Hands-on: Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

We check out the latest iteration in the Fallout franchise.


Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

We had a chance to check out Vivendi Universal's Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel at the company's recent pre-E3 event. While the series has been a respected RPG franchise on the PC, Interplay has opted to take a different approach for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game--the gameplay is now much more similar to something like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel will put you in the role of one of three characters. The game's story finds you attempting to earn a place in the brotherhood, a group of humans working to restore order in the postapocalyptic world seen in the PC games. You'll battle raiders and the assorted radioactive mutants that tend to crop up following a nuclear catastrophe. Along the way, you'll uncover a plot that threatens the last vestiges of humanity and work to ensure it doesn't come to pass.

The game's structure sticks close to the pattern established by games like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, and it will be broken up into a series of levels in which you'll battle the aforementioned freaks of nature and the occasional boss. The combat in the game features ranged and melee attacks. You can swap between these two types of attacks at your leisure, thanks to the mix of 50 ranged and melee weapons, including guns, grenades, and assorted blunt objects. You'll also find a healthy assortment of armor that you'll be able to equip to improve your chances of surviving the onslaught of foes. The game will feature an experience system that will reward you with skill points that can be used to enhance various character statistics.

The game's control is solid and should be familiar to anyone who's played up Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Some specific tweaks have been made to compensate for the broad range of weapons. The most notable additions are the ability to cycle between available targets and swap between ranged and melee weapons on the fly.

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel makes use of the impressive rendering engine used by Snowblind in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, and it enhances it with original work done specifically for the game. The end result is an eye-catching mix of detailed visuals that accurately re-create the game's postapocalyptic wasteland setting, including some impressive water effects. At this early state in development, both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox games looked comparable and featured fairly smooth frame rates, although there are plans to take advantage of what each platform has to offer as development progresses.

Finally, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel will also have a cooperative multiplayer feature that will let you play through the game with a friend using your own unique character save. The game will also feature unlockables such as a new playable character and levels that you'll be able to discover as you play through the game. It's worth pointing out that the Xbox version will support the unlockable character feature via Xbox Live.

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel is currently slated to ship this fall. Look for more on the game from this year's E3 in a little under three weeks.

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