Hello from E3 mania-land!
There been much debate about the necessity of the third-person perspective in the esteemed Fallout series, and the apparent lack of it in the upcoming Fallout 3 from Bethesda. With pipe in hand, tweed jacket ensconched, I present my scholarly nerdface, and ruminate on this and other social trivialities.
For me, the third-person perspective and turned-based combat was and is integral to Fallout. Why? Well, ask yourself what was it that made Fallout so memorable. Invariably, the answer will be that feeling of survival, embodied in its post-apocalyptic theme, and your emergence from such a harsh world. Unlike other RPGs, you weren't a hero to anyone but the superstitious lot in your pathetic little village. Out in the wastelands, against bandits, slavers, feral mutations, and that inescapable radiation build-up in your body, you felt fragile and suffocated even as you leveled-up.
With the overhead perspective, you could see the lay of the land, and really drink in how forgotten and lonely each town was. You could see the fallout. Unable even to choose how your character looked on creation, you were just one of many characters, no bigger, no more colorful, just another face from the desert. Until your avatar donned the power armor (and even then), you didn't stand out. It was a starkly egalitarian world.
And then with the turn-based combat, you could experience the tension in immediate survival. You were made to make life or death choices in you tactics against unfair odds, have the time to dread impending death, and watch those actions play out in a violence even more punctuated by how sudden it was compared to decision making mode. Every used action point spelt committal, and clicking the [END TURN] button faced you with consequence and fate. One moment you were the saviour of the wastelands, the next you were a putrid mess of flesh riddled with laser gatling shots. And you had the entire eternity before ending your turn to contemplate it.
So it brings me great pleasure to hear that Bethesda has chosen to make the morally relativist distopia (post-topia?) of the Fallout gamescape true to the originals; perspective and turn-based combat are back! I'm always impressed when a company can take another's vision and step up to the challenge. Conscious of how empty and undirected Morrowind is, I am glad to see how honestly they've taken up the task of making Fallout a different game, and not just a clone in drag. Time will tell, but I'm very excited with the details coming out about what is sure to be a new epic, if only the fanboys give it a chance.