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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo Courtesy of Heather Maurer
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‘Fallout’ videogame of the year

Game: Fallout 3

Developer: Bethesda Softworks

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Genre: Role Playing Game

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Players: 1

MSRP: $59.99

ESRB Rating: Mature

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Imagine waking up one morning to find out that your father, the one constant in your life, is gone. You don’t know where he went or why. You grab the few things you can and leave Vault 101, the bunker you’ve lived in your whole life. When you leave, you see for the first time what was once Washington D.C., now reduced to rubble after a nuclear war with China 200 years prior. And as you gaze out across the landscape, you realize just how amazing and twisted this world is.

“Fallout 3,” the latest from famed developer Bethesda Softworks, is a post-apocalyptic role-playing game (RPG). Much like their previous games in the “Elder Scrolls” series, “Fallout” is an open-world RPG, meaning there aren’t any levels and the whole game is open to you at any moment, any time. You can create your character any way you want and play however you wish. The game does have an ending, but the point is to explore the world and interact with its residents however you see fit.

The first thing you’ll notice with “Fallout” is just how big it is. The map is 16 square miles, creating the illusion of a huge, limitless world. Again, this has been a trademark of Bethesda’s previous games. However, those games, like “Morrowind” and “Oblivion,” had large sections that were barren and boring, and they suffered because of it. Thankfully, “Fallout” doesn’t. The world is so rich in detail that you’ll want to see every square inch of it. There is a fast travel system, where you can immediately travel to a location, but you must first have already visited it in order to be instantly transported there. Yet in the 30 plus hours I’ve dedicated to this game, I never once used the fast travel system. The world in the game is just that awesome.

What makes it so amazing is how Bethesda was able to create the feel of a desolate, war-torn world while still making it entertaining. Resources are scarce, and you will often find yourself scouring the land on your way to another town just to find a few bottle caps (the currency in the game) so you can buy health packs when you get there. While this may sound like a chore, it never feels like it. The persistent feeling of survival is what drives the game forward, and it’s executed perfectly.

Perhaps the most intriguing element is the combat. While you could play through the entire game using real-time combat, which works very well, you would be missing out on the Vault Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.), one of the most incredible features implemented into any game this year. V.A.T.S. is really simple – at any time during combat, you can tap a button and pause the action. You can then target individual body parts, with the game showing you your chance to hit as well as how much damage it will do. You can queue up multiple actions, which is governed by your action points (AP). Basically, the more AP you have, the more you can do in V.A.T.S. After you’ve selected your target, the game plays out the action in a cinematic style, slowing down the combat and giving you an up-close and personal account of the carnage. Much like the environment, this never gets boring, and it’s always fun to see the limbs of your opponents go flying across the room. Not only that, but it’s very intuitive and fun to use. The combat in “Fallout” just might be the best combat system in any RPG ever.

It’s rare that a game comes along and delivers so much content in such a polished package. But “Fallout 3” delivers on every level. With so much do to and see, this is a game that will keep you busy for months to come.

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