We watched as executive producer Todd Howard demonstrated V.A.T.S. in action on an early build of the 360 version of the game. Zooming in on the head of an enemy charging toward him, Howard activated the targeting system slowing things down to a crawl with style that would make both John Woo and the Wachowski brothers jealous. He aimed for the head, causing it to explode like a melon - sending bits of bloody flesh and an eyeball flying wildly from the socket to the floor. The shooting looks like gruesome fun. We can only hope that combat feels as good as it looks when the game releases.
Bethesda has been known for taking as long as it needs when developing games. We wish more teams were less restricted by deadlines for launch dates. Even though the game's not due for at least another year, the early 360 build we saw looked polished and visually amazing, with no bugs or irregularities in sight. Expect more details on Fallout 3 as its fall 2008 release date draws closer. In the meantime, check out the Images tab above for more screens and concept art from the multiplatform blockbuster.
Above: You can drink in the full picture of Fallout 3's barren wastelands with the new third-person view
One last thing: Former Fallout titles were famous for their wry sense of humor, which contrasted nicely with the games' grim and brutal scenarios. While it's tough to judge how humor will be handled based on what we saw, Howard contends that the idea that "violence can be damn funny" (think Itchy and Scratchy) is key to capturing the franchise's morbid hilarity.
Is it becoming obvious yet that this is one to watch? With the creators of Oblivion jumping into the post-apocalyptic fray, we're eager for more. And we'll bring it to you over the course of the next year.