Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

The human race is having what's commonly classed as a bad day. Firstly, a nuclear war wipes out nine-tenths of the population, and then a mutating virus threatens to destroy the poor unfortunates that are left. Despite this, a few brave souls manage to band together to try and rebuild society from the dregs of what's left... which isn't the cheeriest start to a game, we think you'll agree.

This brings us neatly to Fallout: Brotherhood Of Steel. A happy little game where you, as a member of the Brotherhood itself, attempt to restore peace in a confusing and shattered world. This is done by finding the largest, most lethal looking weapon available and using it on anyone stupid enough to attempt to talk to you.

Thankfully, though, the gameplay doesn't appear to be that basic. Placing you in an unusual third-person overhead view, you begin by selecting one of the characters on offer, then piling into the game itself. Elements of role-playing meld fairly seamlessly with bog-standard shootin' and killin' - and mission objectives flash up intermittently to keep you from plunging into a seething pit of molten boredom.

Mindless slaughter will only get you so far, though, so it won't be long before the more cerebral elements of the game make themselves known. And this is where the true nature of Fallout reveals itself, as in the time-honoured tradition of role-playing games, you need to collect experience points to raise your level. This, in turn, unlocks new skills, which you'll definitely need in the later stages of the game.

Action-based RPGs are nothing new, so it's hard to burst too many bubbles of enthusiasm over Fallout. After a hefty play, though, it would appear that everything's working pretty satisfactorily, and it certainly works well visually, so we'll save any lingering verdicts for the forthcoming review...

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel will be released for PS2 and Xbox in April