Fallout 3 Gold! It’s Official Now

Fallout 3 Special Edition, coming in October

Almost here

From the Official Site:

October 9, 2008 (Rockville, MD) – Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax Media company,  announced today that its highly anticipated title, Fallout® 3, has gone gold and will be available on store shelves and online in North America on October 28, in Europe and Australia on October 30, and in the UK on October 31. Developed at Bethesda Game Studios – creators of the 2006 Game of the Year,  The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®Fallout 3 is slated for release on the Xbox 360®video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows.

Fallout 3 has been the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken,” said Todd Howard, game director for Fallout 3. “It’s been a long journey and we’re really happy with how it turned out. We can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to play it.”

Fallout 3 features one of the most realized game worlds ever created. Set more than 200 years following a nuclear war, you can create any kind of character you want and explore the open wastes of Washington, D.C however you choose. Every minute is a fight for survival as you encounter Super Mutants, Ghouls, Raiders, and other dangers of the Wasteland.

Fallout 3’s first review is featured as this month’s cover story in Official Xbox Magazine, hitting subscribers now and on newsstands October 21. Hailed as one of the most anticipated games for 2008, Fallout 3 has already won numerous awards including Best of Show from the official Game Critics Awards at E3 2008, a selection voted on by an independent group of journalists from 36 leading North American media outlets that cover the videogame industry.

Fallout® 3 has been rated Mature by the ESRB.

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GameStar.de Previews Fallout 3

From GameStar comes a a large article on Fallout 3, in German, here are some bits from a translation by Blintzler:

Our first step into the world of the 23rd century is on a hill. It’s warm and friendly; the wind rustles silently, mosquitos fly around our ears. All around us are the ruins of a civilization. The flat land stretches ahead and is littered with the black cubes of ruined apartment blocks and office buildings. Ripped farm houses overlook parched fields, bunches of tough yellow gras is the only visible vegation around, growing between the cracks in the road asphalt and around the burned remains of trees.[…]

Skelletal remains of power line poles run along the railroads lines. Highway bridges, once running high above the ground on pillars, now suddenly end in sheer drops. Their remains now serve as camps with burned out trucks as homes; from here, high above, they shoot down at the wild dogs and the hordes of double-headed brahmin, the mutated descendents of bovine ancestry who drinks from the radiative pools.Towards the horizon the mass of ruins starts to clump together, towards what was once a town and known as Washington, DC.[…]

In Megaton and other settlements we meet survivors, among them the disfigured ghouls. Everything we see – we can reach.That’s the beauty of the impressive view. But it has an ugly side, too, and it’s name is: Xbox 360 technology. Now console graphics doesn’t automatically mean it’s a bad thing, far from the truth – some games are more beautiful on the Xbox then they are on the PC. But the Microsoft Box has the disadvantage that most games forego AA to make the game run more smoothly – as does FO3.  Because the PC Version builds up 1:1 on the console version, this means: visible stair effects especially on distant objects and mesh-structures (such as high voltage power poles). In addition – textures, especially close-up, are foggy and unsharp.

Thanks Incognito and Blinzler.

And I hope you had a happy Birthday Incognito.

RP Gamer At PAX

Impressions from the game by RP Gamer:

Lastly, I set out to explore the region but ended up getting stuck on a wall. The helpful staff came over and suggested I recall away (the player can recall to any point of interest they’ve discovered), so I zipped back to the vault and then teleported to the nearby school, which hung the game. Guess I really am good at breaking things…but it is still in development after all, and just think: I found two bugs for them to fix for the final product!

Once the game was loaded again, I handed over controls to Mikel, who ran into some friendly bandits who were kind enough to give him some armour and weapons, including a flamethrower. This is where the macabre chuckling began, as Mikel quickly figured out the aiming system built into the game, and all three bandits went down one way while their seperated heads rolled another. Funny, but utterly disgusting. His crowning achievement came when a dog mole rat leaped towards him, he aimed with his flamethrower, and the dog was fried mid-air — flying over Mikel’s head and rolling down the hill behind him for several seconds. A pause as all three of us dropped our jaws, then insane giggling began.

