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PC Gamer plays Fallout 3


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Ok PC gamer magazine September 2008 (yeah they publish 2 months ahead) issue had the preview of Fallout. PC gamer stuff was able to play not the E3 demo but actual game. While I was able to get my hands on the copy of the issue it was on Reference in the library so I had to photocopy the pages.

However warning there are some spoilers ahead.

Fallout 3 by Dan Stapleton

It has been a full decade - an eternity in gaming time - since we've seen a new game set in the Fallout universe, but Fallout 3's release is imminent. Many people believe there is no greater RPG franchise...which means expectations are king-sized. Can the latest installment in the story live up to its classic predecessors? The only way to find out was to play it. This is a journal of the people, mutants, skills, abilities, weapons, equipment, and quests we encountered during our day in a post-nuclear role-playing game.

I doubt anyone ever looked forward to life after nuclear armaggedon as much as I have. As a PC gamer who counts Fallout 1 and 2 among my favorite gaming experiences of all time, this was a singular thrill: For the first time since announcing the resurrection of one of PC gaming's best-loved role-playing franchises in 2004, renowned developer Bethesda Softworks haded over the controls (a mouse and keyboard, just to be perfectly clear) of Fallout 3 to someone outside its employ. It was with perilously high expectations that I stepped out of Vault 101, self-contained bunker located under Washigton D.C. that sheltered 1,000 people from the apocalyptic war of 2077, and into the bleak post-nuclear wasteland of 2271 with nothing but a pistol and few life-restoring stimpacks to my name. The main quest (which revolves around the mystery of why your father suddenly left the Vault and what he's up to) was off-limits for anti-spoiler reasons, but absolutely everything else was fair game. The world, and all of its treasures and perils, was mine to explore. I skipped over character creation, since we've seen that in other previews, and set out on my adventure.

The moment I set foot in the wastes I heard a familiar sound effect - the classic Fallout level-up chirp!. I hit Tab to bring up my Pip Boy wrist computer interface, pumped all my skill points into small guns, and, after carefully looking over the list of available perks couldn't help but choose Ladykiller - I felt confident that would come in handy down the line.

The town of Megaton - a walled-in community built from scrap around the undetonated nuclear bomb left over from the war-is so close to Vault 101 that you can hardly avoid exploring it, in previous demos, we've seen one way the town's central quest can play out: Mr. Burke, a creepy guy in a bar gives you a device and tells you to plant it in the bomb in order to reactivate it, and the two of you watch from remote tower as megaton is wiped off the map in a spectacular explosion. But I was there to see something new, so after speaking to Burke, I ran screaming to the town sheriff, Lucas Sims. Sims immediately marched into the bar and arrested Burke, but made the rookie mistake of turning his back on the prisoner; Burke calmly drew a gun, shot the sheriff int he back (but he did not shoot the deputy), sat back down, and reminded me to finish the job. That's not exactly how I expected things to go down, but on the bright side I did end up with a snappy new duster coat, hat, and Chinese-made assault rifle that the sheriff wouldn't need anymore.

Post-nuclear Makeover

Even with this setback, i was determined not to let Burke win. My character wasn't top of his class science-wise, so I popped some Mentats that temporarily boosted my intelligence enough to permanently disarm the Megatton bomb, thus foiling Burke's plan for good. Sims' son presented me with the deed to a vacant Megaton home as a reward. Inside my new residence I found  (among other things) a robot butler who offered to give me a haircut, so I restyled my premade character's blond hair to bright red color and added a massive bushy handlebar mustache, I completed the look with some thick-timmed glasses I'd found giving me a Gordon Freema/Yosemite Sam love child look.

My handsome mug was lookin' good, but my house was in dire need of decor. Some helpful townsfolk directed me to Moira; owner of Craterside Supply, for some household furnishings. A very cheerful lady, Moira, offered me work helping her research a guide to the wastelands that she was writing - she wanted me to scout out a nearby Super duper Mart for food and medicine. That worked for me, since I was headed in that direction anyway, I had picked up another quest in the bar from a woman who asked me to deliver a letter to her parents in a nearby village called Arafu.

