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Jeremy Jastrzab
01 Jul, 2008

Fallout 3 Preview

360 Preview | Fall in! Bethesda are working at a revival.
It has been ten years since the post-apocalyptic isometric RPG Fallout 2 was released, following a year after the release of the original Fallout. Since then, publisher Interplay Entertainment has gone belly-up and the license was bought by Bethesda Softworks, a.k.a the home of the Elder Scrolls RPG series. The title has been in development since 2004 but work didn’t truly start until the completion of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. While the lid on development has been held down rather tightly, we recently got a chance to get an extended look at how the game is progressing.

The representative from Bethesda went to great lengths to reassure everyone that the Fallout 3 experience will genuinely hark back to its predecessors, despite a major overhaul in certain areas. The opening of the game unfolds in a fascinating fashion, as it takes a rather bleak standing on things following a nuclear explosion (due to a war between the US and China) that wipes out a considerable amount of the world's population. However, numerous pockets of the population have survived by living in ‘vaults’. Fallout 3 centres on a character that is born into Vault 101, where occupants are born and die in the vault, and are never allowed to leave.

You literally start from the moment that you’re born, picking out a name for yourself and your future appearance, through numerous preset and customizable options. Your mother dies at birth, so you are raised solely by your father, who is voiced by Liam Neeson and whose appearance is meant to resemble what you pick for yourself. The game then skips one year ahead, to when you are a year old. Here, you learn to look around, move and pick ‘specials’ for yourself, just as you do in other RPGs. However, it’s done in a rather novel and innovative fashion. Basically, you look through a picture book entitled “You're Special” and use the info provided to pick the skill concentrations you want.

Home sweet home.

Home sweet home.
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The game also briefly picks you up at age ten, at age sixteen, where you take the G.O.A.T test to further pick what skills you want to have attributed to you, and finally, at age nineteen the game really kicks off. Your father, a highly regarded scientist/doctor in Vault 101, leaves the vault without a trace, and the vault overseer ‘sends’ you off to look for him. So the story essentially revolves around the search for your father and the exploration of a world 200 years post-nuclear decimation. Specifically, it’s set around post-apocalyptic Washington D.C, which is backed-up numerous though barely recognisable monuments.

Upon first leaving the vault, you're greeted with the signs of those who perished trying to get in and a momentary eye adjustment. From there, three things struck us. Firstly, the game was very brown, so it's well in line with current-gen standard. All jokes aside, the second thing was just how desolate the world really was and thirdly, just how far the devastation spanned. While apparently not as big as Oblivion, the world, as well as towns, dungeons and underground areas look like they will take a long, long time to explore.

Just like the Elder Scrolls titles, the depth and intricacies could be harped on about for days on end, so we are going to focus on some of the key aspects. Through out the demonstration, we were under the impression that Fallout 3 was something of a cross between Oblivion and Bioshock, which for all intents and purposes is pretty sweet. The game’s unique concepts and setting, the close relation to its predecessors and depth in what you can do will surely make the game better then the aspects that at the moment still look like they need some work.

So this is the result of a nuclear war...

So this is the result of a nuclear war...
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From a gameplay perspective, most aspects are very solid. The emphasis on exploration and discovery are also punctuated with the interactions that you have between others in world and the numerous factions that are out and about. So exactly how you go about these things will determine your course towards the final destination. For example, if you are a jerk towards the sheriff in the first town you’ll likely visit, he’ll diplomatically blow you off. However, if you are polite, he will confide in you, which will have further implications. Your personal interface is now governed by the PIP-Boy 3000, which is upgraded from previous games and gives you access all your stats and inventories and what not.

Interacting with your environment is very important as well. Often you’ll search for water, though it will be contaminated by radiation. So you need to make a choice whether or not to heal yourself and take radiation damage, or go at it until you find another source of healing. At one stage, a radio signal was picked up about a man sheltering his family and asking for assistance. Upon discovery of their location, it was actually found that they’ve been dead for a long time, but left a lot of items for you to collect. It’s this part of Fallout 3, the numerous choices behind what you’ll be able to do that drive the game.

A point of contention in Fallout 3 is change in perspective. The game is now played from either first or third person. From the above mentioned gameplay features, the perspective fits in very well, though the one issue that remains relates to combat. Relying on playing like a first person shooter isn’t bad, though just like Bioshock, the combat doesn’t excel as much as the other aspects in the game. However, there are some great additions. In particular, the fact that you’ll have to be on the ball as weapons wear-and-tear, you’ll get to build custom weapons and pick-up and play with whatever you find.

Dogmeat returns.

Dogmeat returns.
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The game also has an addition known as VATS, or Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System. Here, players will slow down time and be able to queue up a set of moves on individual enemy body parts, for as many ‘action points’ that they’re allowed. Once the action points replenish, VATS can be used again. At least the balance of the system looks to be fairly solid at this stage. As mentioned earlier, you’ll have plenty of options surrounding character customisation, so your abilities in and out of combat will be almost completely at your discretion. Again, it’s really hard for us to emphasis the scope of this game in the limited space that we have.

According to the rep on hand, the build being played was rather early and pre-alpha. So even though there were a few minor glitches and technical hiccups, the game was still in better shape then what Oblivion was at later stages. Still, in a game of this scope, it’s obviously a very difficult job to get these things spot on. While Fallout 3 has sacrificed some micro details, the macro scope of the game is hard to fault. While it may not end up being a visual masterpiece, it has the potential to provide a truly foreboding atmosphere.