Fallout 3 is a gritty, dark game with a cheeky sense of humour. Those that enjoyed the previous games will undoubtedly enjoy this one, and new fans can flock to the resurrected series.

Spotted at NMA.

New Interview at EuroGamer

Eurogamer interviews Pete Hines, and this one is rather interesting for a change:

Eurogamer: A lot of the humour in Fallout 3 revolves around ironic juxtaposing of cheerful utopianism and grim reality. Is there a line at which that becomes trite?

Pete Hines: If it’s overdone and it’s not in the right tone, it absolutely does. Our lead designer is Emil Pagliarulo, and one of his key functions is to go through and do the humour check. You’re trying to get gradations and you’re trying to be careful about how many times you’re presenting something to the player. I’ll use an extreme example: swearing, when used appropriately, is really funny. If it’s in every sentence you read it’s just annoying; you’re just trying to hard to be edgy. You have to ask, “How much are we using this, and is it appropriate for the person who’s saying it?”

Eurogamer: Do you think there’s a reason games avoid humour so much?

Pete Hines: A lot of times it ends up being a distraction. Done poorly, it is horribly and terribly destructive to the vibe you’re trying to set. Humour gone bad is worse than just about anything else you can try and do in a game. Even violence gone bad can still be almost comical in its execution. But humour? Nothing sucks the soul out of an experience than somebody who’s clearly trying to be funny but is not. So I hope we’ve done a great job of balancing that and not going over that line.

Eurogamer: How much of the design for Fallout 3 is a reaction to your work on Oblivion as much as your ambitions for the Fallout series?

Pete Hines: The reaction to Oblivion is very much a case of, “How do we do this better when we do it in Fallout?” opposed to, “Oh we always wanted to do this in the Elder Scrolls, but now we’re doing Fallout we’ll just put it in Fallout.” There’s none of that. Fallout’s already such a rich series, such a great playground to work in, with the vibe and the tone and the moral choices.

What we really brought from Oblivion is just stuff like feedback on levelling. People didn’t like the way the world levelled with the player, so we’re going to do this differently. It’s things like working out how to sculpt the experience for the player in terms of quests and giving you choices. We want to give you more choices in how to finish a quest rather than fewer choices and a lot more quests.[…]

Eurogamer: Were you tempted to make the Karma system a little more morally ambiguous?

Pete Hines: One of the things we really tried to avoid is surprising the player with whether they’ve been good or bad. We wanted to be clear to you that you’re making a conscious choice to be one or the other. I’ve played games where I made a choice and I thought I was being the nice guy, and then it’s, “Wait, wait, why is he upset?” We didn’t want it to be a surprise. Sometimes it’s a surprise in terms of how a person reacts if you are being a jerk, but it’s not a surprise as to whether you’re good or bad.

Thanks marusia on the Bethsoft Fallout 3 forum.

TVG Does PH

Interview with Pete Hines at TVG:

TVG: What sort of influences did you draw from to create Fallout 3’s post-apocalyptic world?

It comes from a lot of different places. If you haven’t read it yet, we’ve put up these team diaries on our website and Adam Adamowicz did one (he’s our Concept Artist) where he talks about the concepts for all of the stuff in the game – how he came up with the ideas; where he looked for sources of inspiration.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that the look we were most trying to nail was the look of Fallout 1, but brought into a realistic first-person view. We spent a lot of time trying to work out how to capture that look and that feel. Beyond that, there’s a lot of different stuff. From an architectural standpoint, we’ve been looking at a lot of different architecture from the 40s/50s era; the ‘Guggy’ architecture and that kind of thing.

