A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is extremely graphic in nature, particularly when it comes to violence, blood, and gore -- and there are ample examples of each. Players can decapitate or dismember enemies with precision, resulting in a gruesome blood spray and chunks -- even witnessed in slow motion. Language might also offend with many instances of cussing. Less controversial but still in the game is the ability to take drugs called Chems (though you don't see the act) and some sexual scenes including some risqué dialogue and mannequins in a sexual position.
What's it about?
A word of warning for parents concerned about what video games their kids are playing: while FALLOUT 3 is one of the finest role-playing games (RPGs) in recent memory, take heed to the \"Mature\" warning in the corner of the box (and be sure to read all the sections on this page for specific details). In case you haven't played any of the original games, Fallout 3 is a post-apocalyptic adventure, where the player emerges from Vault 101 after a devastating nuclear war only to find a dangerous wasteland populated with radioactive mutants to fight, memorable survivors to interact with, and plenty of challenging missions to tackle.
But how this single-player RPG plays out is entirely up to you, with a huge, open-ended world to explore (based on an irradiated Washington, D.C.), customizable skills, abilities and \"perks\" to enhance your character, and even options on how to engage in combat. With the latter, when approaching a threatening enemy, players can choose between a tactical, turn-based combat scheme by pausing time and pinpointing areas of the body to hit (and seeing the likelihood of a successful shot measured in percentages) or a more straight-forward real-time mechanic, if the player prefers to use weapons against baddies without a break in the action (note: the former combat style results in blood-soaked, slow-motion limb and head explosions). Befriend some non-player characters (NPCs) and they might help fight alongside you. Speaking of choices, players can also toggle between a first- or third-person view with the push of a button.
Is it any good?
Not only is this game an immersive, futuristic Wild Wild West thriller that offers many dozens of hours of play, but it's also quite the looker with its high-definition characters, environments, and special effects (the game looks and plays the same between the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions). Animation isn't always smooth, though, and there are occasional camera issues that obscure your view instead of aiding it. Another minor shortcoming: it would have been great if a second player -- online or in front of the same TV -- could join in and play with you at any time (as you can in the Fable II RPG) but at least the artificial intelligence is smart and will keep you on your toes. Whether or not you played the original Fallout games, this sequel is one of the finest -- yet quite mature -- video games of 2008.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this level of violence and gore is necessary to deliver the same dreary post-apocalyptic experience. If it were less graphic and had cleaner language, would the game be as appealing among players and would it sell as well? Is there a difference between fighting against radioactive enemies as in this game, and shooting at police officers in a game like Grand Theft Auto IV?
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.