The massive outdoor environments are spectacular, and when using the ultra high visual quality settings, large amounts of detailed environment can be seen for miles. The gameplay itself also seems very good. After playing it for a small amount of time, it was evident that Bethesda has gone to amazing lengths with the level of detail.
Unfortunately there appears to be a huge amount of gamers that are having issues getting Fallout 3 to run on their systems without generating random crashes. Apparently there is a memory leak issue, among other things, that is really hurting stability (patch issued yesterday). Fortunately I am yet to encounter a single crash while playing Fallout 3, and more remarkable was the fact that we were able to vigorously test 18 different graphics cards without a single glitch.
In our end, the biggest problem we encountered had more to do with performance, or rather the lack of it when using certain graphics cards. Take the multi-GPU products such as the Radeon HD 3870 X2 and 4870 X2, neither of which worked as they are supposed to. Both graphics cards were limited to a single GPU as the latest Catalyst drivers are yet to support Crossfire in Fallout 3.
This won't be an issue for Radeon HD 4870 X2 owners who will still be able to play at 1920x1200 using the ultra high quality detail settings. But those running the older Radeon HD 3870 X2 will be somewhat upset after learning their single GPU performance is not very good. While Crossfire has yet to work properly in this title, we also believe that all Radeon cards should be performing a little better.
Take the Radeon HD 4850 for example, which often struggled to compete with the GeForce 9600 GT, a graphics card that is usually much slower in other games and also carries a lower price tag (for a reason). The budget oriented Radeon HD 4670 and 4650 cards should have also performed a little better we felt.
Furthermore, ATI has yet to release a hot fix driver for Fallout 3 like they did for Far Cry 2. But then they should not really need to, Nvidia certainly didn’t.
It shall be interesting to see if the Radeon graphics cards improve with the next major driver release. For sure we expect Crossfire support to be added, so this is something to keep an eye out for those that are relying on this technology. This also marks another precedent for future reviews of dual-GPU graphics cards.
For now it seems that Nvidia has once again got the jump on ATI, offering slightly better driver support allowing the GeForce GTX 280 to reign supreme.