One of my favorite games, but definitely not for kids
I am a long-time gamer and this is easily one of my all-time favorite games, but I feel very strongly that this game is not appropriate for children age 12 and under. The biggest issues for me are the violence and drug-use. The violence is extremely over-the-top, if you play this game for no more than a few minutes you will probably see at least one head exploding in slow-motion and in graphic detail. Limbs can be severed in combat and it is possible to dismember corpses. It is true that the graphics are far from photo-realistic, but the levels of violence are so extreme that I really don't think it matters. Another troubling aspect of the violence is that it is not uncommon to witness characters being tortured, dismembered or just generally brutalized even if the player chooses to play as a pacifist.
The drug use is even more troubling. Although "chems" (fallout slang for drugs) have negative side-effects in the game there are certain chems that the player must use to be successful. Moreover, the negative consequences for drug use really aren't severe enough (it is not possible to die from an overdose, for example). I feel like this is a very dangerous message for kids. Also, unlike most games the drugs are presented in a very realistic manner, instead of "potions" or generic "first-aid kits" Fallout uses items such as bottles of prescription pills, syringes or inhalers as power ups, once again a very bad message for young players.
Although there are no explicit sex scenes, sex is a big part of this game and basically unavoidable. There are prostitutes and it is also possible to have sexual encounters with a few other characters in the game, although the screen blacks-out during these encounters the audio continues. Compared to the violence and drug use the sex is not nearly as prevalent, but still inappropriate in my opinion.
Profanity is also commonly used throughout the game, but this is a minor concern when compared to some of the other aspects.
All-in-all I would say some teenagers may be mature enough to handle this game, but even then I really think a responsible parent should have a frank discussion with the kid about the use of drugs in this game beforehand.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking