A Norwegian gaming website, Gamer.no, has put up a very critical article regarding a recent preview they did of Fallout 3, which can be read here if you understand Norwegian.
Here is a translation done by ericjones of NMA:
It's hard to believe that the guy who showed us the game, Pete Hines, was from Bethesda's PR department. Firstly, he didn't seem particularly enthusiastic. Secondly, he had chosen to put emphasis on, in my opinion, irrelevant details.
Ok, it might be a bit funny that you as a newborn can cry at the touch of a button. It's also somewhat charming that you say "dadda" by pressing the same button when you reach three years of age, but what the hell does that have to do with good role-playing design? If this is the way the designers think, then we've come off on the wrong foot from the very beginning, and I can swear that the developer of Fallout 1 and 2, Interplay, will be turning in their grave (or "in their Linux partition", as the preview says).
At this point, the game is introducing us to dialogue. Like many other RPGs, Fallout 3 uses a dialogue-tree that lets you choose how to respond to other characters in the game. You can always choose between several alternatives, and it's usually fairly easy to see which alternative will evoke what response. If we are to believe Hines, the dialogue-trees are of no significance for the development of the character during the game. The different possibilities for dialogue are there solely to let the gamer play the way he wants and provoke reactions from other characters.
The graphic user interface also seems like it's been subject to prolonged radiocative exposure. When it comes to the design, there is a huge gap in the level of artistry between the beautiful, detailed areas and the way the game gives you information on-screen.
Ugly shades of green, boring menues and counters(? - I believe this means the HUD) were some of the most annoying aspects of the game. This is 2008. I expect that a game that is supposed to transmit a lot of information by text and counters, will do its best to make this part of the game look as good as possible. If you're making the player passive, it's necessary to make his time as interesting and functional as possible.
Who is this game for? That was the question that occured to me after Hines' presentation. It doesn't seem to be a game for those who traditionally have played Fallout. By that I mean hardcore PC-gamers. Fallout 3 is significantly "consolified". It's very well possible that this makes Bethesda able to reach a larger audience, but they should be careful not to marginilize (or overlook) those who loved the first two games.
Fallout 3 seems to be a nice RPG from the developer who gave us Oblivion, but I get the feeling that the game has very little in common with its predecessors except for the name. It seems to be an RPG that's typical for its time. Its getting closer to being a shooter, and it seems to want to help the player out a little too often.
Seems the closer we get to the release date, the more gaming sites are becoming slightly critical of things they've seen in Fallout 3 - perhaps they're trying to make up for all the hype they spouted about Oblivion before it's release date.
Only time will tell whether Bethesda has listened to the critics, and taken the good advice to heart (and the development meetings).