In the RPGs Fallout and Fallout 2 as in the tactic game Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, you had a certain amount of Action Points (AP) which you expended to move or fire a weapon. Spending more APs in a turn for aiming let you chose a body part to shoot at — which always decreased the to-hit-chance but dealt special damage to the opponent, with successful head-shots dealing massive damage and stunning the enemy, sometimes killing him instantly (exploding head). But in the current version of the Action-RPG Fallout 3 is, V.A.T.S. rather feels like a cheat mode. There are three reasons for this: First, you can queue up several shots, with big body parts costing less APs than, let’s say, the head. But we always could queue up at least two shots, and mostly three, thereby doubling or tripling our to-hit chance. Second, regardless of what body part you hit in V.A.T.S. mode, the opponent will die. We killed a Super Mutant by shooting his leg with a pistol. Third, the APs regenerate far too quickly, we never activated the V.A.T.S. mode in our half-hour of play without being able to use it. So instead of using this mode a couple of times each hour like you would a high-level spell in Oblivion, we were basically using it for every single fight, making things too easy for our liking (playing on “normal” mode). Apart from using basic shooter skills like dodging, taking cover and not running into a group of superior opponents, we couldn’t find any tactics involved. As long as you don’t consider picking the body part with the highest to-hit probability as tactics.[…]
So from this experience, from our talking to Pete Hines and from everything else we’ve learned so far about Fallout 3, we’d say that if you look for a return to the world of Fallout, or if you’d like to play an Action-RPG not closely resembling, but still similar to Oblivion (with another setting, of course), Fallout 3 is one of the games to watch for you this Fall. We think the wit, the cynicism, the fun will be there, again. But Bethesda will have to tweak the V.A.T.S. system to make it less powerful, or its “reload time” longer — otherwise, experienced gamers will feel like cheating most of the time.
If, on the other hand, you played Interplay’s predecessor RPGs mainly because you liked the turn-based, tactical fighting, you’ll definitely be disappointed. Because there’s a lot of fighting, but much less tactics than in various tactical shooters…