E3 2008: Fallout 3 Impression
I’m a Fallout fan. I’ve been following this game since it was a GURPS title. I was saddened when Interplay lost their way and the franchise seemed doomed to obscurity but when Bethesda scooped up the game three years ago I found renewed hope.
Last year Todd Howard, and the team fresh off of The Elder Scrolls Oblivion showed a very tight, controlled demonstration of the game in action, and this year I actually got 30 minutes of hands on time with the title. While the areas shown in the live demo area covered much the same content as last years presentation I didn’t care. This wasn’t my shot to gauge the story or the acting; this was about finding out if Fallout could translate to the 1st person RPG space and not lose its charm.
Well I have good and bad news for Fallout fans. Fallout 3 makes the transition well but only if you’re a fan of the Oblivion style of gaming (which I most definitely am). Controlling the character, implementing stat points and choosing perks using the Pip boy interface were all simple and intuitive.
Unlike Oblivion, Fallout 3 does not rely on a clunky interface. There is inventory management but its reminiscent of the older Fallout’s turn based grid with a few modern updates. The change of setting – from a medieval combat system to a modern gun-slinging wasteland works well also. I demo’d the game on the 360 and the title showed the same visual finesse of Bethesda’s earlier game. Those who found fault with the dialog interface or camera system of that title will find it virtually unchanged.
I spent a good deal of time navigating and interacting with NPCs. Dialog choices that could be influenced by skills were set apart – including the percentage chance of success, though the actual “roll” was hidden it was obvious when you succeeded or failed. This little tweak felt like a good reflection of the classic games and the content of the dialog also followed a more adult, humorous bent in the area of Megaton.
Wading into combat with some rabid scavengers in an old elementary school, I used every chance possible once engaged to test out the V.A.T.S. targeting system. This turn-based mode freezes combat momentarily and displays a digital overlay of a foe. The various target spots of the baddie glows and players can choose trick shots with likely success indicated by percentages based on skills and perks your character has.
All in all I’m just as excited about this game as I was last year. The hands on experience felt familiar in many good ways and with the game coming soon on the 360, PC and PS3 at least I won’t have to wait long to wander around at the end of the world nuking super mutants.