For the look of the creatures in the world, some of it was just taking something like a Braman [Brahmin] and bringing it into this game the best way that we could imagine that Braman not being a little thing on the screen, but being this giant two-headed cow/bull thing. All of that is innovative – it’s like, ‘Okay, well if that’s what that looks like, we’re going to have this new creature and how would that mutated thing look’, or ‘What would a Molerat look like given the other pantheon of creatures we have, both new and old.’

The number of iterations we did on the Vault suit… It was like, ‘What would it actually look like, you know? On a person, what would it practically look like? Where would it have hatches or zippers?’, every little detail to try and make sure that we’ve nailed the look of that stuff, and made it look and feel just right for the world that we’re talking about.

TVG: We had a walk through Greyditch in our hands on today and we had a look at Megaton during our First Look last year. How many other cities are there in the game world?

There are not actually that many cities. There are a couple and then there are a lot of little settlements and places where a few people have huddled together to try to survive in this world, but not big thriving cities. You go here; you find somebody who’s trading some goods; there are a couple of houses, and over here is this lady and her boy scratching out an existence. It’s more of that as opposed to, ‘Oh, here’s this big city!’ It’s post-apocalyptic DC; they have lots of issues staying alive.

Fallout 3: New Pictures

From Strategy Informer/Bethesda Softworks

From Strategy Informer/Bethesda Softworks

Strategy Informer and a gazzilion other blogs and sites have three new pictures from Fallout 3. The one pictured above looks great.

I also added twenty seven new pictures taken from the E3 demo to my gallery. You click in the thumbnail and you’ll see a medium version, click on that and you’ll see a large version. They are a bit compressed, because of those of you with slow connections, but I think they show some pretty interesting details.

Fallout 3 Impressions At Guardian.co.uk

On the Guardian Games blog Greg Howson announces that he will have an interview made during the Fallout 3 demo session that happened last Friday, and gives some early thoughts on the game:

But yes, you can play this as a first person shooter, though think more Mass Effect than Halo.

I also had a quick hands-on play with the 360 code. More on this later but I was far more impressed by the landscape and setting than I expected. Admittedly I was only on for about an hour but the novelty of wrecked concrete bridges, 50’s paraphernalia and two headed cows didn’t wear off. The epic draw distance helped too – it certainly felt that you could see more than in Oblivion, though obviously Fallout’s wasteland has a few less trees than Cyrodiil.

The combat felt a little bit spongy, similar to the early stages of Mass Effect. But then the character I played was right at the start of the game so things are likely to improve. The VATS system will clearly come into its own when you have better weaponry and skill but even at low levels it seemed to work well. Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was how much the game felt like Oblivion. From the way armour is stripped from enemy corpses to the insane amount of junk that is quickly picked up Oblivion fans will feel at home. And yes, the voice acting seems better – not that it could be worse of course – with the four conversations I had each voiced by someone different. Yes, previews tend to be positive but from what I’ve seen so far Fallout 3 looks hugely promising.

Fallout 3: The Mother Of All Interviews

Very interesting and detailed interview with Todd Howard and Emil Pagliarulo at GamesRadar/PCGamer, it’s filled with spoilers though:

PCG: Do you have a rule for a bare-minimum number of ways to solve a quest?
Todd: No, we just do whatever comes naturally. We made a list initially showing the paths, so that we weren’t doing an overabundance of stealth paths versus other skills so that there was a good matrix, but if something fit in one we did it, and if it didn’t fit…
Emil: But as the game grew, just like we ended up making the game bigger, putting more stuff in, I think the quests themselves started to expand. We realized during playthroughs, you know what, there’s no talking path through this quest, or there’s no stealth path, so we went back and added that in. There are fewer quests and fewer NPCs, but probably just as much dialogue as Oblivion, just in all the variations.
Todd: It’s like when you were doing the bomb quest, and you were asking “Can I do this this way?” And so through testing we asked the same things, like “What if I kill Lucas Sims?” And ok, you have to go to the son. That kind of stuff.
Emil: We wanted to cover as many of those bases as we could.

