Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fallout 3 Preview (E3 2007)

Here's a preview of Fallout 3 I did for DigitalMediaNet at E3 2007, which I don't think was ever published... so I'll throw it up here:

Do you have what it takes to survive in the wasteland, brother?
Fallout 3 is the newest entry in the critically acclaimed Fallout series. This time however, things are a bit different. Your quest still takes place in an irradiated Earth where you'll have to wrestle angry mutants and giant cockroaches for survival, but instead of taking place in the familiar blasted Californian landscape as its predecessors this new entry to the series now focuses on our country's capital, Washington D.C. One of the reasons behind this change is because Maryland based Bethesda Softworks has taken over the franchise's reins from now defunct developer Black Isle.

Another change longtime fans will immediately notice is that the camera perspective has been moved from its previous bird's eye perspective to a first person one. Bethesda believes that in a game world as large and immersive as the one they're building, the use of a first person perspective is the best way to draw the player into the game. The bleak desolation of a post-apocalyptic world has never been so viscerally portrayed. Powered by the might of next-generation graphics technologies found on the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Fallout 3 promises to be an experience you'll remember. Along with this change in perspective is a refocusing of the game's combat to a more action-oriented form instead of its previous strategy and turn-based board game roots. That isn't to say some of the old tricks you learned in previous Fallouts aren't still around however. Take out a mutant's legs and you will cripple his progress. Get a solid shot on his head and… well… there's going to be a bloody mess.

Fallout 3 is first and foremost a role-playing game however. Unlike Bethesda's previous RPG works, such as the highly acclaimed Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Fallout 3 will be less of a sandbox world and will feature prominently a focused narrative. As all fans of Western role-playing games know however, it's all about choice. The opportunity will be there for players to define their own adventure, something Bethesda is well known for. Make these choices wisely however, because they will be reflected in the game world. Rig a dud nuclear bomb in the middle of a shantytown to explode for some greedy real estate developers? Don't expect to be able to visit the local dive bar for a quick fix anytime soon.

Bethesda has enlisted a top quality voice acting team to bring the experience to life including acclaimed actors Liam Neeson and Ron Perlman. The new focus on narrative and character interactions has led Bethesda to increase substantially the number of spoken lines and important characters in the game over their previous efforts. They are definitely keeping the tone of the Fallout series intact, with its tongue-in-cheek humor, dark comedy, and future-retro aesthetic evident throughout the game.

The demonstration Bethesda put on was impressive, with the game running smoothly and looking nearly feature complete. This will give Bethesda plenty of time to iron out the bugs and add endless things for us wasteland warriors to do in their post-apocalyptic future, set for release in the fall of 2008. Giant cockroaches never looked so fun to squish.

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