The Five: Fallout 3
The 10-Cent Tour: Fallout 3 is a sprawling post-apocalyptic adventure that lets players tackle the wasteland the way they see fit.
1. Fallout 3 is a lot like Oblivion. The moment you start walking around and collecting loot you can tell that Fallout 3 and Oblivion are close cousins. There are brief load times when going in and out of buildings. And nearly any mailbox or dumpster can be rummaged through for junk or used to stow stuff that's too heavy to carry. The world is vast, too. If you can see something, you can hike to it.
2. Fallout 3 isn't just like Oblivion, though. The menu system, all integrated into the Pip Boy digital assistant the player wears on their wrist, is much more streamlined and pleasant to use. Fighting is made more satisfying by this little doo-dad as well. The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (or V.A.T.S.) makes combat a bit more strategic by allowing players to target enemy body parts or unleash a stream of attacks on different targets.
3. The post-apocalyptic setting is bad-ass. Raise your hand if you're tired of dragons and space marines. Fallout 3 feels a lot like "Mad Max." The smoldering wasteland is full of violent roving gangs, killer mutants and tons of dusty remnants of the past. The only thing better than the end of the world is sifting through the rubble afterwards.
4. Customization is key. My demo started at the moment the player walks out of the vault. If this happens during daylight your eyes are blinded by a sheer, white shroud that fades as your eyes adjust. This shocking transition is appropriate considering the amount of time players will take to tweak their player in the vault where they've lived their entire life. The game's character creation sequence can take up to several hours.
5. Talk is cheap. There are tons of quests to undertake and characters with which to interact. I only bumped into one talkative survivor in my journeys -- a reformed prostitute hiding in one of the few standing houses. The rest of the humans shot first and asked questions later. You can do the same if you don't mind earning a bad reputation.
The Crispy Forecast: Nuclear winter. Fallout 3 is wicked cool.
This preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game presentation at E3.