Pete Hines meets Brother None
On a surprise move No Mutants Allowed got two intrepid ninjas inside the Fallout 3 demo presentations and got a few Q&A sessions with Pete Hines:
This preview is based on the demo shown at the Game Conference in Leipzig, Germany, by Pete Hines. It is the same demo shown at the earlier press showing and E3. Pete Hines noted that the demo build is 2 months old by now.
NMA’s main previews provides a walkthrough of the entire demo, then some opinions on several topics, then a final judgement. A dozen-question Q&A conducted by NMA’s staff on the spot is also available.
NMA’s staff covering this consists of Brother None (referred to as “I” in the preview) and SuAside, both of whom applied for the demo showing in name of another media company: Brother None thanks to GamerNode, SuAside thanks to MadShrimps.be. Silencer, who applied in the name of NMA, was turned down with no reason given (though it is worth noting he applied last, a day after Brother None’s appointment was finalized). SuAside saw the demo Friday at 12:00, Brother None at 14:00, so details vary and it will be noted in the walkthrough when they do significantly. At no point in the demo or Q&A did NMA’s staff identify themselves as from NMA.
In the words of Matt “Gstaff” Grandstaff “Very sneaky indeed”.
Just a few highlights:
This conversation also saw another return of something Oblivion-esque. I noted before the dialogues are built from 3-line blocks in which expressions show the same jumpy attitude as in Oblivion. Lucas shows the next step, namely that emotions are again conveyed pretty much only by the face, and that the facial expression and voice tone has the tendency to skip through different emotions during a single speech. To back up this impression, in long speeches like those of the sheriff and of dad, one gets the distinct impression the writing is a bit inconsistent, which is kind of off-putting. This did not look significantly improved from Oblivion, though at least the sheriff had only one voice. The faces themselves look better and less ridiculous than in Oblivion, but don’t expect to get blown out of the water by them, especially by their lack of expressiveness.[...]
Walking to the back of the bar the PC starts a conversation with a man sitting on a chair in an impeccably clean 3-piece suit and glasses. Introducing himself as Mr Burke, the man notes the PC could be very useful for him, being a stranger in town. Noting “I represent certain…interests,” calling Megaton a blight and asking the PC if he’s interested in helping him get rid of it. Here Hines notes that the speech skill comes into play during dialogues, and indeed two dialogue options show a percentage of success. An option to ask for 500 caps extra pay (29%), or to tell him the town is under your protection and he should get out. Stating that if he fails Mr Burke will like him less, Hines opts to ask for extra pay, and gets it.[...]
Moving down the tunnels, it isn’t long until you see a supermutant climbing over the wreckage in the distance. After taking a few potshots at each other, the PC with his hunting rifle and the mutant with a Chinese assault rifle, Pete Hines pauses the game (with Fallout 1′s “combat slider” sound) to zoom in on the mutant and explain that this is a supermutant, “the main bad guy in the game.” He points out that you can target the torso, arms, weapon, legs and head, each area having a different effect. Each area also has a percentage to hit which he notes is the same if you try aiming for an area in real time. The effects are also unique, headshots can blind, shooting someone in the leg can slow him down, etc.[...]
The PC goes out of the metro. He runs into a Brotherhood of Steel/supermutant battle, Pete Hines explaining the the supermutants have spread through the metro tunnels, but are locked in combat with the Brotherhood of Steel, “the noble knights of the wasteland” who are trying to drive out the supermutants. The part of the world the PC just entered is about 1/4th of the map, and it’s “a very dangerous place to come.” If you go here in your lower levels, still fairly weak, you can expect to die if you don’t have any help, as Oblivion’s style of level scaling is out. Looking around at the bountiful destruction, Pete Hines notes “destruction is our new trees.”[...]
Fallout 3 has that within the Vault, but it goes up and down once you’re outside. It shows flashes of brilliance in transporting Fallout’s world into 3D at some spots, like some of the skyscraper ruins and bits of Megaton. In Springvale it looks to want to try and accomplish something but fell short. Architecture follows the same rollercoaster mechanics, sometimes spot on, sometimes very nondescript.
For an awkwardly huge chunk, from the metros to the supermutants to the BoS, the game looks like a very vanilla, generic post-apocalyptic game with some 50s signs slapped on it in an easter egg format, as if they were an afterthought. That makes for some head-splitting inconsistencies, especially when you run through a lot of area fast, as in the demo.
The music falls right into this halfway-there category. Including actual 50s songs is a fun idea and will probably work fine, but the main soundtrack itself, while being very soft, was easily identified as “not like the originals.” It reminded me most of Inon Zur’s Fallout Tactics soundtrack, halfway between Fallout’s ambient music and Zur’s own tendency towards the bombastic.