You know it’s funny. This blogpost was originally going to be a rant on the crappyness of Red Alert 3 and an ode to Fallout 3 and suddenly we have a case of role-reversal. How did that happen? Read on…
I bought Fallout 3 and RA3 within two days of each other. I started with Fallout 3, took a break to get a taste of RA3, was horrified, went back to Fallout 3, got dissapointed, went back to RA3 and had a blast. I know, no one was more surprised than myself. But I think I’ve got it figured out.
You see RA3 never tries to be revolutionary. It is what it is: a very decent, well-oiled RTS with corny cutscenes, over the top units, decent graphics and a potent multiplayer aspect. Fallout 3 on the other hand (like any Bethesda game in the last couple of years) tries to be a vast open world shooter/RPG with killer graphics and a gripping storyline and just fails.
Fallout 3 seems great on the outset, but just like Oblivion, the more time you spend with it, the more you discover lots of tiny flaws that just keep you from playing more.
To name but a few: the engine (Gamebryo) hasn’t gotten any stabler, the voice-cast, while expanded, is still way to limited (Bethesda should take a page out of Bioware’s book), quest progression is buggy, the NPC AI more than often sends random characters into the wild and usually to their deaths, the conversation system is archaic and often assumes you did something in the game that in actuality you skipped, etc, etc. Anyone of these on their own wouldn’t be a problem, but put them all together and you’ve got issues.
That being said, this isn’t a bad game. The story is decent, there are a few genuinely cool moments (blowing up Megaton anyone ?) and the music and in-game radio stations are great. The few notable voice actors (Liam Neeson and Malcom McDowel) deliver their lines well and the item system and Pip-Boy interface just work. This game has also gotten me excited about playing Fallout 1 & 2 via GOG.com in the future. I like the setting, the atmosphere, the ambiance.
Red Alert 3 is a completely different beast. Sure it has it’s flaws: the cutscenes (particularly those in the Allied campaign) are cheesy and just bad, the game has gone as far from the C&C franchise and storyline as it possible can, it rehashes quite a bit from previous Red Alert titles and the graphics, while decent, don’t blow you out of the water. The toll this game takes on your pc is also way too big for the graphics you get in return. It doesn’t look all that different from C&C 3, but while I can run Tiberium Wars at max settings, RA3 forces me to turn a couple of things down.
Yet you forgive all that when you get into the actual game. The co-op, even when playing with an AI, really works quite well, the units are a lot of fun (King Oni’s rule) and the support powers and superweapons are just plain cool. How often can you send a squadron of aircraft kamikaze-style into an enemy factory, or how amazing is dropping a satellite on enemy troops?
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that these are two very different games, with very different goals and made for very different players. Neither is bad but both have their flaws. It’s up to you to decide which ones you’ll forgive.