Following up the astounding Oblivion is going to be hard work for the Bethesda Softworks crew, but after getting our hands on Fallout 3 we're convinced that the dev's science fiction fuelled follow-up and third in the seminal series is going to blow Oblivion clear out of the water. It's that bloody good.
The year is 2277, a post-nuclear ravaged earth hangs by the skin of its teeth and as Hellboy's Ron Perlman narrates us into the game's opening: Vault 101. It's here that you awake one morning to find that your father (coolly voiced by Liam Neeson) has defied the Overseer and abandoned the confines of the Vault, rebelling against years of government rule.
Now it's your turn to shatter the rule and head out in search of your father and the answers as to why he suddenly up and left. Of course once you bolt, the Overseer gets wind of it and sends his men out after you so you always need to be on the lookout.
The first place we came across once outside the vault is a small town called Megaton, which happens to be built in and around a gaping nuclear warhead that never detonated when it slam dunked into the soil eons ago.
Once here you can opt to take on a small series of mission before moving out of the confines of the relatively safe town and into the desolate, super mutant stalked streets of Washington DC, which is jaw-droppingly rendered.
Missions include agreeing to attach a detonator to the base of the nuclear bomb for a sinister chap called Mr Burke, hiking to inside DC's city limits to a rooftop and safely detonating the bomb with Burke by your side.
Go for the killshot
Before you do that though, you have to carve your way through the streets dodging super mutants and attempting to stem the effects of radioactive poisoning that slowly seeps into your system.
One thing that was made clear to us when we were playing it was that this is not an FPS, and Bethesda are keen to stress this point, it is an RPG that integrates guns into its gameplay mechanics. This is nothing like Call Of Duty - it's far deeper.
When targeting an enemy, you can choose to either shoot outright or use the precision targeting system where your trusty gadget The Pip Boy assesses the best points of impact such as arms, legs or as you can see from the screens - the head. SPLAT! Fallout 3, doesn't skimp on the gore factor either.
This is a bloody, bumpy and monster-filled sprawler of a game with so much to take in, so much to do and so many ways to do it in. Another aspect of the game is that all weapons are actually pretty beat up by the time you get to them (they have been lying around for years post nuclear fallout) so most will need to be repaired by sifting through bins and rubble for old weapons that can be taken apart and fused with your existing one to improve aiming and firepower.
In a break from convention - nothing in Fallout 3 is predictible, lazy or by the numbers - the game also promises a whopping twelve different alternate endings depending what it is you do over the course of the game too so expect a wedge of replay value.
And considering that once you've chosen your special abilities before you left the vault selecting new ones at birth (see boxout, above) and taking alternate paths adds immensely to the re-spin worth too. 2008's game of the year? If Bethesda's genius Oblivion is anything to go by, it's looking that way.