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- REVIEW: Pillars of Eternity
Bethesda has indeed come a long way with its RPG Fallout 3. The Fallout franchise has a rich history and I'm sure hardcore fans are dying to find out if the game will meet their expectations. The developers have, on a number of accounts, revealed they intend to provide an effective mix of classic Fallout-style tactical gameplay with shooter elements.
Say what you want and be on your way, fag!
What am I on this week? Let me see...
Much like with Oblivion, Bethesda, once again, succeeded in crafting a convincing environment and an open-world, which you may venture across freely. An important thing that we've seen very early on is that your character doesn't have to run around across the entire level to get to a desired location, but can also use so-called Metro Stations that can shorten the trip to a specific spot.
Alrighty, visually, Fallout 3 stands out when compared to other games out there. The world is huge, because -- yep you guessed it -- exploring will be an important part of the gameplay. Okay, an RPG-starved nut-case, I immediately felt this game should have something decent to keep players occupied in that sense. But there's more to it. We have to hand it to the developers for their bold effort. Molding together the retro-style tactical mechanics from Fallout and action-oriented gameplay is no easy task. For now, it all works rather well. The action, for instance, can be over-the-top and sees the player executing a variety of nasty moves during shootouts. Enemies can be dismembered and blown-up, even from great distances. The targeting system, allows you to zoom in and lock on to specific body parts of your enemies. There's a percentage next to each body part, indicating your chances of a successful attack. Fighting foes is done easily in real-time or by using the aforementioned tactical approach - enter the targeting system, V.A.T.S. To make most of the V.A.T.S. you must have enough Action Points, so you can pull off some of the devastating moves on enemies.
Action elements aside, this is, after all, a role-playing game and as such you can be sure it will require players to keep an eye on the character's stats, perks and such. These aren't just for show. From what we've seen, perks definitely play an important role, gameplay wise, and can be selected once you level up. One of the most popular perks during Bethesda's Fallout 3 E3 demo, was the 'Bloody Mess' perk. Once activated, it gives you a chance to carry out extremely violent moves, either with a sniper rifle or a different custom-built weapon (rocket launcher, anyone?). We were also shown how the main character faces a group of raiders -- basically, bandits who are very hostile. They seemed capable of damaging the character from a distance, which is why we found the sniper rifle as rather friendly piece of equipment. The AI can handle itself pretty good. When injured, your character brings up the PipBoy 3000 to access and use stimpacks, radiation medicine and similar items to restore health.
Don't worry, like I said, more RPG elements are in there too. There's a huge number of items scattered throughout the world. At first glance, most of the stuff lying around appeared like useless junk, but Bethesda explained most of it can be used to craft weapons. Bear in mind that a lot of cool and useful things -- not to mention weapons -- may be picked up from fallen enemies as well, including ammo, assault rifles, pistols, grenades and so on.
Now, I have to say right that the game could be a bit harder to swallow if you are a diehard fan of the Fallout series. Why? Well, primarily because it's a whole new experience, fundamentally different from earlier Fallout games. The good news is that, from what we've seen, Bethesda is still on the right track in terms of creating a truly interesting sci-fi world, in addition to a unique gameplay concept, offering what promises to be a rewarding single-player experience. The V.A.T.S. works splendidly and all the skills and perks are fun to use. The game's artwork is first-rate, with spot-on post-apocalyptic urban surroundings, highly detailed structures, and cool-looking character models. You should also know that they're allowing you to customize the character in great detail - everything from gender and clothes, to a ridiculously huge selection of beards.
For now, it appears they're sticking to a Q4 2008 release date and releases for PC, 360 and PS3 platforms.
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