Fallout 3 E3 Previews

Another round of hands-on previews from a large variety of sites. Of this bunch, the one I’d recommend reading is WorthPlaying.

All this scavenging comes at a price. When exploring, you’ll find certain items or doors marked in red, and if you take those items or pick those locks, your Karma will drop, and you’ll end up ticking off a lot of people. One unfortunate foray into the Children of the Atom’s stronghold left me faced with an entire group of angry people who were out for my blood. To make matters worse, every item I took or door I opened dropped my Karma, and once the Children of the Atom got angry at me, fighting back also dropped my Karma further. It’s entirely possible to play Fallout 3 as some sort of homicidal maniac, but don’t expect to do so without anyone calling you on it.

For those of us of the less violent persuasion, Fallout 3 includes plenty of people to talk to. Conversations take place in a fairly simple menu-driven system, where you pick your choice and the character responds. The twist is that not all of your choices are available at all times, and certain conversation choices are only available to certain characters. Your skills will also influence the success rate of conversations; a character with high Charisma and Speech skills may be able to charm information out of a normally uptight individual, and those with a high intelligence may notice something that less clever characters don’t. If you’re discussing explosives, having a high Explosive skill will make it more likely that folks will believe you. Even certain perks influence your choices. The Lady Killer perk, for example, gives you a bonus for talking to female characters and also provides a couple of conversation choices that wouldn’t normally be available. If you’re the kind of gamer who just wants to get back to the shooting, you can ignore most of these conversation trees and focus on the smashing, but it might come back to haunt you later.


Every year, E3 has one game on display that’s almost universally tagged as the critical favorite, despite not having the big-name pedigree of a Halo or Grand Theft Auto. Last year, it was the underwater adventure BioShock, which — thanks to a steady drumbeat of positive press coverage–went on to sell a few million copies and become a true sleeper hit.

This year, it’s Fallout 3, a post-apocalyptic RPG set in the ruins of Washington DC. The original Fallout games were PC titles from the early ’90s, so the franchise can’t rely on the faded memories of aging fans to sell big holiday numbers when it’s released this fall. Instead, developer Bethesda has modeled the game on its previous big hit, the popular 2006 sword-and-sorcery RPG Oblivion.The Escapist.

One area in which Fallout 3 differs greatly from Oblivion is in the combat. Whereas Oblivion’s was always a bit disappointing, Fallout 3’s is far more satisfying, especially when using the VAT system. You can simply attack an enemy in real time, or you can hit the right shoulder button (on the 360, anyway) to bring up the VAT system, which pauses the action and allows you to target specific body parts on your enemy. Each use of the VAT system requires a certain number of Action Points; your total Action Point allotment is dependent on your personal agility and Perks.GameDaily.

We then venture forward until we find an isolated shack with someone living inside. We go in and find an attractive blonde inside. After talking to her for a bit, we decided to play dirty and loot her house. Like anyone would react to a home invasion, the woman comes at us with a gun, so we take her out and check her house for any other loot. We didn’t find much, unfortunately, and also noticed that our karma level had dropped a notch or two, which, later in the game will affect how non-player characters react to our presence.

Our time with the game ended shortly after, and for someone who plays shooters regularly, it took a little readjusting to the turn-based shootouts, which in the end, turned out to be one of the more interesting elements of the demo. We also loved the roam anywhere, do anything futuristic apocalyptic environment with a big, foreboding plot bubbling just underneath the surface. If this isn’t the ‘it’ game of 2008, we’ll be very surprised, indeed.VGChartz.

There’s the typical set of RPG elements here, with stats and skills and abilites and a hefty inventory galore tucked away within an elaborate and rather humorous menu system. But the really cool part is the radio stations that you can tune into in different locations. In the ruined DC area (Capital Wasteland), for instance, you can listen to a propaganda broadcast from the “President”, who’s taken over the country, while you play the game. There was also a news broadcast, and even one from a China-based station. Some of the broadcasts appear to give you information for seeking out side quests as well. Really this was the most entertaining part of the demo, but I’m one of those people who enjoys listening to the fake talk radio stations in Grand Theft Auto, too.GamingTarget.

I switched to the baseball bat in my inventory menu and began beating him up in real-time mode and then trying VATS using melee attacks. With melee, the targeting covers an enemy’s entire body, so there’s no limb selection. You still have to be worried about using up Action Points (AP), which limit the number of attacks you can perform using VATS. AP auto-restores as you move in real-time, so when I killed the man and was startled by an aggressive cow, I had to do a lot of running backwards. That way, I could keep moving so the cow wouldn’t trample me to death and keep increasing my AP to target her through VATS until she tipped over for the final time.Gamester.

It’s also in large part an action game, almost to the point of first-person shooter. But Fallout purists, don’t be worried. As a Fallout purist myself I like the system because in addition to pure FPS it’s also very tactical thanks to a targeting system that lets you stop the action to target limbs and other body parts. It fits the atmosphere of the game very well.ABC News10.

Gunplay is gratifying, particularly when using the Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System, better known as V.A.T.S. When enemies approach, you’ll hit the shoulder button. The game pauses and shows parts of an enemy’s body and the percentage of a direct hit. You can then cue up shots to systematically take down Raiders or other foes.

In one fight, for example, my opponent ran down when he was severly injured. As he ran, I used V.A.T.S. to target his legs and cripple him.GiantRealm.

There’s been a lot of animosity bubbling around the internet about Bethesda’s decision to use VATS rather than a true turn-based combat engine, and while it probably won’t sit right with the most die-hard Fallout purist, VATS is an elegant system that makes combat feel more tactical than just pointing and shooting.

One more worrisome aspect of my admittedly short time playing was how much time I spent with VATS and how little I spent doing the other Fallout-y stuff, like fast-talking shop keepers, finding weird side quests and cheating hardworking people out of their money.

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