|PS3 / XBOX 360 / PC||Japan USA|
By Dan Zuccarelli . July 20, 2007 . 9:02am
While it's true that Fallout 3 won't see retail shelves until the Fall of 2008, it's already shaping up to be a game you'll want to keep your eye on. It's from the folks at Bethesda and is a successor of sorts to Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, at least in game play style. Story wise the game is based on the criticially acclaimed PC series from years back. So with a hugely successful next-gen RPG already out and a lineage of great games to live up to, how is Bethesda doing with the game?
Thankfully, very very well from what we've seen so far.
Now I know a lot of people out there are huge Fallout fans, as the series has something of a rabid following. Sadly I can't speak to how this game does in the canon of those that came before, because honestly I never played the first few Fallout games. I know that loses me some geek cred but it's something I'm working to fix, trust me. But the creators of Fallout 3 took great pains to mention numerous times what big fans they are of the original games, and that this game will satisfy the old fans while opening it up to new fans as well.
You start the game at your birth in an underground vault, and over the course of a tutorial get older and choose what your skills will be. You'll choose your stats in-game by taking your G.O.A.T's (General Occupational Aptitude Test). It's a cool way to handle a tutorial without feeling like you're sitting there being lectured. As a cool little aside your fathers appearance will be based on what you decide you'll look like in game, so it really looks like you're related. When you reach adulthood you wake up to find your Father missing and you break-out of the vault to try and find him (thus ending the tutorial). You'll have one last chance to change any of your stats before leaving the vault, but once you're out… you're out. What you find on the surface of Earth is a scorched mess, the remnants of a long past nuclear war.
The demo made it's way across the wasteland, on the way killing some enormous bugs. As an added bonus you can shoot the fusion engine in the broken down cars to do both explosive damage and radiation damage. Radiation, it seems, it going to play a pretty large part in your day to day activities. You'll need to constantly need to be on the hunt for fresh water, and will need to balance your water intake with your radiation exposure. Water on the surface has a higher level of exposure than what you'll find deep underground.
We come upon the town of Megaton, named after the unexploded bomb in the center of town. We met the "sherrif" pictured above. This gave us good look at how the conversation system has improved since Oblivion. The back-and-forth flow seemed a lot more fluid this time and while not as advanced as something like Mass Effect, seemed to build upon the Oblivion style. To those that played Elder Scrolls, you'll be at home here.
The detail in the structures and in the town in general is really amazing, far beyond what Bethesda was able to do in Oblivion. To show the wildly different paths people can take we're given the option of either disabling the bomb forever or rigging it to blow, essentially choosing whether this entire town lives or dies. There are characters here, and quests and plot points that will be forever closed if we blow it up. Vice versa an entire quest line will be shut off if we don't agree to do it. It'll be those kinds of decisions that will make the game hit home when you're playing it (For the sake of the demo they ended up blowing up the town, and it looked awesome).
The sort of power will weigh heavily on the player, even watching the demo and not talking to anyone in the town before destroying it made it a little unsettling when they triggered the bomb. I can imagine what a hard decision it would be to make if you had learned the back story of some of the townspeople. It's easy to kill mutants and random baddies, but innocent people are something very different. Of course maybe you'll save more people by destroying it, or it'll turn out they're not so innocent after all. Either way the game's not only going to offer tough ethical choices but a good deal of replayability as well.
One of the things I noticed during the demo that I think fans are really going to like is a fully functional 3rd person mode. Unlike in Oblivion when 3rd person was essentially a broken mess this time it's being integrated well enough that you could play the entire game in 3rd person if you wanted to. I'll probably stick with 1st person but it's nice to know the option is there.
Another thing is something they're calling the V.A.T.S. (Vault Assisted Targeting System). This may be carried over from the old Fallout games, but I'm not really sure. What you're able to do is freeze the game and choose where on your enemy you'd like to attack. So you can go for a head shot for max damage (but low probability of hitting) or aim for the arms/legs/torso. So you can cripple guys running at you with melee weapons and shoot the arms of those guys trying to handle firearms. You use a pool of points to pull off these maneuvers and you'll have to let them recharge over time, so it's not something you'll be able to totally rely on. It certainly made for cool headshots.
We still have quite a ways to go before the Fall '08 launch date, so I have a feeling we're only scratching the surface of what the game's gonna offer. So whether you're on a 360, a PS3 or a PC, this is one you're probably going to want to keep your eyes on.