Fallout 3 Hands-On

Bethesda came to London to show off more playable Fallout 3, and this time we took a brand-new path through Washington's postapocalyptic landscape.

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Fallout 3 is an open-world action game, so our second play through the area that we saw during E3 was completely different from our first. Given that our first visit to Washington, DC was spent taking in the postapocalyptic scenery, we raced to the nearest town to experience dialogue and side quests the second time around. The one hour of playtime that we had still felt way too short to completely satisfy us, but we also had time to explore an abandoned subway and come across a local trader. If you're new to this game or the Fallout series in general, then we recommend reading some of our earlier previews to cover the basics, but for now, this is what we did in our most recent play-through.

We visited two settlements and an underground subway station during our second play of the Fallout demo.
We visited two settlements and an underground subway station during our second play of the Fallout demo.

We started the demo at exactly the same point as we did at E3, emerging from the vault in which our character had spent his short life. You come out of the darkness blinded by the sunlight, but once the blur dissipates you're left with a crisp vision of the devastated landscape. We were playing the Xbox 360 version, so we pressed the B button to call up the Pip Boy, the in-game computer that shows your inventory and map. The map is blurry and featureless at the beginning, so it's difficult to figure out where to go, but we headed east to what we thought would be a settlement. Bethesda says that if you can see something in the distance in Fallout 3 you can go there, but you'll have to explore the landscape on foot before you can press a button to automatically transport between locations.

Delving into the Pip Boy, we found some more cool options to play around with. There are two radio stations, Enclave and Galaxy News, which have opposing political stances and mixes of music. Enclave is very serious and patriotic, playing famous American anthems to encourage patriotism while assuring its listeners that they'll help to rebuild the country's schools. Galaxy is a more laid-back and personal station, with tales about survivors punctuated by soulful tunes. The radio-station idea may have been pioneered by other open-world games, but hearing Billie Holiday while exploring this decimated city is a chilling experience.

As we entered the first town that we could find, we came across a small boy named Bryan Wilks who was trying to find his father. Fallout 3 uses a dialogue system that's based around morality, so you can choose to be sympathetic or dismissive when you come across individuals. We're not usually that friendly toward strangers, but in the interest of seeing some of the side missions, we decided to play nice with the kid and help him find the father. As he went and took refuge in a nearby diner, we pushed on through the town to have a look around.

The town was overrun with fire ants: huge, mutated insects that spewed fire at us if we got too close. The sound that these creatures made--a sticky but squeaky noise that sounded like plastic rubbing together--echoed through our headphones for most of our playtime, and they were tough enemies to kill. The standard combat system works with the left trigger to zoom and the right to fire, but our low experience level and low-powered rifles made it difficult to kill them. The best thing to do was use the VATS mode, which lets you pause the action and target individual parts of the enemies' bodies. You can do this only a limited number of times before you run out of power, but it's by far the best way of killing enemies, or least incapacitating them by taking out a limb.

In addition to using VATS, it helps to talk to people to get advice on how to kill enemies. We headed over to the diner to talk to the boy about the fire ants, and he relayed something that his dad had told him: always aim for their antennae. We also found that you can turn the ants against each other by running around so that they spew fire at each other. It's worth noting just how adult this game is; even the young boy repeated the "F" word without batting an eyelid. He called the enemies in question the "f***in' ants," something that we've not really ever heard said by a minor in a video game before. Thankfully, the voice acting in Fallout 3 is pretty good, at least with the few characters that we came across.

After searching around, we came across the boy's father, who was unfortunately lying dead on the floor of his house after being attacked by the ants that his son had been so recently been expressing his disapproval of. Sad as it was, the world of Fallout is harshly low on resources, so we had to scavenge what we could from the body and the rest of the house. Although it was obviously of little help to him, he'd stashed plenty of ammunition and a Chinese assault rifle, which was a much better weapon for taking out the remaining fire ants than our standard sidearm. Stocked up, we returned to meet the boy and give him the bad news. We had three responses to choose from: "Bryan, I'm sorry, but your father is dead," "Your father's dead," or "Sorry kid. Your old man is ant food." We decided to switch from good cop to bad cop and go for the last option, which was met with a response of, "You're an a**hole."

