With Fallout 3 almost around the corner, I thought it might be a good time to try out…Fallout 3…the Van Buren demo that was released into the wild by No Mutants Allowed and what Black Isle had been working on as an official sequel before folding. I took some snapshots which are at the bottom.
The tech demo demonstrates the direction that the game would have taken, going in for a more 3D realized world but with a distinctly Fallout 1/Fallout 2 flavor. Not a lot works in this aside from the character creation engine, the realtime combat (turn based options weren’t implemented), and a few basic quests as you play a citizen trying to get to their Vault before the bombs drop.
The 3D graphics work okay and you can spin the camera around, zoom in, and otherwise get a good idea of what is going on. You even have a temporary partner with you that’ll shoot Commie scum that tries to get in your way of preserving peace, freedom, and happiness by making it to the Vault, loot their corpses for goodies, and generally experience a very brief Fallout game. Despite some of the negativity from the die-hard Fallout fans that aren’t amused at how Fallout 3 looks to be Oblivion-with-guns, I think it’s going to do well precisely because of that which, unfortunately, will only lend more ammo to the Fallout Veterans vs. FPS/RPG crowds when they debate the merit of both positions on the forums ad nauseum.
Am I excited about Fallout 3? Absolutely. Fallout 1 and 2 are two of my most favorite post-apocalyptic RPGs alongside Wasteland. Do I agree with everything that I’ve read and heard about Fallout 3 from Bethesda? Not really…the level caps and carebear NPCs that get knocked “unconscious” are only two of the things that I have a problem with. Still, it’s a game that promises to carry on the spirit of Fallout and for that I’m still excited to give it a whirl.
The Halo franchise demonstrates that your audience doesn’t have to know what the original Marathon is in order to kick open the door in providing them with an experience that they may not otherwise have outside of a PC/Mac…in this case, a tightly designed, sci-fi FPS with some basic multiplayer. In as much as the Wii has shown that a majority of buyers who have never touched a console before will buy into Nintendo’s little white box without knowing Nintendo’s history with Zelda, Bethesda’s reputation with Oblivion and its success on the 360/PS3 may do the same among console RPG fanatics that have no idea what the first two ever were. It’s a sad reality, but I think that’s exactly what Bethesda is counting on. Their adaptation of Fallout 3 as akin to Oblivion and leveraging their experience with that technology is something of a win-win in a strictly business sense in drawing players into what could potentially launch as a new franchise for Bethesda. It’s still a business, money makes games, and at least Fallout is being given as big a chance as any to remain relevant with today’s generation of players.
You can’t please everybody all the time. Even if Bethesda came out with their own irradiated title, forums would fill up with posts either decrying why it’s living in Fallout’s shadow, why it’s a Fallout ripoff, or why Bethesda could not have made a Fallout game. They’re sure to get flack from the Fallout fans that remember Black Isle and Interplay during its heyday, but given that they are the one of the tiny number of developers to even have an interest in pursuing a game that takes place a century or so following the Day After with the familiar trappings of its predecessors, it’s a far better treatment than what Shadowrun had gone through.