Vault-Tec Prime Laboratory (Fallout 3 mod) review…

Vault-Tec Prime Laboratory (Fallout 3 mod) review after the break…

Vault-Tec Prime Laboratory (Fallout 3 mod) review…

There is an old saying that goes something like, “Time Eventually Tells The Truth.” The saying is, naturally, vague and many people can place many different meanings into the saying. However, the overall interpretation is that, in time, you will eventually learn the true reasons for all of the confounding events in life. Or, in other words, “Time Will Tell.”

Take, for instance, the unfortunate case of the video game “Thief: Deadly Shadows.” When the game was being developed and actively marketed, the reason behind the markedly smaller levels from its predecessors and subsequent “blue mist load zones” was because the developers were responding to a notion that people didn’t like large levels and the detail of the levels made such large levels impractical. Thief fans immediately objected to this logic but to no avail as both features became prominent in the game.

Only years later, after “Thief: Deadly Shadows” failed to arouse decent PC or console sales, did Thief fans uncover the real reason: That a poorly-written engine renderer was to blame. Too late in the development cycle to switch to a different renderer, the renderer that the team was committed to was such a resource hog that smaller levels and load zones were all but a necessity.

How does this relate to a Fallout 3 mod named “Vault-Tec Prime Laboratory”? Read on.

“Vault-Tec Prime Laboratory” is a Fallout 3 mod created by “BeanDacat.” In it, you must hunt for a long-lost vault (think: Really large underground bunker) and then, upon entering it, realize that you’ve got to kill everything that moves.

There are no “quests” in this mod – Your journey begins in Georgetown at the McClellan house (you know – The one with the robot still dutifully tooling about as though nothing has happened). Upon finding and reading a letter, you are sent to the Vault-Tec headquarters to the upper floor of an executive office. Taking a key and reading a note, you are then gifted with a fast-travel location a bit Southeast of Raven Rock (some locations are closer but I can’t remember those locations off-hand) where you enter through a false Pulowski Preservation Shelter (think: cross-between an old-time phone booth and a fallout shelter). From here, the action starts.

If I had to describe the mod in one word, it would be “big.”

If I had to describe the mod in two words, they would be “too big.”

The mod attempts to keep one intellectually entertained through notes and entries on computers. The vault was managed by a predecessor of Mr. Tenpenny, a name synonymous with “villain” in Fallout 3 lore. Naturally, the notes suggest a lot of underhanded tactics and underhanded managerial maneuvers more akin to a reality TV show then an actual fallout shelter.

Yet the star of this mod are the cavernous levels and more then plentiful enemies that abound within. Upon entering the abandoned railroad storage area (not even the vault itself), you are met with zombies, robots and turrets. Oh my. Some of the robot and turret placement are ineffective – I was able to sneak past the bulk of the enemies without so much as a sideways glance. Benefits of a stealthy character, perhaps?

When you finally arrive into more vault-like areas, you are met with an abundance of enemies. I found, for some reason, that turrets had a nasty habit of firing at other turrets for no apparent reason. Why? I have no idea. Eventually, you enter into a vault proper which is populated by regular human clones and more zombies.

The true “enemy,” though, is the absolutely large levels that this mod has. If your computer isn’t top of the line, be prepared to wait for some of these levels to load. When I attempted to enter the “Mall” for the first time, I was met with a loading screen that lasted so long I thought that my game had crashed and I ctrl-alt-deleted my way out of it. Only later, upon loading the mod in the level editor, did I realize how expansive some of the later levels truly were. Small and barren they are not.

At this point, I usually make an attempt to assess how practical it would be to live in the vault. However, I can’t accurately gauge such a quality because some levels took long to load and were sluggish when they did load and some levels I just didn’t wait for them to load at all.

While I have to commend the mod author for trying to tack on some story to keep it interesting (I didn’t bother with the jail log although I’m sure that might’ve added to the story), the main task in my mind to make this mod more accessible to potential players would be to take some of these large levels and to chop them up into smaller levels. For instance, I went into a housing section that had 4 full levels of apartments in them! Four!

In a perfect world, all computers are able to play all of these mods smoothly. Unfortunately, I don’t own a computer like that and I suspect other people have that same situation. I’d like to explore this mod further, if only to see it through to the end but not if I have to play through sluggish levels due to massive amounts of objects in them (if they even load at all).

“Vault-Tec Prime Laboratory” has a lot of playing area and resorts to being a shooting gallery after a brief treasure hunt in finding it’s location. I’d love to see a more integrated story about the vault (why, for instance, do all of the vault dwellers carry such high-powered weaponry with them? Are they simply leveled to my high-leveled character?) and a “real” quest about it. Most importantly, it’d be nice to have levels that don’t take a significant time to load.

“Thief: Deadly Shadows” was forced to be broken into smaller levels due to circumstances beyond it’s control and was the worse because of it. By breaking some of the levels in this mod into smaller chunks, “Vault-Tec Prime Laboratory” can only be helped. Like the hiring advertisements of yesteryear, older computers need not download this mod.

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