Bethesda filled the largest capacity hall at PAX for a live demo of the highly anticipated action RPG, Fallout 3. The assembled artists and producers announced that since they were in the presence of 'advanced' fans, they would skip all the intros and get right into the meat of the game.
The demo started with the opening of the massive Vault 101 door, behind which you and your people have lived, safe from a nuclear war and its aftermath. A clever and gruesome touch is found in the cave outside, discarded signs pleading for entry to the Vault and the dessicated skeletons of their holders litter the path to the surface.
A side track to the character generation screen, called the “Gene Projector” showed that the player can customize their look, down to almost fifty different kinds of facial hair.
Once fully outside, the crowd applauded for the vastness of the game world (even in spite of it's brownness), who's draw distance, according to a producer was set to “all the frigging way.”
Wandering the Wasteland, the voice of famed actor Malcolm McDowell blasted from a floating propaganda robot, urging dwellers to join The Enclave, the last remnant of the United States Government.
They then moved into Megaton, a ramshackle town built in a bomb crater and who's population is split between rugged survivalists, and religious fanatics who worship an unexploded atomic bomb. Feeling devious, they took a side mission to explode that device of the behalf of a sinister force. After ingesting brain boosting drugs to gain the intelligence needed to set up the bomb (a game play element that got Bethesda's game banned in Australia temporarily) they promptly evacuated the town.
While waiting for the right moment to set it off, the producers took the audience to a dilapidated supermarket, where a demo of weapons and their effects on the human body was on the list. A steam-powered glove delivered crushing melee blows and a weapon crafted from a pressure cooker and loaded with railway spikes tore chunks off enemies. Also the player can sneak up on an enemy and 'pickpocket' a live grenade into their inventory, blowing them up, and earning a XBOX 360 player ten achievement points.
Outside again, they demonstrated who you can heal the player by drinking water from a river, but at the cost of a dangerous dose of radiation. Also, this action spawned an attack by mutated Maryland Blue Crabs, who walked on their hind claws and struggled to close to bite range.
With the panel's time almost out, they moved to the finale, meeting again with the sinister agent and to everyone in attendance's great pleasure, detonated the nuke, resulting in a devastating, real-time cinematic explosion.
When the demo was done, they announced that the cards distributed as the attendees entered, each with a different image representing a core attribute (Strength, intelligence, etc) could be exchanged for swag at the Fallout 3 booth. While most were for posters or t-shirts, a few rare card could be exchanged for hand puppets based on the Penny-Arcade created “Vault 77” webcomic, Fallout bobbleheads or lunch boxes. The rarest cards, five out of thousands, won their holders a copy of all the prizes, the game, a private demo with the game's makers, XBOX Live points, and a black XBOX 360 elite.