After taking this short side quest, we went and explored as much as we could of the world. We headed down into the Marigold Station subway, and it seems as if the same expansive design philosophy applies as much underground as above it. We didn't wander around too far because we wanted to see more above ground, but it looks like you'll be able to walk through the tubes to get from station to station. The only downside is that there are even more ants below ground than there are above, and this can get slightly annoying when you're in a confined space with a limited amount of ammo.

Above ground once again, we started to head out of town and toward downtown Washington, DC. We knew that we wouldn't make it there in the short time period that we had, but we figured it was a good direction to head in. We started to come across some new enemies such as the feral ghouls, which are humanoid characters that had obviously been affected by radiation. We also encountered a trader with a hut full of goodies and a couple of dogs, although considering that we didn't have any money, we couldn't buy any of the items that he was offering. We had a quick look through the catalogue to find the usual guns and ammo sitting alongside boutique items such as cameras and, somewhat strangely, washing detergent. We couldn't resist trying to steal a camera and then shoot one of the dogs, but we certainly didn't make it far once we did. We were low on ammo and health by this point, and the other dog chased us down while the trader himself fired at us from afar, eventually killing us and forcing us to reload the game.

VATS mode lets you slow down time and shoot off individual limbs from enemies.
VATS mode lets you slow down time and shoot off individual limbs from enemies.

As night fell in-game, the last place we made it to was the Capitol Wasteland. The wasteland was populated by what appeared to be other scavengers whose weapons made them even tougher to fight than the previous town's ants. Locked in our own little world with headphones blocking our hearing, we didn't notice the Bethesda PR man until he'd sat down right next to us. We tried to get some more time, but having already taken nearly double our allotted half hour, we had to vacate the console.

There's no doubt that Fallout 3 is an incredibly promising game and, some minor combat annoyances aside, it completely immerses you in its ruined world. Bethesda has gone on record to say that the planned downloadable content will be for the PC and Xbox 360 only, and unfortunately there'll be no multiplayer in the game. The huge scale of the game also makes a demo impossible, according to the publisher. But it's not all bad news; with a planned Q4 release, the team is pretty much finished on the story and is now just applying the finishing touches. We've been promised another look at the game at Leipzig, and Bethesda will be making another trip to the UK before release, so keep your Pip Boys ready for more on Fallout 3 soon.

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aceball69

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this sounds really good... but i can see it now how the landscape will get repetetive and eventually annoying. on the other hand, stunning visuals could turn that right around...

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Master-David

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@barrenkillakan me too. i used to watch jericho before it was cancelled and since then i've been curious about it. and now this game is out.... just simply awesome

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Vargre666

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@billg4...VATS has action points, just like the original FO. You use those action points ONLY when using VATS, however the way i understand it is that the AP's regen in realtime. For instance, you use all your AP's and then switch to FP and start shooting. Your AP's regen and you can use it again. They had it originally so that the AP's only regen'd during VATS but found it way too complicated and no one would bother using VATS with that system. At least, thats what i got from the interview i watched. Its on here somewhere...the SPOTLIGHT interview thingy.

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Specimen2501

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With that said, I'm probably going to have my account shut down lol

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Specimen2501

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Hey Junglist101 Yeah you have to be so careful what you post, they're SUPER SUPER sensitive. 1) don't offend anyone or you'll receive an email with a warning that next time you step out of line you'll have your account eliminated. 2) Don't use foul language or it'll be the same warning and threat. 3) For goodness sake don't offend anybody's point of view because that too will result in the above mentioned. Freedom of speach? what's that? This website is run by socialists, who WILL censor what you say if THEY don't like it.

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junglist101

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How come they can censor bypass in this article. I quoted someone whodid this in a forum and I was warned and my post deleted.

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elofx

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Hmm....not sure if Fallout was meant to make the player think of other games. Its unique and unlike any other game fps or rpg. If you can play fallout and reminesce, ahhh its like that other game then it sort of lost its standalone cultlike feeling. Its great because its like that other game(s) isnt good enough for a legendary game like fallout. It still looks fun tho' :D

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kbronst

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I love hearing how people hate on Fallout 3 because its not like the other two. If bethesda wanted to stay true to the other games, they would make it isometric with the same camera angle the entire game and have the camera pulled back far. yeah that would be so fun to play on a next-gen system. another thing, how does anyone know that the dialogue isnt like the other two games? wait for it to come out to hate on it.

