It was 11:51PM ET when the credits started to roll for me in “Fallout 3.” I had stuck to my pledge to ignore sidequests and swiftly glided through the game’s final missions, abetted by my intelligent super-mutant ally Fawkes.
By the end I was wearing Tesla armor and eliminating enemies with a plasma rifle. I had mismanaged my stats and left myself unable to get the more interesting Level 20 final (for now) perks. But I was topped off nonetheless, with perfect 100 ratings in speech and repair and an armor-assisted 90 in energy weapons.
I was told that the final mission would be amazing. Marching into Washington, D.C. behind a massive robot was just that. Endering the Jefferson Memorial unharmed was a cinch. Proceeding to the rotunda was a waltz. Killing the enemy commander was a breeze. And, with a pre-mission save file left intact so I could go back and access the three winter 2009 “Fallout 3″ downloadable packs, I made my first try at ending the game.
I entered the irradiated purification chamber which I needed to activate in order to save the day. I decided not to inject President Eden’s mutation-destroying virus. I approached a console and stared at its numeric keypad.
Was I supposed to know the code?
Really. Was I supposed to know?
I ran around, helplessly. I punched in random numbers. The wrong numbers. The place blew up. Cue end-game montage. Roll credits.
Wait. Come again?
I played “Fallout 3″ for 35 hours and enjoyed much of it. I even grew to like many of its rougher edges. But this ending is something I don’t expect I’ll ever like. I was confused. For all the scavenging and exploring and terminal-hacking and conversation-grinding I had done — for all that I had learned to do in this world — I felt under-equipped. How was I supposed to know this code?
I finished the game bewildered. Did I do something wrong? Or did the designers?
What an odd way to go out.
Thankfully, that wouldn’t be the last taste “Fallout 3″ left in my mouth. The first expansion, “Operation Anchorage,” was released nine minutes after I finished the game. This morning, I loaded up a late-game save file, recorded half an hour before the game’s ending, and waited for about a minute before the first “Anchorage”-based quest activated itself. Before leaving for work today I was 24 minutes into the new content, having just set foot — virtually — onto Alaska.
I’ll focus on the new stuff and hopefully leave that ending behind.
Next: It’s a Tuesday, but I may squeeze in some “Operation Anchorage” while at work. I have one hesitation: I won’t be able to gain any experience points while playing this new content, since the level cap is still at 20. Maybe I should wait until the March “Fallout 3″ DLC is released, since that contentups the level cap to 30?