So, I'm going to come out and say something that won't make me any friends around here. You know those 'stupid trolls', those 'glittering gems of hatred', those people who have the unmitigated gall to be members of No Mutants Allowed and are pretty much universally hated by every single member of the gaming press and every game-related website on the Internet? Yeah, I'm one of those guys. That said, I really enjoyed this game. I wasn't exactly happy with Fallout 3 for a number of reasons I won't go into here, but it did do a lot of things right, and all of those are carried over into this game, along with a lot of improvements. Most of the things FO 3 did wrong have been fixed here, and enough new features have been added that the game feels like its own product rather than just a standalone expansion pack. This is, in many ways, the real Fallout 3. It's not quite Van Buren, but it's the next best thing - we get to see characters and factions we thought we'd never get to meet again, and some we thought we'd never get to meet at all. The world is sensibly designed, with towns placed based on access to resources, strategic location or important natural features rather than just plopped down at random, and all the factions have understandable and realistic motivations for being where they are and doing what they are doing. The writing is a whole order of magnitude better than Fallout 3, and the story is far more engaging - it's also substantially less linear, with a wide number of potential paths and multiple options at each juncture. There is never a point where you're forced to take a certain action by the game, nor a certain skill you need to take to complete it. Speech is still a good all-around skill to take, but every speech check has an alternative means to complete it using a different skill, perk, or stat - often more than one such alternative. I'm running out of words here, so in summary, although the game's not perfect and has its fair share of bugs, it's still a fantastic game. It combines all the best parts of Bethesda's entry to the series with quite a few improvements of its own. Whether you're a Bethesda fan, a Fallout fan, or new to the series altogether, there's a lot to love here.
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