RPGWatch's "Mogwins" has posted a retrospective look at Bethesda's Fallout 3, which was met with critical acclaim and incredible sales but also heavy criticism from long-time fans of the series. Here's a snip:
As for the actual gameplay, there has been much debate about the degree to which FO3 has eschewed its RPG heritage in favour of more FPS-like mechanics. It's true that Fallout 1 and 2 were defined by complex storylines, detailed characters and far-reaching consequences to the player's actions. And that these elements are less prominent in FO3, while faster action and stunning visuals have been brought to the forefront. But at its core, it could be argued that FO3 is neither RPG nor FPS (or even some hybrid of the two): No, FO3 is best described as a scavenge-'em-up. While the story line is somewhat predictable, even the most interactive dialogue is a simple good/evil choice, and the combat sits in the awkward no-man's land between twitch and strategy, there's an enormous amount of fun to be had from scouring the game world for useful supplies and ammo. And the wasteland itself is packed with interesting places awaiting discovery, meaning exploration is well rewarded. If you enjoy both rummaging through other people's crap at jumble sales and head-exploding violence, then FO3 may just be your perfect game.
In fact, encouraging inquisitive play is possibly the thing FO3 should be most congratulated for. On paper, an abandoned supermarket might sound like a fairly tedious location to stumble upon, but once you've spent some time in the wasteland it's tough to resist that urge to see what's still on the shelves, whether there's any cash left in the registers and what now lurks in the staff room. But be careful not to trip on an old shopping trolley, because who knows what will be alerted by the commotion and come a-running. While creeping round an abandoned subway station with my sledgehammer-toting side-kick, I stumbled across a gang of raiders who didn't seem too pleased to have visitors to their adopted home. A few rounds from my assault rifle tore the nearest raider's head clean off his shoulders, just as my companion was taking an almighty hammer swing. Cue raucous laughter and shouts of "home run!" from me as the hammer squarely connected with the severed head, launching it a good distance down the tunnel (violence is neither big nor clever, but when it's removed of real-world consequences, it sure as hell can be funny). While FO3'²s set pieces sometimes fall flat, the world is believable and interactive enough for unscripted moments like this to emerge.