When Fallout 3 was released for the Xbox 360 I had never heard of the franchise nor played the series of games that came before it, but I found that this didn’t matter. Fallout 3 started in a way that allowed new players to fall into the Fallout world without feeling like they were missing anything. The layout of the game is very much like Bethesda’s other great success story Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In first or 3rd person, the player can wander the vastness of the game’s map and explore to their heart’s contentment. The story is not linear and side missions and distractions are a-plenty.
The freedom of choice within Fallout 3 is one of its greatest devices. Your actions can lead you to become good, bad or indifferent, the choice is yours. You may choose to save the people of the wasteland or become their scourge. Regardless of your choices the vastness of possibilities open to players is highlighted by the great feeling of accomplishment you get from saving a group of slaves from their captors or the sadistic joy that comes from pick-pocketing a random stranger and leaving a grenade there only to watch their trousers explode.
Being the quintessential Englishman, and not having experienced the American Dream first hand (save for a few visits on holiday), the America portrayed in the 1950s ideal is very appealing to me and the overarching 50s theme present in Fallout 3 fills me with a yearning to return to the USA and experience another dose of Uncle Sam. The promise of further adventure in the same style set in that most glamorous and tacky of cities, Las Vegas, brings hope for a glimpse of the world of the Rat Pack and the smoke-filled lounge rooms of Vegas, with a post-apocalyptic twist.
Early indications are that Fallout New Vegas will employ a very similar playing style to Fallout 3, with the obvious improvements to some of the mechanics and graphics that advances in technology allow. It will be set 3 years after the events of Fallout 3 and will not be directly linked to the characters or events of the previous game. Las Vegas will have remained largely in tact having not been directly hit during the nuclear war. The game remains very much in development and is, at present, due for release in late 2010.