Previews

Fallout 3

Derelict houses, vast wastelands and warring factions...

We don't make a habit of being discovered rummaging around the gents toilets in post-apocalyptic supermarkets, but two hours into Fallout 3 and we were caught by a gang of Raiders in exactly such a situation.

We were sent there on a fact-finding mission by a shop-owner in the nearby crater-bound town of Megaton - a woman hell-bent on writing a survival guide to the wasteland without ever getting her hands irradiated herself.

The fact that our stealth abilities weren't too hot so early in the game meant that getting spotted was inevitable - and sure enough, two leather-clad goons charge into the lav, one armed with a pistol, the other with a pool cue.

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The first is taken out easily with a shotgun blast to the chest, the second we entered paused V.A.T.S. combat and selected a point-blank blast to the head.

Having watched his cranium explode and one of his eyeballs bounce off the ceiling, we turn to an excrement-filled, rusty toilet bowl and noticed that by pressing A we could use it. So it was then that in the full flush of victory, rather than the relief we were expecting, our character accidentally lapped up dirty brown toilet water.

I will survive
Survival in the wastes is a gruesome business. It's a lonely one too. Under the game's grim atomic sky you can walk for ages with only broken sections of motorway, brown desert, decaying houses and the occasional weather-beaten skeleton for company.

Sure, there are wild dogs, bloat-flies and propaganda-bleating eye-bots sent out by the power-grabbing false presidency of John Henry Eden (the leader of a faction known as the Enclave, brilliantly voiced by Malcolm McDowell), but ultimately a stroll through the wilderness is a solitary, haunting experience.

Then again, should a dash of the old ultra-violence be desired, indicators appear on your compass to inform you in which direction to head - but not how far away it is, or what it could be.

The first top-side settlement you'll probably explore, however, is Megaton - the town that you are given the choice to either nuke or save through the medium of its central atom bomb. Us? We defused it, obtaining the deeds to a local shack and the free hair-cutting services of one Wadsworth the Robo-butler from a grateful populace.

A populace that would probably have been a lot less happy if they'd known we'd also spent the evening hacking their personal files, stealing from locked safes, buying hard drugs from the local dealer and (seriously) putting a live grenade in the pocket of a sleeping old woman and watching her frantically pat herself down searching for it, before exploding.

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Fallen angel
It's true to say that, as you explore people's houses and watch them go about their daily routine, Fallout 3 is a lot like Oblivion - yet this is undoubtedly a better game in combat, dialogue, character-building and general adventuring. If the rest of the game stands up to its first five hours, then we strongly advise you to start booking your days off work now...

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