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One of the cleverest, best executed games I've played in a long time. The soundtrack is magnificent, the art is beautiful, the gameplay is streamlined, rewarding and skillful.
I have to give credit where credit is due, and Bethesda are to be congratulated on making a worthy follow up to the first two classic Fallout games, with more content in the vanilla version than you could shake a Radscorpion tail at, and especially for making it immensely modifiable, increasing the time I've spent with it from the dozens of hours to the hundreds.
That being said, Fallout 3 is arguably much more than the sum of its parts. From the mediocre game engine with its endless bugs, some of which are glaringly obvious, others game breaking, to the characters who all look like they've been beaten with the stupid stick, to the overpriced DLC that replaces the game's pathetic ending with a proper one, it doesn't sound, on paper, like a fantastic game. It's only when all the constituent parts come together that the true brilliance of the game shines through.
Fallout 3's main strength is the how it manages to capture the player's imagination, and throughout the many hours you'll undoubtedly play Fallout 3, it never lets up on the hold it has on you. It's utterly believable and engrossing, and even the most horrific of bugs don't often manage to break the spell. It's astounding how easy it is to forgive games for their many glaring weaknesses and faults when they're this much fun, as - I certainly hope - fun is what gaming is all about, and that's exactly what Fallout 3 is.Hours upon hours of fun.
Everything in Fallout 3, from exploring the wasteland tackling one of the many quests to hitting Mole Rats with a stick that makes them explode, is a delight. You want to explore the Capitol Wasteland because you're genuinely interested in learning more about it, you care about its inhabitants. This is a true role playing game, in that you feel like a real wastelander, and everything you do in game reflects that.
This is, in short, what makes the game worth playing. Its endless charm and personality more than compensate for what it lacks. Kiss your free time goodbye.
It would be very difficult to adequately put into words how much I enjoyed Braid. It has, without a doubt, left a lasting impact on what I expect from indie games, raising my expectations to a level that only a handful of other games can possibly complete with.
In terms of gameplay, Braid is original, refreshing and clever to the point where I was stuck for a good half hour in places and, I am ashamed to say, had to resort to a guide to finish certain levels. Some of the puzzles are fiendishly difficult, but the solution in hindsight seems so obvious, and all make excellent use of the game's time manipulation mechanic. The variations of the different worlds keep things fresh to the point where my miniscule attention span was never exhausted. I was engrossed, and were it not for the fact that I could not for the life of me beat one or two of the puzzles, I would have happily devoured the whole game in one setting without so much as moving an inch. I can literally count on one hand the number of games that have achieved such a feat.
The art is beautiful, the music fits the tone of the experience perfectly, the story is clever and thought provoking, and the game has more to it than meets the eye - I suspect that very few players will have seen all that Braid has to offer. There is plenty of challenge, especially the 45 minute full speed run of the game, which, of course, I had to have the trophy for (I was playing on PS3).
The only slight imperfection that Braid has is that, as with all games that truly connect on some sort of emotional level with the player, there is little replay value. After your initial phase of playing the game, it seems almost wrong to go back and play it again, because I know that I will never have the same sort of experience with the game as I did the first time. Nonetheless, Braid is a magical, enchanting, wonderful game that deserves to be played by everyone who claims to be a 'gamer', and is well worth every penny of the asking price.
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