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Platform

PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Bethesda

 

Developer

Bethesda

 

ETA

Fall 2008

 

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Fallout 3

 

fallout 3          fallout 3

 

Watching the demo of Fallout 3 is like watching a stripper in the first part of her act.  Or it’s like mixing up brownie batter.  Both acts make you ache for the final reveal – when the hot brownies are pulled from the oven, emanating goodness; when the thong hits the stage and she’s holding herself off the ground by sheer force of her thighs gripping the pole… But between Fallout 3’s first act and the final reveal it will be a stretch of months.

 

If one was to make a quick summation of Fallout 3 it would run along the lines of “a pumped up Oblivion in a toxic wasteland with a 1950's futuristic spin on everything.”  That conjures up all sorts of different images but one thing it looks

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like Bethesda has done is remain faithful to the feel of the old Fallout games.

 

Of course, the old Fallout games weren’t fully 3D worlds explorable in a first-person view (there is a fully-realized 3rd Person view as well), which is likely why fans of the series were initially so taken aback by the new perspective. 

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Fallout 3 is not a first-person shooter, though there is plenty of shooting.  During the demo it would be easy to come away with the impression that Fallout 3 is shooter because it was so laden with action.  Traversing a subterranean connection (i.e. shortcut) between areas there were a few waves of Super Mutants that needed to be put down.  Rather than just firing blindly, hoping that the equipped weapon makes a hit, the action can be somewhat paused to zoom in on specific body parts, like an arm or a leg or the head, and orders “stacked” to shoot methodically if that headshot doesn’t come through with a hit.

 

fallout 3          fallout 3

 

It was during the trip in the tunnels that the gun upgrades were demonstrated to a limited extent.  Over time each weapon degrades to the point of affecting accuracy or simply no longer working.  Not only should this make the gamer think about weapon maintenance – cannibalizing other weapons to retrofit other guns – but it neuters the idea that the gamer should rely solely on blazing guns to complete the job.  In the subway area, gamers will be able to hack into terminals to activate security robots that act with “extreme prejudice” toward any fare evaders.  Cars that litter the area can also be detonated as well, the resulting radiation – they don’t run on gas – can damage nearby enemies.  These were just a couple of glimpses of what should be possible in the final game.

 

The main premise of Fallout 3 was also shown in “glimpse” format.  You are born in Vault 101, one of many nuclear bomb shelters, that has never been opened.  As per a mysterious Overseer, people are born in the Vault, people die in the vault.  That is until your scientist father, voiced by Liam Neeson, escapes.  You escape soon after to search for him.  From that point it’s seems to mimic the “free for all” that have been a hallmark of the Elder Scrolls games – loads of exploration, dialogue trees with specific evil/good/meh leanings, many different quests alongside the main story, etc.  In short, Fallout 3 should be heaven for role-playing fans.

 

The areas both inside and outside the vault look great.  The land rolls out in all directions and to possibilities that only a toxic wasteland can produce, like mutant ants and rubble aplenty.

 

fallout 3          fallout 3

 

As rich as the environment appears to be, Bethesda hasn’t skimped on the customization either (though the character creation stage was only talked about and not shown it sounds very organic in the way it's implemented).  By way of the Pip-Boy 3000, all the skill stats and options are opened in one handy spot.  The Pip-Boy 3000 also acts as a radio receiver and Rad Meter, which keeps track of your radiation levels; if it gets too high, by wandering into radioactive zones or drinking irradiated water, you’ll start to suffer ill affects.  But more importantly, Bethesda has infused it with a slight comedic edge to fray the depressing nature of a post apocalyptic world.

 

As much as the demo impressed me, both on the technical side and the sheer number of possibilities the world represents – the demo showed the destruction of town by way of a nuclear explosion after it was armed at the request of an in-game character, but what if it was disarmed instead? – the aspect that most impressed me was the music taken from the 1940’s.  With all the technology so necessary for today’s music it’s a reminder of a time when singing actually meant something.  It wasn’t processed a thousand times for perfect sound; it came out flawed but somehow with a deeper, more meaningful sound.

 

This writer wouldn’t be surprised if Fallout 3’s release date was pushed back (again), but right now it’s set for release Fall 2008.

 

That’s a long time to cook brownies.

 

- Omni

(July 17, 2007)

 

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