With the development team behind Fallout 3, it’s hard to envisage the game being anything other then great. The question then becomes, just how great? Fans of the original may still have their knickers in a knot over some aspects, but from what we’ve seen, the developers are doing their utmost to make the game faithful. A few minor issues concern us, but in the midst of all the exploration and depth that will likely be on offer, we’re quite happy to let some of them slide. And though a massive amount of content is promised, we’re informed that you’ll only need to dedicate around 25 hours to the actual story, so you’ve got the best of both options.
Overall:
For all fun that is post-apocalyptic, players need not look further than the upcoming Fallout 3.

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35 Comments
5 years ago
You have your preference, I have mine. Consoles for me are for dumb games. Try playing an RTS on a console....

Fallout was quite a good system, turn based or not. You had to factor in your action points, skill with weapons, range, visibility (light or dark), armor, perks, ammo, stimpacks...etc...

Making Fallout an FPS removes any sort of RPG character limit that you would've encountered playing 1 or 2. I refer to Oblivion as my example. I could start a brand new game, buy the crappest cheapest bow and a few hundred arrows to go with and I'd be unbeatable. I could dodge every single ranged or spell attack used by enemies and could outrun anything that could hurt me.

That's what I fear will be the case with Fallout, I can just strafe and dodge anything my enemies throw at me.
5 years ago
teknohead wrote
Making Fallout an FPS
from the (admittedly small amount of) stuff i've seen, it's not really an FPS in the traditional sense, it looks more like Metroid Prime, or even System Shock/2. games presented from the first-person perspective, but not concentrating on the "shooter" department.

i might be wrong, but that's what it looks like to me, and, i suppose, what i'm hoping for.
5 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
From what I've played of Oblivion and what I've played of Fallout, I can definitely see the parallels between the two and if Bethesda simply translate the Fallout 2 gameplay and humour into a 3d setting it can't possibly fail. Especially if there's all those awesome perks and a buttload of new ones. Sure a lot of them were useless but half the fun was simply reading the descriptions.
Fallout and Oblivion are worlds apart. Bethesda took a lot of liberties with the Elder Scrolls franchise when making Oblivion, removing a lot of the "role playing" content and design in favour of something more of an action adventure. Something more accessible.

Compare Daggerfall to Oblivion. Former, while buggy as hell, is a chock full of RPG features. The latter is an RPG-Lite, with far more action adventuring than role playing.

Fallout is pure role playing. Adopting the same gameplay and humour to 3D would be great, but fans are worried Bethesda will do an Oblivion; chop up the game and turn it upside down so its more accessible and action packed.

Good game? Undeniably. Great game? Quite possible. True to the franchise? Probably not.
5 years ago
teknohead wrote
You have your preference, I have mine. Consoles for me are for dumb games. Try playing an RTS on a console.
Consoles have nothing to do with the inteligence of a game, the developers do. I'm not saying that Fallout won't be dumbed down but saying that consoles are for dumb games is pretty damm short sighted.
5 years ago
Look at all the PC franchises that have moved on to consoles, Baldur's Gate, Elder Scrolls, Bioshock (while not technically part of a series, the gameplay carries on loosely from System Shock), etc their interfaces haven't so much been streamlined as they have had features removed and options for the player limited upon their console inception (to the point of the Baldur's Gate series being completely arsed in the face and being a mere shell of its former glory).

Developers will implore upon the player that it is a result of the control system to allow a more fluid interface but that's a load of hogwash, you can still have menus and inventory on a console. I put it more down to because consoles are far more mainstream, developers are catering to a dumber userbase. Which is fairly evident as soon as you get online.
5 years ago
You make a goodpoint Sin, but I think this is a trend in video games in general. It is one of the reasons I believe that Fallout3 will be dumbed down and just a shell of its former glory, all because they want to cater for the "hardcore" market (like I said before) who just want to run and gun to have fun.
5 years ago
Benza wrote
teknohead wrote
You have your preference, I have mine. Consoles for me are for dumb games. Try playing an RTS on a console.
Consoles have nothing to do with the inteligence of a game, the developers do. I'm not saying that Fallout won't be dumbed down but saying that consoles are for dumb games is pretty damm short sighted.
You're right, I'm just frustrated that they are ruining my favourite game and needed something to blame icon_razz.gif

However you can't deny that PC to console ports have a fair bit of dumbing down.
5 years ago
I played fallout 1 and 2, anyone who thinks fallout 3 is going to ruin the previos games is a fucking idiot! a little man running around on screen fighting people in turn based combat, give it a fucking rest will you?

you guys live in the your own little world where everything is the same and nothing changes, if people like you were in charge of the country we would all be living in a world like fallout!

if you dont want to play it dont, if you dont want to buy it dont, just shut the fuck up and let the people who want to play this game play in peace before we put you in a vault and detonate a nuclear warhead up your ass! you guys who complain so fucking much are a bunch of fucking assholes and fannys!!!
5 years ago
icon_wink.gif
5 years ago
Thank you for bringing up a two month old conversation to have a ***** fest, do you feel better now?
5 years ago
Honestly, after seeing some vids of this game, this is my most anticipated game atm.

BTW..I haven't played fallout 1 or 2 so I couldn't give a rats arse about the previous..all I know it looks sumptious.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  31/10/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $109.95 AU
Publisher:
  Red Ant
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2008

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