Being evil has its merits. And no, I'm not just talking about the joy you can get from the wacky combat options. Sure you can kill somebody by firing teddy bears into their face, beat wild dogs to death with bats, or pickpocket chumps and leave grenades in place of their wallets. I'm talking about being lazy, evil, sneaky... and getting rewarded for it. When I started up my recent play session with Fallout 3, my goal was to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible to get the best weapons out there. With that target in mind, one can't deal with pesky little things like morals.
The trouble is that it's sometimes tough to differentiate between good and evil in Fallout 3. Killing bad people like raiders or bounty hunters isn't considered evil, per se. You're ridding the world of evil, so you're doing good. Apparently all human life is not sacred in this world. All that meant to me is that I'd have to step up my shenanigans to match the twisted world I was running around in. If I was going to be evil, I wanted my karma to reflect it.
Bad Karma - Be sure to watch or download the video here (HD available).
If you want to bottom out your karma, there are several roads to take. Killing innocent people is a good way. You can also start stealing any of the hundreds and hundreds of items strewn about each city. It's only a small loss of karma for stealing, so you can still do this from time to time if you're playing a hero. Steal everything and you'll be following in my footsteps. The big one is to destroy Megaton, the first city you come across that has an undetonated nuclear bomb at its heart. Blow it up and level the city and your karma will bottom out.
Needless to say, I rigged the bomb to explode in my game. That may be all you need to do in the game to send your character to evil, but it's small potatoes in the grand scheme of evil. Before leaving for Tenpenny Tower to detonate the nuke, there was business to attend to. I took out my baseball bat and went into the nearest house to see what I could find. A few swings later and I had a new set of clothes and an entire hut to loot. I then went through the rest of the town, systematically murdering everyone and hawking their junk at the local general store. If they're going to die, I may as well make a profit first, right?
Speaking of profit, there's an ongoing quest in Megaton to help a girl gather info for an encyclopedia. It involved a lot of work, I think. I wasn't really paying attention to her pleas. I just told her I'd help, walked outside and waited 24 hours, and then came back and lied to her. Being skilled with words is a great asset indeed.
But no matter how much I stole and lied to gain some caps, the form of currency in Fallout 3, it never seemed to be enough. I bumped into a mercenary who at first wouldn't talk to me because I was too good. A few murders later and we were talking business. The jerk wanted 1,000 caps for his services as a sidekick. I told him to bug off and left him to die in the mushroom cloud that was soon to come.
While causing chaos in Megaton, I came across several aspects of the game that make it easier to be nasty. Though you can get in a pinch if you don't save often, I found that there's always a way out of the mess you create in cities. Cause as much havoc as you like, get the sheriff and every citizen chasing you with guns ablaze, and you can pop outside of the town of Megaton and they won't follow you. Wait 24 hours and go back in and the townsfolk will have forgiven (or forgotten) your deeds. This may not be realistic, but if you go on a little killing spree for fun, you can still salvage your game in the long run.
As fun as the chaos was, Megaton had to go in the end. You get to do this from the comfort of Tenpenny Tower, a luxury complex filled with snobs and jerks -- just my character's cup of tea. Turns out the job was commissioned just because somebody didn't like the town messing up his view. As a reward, you get a suite in the tower of your own that you can decorate, improve and use to customize your character's look. I went with a balding comb-over and a thick mustache. It went well with the pajamas that I was wearing around.
Next it was back to the ruins of Megaton. The lady looking to complete an encyclopedia somehow survived the blast. She was out researching something and missed the epicenter, but didn't make it out unharmed. She asked for some help and I told her that her face was melting off. This didn't please, nor should it. She had turned into a ghoul -- people so ruined by radiation that their bodies and minds are falling apart. The folks at Tenpenny Tower don't like ghouls, so I looked for every underground tunnel to hunt them down and shoot their melty faces off.
At this point, I thought I was pretty bad ass. I was about to learn that murder, lying, and wiping out cities wasn't enough to prepare me for what was to come. I came across a town named Andale. All of the folks touted it as the greatest city on earth. It was almost too happy. It turned out the city had a dark secret. Ask around and you can hear hints of an inbred population. Do some more exploring and you'll find something that made my stomach turn. I'll let you figure that one out for yourself.
If being evil isn't your cup of tea, you can always be neutral. Bethesda tells us there are specific benefits built into the game for taking that route as well. You probably just won't get to see as many heads explode. Your loss.
Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of Fallout 3 week at IGN for our impressions of the whole shebang in our preview finale.
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