Upon leaving the relative safety of Megaton, I found that these NPCs weren't just being lazy by asking me to do their quests for them - it's brutal out there. My first encounter were with a pair of giant ants and a giant bloat fly, but they were easily dispatched with few shots from my pistol. I came across a dilapidated baseball field with several dismembered human corpses strung up on the backstop - telltale sign of a raider base. As I approached I was charged by several raiders wearing fire fighter helmets and intimidating gas masks, and sporting baseball bats. Melee combat works very much tas it does in Oblivion: left-click strikes, right-click blocks. It's a basic system but it gets the job done. A few good whacks later I was trying on a firfighter helmet, but ditched it because it covered up my stache.

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Well judging from the PC gamer's article I don't really see any real problems.

Continuing on with the article's next section

More Fun than VATS of Monkeys

Another group of raiders opened fire on me from a ruined warehouse, and I immediately engaged VATS with a tap of the V key. The action froze and the camera zoomed in on the nearest target (I could also cycle through all targets in visual range). This system dramatically change the pace of combat from the "Oblivion with guns" scenario to something slower and more tactical. For example, I caught the raider closest to me in the act of equipping a flamethrower, so I made him a priority target. At medium range my character's perception was high enough to give me a solid lock on the raider's head, so I cued up a couple of shots from my assault rifle and let them fly. The resulting critical hit, shown in glorious slow-motion, sent both the flamethrower and the target's head rolling to the ground. The slow-mo kills instantly became one of my favorite things ever, and I finished off my first victim's two friends in the similar fashion by closing to point-blank range before pausing and blowing a chunk of raider. My action points, which you expend when using VATS, recharged at a rate that let me use the system pretty much as often as I wanted, although not for every shot.

I finally reached Arafu - a small group of homes built atop on old freeway overpass - and found the town under siege by a nocturnal gang known as The Family. The lone defender, a trigger-happy old man named Evan King, singed my eyebrows with an explosive trap as I approached , but quickly changed his tune and asked me to do him a favor by checking on the townspeople. Most of them were fine, if a little stir-crazy. But when I found the parents of the woman who had given me the letter, they were lying dead on the floor with bite marks in their necks that went down to the bone, and their son was nowhere in sight - I presumed he'd been abducted by The Family. When I reported back to King with the grim news, he pleaded with me to deal with the Family threat, and gave me vague directions to the southeast. I tried to get more information, but my speech skill was only at 11 percent, and I failed to persuade King to spill his secrets.

More Mutant than I could chew

I didn't even hesitate to pick a fight when my path crossed a pair of heavily armed super mutants guarding a caged human captive in a church. That might not have been my best move - my rifle had a hard time punching through the mutant's tough green hides, and one of them was armed with a minigun that had no trouble punching holes in me. It was time for a change of strategy: using VATS, I repeatedly targeted the right arm of the mutant holding the big gun. The crippled hulk dropped the cannon and charged with his fists, and I managed to cut him down before he reached me. Meanwhile, his buddy was picking up the discarded minigun, which was bad news, since I was now completely out of stimpacks. A tense shoutout followed as I ducked in and out of cover, taking VATS shots at my opponent, but a concussion (damage to my head) threw my aim off. I eventually prevailed, but was pretty beat up. Sipping some water from a nearby pond healed me up, but also increased my radiation level - eventually, that would make me sick, but for now it was manageable.

I freeing the human captive by picking the lock on here cage. I found a new lock-picking minigame in which you twist a screwdriver in the lock while applying pressure with a bobby pin, rotated with the mouse. If the pin is at the correct angle, the lock will open - if not, the lock will turn slightly, and will turn more the closer you get to the solution. The pin will snap after couple of attempts though, so you'll need another one in order to try again. Successfully unlocking the cage awarded me enough XP to hit level three, and this time around I spread my skill point more evenly among barter and medicine, and chose the Gun Nut perk.

A Family Matter

Searching in the direction King had pointed me, I tracked The Family to their lair in some old train tunnels. After making my way through booby traps, including and exploding baby carriage, and being bludgeoned by a chunk of meat swinging on a chain, I encounetered the Family's sentry and drew my gun - but much to my surprise, he didn't shoot at me. He was actually quite a nice fellow when we got to talking, if a little full of himself, and he invited me in. Inside, I met their leader, who revealed the horrible truth; the Family are vampires! Well, not really, but they sure wanted to be, and had been taking bites out of Arafu townspeople to prove it. I managed to negotiate a settlement whereby The Family would actually protect Arafu in exchange for donated blood packs.

