This year there was only one game that Bethesda Softworks was showing to the press at the E3 Media & Business Summit, and that game was Fallout 3 on the Xbox 360 set for release late 2008. Those with previous experience with the Fallout series will find much of this experience to be familiar, while those entirely new to this game will find it to be not at all alienating in the slightest. The story begins after a great nuclear war has ravaged the planet. Humanity for the most part has ceased to exist except in some select locations where people were able to make it into a fallout shelter. Those people will continue on for the sake of humanity.
Your game begins in Vault 101, a select shelter where no one has left since the war. You are born in Vault 101 and you will die in Vault 101. One day your father ends up gone, he has left the vault without saying a word to anyone and you feel it your duty to find out why he left and where he has gone. That’s when the adventure begins. The overworld is full of cruel creatures and ruins that some humans have crafted into small cities. Along the way you will pick up weapons and the like, as well as items that will help you along your journey. This is part first person shooter and part role playing game, although more role playing game as you can and will craft weapons, boost statistics and skills, talk to what’s left of the citizenry and solve puzzles. All of this while looking at one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360.
The story looks to be intriguing and there are a number of decisions which you can make that will affect your game. For example in the gameplay they showed us you can choose to work for a rather shady character who requests that you detonate a nuclear warhead that had fallen, but not exploded. The resulting crater sprang up a city, Megaton, which for some reason this rather nicely dressed gentleman wants gone. A little later in the demo after some fighting and a mini-boss battle, you meet the smarmy guy again and detonate the bomb where the demo ended, obviously leaving us wanting more.
One of the more interesting points of the game worthy of note is that the combat is a combination of real-time shooting because it appears as though your weaponry will almost entirely be firearms, with the ability to utilize skills that slow combat down so that you can target specific body parts with each part displaying a different percentage for your own accuracy. Every pinpoint aim will deduct a certain amount of points that will, presumably increase as you progress through the game. Better still is the reaction from the enemies shot, hit them in the leg and they may continue towards you, but limping. Shoot them in the leg and you may see it explode while the enemy wriggles on the ground. This is just a flesh wound. Head-shots could rip a head clean off the body. But, this is all done so quickly that it feels somewhat natural. It’s a small breather in the midst of the heat of battle, so not only is it welcome but it is entirely to your benefit that you do so.
Another nice touch is the radiation meter. Being that this is a post-nuclear war world, it is full of radiation. Water is scarce and uncontaminated water appears to be even more scarce. Water is one means of replenishing health and in the demonstration at one point they even drank out of a toilet. The levels of radiation were rather low, but above ground the water is more contaminated and has a more damaging effect on your character. What those affects are weren’t very clear, but it’s safe to say they’ll either lead to death or a whole lot of trouble for you.
By far the most intriguing aspect of the game is the art direction. It is the future, but the style is similar to something like 1950’s Americana. The cars strewn about look like old Chevy’s and Ford’s, except I don’t remember Ford or Chevy or even Cadillac for that matter making a nuclear powered car. The billboards that still exist show people with hairstyles and clothes that look like they’re straight out of an “I Love Lucy” rerun, or the movie “Pleasantville”, if Lucy goes back a little too far. It’s all part of an extremely cool looking future-gone-retro look that makes for an interesting art style.
The list of cool features goes on and on, and we didn’t even begin to scratch the surface I’m sure as we saw the game for less than an hour. Needless to say the sheer amount of detail that is already on display and the fact that so much has been implemented already and we’re still more than a year away from release bodes well for Bethesda. Judging from their past triumphs like the Elder Scrolls games, this will almost assuredly not disappoint.
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