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barrenkillakan

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i always wondered what it would be like to live in a apocalyptic world cant wait :)

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barrenkillakan

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i always wondered what it would be like to live in a apocalyptic world cant wait :)

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Pavski

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game should be awesome. It will own oblivion and any other FPS before it. Can't wait! XD

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redcrimsonenity

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-Blinks at a lot of the mindless comments below- ....You DO know that Fallout is one of the most legendary Role-Playing series of all time correct ? That it isn't Oblivion with guns or a cool looking FPS, and that it isn't called part 3 just to sound cool ? I swear that most of the people buying this game refuse to even believe the series existed because it wasn't as cool as lets say... Final Fantasy at the time. Trendy gamers must die; no saving throw.

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billg4

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Re. VATS mode, this preview says, "You can do this only a limited number of times before you run out of power." What's the deal with that? So you can't play this with turn-based combat, if you want? What a disappointment! And note that I'd MUCH rather have some useful information about the actual gameplay, than this sort of puff piece.

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icynuts

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Does anybody know if it will be COOP?

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PaulDixon77

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This is going to be fantastic its sort of like Bioshock x Halflife 2 x Resident Evil x Oblivion = Fallout 3 how can this not be awesome although its got some competition 4 GOTY? Fable 2 Farcry 2 Gow 2 Gta 4 to name but a few. What a fantastic year for us gaming nuts, spoilt for choice with all the AAA titles. Sure I've probably missed a few if you can think of any add them be nice to know what you are all looking forward to and what you would consider/expect to be GOTY!

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B1G_DADDY

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its like the ultimate game combining my 2 favorite genres rpg's and fps's i cant wait at all for this game

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Kalki_Avatar

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This is going to be extra special... Thank you god!

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Berzi

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Awesome graphics and impressive gameplay !!!!!!!

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thenephariouson

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wannit now dammit!!! : )

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_full_metal_

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Division 9 bill gates retired from MS so i dont think he can do much now it was in the news

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Jackelz24

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STALKER ripoff? The first fallout came out in 1997. If anything STALKER is a ripoff of this game. Don't say stupid things.

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13ozzy

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STALKER RIPOFF!!!

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the_sorrow_MGS_

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look at the limbs fly, Jack Thompson must be crying ;) I can't wait for this game.

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-Saint

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@xIronMaydenx According to Todd Howard Fallout 3 is "a huge game with over 100 hours of gameplay..." Or something along those lines...I am 100% sure that Todd Howard said there would be over 100 hours of gameplay. That is a quote taken from the E3 demonstration video that I downloaded off of the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

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Panman_Dan

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No DL content for the PS3? Oh well, it would have been nice, but I don't spend extra dollars on things that should have already been included in the game...

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Aadragon

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@Netherscourge Todd Howard said they've changed that for Fallout 3, instead of all the enemies leveling up with you each area will stay at a set difficulty depending on what creatures dwell there i.e Suburbs may have the odd raider or radscorpoin whereas down town Washington has super mutant strolling the streets and robots, creatures you won't stand a change against unless you train. Todd said on Live Wire that "...some people that start the game go straight to Washington DC, and they get their ASS kicked because it's so dangerous..."

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Netherscourge

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I hope it doesn't have Oblivion's "leveling" system - I hated that. Every enemy got HARDER as you leveled up to the point where it was impossible to do anything by the end. You had to basically stay at 1 level and work on your non-core abiltiies in order to get stronger without leveling up at the same time. It was very annoying.

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Face_McPalm

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Please Bethesda, please don't fail to satisfy me with this promising title.

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R3DN1N3

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I've been waiting for a game like this. It's similar to Oblivion only now we can use guns, and for all those into post-apocolyptic futures, all I have to say is......"Welcome to EL DORADO" "If u can see it, u can go there".....Aww I never get bored of hearing that!

