E3 2008: Fallout 3
Now that E3 has finished and the Los Angeles Convention Center is temporarily a ghost town, the previews of Fallout 3 are all over the place. Bethesda was very keen on letting attendees get quality hands-on time with the Xbox 360 version. Already there are previews glowing about the depth of the world, the incredible setting and the tongue-in-cheek humor. I’m not going to pretend I was able to grasp everything that happened. I didn’t just fail to scratch the surface. With only 30 minutes I hardly even touched it.
The demo began inside an underground vault. With the press of a switch, the seal opened and the screen faded to white. This, in addition to the music, suggested something pleasant, like a green field of freshly cut grass. When the world fades back I saw nothing but post-apocalyptic carnage as far as I could see. The environments in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion were undeniably impressive, but the landscapes of lush forests and castle towns have been done many times before. This beautiful decayed landscape has never been done to this scale before.
I wandered around the wrecked cars and destroyed roads, switching between the first and third person. I stumbled across a desolate village that looks like it was one of those prototypical 1950s neighborhoods. The kind where each family had a nice yard, a swimming pool and 2.5 kids. Of course, none of that is around after the nuclear war erupted. Some sort of robot was flying around, minding its business while playing a patriotic tune. I shot it for no particular reason. Nothing was found when I checked the body, so I hit the right bumper to scan the surroundings. The screen zoomed in and showed the vitals on a couple enemies located hundreds of meters away. I decided to explore the nearby Springvale Elementary School instead of facing them.
This dilapidated school essentially served as a dungeon, only much more interesting. Most of us have spent a lot of time in school, while I doubt very many have chilled out in many magical caverns or haunted crypts. The two-level school was overrun with bad people that wanted to kill me. I had to use most of my stim-packs here after getting hit by a crazy dude with a night stick. I stubbornly decided not to switch to melee weapons and paid the price when I kept missing whenever I shot him. Although the game looks like a typical FPS, there are some RPG elements involved in the combat. I could fire as much as I wanted to, but this wasn’t very effective. Each attack uses action points, which regenerate in real time. Action junkies might be surprised than even though Fallout 3 looks likes a FPS, it doesn’t always act like one.
I upgraded my armor with some of the loot I found off the raiders. I looked much better in badass armor than the tacky jump suit I had on. I explored the massive outdoors some more. There was an abandoned barn that housed an angry dog. This time I used melee combat and beat the vile thing senseless. I kept walking and walking, in awe of the environment. I could see so far and I could go anywhere. This is why I feel that some previews don’t stress enough. The game is supposed to be 20 hours long on a quick, basic playthrough. Factor in all the promised sidequests and this could be the longest game in a first person view outside of the Elder Scrolls series. I wanted the time to go through every house, dumpster and raider camp I saw. The world was just begging for rich exploration.
I knew that this was impossible at the moment, so I headed to a large city. More raiders. At this point I had to play conservatively due to my low health. I picked up a long-range rifle from one corpse and then a katana sword from another. I dove in and out of combat, trying to surprise the stationary rifle-wielding baddies. Time was running out in my demo, so I took to exploring some more. Once again, I admired the view. The sun was starting to set, which added some welcome color to the gray scenery. Just a few minutes after the sun went down, my time with Fallout 3 ended.
A lot of people were buzzing throughout E3 and already talking about Game of the Year. Of course, everybody said it “off the record.” I’m not going to say anything as bold. I’ll just say I’ve played the game and I want to play more. A lot more. When it comes out this fall for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, I fully intend on exploring all those areas that I didn’t quite have the time for. I’ll also make sure I’m properly equipped to take out those raiders.