There was stil the matter of the missing son; while The Family claimed he was there voluntarily, they wouldn't allow me to interrupt the boy's meditation. Rather than attmept to hack the password on the computer locking the door to his room., I decided to take a more suave approach: speaking to a female member of The Family, I used a Ladykiller dialogue option to persuade her toshare the password. I knew that perk would pay off! I gained access to the room and spoke with the boy, who admitted that he'd sought out The family to join their community of social outcasts. I showed him the letter from his sister, which convinced him to go back home.

Mood swings

I returned to Arafu to deliver the good news. With the quest completed, the people of Arafu had outlived their usefulness to me...so I killed everyone in town for no toehr reason than that I was tired of playing Mr. Nice Guy. That sure didn't help my Karma rating any, but it did prove that, true to the spirit of Fallout 1 and 2, no one is safe from a player who decides to go on psychotic rampage.

So it was off to my final quest; scouting the Super Duper Mart. The Costco-like store was crawling with raiders, but I'd lucked into a Stealth boy device that rendered me nearly invisible for two minutes - plenty of time to drop live grenades in the pockets of a few raiders. Their "ants in the pants" dances, abrutly ended by detonation, were hilarious! I also got to try out a fancy laser pistol, but since I'd put all my skill into small guns, my effectiveness with an energy weapon was reduced to "light show".

As I looted the blasted-apart remains of the raiders in teh store. I found a note from my old pal Mr. Burke - it seems he wants me dead for my actions in megaton. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of him, but I'll have to wait untill the fall,s icne Bethesda assures me that the time I spent in Fallout 3 is the most anoyon outside of the company will get to play untill the game's release. Did this taste live up to expectations? Abslolutely - in fact, I'd say Bethesda has outdone itself with the implemention of VATS, which makes the game more tactical and visually amazing. Perhaps even more importantly, the team nailed the look and feel of Fallout, and despite the dramatic shift in gameplay from the origional - that was what truly captivated players a decade ago.

Guided Tour

Before letting me run wil, Todd Howard took me on a brief tour of some never-before-seen features with buffed-out late-game character. First up: melee combat. Equipped with a pneumatic Power Fist and the legendary Bloody mess perk. Todd move in close to attcking raider and activated VATS. Melee VATS doesn't let you tarket induvidual body parts, but it does increase your chance of scoring a critical hit and inflicting extra damage. Todd cued up a couple of attacks and pressed the go key, treating us to slow-motion scene of Todd's character winding up and trowing a punch that, with a puff of steam from the Power Fist, took the raider's head clean off with a spray of gore. He also demonstrated some eMP grenades on a roving sentry bot.

The big revelation, though, was the Enclave. Untill now, Bethesda has been tight-lipped about Enclave involvement in Fallout 3, except the mention of an Enclave radio station broadcast on your Pip Boy. But thanks to a spectacular entrace near the Brotherhood of Steel-occupied Pentagon (now called Citadel) in which a dual-bladed helicpoter called a Vertibird (a crashed one is seen outside Klamath in fallout 2) deploys a squad of advanced power-armor-cald troops equiped with laser weapons, we can confirm that the Enclave presence in Washighton, D.C area is very real and ver well-armed.

S.P.E.C.I.A.L  system will remian unchanged

Perks:

Dady's boy/girl

Gun nut

Thief

Ladykiller/black widow

Little leaguer

Swift Learner

Bloody Mess

Intense training

President McDowell

Malcom McDowell joins voice cast memebers Ron Periman and Liam Neeson, lending his distinctive. gravelly voice to John Henry Eden, President of the United States - or rather, of the Enclave, the remant of the U.S. government that first appeared as the villains of Fallout 2. Bethesda got in touch with McDowell's agent after seeing him star as the villain Mr. Linderman on Heroes. You'll hear his voice (the British actor does a flawless American accent) reading Enclave propoganda that's broadcast arund the wastes by floating loudspeaker bots, or just by tuning into Enclave Radio on you Pip Boy.

Skills:

Almost the same except for merging of throwing and explosives into one skill of explosives and merging of First Aid and Doctor into Medicine skill.

Interview of Todd Howard andEmil Pangliarulo could be found at gamesradar.com/fallout3

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