PCG: So you tried to make it so that even if you take a few people out of the equation, the quest is still solvable?
Todd: As much as possible. It’s not always the case. You might kill someone and it will tell you “You can’t finish this quest anymore, this person has died.” Pretty much 99.9 percent of people in the game can be killed.
Emil: Yeah, even the quest-givers. They give you a quest, you blow their head off, that’s your decision. It’s simply more fun for the player where you might close off branches of the quest, but other branches are still open.
Todd: And the other answer to that question is that we don’t want players to have the expectation that they’ll be able to do every quest any style. Pretty much, Super-Duper Mart, there’s no way to talk your way through that. We get the question a lot, “Is there a non-violent path through the whole game?” No. I mean, you might be able to, I guess, but it’s not a goal.
Emil: I guess technically, because there’s a Stealth Boy, and because there’s a Protectron [security robot] in the back room of that Super-Duper Mart, if you could sneak in there and hack that computer, you could activate that Protectron, he’ll go and he’ll kick the s*** out of all of those raiders.
Todd: There are probably too many for him to kill every single one of them.
Emil: But enough to whittle them down so that science-boy could definitely get through there.

Another must read piece by Dan Stapleton.

Fallout Sensibilities and Mannerisms At PCZone

PCZone Will Porter

There are still Fallout 3 at E3 previews showing up, you can find a new list at NMA, instead I’ll just point out to this article at CVG/PCZone, that I’ve talked about before, now you can read it in full:

Is Fallout 3 Oblivion with guns? No, not really. While it’s true that when you enter houses and watch people go about their business it instantly smacks of the last rendition of The Elder Scrolls, it seems that the old Fallout sensibilities and mannerisms are here as foundation not lip gloss.

Character S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats (luck, perception, etc) return as the base numbers for your character, for example. These can be boosted and drained by the full host of addictive stimulants present in the first games, such as strength-harbouring Buffout, the more traditional narcotic of Jet (the factory for which was technically destroyed in the earlier games, if I’m pedantic), intelligence-boosting Mentats and rage-infusing Psycho.

On top of these lie your skills (the numbers you can raise each time you level up, making you better at bartering, small guns, medicine, repair and the like), three of which you can specialise in and gain double the advance when it’s gratz-time.

While we’re on levelling, it’s important to underline that Fallout does address one of Oblivion’s biggest foibles: the fact that as you levelled up, the entire world levelled up with you.

In the wasteland, as in the original Fallout games, the further you stray the more dangerous things get – as I discovered during my lonesome trudge into the glorious north-east and was increasingly battered by the mole rats, bloatflies and Raider bases I came across.

However, enemies that lie along the plotline will be levelled to match you so that the difficulty curve is kept to Bethesda’s heel.

Whereas Oblivion hid away many of its stats, or at least let you batter away in mindless ignorance, in Fallout Bethesda have pulled the link between player experience and player statistics closer to Black Isle’s model.

As in the original games, your skill specialisations not only give you options in conversation (my medical bent would later lead a doctor to confide a patient’s medical history to me, for example), or show themselves concretely in percentage strike-probabilities during V.A.T.S. combat, but are integral to your performance – such as when I disarmed the century-old nuclear device threatening the town of Megaton, having guzzled Mentats to make me extra brainy.

Having played the game for only five hours, and with many of the hang-ups people had with Oblivion only becoming apparent after 50, I can’t be definitive about this – but in terms of building a modern game on the systems of one that’s now 10 years old, it’s hard to think of how Fallout 3 could have been tied closer to what has gone before.

A must read.

E3 Is Almost Over

In the meantime a few more Fallout 3 impressions, by Crave, by Gaming Target, and a large one by WorthPlaying:

Fallout vets will be glad to hear that Items are back and in as substantial numbers as they were in the previous games. During my forays into the various houses, I was able to find everything from pre-war snack cakes to random books scattered throughout the areas; so far, they seemed to serve little purpose other than to take up inventory space. There was also a fair amount of actually useful stuff, such as new weapons, ammunition and even the password to a computer belonging to the town information monger, which provided useful quest information.

