Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta

On the surface, extra hours of game play for Fallout 3 seems like quite the good thing. I've made three characters so far, two of which reached quite a high level, and, though I haven't yet seen everything, I certainly wouldn't mind a brand new area to explore. As it turns out, though, I won't be finishing Mothership Zeta. Why not? Well, as it turns out, Bethesda seems to have completely missed out on everything that made their game enjoyable in the first place.

Fallout 3 is a game about choices. What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of quests do you want to take? How do you want to accomplish them? Mothership Zeta, on the other hand, is a linier shooter almost entirely devoid of choices and utterly bereft of characters. The story and freedom are as follows: you shoot aliens. The aliens don't speak anything but gibberish, and the woman you're locked in with at the beginning is so bland that she might as well be mute as well. You meet a door opening child that never says anything worth hearing soon enough, and after that all that's left is your meeting with a samurai, a soldier, and a cowboy. Bethesda's certainly proven they can make surprising and quirky characters work, but your only options here are to listen to their generic backstories and then go shoot aliens or to just ignore them and go shoot aliens. My god, the flexibility's astounding!

But alright, maybe it's a good shooter level. I liked the first few Halos, after all. But, of course, it's not a good shooter level. This is Fallout 3, not Halo, and Fallout 3's combat system is, to be blunt about it, rather awful. The selection of weapons is pitiful – you have a shock stick that kills just about everything in one hit, a gun, and a better version of that gun – and there's no variety to be had in the enemies. The level design consists of quasi-identical corridors. The objectives are all of the Kill stuff, go there, and push a button/kill stuff variety.

Mothership Zeta is, essentially, a showcase for the game's combat system that seems to have forgotten that nobody plays Fallout for the combat. I don't think I'm more than halfway through, but, instead of getting farther, I think I'll be loading an earlier save and never going back to the monotonous captivity that is Mothership Zeta.

[And an unrelated note: this week's review will be on Wednesday, due to Strange Horizon's publication schedule]

1 comment:

  1. I concur with your sentiments. Of all the Fallout 3 add-ons, Mothership Zeta was the least interesting for me. Broken Steel at least furthers the story and ups your level cap, and Point Lookout was fairly enjoyable, but MZ, Operation Anchorage, and (to a lesser extent) The Pitt were all rather lacking, in my opinion.

    I would love to play Fallout: New Vegas, but judging by what the internet has to say, I am afraid it would (still) be a bug-ridden exercise in aggravation. I'll probably move on to Red Dead Redemption next, though not for a while.