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xIronMaydenx

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This game looks like it's going to be just as good as oblivion, if not better. I just hope it has a huge world like oblivion did and not some 10-15 hour action frenzy.

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yodathewise

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Cool. I'll sure have my Pip Boy ready for THIS baby. *Drools*

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dar55104

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If they've really fixed the scaling issues from Oblivion then I'm excited about it. If they haven't, well, I'm getting it anyway but I won't enjoy it as much as I would have if they'd fixed it.

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UruhaTrigger

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I feel like renting it...Because I'm still not in on RPG shooters...(although it sounds mighty good!

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B1G_DADDY

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i also dont care about DLC i mean i have oblivion i love the game but saw no need to get the DLC all the DLC is more main quests and in oblivion i much rather just screw around and thats all i do i have beaten the game though and alot of the side quests

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B1G_DADDY

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already bought this game cant wait for it to come out!!!

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V-Net

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3 days away for my B-DAY i'm pre-ordering this game as fast as possible like wen first showed up on gamestop.

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V-Net

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I realy don't care if their will be downloadable content. Online play 1-20 players working together to kill or beat the other team or solo mode you kill one another for an hour with friends. I rather rent the game if the main thing is online battle that gets boring.

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division_9

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Damn Bill gates he probably payed Bethesda to not give the PS3 any downloadable content.

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maximaxi4eva2

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I liky very much may i remind you [ank]*

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Merlanni

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To all shooter fans: It is not a full fledged shooter. Go play those dime in a dozen games.

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Master-David

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man seriously who cares. the DLC only costs like $2 or something. if u dont want to buy it, fine but dont try to fore other people away from a sure to be awesome game.

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Koal_Jadian

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this game looks pretty incredible, but they're leaving out content to charge people afterwards for it...scam. Please do not buy this people, you're giving incentive to all games to do that, these microsoft points are the biggest scam ever. I don't understand why a game like this does not offer co-op. People wanted co-op badly with Morrowind and we didn't get it...so they decided to also not put that feature in Oblivion, then not put it in this game either

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thenephariouson

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I agree, Bethesda have a nack of aplying TLC to their games, I still play Oblivion have lots of the mods (including Shivering Isles) and still play it now even after completeing all main Quests, its just so immersive, i have no doubt that F3 will have the same appeal. Cant wait.

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Vargre666

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I cant believe the stupidity of people...i really need to learn to stay away from these forums where there are so many no-it-all's idiots writing and whining. This IS Fallout 3...if you havent noticed, the game has followed so closely in the footprints of FO1 and 2. I mean, look at it for **** sake. PIPBoy, the wastelands, everything ive seen is so beautifully FALLOUT...FO 2 was one of the best games, ever. Bethesda made Oblivion, as we all know. And regardless of whether you hated it or loved it, the bloody game is STILL going strong. There are still mods coming out every day for the damn thing. You think that FO3 is going to be any less of a game? They know what theyre doing, they know what is at stake with this game. Its NOT a FPS, it has some of the flavour of an FPS but how many FPS can you stop, choose a target, and then watch a cut scene of your mark getting its head blown off? So you whiners that keep **** about how Bethesda is going to ruin the bloody game, give it a frigging rest. Go compare WAR to WOW or something....your opinion is irrelevant to those that are dying to play this game.

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whocares9

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I liked STALKER and am waiting for the new one to hit soon. Though this game is different, many mentioned both games because stalker also has a post apocalyptic setting but in reality one is a shooter and the other is an exploring shooter/RPG hybrid. Very different games. I can't wait for both.

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deactivated-5bcb8ec2e27a5

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Looks good.

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thenephariouson

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Im so glad its an RPG, Bethesda have simply made the Fallout series more accessible. Looks amazing, cant wait. Regarding the 'Drugs' issue relating to the ban, did Bioshock get a ban?

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Haklin

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Nothing frongman. Simply buy from playasia or ebay.

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frogmanbearpig

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If the R rated version is gunna be banned in australia, whats stopping someone shipping it in from the states???

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bambino33

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Long Live Bethsheda for giving us one of the greatest role playing games ever in Oblivion, and now a post apocolyptic nuclear waste land is soon to arrive :)