All this scavenging comes at a price. When exploring, you’ll find certain items or doors marked in red, and if you take those items or pick those locks, your Karma will drop, and you’ll end up ticking off a lot of people. One unfortunate foray into the Children of the Atom’s stronghold left me faced with an entire group of angry people who were out for my blood. To make matters worse, every item I took or door I opened dropped my Karma, and once the Children of the Atom got angry at me, fighting back also dropped my Karma further. It’s entirely possible to play Fallout 3 as some sort of homicidal maniac, but don’t expect to do so without anyone calling you on it.

For those of us of the less violent persuasion, Fallout 3 includes plenty of people to talk to. Conversations take place in a fairly simple menu-driven system, where you pick your choice and the character responds. The twist is that not all of your choices are available at all times, and certain conversation choices are only available to certain characters. Your skills will also influence the success rate of conversations; a character with high Charisma and Speech skills may be able to charm information out of a normally uptight individual, and those with a high intelligence may notice something that less clever characters don’t. If you’re discussing explosives, having a high Explosive skill will make it more likely that folks will believe you. Even certain perks influence your choices. The Lady Killer perk, for example, gives you a bonus for talking to female characters and also provides a couple of conversation choices that wouldn’t normally be available. If you’re the kind of gamer who just wants to get back to the shooting, you can ignore most of these conversation trees and focus on the smashing, but it might come back to haunt you later.

You can find a few more previews at NMA.

Not Fallout Oblivion After All

So says ShackNews:

“You so much as breathe, and I’m gonna fuckin’ end ya.”

The words may as well have been coming directly from Bethesda. It felt like the company was challenging me, daring me to write anything negative about their new sequel to Black Isle’s classic RPG series. I was very skeptical of whether the company could match the tone and content of the original titles. As good as Bethesda is, the bar was set very high ten years ago.

But based on what I just played–and I had free reign to explore the world at whim–I came away feeling good about the game. Fallout 3 is not Fallout 2.5, and that can be a little disappointing at first, no matter how irrational of a feeling that is. But Fallout 3 is undoubtedly shaping up to be a solid game in its own right, and one that clearly takes many significant cues from the previous titles–from the opening scene, to the wonderfully realized PIPBoy menu. Oblivion: Fallout 3 this is not.

The first thing I wanted to hit with my hands-on time was a load of conversations. Dialogue is half of what made Fallout so engaging–the freedom to piss off and be pissed on by any number of disgruntled apocalyptic survivors spawned most of my favorite Fallout memories.

After wandering out of the Vault, through the traditional cave–no rats to be found–and out across the wasteland, I managed to locate the town of Megaton rather quickly. Greeting me outside was a tall 50s-style robot, waving its stiff arms toward the town in greeting. Upon entering the town, Sheriff Lucas Sims gave me a gruff hello, and I engaged him in verbal combat.

The most encouraging aspect of Fallout 3’s dialogue is the number of options available. Oblivion’s simple approach to dialogue trees would not suffice here, and as a result, I often had up to five or six options at any given time. With the Sheriff, I had enough choices to easily pick a fight with him, and did so immediately. Bad idea.

After reloading the game, I had a long chat with my murderer. The dialogue engine is indeed reminiscent of Oblivion, but after noticing this, I never gave it a second thought. Instead, I was focused on learning about the town, looking for quests, and more typical Fallout goals.

It was a short demo, and an early area, and the game is not finished, so I can not judge it based on this first taste. Suffice it to say, the tone of dialogue was close, but not right on. I was entertained, but not surprised.

Overall I would say that the demo area dialogue clearly eclipsed Oblivion’s writing, but did not quite match the effectiveness of Fallout. There was certainly an edge to it all, as evidenced by the wanton use of vulgar language and themes–see the opening quote from the Sheriff. A few mildly humorous moments were produced by said vulgarity. But none of the characters caught me off guard or engaged me in the same way that Fallout did, and the voice acting was sometimes rather wooden.

