E3 2008: Fallout 3 hands on

by: Chuck -
John,
I know you still hate me because I got to spend 30 glorious minutes with Fallout 3 today and you didn't.  I know this because you sent me a text message after I got out saying that you hated me (OK, maybe I provoked you because I sent you two or three taunting text messages).  I know I shouldn't continue to provoke you but the Fallout 3 demo was very impressive.  The only problem is that our appointment was only 30 minutes long and that's far to short to really get a feel for a game of this scope.

The demo had us starting in Vault 101 and had us opening the vault door so we could explore the outside world.  We saw part of this clip at the show last year but the engine has gotten a touch up since then and it looks a step or two above what we saw in those high back seats in Santa Monica.  After the door opens I walked out and took a look at the signs some people had left outside the vault door.  We're a family friendly site (most of the time) so I can't tell you exactly what they said but they used some swear words about how some people weren't lucky enough to escape the vault.  After that it was out into the bright light.  Remember that moment in Oblivion were you exited the sewers and marveled at the world?  That's in Fallout 3 as well except that instead of the vibrant world of Tamriel you're walking into the bombed out ruins of Washington DC.  Tamriel was lush, green and teeming with life while Fallout 3 is destroyed, dead, and barren.  After sitting mouth agape, you would have ventured further out into the world.

Once I got outside I was leveled up to Level 2 in the game and had the chance to update my stats and add a perk.  I'm not allowed to tell you about any of the specifics as the fine PR folks at Bethesda would kill me if I did.  You'll just have to wait until the game is released.  After leveling up I ventured out to explore the world.  You would be amazed at how good the graphics are and how detailed the water looks.  I know I did.  I decided to skip the plot section and just explored the area.  I found a burned out elementary school and a Super-Duper mart that was full of some very unhappy shoppers.  I'm guessing you would have fared a little better against them the first time as I went in guns a blazing and was summarily dispatched.  The second time I took it a bit more slowly and lured them around the corner so I could take them out one by one.  I also played around with the VATS targeting system which allows you to to take a more tactical approach to the combat.  It's good stuff.  After cleaning out the denizens of the store I collected a bunch of ammo and headed out to explore part of the world.  It was then that I noticed that my time was almost up.  It's amazing how fast 30 minutes goes by when you are so immersed in a game.

If you were here we would have talked about how the game is definitely running on the Oblivion engine as we left the Bethesda booth.  It's not a bad thing mind you but the purists will probably complain a bit because that's what they do best. Saying that is akin to saying you're dating a prettier clone of Scarlett Johansson.  The gameplay isn't perfect as the environments aren't fully interactive (I was spoiled by Bad Company) and there are still loading screens everytime you go in and out of an area.  There are still some pop-in graphics as you explore the world and some of the models are a bit further up the uncanny valley wall than I'd like.  That's all covered up by the wonderful sense of humr that Bethesda has worked into the game and the rest of the strong gameplay mechanics. I guess we'll find out soon enough when you get the game later this year.
   ->Chuck
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