved in giving you a sense of body, I believe, cannot be over emphasized.
So comparatively Fallout from the moment you begin feels different. Ignoring the fact that I had an audio bug during the intro video which obscured the voice-over behind some static noise (10/10? Really?), your character’s movements in Fallout seem like a direct rip from Oblivion. While Far Cry 2 goes to extraordinary effort to animate and portray you as a character to the best of current technical limitations, Fallout 3 reflects a character design aesthetic stuck in yester-year that doesn’t seem to mind stilted and jerky animations. It was fine in 2006 that your character slid around the world on somewhat greasy shoes, but in 2008 (nearly 2009 now!) haven’t we come a bit further? I’m by no means the only person to pick up on this aspect of the game, notably Alec Meer in his (in my mind much more clear-headed review of Fallout) noted some very real issues with the game and scored it much more appropriately, giving it an 8.8. Additionally, I was linked to a piece on Boing Boing Gadgets by friend of SLRC, Aandnota, that described an encounter with a prostitute, saying:
The prostitute NPC mutely follows you up to your room and lies down on the bed beside you like a fetal lump. You then get to sleep on the bed beside her. And that's it. The next morning, you wake up, and she patrol-puppets out without a word.
After experiencing Far Cry 2 in all its whacky, embodied insanity I am now spoiled for a sense of physical connection to my character. If Kieron Gillen is right, and Far Cry 2 follows a similar trajectory of influence to the original Half-Life, it will probably be two to three years before we see games directly ripping-off its focus on a sense of body. Which somewhat saddens me because I think a Bethesda-style RPG with Far Cry’s animation and determination to be grounded in the world would be an absolutely KILLER combo. I hear all the time people saying that they just wanted a tiny bit less of being always on the run in Far Cry and maybe a little bit more of some RPG elements, like a heightened sense of factions. Traditionally, these things could be sorted by fan made modifications, however it’s been stated that there will be no modding tools for Far Cry 2. What I wouldn’t give to see that change.
Ah well, a guy can dream, right?
 See, http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/fallout3 - The list includes 1up.com, Eurogamer, Gamespy, GameRevolution, G4TV, Thunderbolt, and LEVEL.
 See http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/10/28/attack-of-the-fallout-3-reviews/ for a quick summary and a link to the full text.
 John Brownlee, “Fallout 3, or "Why can't