There’s more, worth checking.

A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout 3

Spotted this at Destructoid, a great idea, I just wished I lived near by:

Bethesda Softworks®,

The American Cinematheque, and Geek Monthly Sponsor
‘A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout® 3’

Fallout® 3 Film Festival to Take Place at the Aero Theatre
in Santa Monica, California on August 22 and 23, 2008

July 11, 2008 (Rockville, MD) – Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax Media company, announced today that it has partnered with the American Cinematheque and Geek Monthly magazine to sponsor ‘A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout® 3’ at Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre this August.

Fallout 3, the highly-anticipated video game from Bethesda Softworks, takes place in a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. where every minute is a fight for survival in the formidable wasteland and serves as the festival’s inspiration. The festival will feature six definitive post-apocalyptic movies that depict life or events that occur after a global catastrophe.

‘A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout 3’ kicks off at 7:00pm on Friday, August 22nd with ‘Wizards’ (Directed by Ralph Bakshi) followed by ‘Damnation Alley’ (Directed by Jack Smight) and ‘A Boy and His Dog’ (Directed by L.Q. Jones). The festival resumes at 7:00pm on August 23rd with ‘The Last Man on Earth’ (Directed by Ubaldo Ragona), ‘The Omega Man’ (Directed by Boris Sagal) and ‘Twelve Monkeys’ (Directed by Terry Gilliam). […]

Tickets will be available on July 25, 2008 and can be purchased from Fandango.com. The general admission price of $10.00 includes three movies on the bill for that day as well as a complimentary bag of popcorn, a large soda and a special Fallout 3 giveaway. Senior and student tickets are available for $8.00 per day and American Cinematheque members can purchase daily tickets for $7.00.

For more information on ‘A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout® 3’, the movies being shown during the festival or the Aero Theatre, please visit http://www.americancinematheque.com/.

IGN Anticipates a Good E3

I’ve already talked about IGNXBox360 making Fallout 3 their most anticipated game of E3, now it’s time for IGNPC to do the same:

It’s been over a decade since the first Fallout released and any who played it have likely been keeping a close eye on Bethesda. The developer best known for its open-world Elder Scrolls RPG series made some controversial decisions with Fallout 3’s design, most notably moving it into a first-person perspective. Those concerned whether or not the “spirit” of Fallout has been retained or lost will have to wait until the game’s release date, which at this point remains nebulous. We can say so far Fallout 3 is certainly looking pretty, has some interesting ideas, and seems to retain some degree of humor in the dialogue and game world. We’ll bring you more at E3.

And IGNPS3 also puts the game in their most anticipated list:

Why it’s hot: Take the massive world, tons of characters, near-endless quests and character creation of Oblivion and then drop a nuke on the whole mess. The result, if done right, leaves an irradiated wasteland full of mutants, ghouls, fallout shelters and the kind of good vs. evil vs. survival that Bethesda is known for, but in a setting all too familiar to PC gamers.

We’ve seen Fallout 3 a couple of times now, and every time we do, we want to see more, which is always a good sign. Improvements over Oblivion are numerous, though, from an updated engine to more traditional leveling up to characters that don’t look like space aliens. Well, not unless they’ve seen a bit too much radiation.

Spotted at the BethBlog.

PSM3 Fallout 3 Special

Huge article with new pics at PSM3, some ideas collected by NMA:

So, the first hands-on preview of Fallout 3 is generally available, and is big. Quite a bit of it is repeating info from previous demos and explaining what the Fallout franchise is, but there’s more than just that. Some bits:

