Fallout 3 was released on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 in late October. The Fallout universe has a rich history and Fallout 1 and 2 are consistantly among the top 50 RPG’s of all time. Fallout 3 is this franchises first delve into the first person world and it pulls it off quite nicely.
Fallout 3 is set in the Washington DC area after a nuclear war has devastated the planet. The time this war took place is the 1950’s so the soundtrack is mostly songs from that era which give the game a creepy feeling. Fallout 3 tries very hard to let you do your own thing in the game. If you want to be good or evil, there is a karma system set up that influences the reactions of people throughout the game.
You begin the game in a “Vault” which is an underground fallout shelter. As you emerge, you have many quests available immediately. There is the main quest where you search for your missing father but this ends abruptly and ends the game at around the 10-15 hour mark depending on how much you screw around. The most fun is to just wander around exploring as the main quest leaves dozens and dozens of really cool towns, landmarks, and caves off your radar.
The graphics for Fallout 3 are great but not top notch, the sound is really nice except for an annoying “Cha-ching” sound every time you get experience points, and the gameplay is excellent.
Fallout 3 was created by Bethesda Softworks (who have banned me from their forums until 2055, don’t ask) who also created the amazing Elder Scrolls series. This game will eat up a huge chunk of your life and you will want to replay it a few times as some choices you make will drastically effect your future gameplay.
Mass Effect for PC
PC users waited months for their version of Mass Effect. Though this game technically came out in late 2007 for the Xbox 360, this has to be included in this list for PC gamers alone. Mass Effect has one of the best storylines of any RPG I have ever played. There is politics, alien artifacts, and even a sex scene if you choose to follow the “romantic” storyline. Yes, you can even have a bi-sexual affair between a human and alien if you play your cards right.
Mass Effect places you in charge of Shepard. You can customize your character a little bit but the overall options are unimpressive compared to Fallout 3 or Oblivion. You get command of a spaceship called the Normandy pretty early on in Mass Effect and you can jump right in to the main questline or screw around to your hearts content. I personally spent 6 hours wandering around and doing god knows what before I ever took command of the Normandy. What was I doing? I couldn’t tell you but I know it was a blast.
Mass Effect was created by Bioware and is similar in design to the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games (which is a good thing). The graphics are great if your PC has a decent video card but is unplayable if you have a store bought computer with an integrated card.
Similar to Fallout 3, your dialog and action during the game will greatly influence future events. You can be a nice captain who lets things slide or a total bastard who cares for nothing but themselves. This leaves you a lot of room for replay value and the game will take you around 30 hours if you piddle around like I do. There is an expansion for Mass Effect on all systems that will add another 10 hours or so.
Chrono Trigger for the DS
When I was just a wee lad in high school, this game came out for the Super Nintendo. My friends and I scrounged every penny we had to buy it and share it then we went to the store only to find out it had a $59.99 price tag instead of the usual $49.99. We were pissed. Anyway, we eventually got a copy of Chrono Trigger and were blown away.
Chrono Trigger was developed by Square who was pretty much the only trusted name in quality RPG’s in the US at that time. Chrono Trigger follows the exploits of Chrono (or whatever you name him) as he travels through various time periods. I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t mention much about it. All I can say is that even for a game this old, it will still capture your imagination and keep you playing for hours.
Chrono Trigger for the DS adds some new features such as a couple new dungeons, some new people you will meet, and a handy map on the bottom screen. The game still plays just like it did on the Super Nintendo which is awesome.
Fable II for Xbox 360
A few years ago, one game had so much hype, people were literally drooling to get their hands on it. The creator promised almost unlimited gameplay, a character that changed his appearance throughout the game, and severe consequences for your actions. This game was called Fable. What the fans got was a 9 hour long game that was pretty dull after you played it once. There was much disappointment but overall, it was still a fun game.
Fable II has made even more claims which made me very nervous and on the border of boycotting anything to do with Lionhead Studios that didn’t involve “The Movies”. Luckily, Fable II was better than I expected and is probably #5 on this list.
Fable II takes you once again to the magical land of Albion but it has changed a little bit. This game is actually quite funny in a lot of places where the first Fable pretty much stuck to farts, burps, and flipping people off. Fable II is a non-RPG lovers RPG. Almost any gamer can pick up Fable II and have fun with it. It’s very action oriented and the landscape you can explore is gigantic. There are a ton of quests of various types that are sure to keep you busy also.
The one thing about Fable II that will catch your attention soon after you begin is the dog. Your loyal companion in Fable II is a cute little pup that will change its appearance along with your own. If you are a hero, your dog may grow into a big but nice looking beast. If you are a total bastard, you will end up with a hound from hell. Your dog sniffs out treasures and helps you fight but it’s annoying as hell when you lose him somewhere and have to find him. You have to make a choice later in the game about the dog also that is heartwrenching but I won’t spoil that for you!
Overall, Fable II is a lot of fun but if you are looking for a hardcore RPG, this might not be the one for you.
Valkyria Chronicles for PS3
Let’s admit it, the PS3 sucks for RPGs. You basically have this, Fallout 3, or Eternal Sonata if you want a decent RPG. After Fallout 3, Valkyria Chronicles is the best RPG out for the PS3 right now.
Valkyria Chronicles is a unique game. It’s a great mix of third-person and turn-based strategy which even sounds a little weird but this game pulls it off beautifully. Set in the land of Europa in 1930, Valkyria Chronicles follows the story of Welkin, who is a militia member. The story starts off pretty slow and it might be tough for everyone to get through that part but when you do, the game takes off.
The graphics are unique and beautiful in this game but what will capture you is the battles. If you like turn based strategy games like Advance Wars, you have a vague idea of how battles will work. What throws you for a loop in Valkyria Chronicles is that you take direct control of whoever you choose and it zooms in to third-person. You can travel a set distance that’s limited by the action gauge and then you perform an action such as sniping, healing, or fixing a tank (there are a LOT of tanks in this game).
Valkyria Chronicles should appeal to those who love games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars but it WILL take you some trial and error before you figure everything out. Just stick out the first hour or so which is fairly slow and you will fall in love with this game.
I have to say, 2008 was a lot of waiting around for us RPG fans but in the end, the companies came through. Fallout 3 will probably be installed on my PC for years just like Oblivion is. My consoles have definitely proved their worth this year too. PC owners will always have an advantage when it comes to RPG games but the consoles are putting out some great exclusive content such as Fable II and Valkyia Chronicles. Let’s hope they keep pumping out games of this caliber, even if some are remakes.