Preview Impressions: An Hour With Fallout 3
August 20, 2008 · Print This Article
It’s always interesting to throw yourself into the middle of a game where you don’t know exactly what’s going on. That’s what I did last week at a demo for one of the years most anticipated games - “Fallout 3.” I had one hour to explore as much of a post apocalyptic Washington D.C. as possible, and trust me, you need a lot more than an hour to really sink your teeth into “Fallout 3.”
The demo started off at the exit Vault 101 as my character (who was pre-created) was headed into the outside world for the first time, ever. As you emerged on to this desolate wasteland you could tell that something very, very bad happened to our nation’s capital. Armed with only a handgun and my stat-managing PIP-Boy 3000 I exited the vault, and set forth to find out about my father. Unfortunately, I’m not able to talk about the main quest of the game any more than that, so, instead, I set forth to find out about some side quests.
In a previous demo I was shown what was to the right when you exit your vault, a city called Megaton, so I decided to head left, and see what I could find. Using the game’s navigation system, the first point of interest I encountered was Springvale Elementary School - a wonderful place for a child to get an education, or get shot by the Raiders that now roam the hall. As I opened the front entrance to the school I was greeted with a barrage of bullets from the balcony above (consider yourself warned, for when you play). Luckily I survived, and took out the Raider. Prior to this encounter all I really needed to shoot were the mole rats that roam the hillside, and taking down a human always feels a little bit different.
As I continued through the halls of the school I had numerous opportunities to test out the V.A.T.S. (Vaultec Advanced Targeting System), which allows you to essentially stop time and target specific areas of your enemy’s body for greater damage. The mode is very easy to jump in an out of, and extremely helpful for taking down groups of enemies. The only downside is that I instantly became dependant on it. While there are measures put in place to keep players from constantly jumping into V.A.T.S. every time and enemy comes along, I was still able to use it rather consistently, and successfuly and I was able to keep myself alive for almost the entire hour. Almost.
I made my way through the three floors of the school, taking down Raiders (and stealing all their possessions) along the way, but I narrowly escaped death as ventured out the back entrance of the top floor of the school. The back half of the school had been blown off and the only thing that was waiting for me out there were Raiders, and they were ready to take me down. They must not have had a gym in Vault 101 because my character was fairly slow to escape (this may have been because, by now I was covered in the clothes I had stolen from dead Raiders) as I ran around to corner to the front of the school, covering my back as best I could. By now, my time was almost half gone, and I wanted to see how much ground I could cover in order to get a real feeling for how big the first part of the world was.
Off in the distance, there was most of a raised highway, and I started on my way there. In order to get up top I had to do a bit of climbing, as well as defending myself. In addition to the mole rats, I ran into one very unpleasant dog, but the V.A.T.S. helped me take him out without any problems. After I finally made it up to the highway I very quickly discovered that it was essentially a safe haven for Raiders, and that I was ill-equipped to survive. It was here that that I ultimately saw my demise at the hands of a flame-thrower wielding Raider, hiding at the end of the highway. I just didn’t have enough stim packs to stay alive.
As my hour was running out, I respawned close to the elementary school, and decided to set my sites on (what I thought were) the nearby, abandon buildings. I ventured into one, and actually found a friendly person, and by friendly I mean someone that didn’t instantly start shooting at me. Her name was Silver and asked me if I could help her out by delivering something for her. Even though I knew the package would never see its destination, I agreed, and then proceeded to pillage her house. I very quickly learned a lesson that your character is subject to karma. I tried to steal a few items from my new friend, but the game wouldn’t let me. I kept losing karma points, and what ever I took magically kept reappearing where it originally was. I’m not entirely unclear how this effects my character overall, but I think there’s a good chance that you need to do your best to maintain relationships in order to succeed, and karma is one byproduct of that. As I left Silver’s house my time ran out.
Overall, after sitting down with the game for just an hour, I really got a sense for just how complex, and deep the “Fallout” experience is. As I was playing through I couldn’t help but notice that the halls of Sunnyvale Elementary school felt a little bit like the passageways of Rapture, from last year’s “Bioshock.” It didn’t seem like “Fallout 3″ was ripping off that game in anyway, but there are some parallels that can be drawn in terms of mood, tone, and art direction - I suppose there are worse games that it could be compared to. Either way, it only takes one hour with the game, to tell that “Fallout 3″ is a contender for Game of the Year, and when it comes out on October 28th, fans of the series, and newcomers are both going to have a lot of fun trudging through this game for many, many hours.