– The previewer played Fallout 3 for 3 hours and could do whatever he wanted, rather than being set on a linear demo
– Springvale appears deserted, but “the school holds an intriguing secret in its basement”
– “If you cause a ruckus near an Enclave-controlled area, these Vertibirds in and drop off reinforcements”
– “Bethesda have stated Fallout 3 has no vehicles. But evidence leads us to think there’ll be a robot horse. Madness? Well, when the game loads, retro ’50s-style adverts cycle past for things in the game. ‘Giddyup buttercup’, a robot pony for little girls. “He neighs, he trots, he loves you a lot!” says the ad. Such a huge game without any transport? Really?”
– “This one is called Galaxy News, presented by a DJ called Three Dawg and broadcast from a secure bunker in the heart of DC. Dawg reports on current events between records.”
– “You’ll also come across the Enclave; the remains of the US government who have access to incredible technology and broadcast patriotic marching band music. Their President is voiced by Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowell. He’s a major villain.”
– They list a few skills: barter, big guns, energy weapons, explosives, lockpick, medicine (determines how much stimpaks and other healing items actually heals) melee combat, repair (description only lists its usage for repairing guns), science, small guns, sneak, unarmed.
– “We left Megaton, chose a random direction (west) and walked. And it didn’t take long to find paying work. Bigtown used to be a sprawl of suburban housing, but now it’s a makeshift fortress. Walls made of debris, car shells and a single, pathetic guard watches over the entrance with a rusting hunting rifle. Inside we learn that the Supermutants – giant, violent monsters spawned from the fallout of the nuclear war – have kidnapped some of their people, including a vital medic. We agree to rescue them, but only in exchange for bottle caps, Fallout’s bizarre currency. The Supermutants, we learn, have set up a camp in a place called Germantown.”
– “Say you have five Action Points, you could fire at their head five times, or disable them by shooting at their legs. You can even aim for their gun and disarm them. When you’ve cued up your attacks, press X and the game unpauses and switches to third-person view for a better view of the action. (…)
We take the mutants down with our shotgun – a few point-blank blasts to the chest did the job – and continue onwards, fighting our way through the enemy’s defences until we reach the police station. Inside, it’s Fallout’s version of an RPG ‘dungeon’ – loot to hoard, keys to find and enemies to kill. We snuck through the station using stealth (crouch to hide yourself in shadows) and used VATS with melee weapons (police baton, sledgehammer) behind enemies to quickly and quietly dispose of them.”
– “In fact, at times it feels exactly like Oblivion in terms of mission structure and the way you navigate the world. We loved Oblivion so we aren’t complaining, but if you found Cyrodiil’s vast openness daunting or the RPG mechanics too complicated, Fallout 3 might not be the game for you. Especially since the game is ten times as customisable. You can create new weapons from scratch by scavenging for parts. For example, find an old leaf blower, combine it with a lawnmower blade and another few items and you create your own portable rocket launcher that’s able to fire any object you see in the world at high speeds; almost like a retro-fit Half-Life gravity gun.”
– “We find an elementary school crawling with raiders who’ve been trying to tunnel into Vault 101, but have failed after disturbing a nest of giant radioactive ants. We find an old sentry bot lying in a junk pile and manage to activate it, after which it becomes our personal body guard…until a Deatclaw – a monster mutated from a grizzle bear – tears it to pieces, then kills us. Later, in a moment of madness, we wander into the heart of DC, despite warnings from the developers, and get vaporized by a remote sentry gun and a gang on Enclave soldiers.”
– [Todd Howard loads up a game 70 hours in] “He was in the heart of DC and fought a group of Enclave troopers with a portable nuclear missile launcher called the Fat Man – the game’s most powerful weapon.”

A list of the skills displayed:

Small guns
Big guns
Energy weapons
Melee combat
Unarmed
Medicine
Sneak
Lockpick
Explosives
Science
Repair
Barter

There’s more in there, for instance if you can hit someone without being detected using the Sneak skill you’ll have an automatic Critical hit; the “special services” from the loose morals ladies will give you a small boost to your health; the Vertibird that is displayed in the mag is perfect, exactly like the old ones; there’s a great retro futuristic vehicle, that unfortunately is only used for the nuclear explosions; the robot pony is just an advert, everything else seems to be speculation from the guy that wrote the thing.

And a lot more, recomended reading.