23 is number 1! …Except this isn’t Zelda, nor is it number one. This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.
23) Fallout 3 (360/PS3/PC)
Chris: I saw my roommate playing the original Fallout once, and while I had heard it was a solid series, I’d never really touched it. Still, despite a 10-year gap between Fallout 2 and Fallout 3, I found myself pretty interested when the third game came out in 2008. Fallout was the epitome of an open-world experience — you could level your character however you wanted, choose between good and evil with tangible benefits, and have an adorable dog or super mutant as your companion. You could race through the main story and ignore the side quests, or wander across the devastated wasteland and help out (or murder) the strangers you met along the way. You could build a stealth attacker or abuse the V.A.T.S. system to get copious amounts of crippling headshots. As mentioned before with other Bethesda games (esp. Skyrim, our #37), the ending is a bit abrupt and doesn’t really reflect your choices that well, but everything up until that point is damn near perfection.
I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that all three of us put this game in our top 25. It is a little surprising, however, that we all had it at #16. Interesting synergy for a game that we all thought was pretty damn good.
Shaun: If you played through the “evil” path in Fallout 3, you’re a terrible person. End of story. Your parents should lock you in a basement and I pray for your soul.
Don’t get me wrong; I tried it. And an hour into the game, I was presented with decisions where the “dark” path was so brutally evil and harrowing it tore my heart out. Leave a poor old woman to die. Ruin the lives of everyone you grew up with. Mercilessly kill your childhood friends. IN THE FIRST HOUR.
I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t just an apathetic choice in a game I was making anymore; I was consciously altering these characters’ lives, as invested as I would be in any film or novel. This is Fallout 3’s true achievement; dumping the player into this incredible sandbox and, instead of simply giving the player options, ensuring that your choices matter, and that you felt them. This investment is what allows Fallout 3 to transcend the typical RPG experience, and that’s why it’s one of the most unforgettable video games ever crafted.
Dave: Shaun unfortunately stole a lot of the words as to why I love this game, but it is still true. This game covers the gamut of emotions, and everything in between. It’s really the in between part that makes this game so great though. The choices that the wasteland traveler has to make while trying to find his father can make you smile, wince, cry, or even feel like the devil himself. You can even do something noble for someone, then ruin that same person’s life on the drop of a hat. “I know I told you I’d save your cat out of charity, but now I need you to pay me. What, you don’t have any money? Well now you’re dead, and I’m taking your cat back too.” Then, they make these choices matter the rest of the game. Each playthrough of Fallout 3 could be completely different, even if you choose the “evil” path or “good” path both times. The voice acting is superb (I mean, you have Liam Neeson playing the role of your dad, you can’t go wrong) and every facet of this game is truly amazing. How it is only #23 on our list is befuddling.