Archive for the ‘Fallout 3’ Category

I reinstalled Fallout 3 a while back and ran into a “Gotcha!” that prevented the installation from completing. For what it’s worth, here’s the situation and my solution. All I can claim is that it worked on my rig. Your mileage may vary, depending on where you got your game/DLC and in what format.

I purchased Fallout 3 as a digitally distributed version from Direct2Drive (now GameFly). I also purchased all of the DLC as digital distributions, though they are much less of a problem than the game itself. After all of the DLC had been released, I purchased the GOTY edition on optical media, so I’ve got it both ways. I did not purchase from Steam, so Steam users will likely not run into this issue.

Fallout 3 requires Games for Windows Live and it’s installed as part of the basic game installation. However, like Fallout 3, it has gone through a few updates since. The problem is that the 1.7 patch wants an updated version of GFWL or the install will fail. And since the last DLC wants the 1.7 patch, you can’t install it, either.

I used the digitally distributed version of the game rather than messing with no-CD cracks. This might be an issue on the GOTY version, but it’s not likely.

  1. Install Fallout 3
  2. Go get and install the current version of GFWL
  3. Get and install the 1.7 patch (unnecessary if you have the GOTY edition)
  4. Install the DLC

The DLC, if you have them individually, will want to install somewhere other than the game folder. Normally these go into some obscure folder buried deep inside your user profile folders. To find them, just do an advanced search for all .esm files, but makes sure the “hidden files and folders” option is checked. Once found, they can be moved elsewhere for convenience. Each DLC has a couple of .bsa files and an .esm. Broken Steel also has a .bik or two in addition to those.

I prefer to stick the DLC files inside of my Fallout 3\Data folder, but be aware that if you do this you will not be able to get any achievements on GFWL. Since I don’t particularly care about those, moving the DLC to the Data folder was a no-brainer. Just to be safe, make a backup copy of those files (drop ‘em in a .zip or .rar or something) and put them on an external media of some kind so that the next time you need to install, they’ll be accessible.

As I posted a couple of days ago, I decided to take a break from Mass Effect 3 and go back to something that I hadn’t played in quite a while: Fallout 3. FO3 was released by Bethesda Softworks back in October-ish 2008 (memory could be playing tricks on me, but somewhere around that time). The main quest line involved a rather heroic effort to take care of the problem of irradiated water in the DC Wasteland. Since it’s a 3-year-old game, I don’t have a problem spoiling the ending. If playing as a good guy on the released version game, you die at the end.

This set me to thinking about Shepard and the Mass Effect 3 ending and I had to seriously ask myself whether it was Shepard dying that was giving me such heartburn at the end. After some fairly serious soul-searching, I concluded that it was not. In every game of FO3 that I played (and my playing time was easily pushing 1000 hours by the time the “Broken Steel” DLC was released), I never sent another character into the control room to finish the job that I started. Yep, I died – tragically, heroically and frequently and didn’t have a major problem with it.

Just to check that my recollection was accurate, I popped over to Metacritic to glance through the a chunk of the 1300 or so player reviews of the game (it averages 7.8 – professional reviewers averaged 9.1). The comments are very telling. There are only a few gripes about the ending of the game. Granted, I ignored favorable reviews and could easily have overlooked comments like mine on ME3 (“great game, ending sucks”), but even among the unfavorable reviews, there were very few comments about the ending. A big chunk of them were along the lines of “I can’t believe that this game gets so many 10/10 ratings, so I’m giving it a 0”. Another batch took issue with the treatment of the Fallout universe in comparison to FO1 and FO2. And there were the usual complaints about the UI, scripting, inability to complete quests, graphic monotony, and the like. But surprisingly, even though the PC probably dies at the end, not too many gripes about it.

On the Bethesda forums, the complaints were of a similar nature. Although I recall (and this is admittedly faulty memory talking) some very vocal disappointment with the PC dying, the main thrust of the complaints were that [A] if the PC avoided dying, you got painted as the bad guy in the final analysis and [B] if you avoided dying, you could not play beyond the end of the main quest. This was rectified by the “Broken Steel” DLC (3rd DLC and released 6 or 8 months after the initial game release), which basically said “just kidding; you didn’t really die” and let you continue playing after completing the main quest.

So where did Mass Effect 3 drop the ball where Fallout 3 did not? I think it all comes back to the story and the ending of that story. In Fallout 3, your choices in the game have consequences. You generally do not find out about those consequences until the final credits roll, but the final slide-show with Ron Perlman’s voice-over pretty much tells you what happens with each and every major character and companion you dealt with (Fallout: New Vegas did pretty much the same thing – I can’t speak to FO1 and FO2 since I haven’t played them) and how your choices affected them. Mass Effect 3 does not do this. You get to talk to each of your companions one last time before the final push to the Citadel and you’ve got a good idea of what they hope will happen, but nothing after you “push the button”.

Second, in Fallout 3’s ending, there were no major surprises. While it was possible to play an ultra-good guy and send someone else into the control room, or to play an ultra-bad guy and take the hit yourself, your final decision affected only your character. Compare that to ME3 (or even the Deus Ex games) where you decide for everyone. Great, if you’re one of those “king of the universe” kind of characters. Not so hot if you’re one of the “consensus and cooperation” types.

Third, in Fallout 3, all of your choices were known before you ever got to the end. Aside from Eden’s genocidal option, no one showed up at the end to add new information to the mix. No one popped in at the last minute to tell you that everything you thought you knew was wrong. So even if you chose to sacrifice yourself, all of the cards were on the table before you ever got to that decision. This is not the case with Mass Effect 3.

The short version of a summation would have to be that Fallout 3 did everything a story should have done. In playing through it again, there are plenty of spots where stuff doesn’t come off nearly as good today as it did 3 years ago. It’s even to the point where I installed a couple of mods for different radio stations simply because Three Dog was getting on my nerves. But taken as a whole, the story worked pretty well from start to finish; a bit cheesy in places, but it worked. I wish I could say the same for ME3. Perhaps I will be able to say that at some point in the future, perhaps not. But I can definitely say that in the here-and-now it doesn’t work.

While the fiasco with Mass Effect 3’s ending gets sorted out and fixed (or not – jury’s still out on that question), I figured this might be a nice time to go back and fiddle around with Fallout 3. My initial temptation was to simply go purchase it again through Steam (it’s only about $20 for the GOTY edition), but “cheap” overrode “simple” and I went for the DVD that I purchased several years back. Considering that I also have a digital version through Direct2Drive, plus the five DLCs, forking over an extra $20 for the convenience of having it in my Steam library just didn’t seem worth it.

Onward to the DC Wasteland! A much more inviting place than dealing with BioWare at the moment.