Rat Trap (Fallout 3 mod) review…

Rat Trap (Fallout 3 mod) review after the break…

Rat Trap (Fallout 3 mod) review…

There is a subset of the first person shooter genre that is often identified by the colorful name “actioner.” Indeed, the first successful first-person shooter games were considered actioners because they complied with it’s current definition: A lot of enemies rushing at you all at once, necessitating a frenzy of fast-paced firing, moving your character around and hoping that you survived the encounter. After healing yourself from the battle, you would walk into the next area, get rushed by a new swarm of enemies. Wash, rinse, repeat. Often, such conventions like “plot” would be thrown aside or minimally dealt with, either in the game manual or in cut-scenes.

Games such as “Painkiller,” “Serious Sam” and “Doom 1” are often considered first person shooter “actioners.”

“Rat Trap,” a Fallout 3 mod from author “Willa2112,” inspires to join this subset. I reviewed version 1.02 (not the future version with a supposed radio station, propaganda¬† posters and the whatnot).

The plot for “Rat Trap” is simple enough – There is a secret “vault” (think “bunker”) that houses communist Chinese soldiers. Go in, kill everyone, get out. Along the way, gain access to the vault boss’ secret hide out and kill him, too.

With a mod like this, logic is one feature that isn’t very prominent. The vault hasn’t been opened in 200 years… Would the Chinese housed within still be vehemently communist? Wouldn’t everyone be more then a little inbred? Would their firearms (or, more importantly, the ammunition) even work after 200 years? Granted, the entire game “Fallout 3” defies logic but even basic questions such as “If I can open up the vault with no effort, why hasn’t someone else discovered this?”

Logic aside, “Rat Trap” is a shooting gallery contained within a vault. There is a density of enemies that will leave most action-craved junkies absolutely stuffed from firefights. Perhaps it was just the advanced level of my character but enemies were armed with flamethrowers, plasma rifles, plasma pistols… It made me wonder what the culture must be like in a vault where everyone can quickly unholster a military-grade weapon? Do these people take their firearms into the shower? To bed? Even scientists and technicians unholstered some considerable firepower when confronted… After being locked up in a vault for 200 years…

You have the option to use two companions in your fight to clear the vault of communist persuasion. I only found one of the companions in my travels – Chun-Li (yes, the name is not a coincidence), who supposedly can use an unplayable (to you) power fist [insert smirk from Street Fighter fans] to assist you in your efforts. Since I abhor the use of companions in my travels, I let her be and went off on my own.

There were some nice touches about this mod. First, I liked how the communists used American flags as doormats to their apartments. While I would not prefer that people not wear their allegiances so rudely in real life, it was a nice touch to suggest that you were in a communist vault and that 200 years hadn’t dulled their communist cult. Also, one scientist leads you into a trap which I thought was a nice scripting event. It makes you leery of any such future encounters and gave me a sense of progression in the vault beyond the usual quest stages.

Just as there were nice touches, there were some mod cliches that could have been redesigned. Each level seemed to have it’s own “boss” which made progression through the entire mod rather stale. Enter level, battle through enemies, fight mini-boss, get some key or quest trinket from mini-boss, exit level. The levels themselves also seemed to blend together, with each level not looking too different from the other. Granted, using vault “set pieces,” this is bound to happen but even something as simple different colored stripes along the wall could’ve made the firefight grind a little easier. Maybe have a thematic difference between high-ranking officer quarters different then the enlisted officers… Combine the rusted vault set pieces with new vault set pieces or even use Raven Rock set pieces to give the sense that there is a definite quality barrier from how the high-class and low-class live within the vault.

The final level is an action blow-out featuring a few dozen soldiers decked out in “Brotherhood of Steel” armor and the boss himself. At this point, I was on action burn-out so I stopped the mod there. Hint: Bring lots of radiation medication or a great radiation suit. You’ll need it.

Overall, I think that Rat Trap is definitely good at what it set out to do – A mindless action mod for those who don’t mind using a mini-gun until it’s barrel turns white hot and you can feel the heat three corridors over. Yet Fallout 3 is, admittedly, a light RPG and the clunkiness of converting such a game to a straight actioner is evident even when placing only a few enemies on the screen, nevermind twenty or more at the same time (see: Operation Anchorage DLC).

I really would love to see a mod that explores the inner workings of such a Chinese communist secret vault but without all of the bloodshed. An alternate history of Fallout 3, so to speak – What if Vault 101 was a Communist Chinese vault? I think there’s great potential in a storyline like that.

“Rat Trap” is a nice diversion but you’ll soon find yourself escaping quickly from this mod.


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