For the rest of the world, Fallout 3's being released as intended. Nothing to worry about. But in Australia, as you're aware by now, the game's had to see some changes, thanks to the Office of Film & Literature Classification's strong stance against in-game drug use (Midway's last Blitz game was refused classification for similar reasons). While Bethesda are keeping quiet on just what those changes were, the OFLC's official report on the revision is a little more helpful.
While it doesn't get into specifics, the report does contain the following three statements:
- The drug references within the revised version are justified by context and lend a strong playing impact to the game.
- The drugs depicted are fictional; drugs are depicted as stylised icons on a menu with the drug use itself not depicted. Whilst navigating a post-apocalyptic futuristic landscape, players can invoke the use of a variety of "chems" listed by fictious names which include "Buff", "Rad-X", "Psycho" and "Ultrajet".
- The Board noted that the "Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005" states that "as a general rule ... material that contains drug use ... related to incentives or rewards is Refused Classification" and found that relationship [sic] between drug use and the incentives and rewards is not such that it promotes or encourages the use of proscribed drugs. Therefore the game does not warrant to be Refused Classification and can be accommodated at MA15+ with a consumer advisory of "strong drug references".
So it's OK if the drugs are contextual within a fictional universe. It's OK if they're fictional drugs. It's OK if the game doesn't promote the use of proscribed (or, real) drugs.
Sounds like the game's use of morphine was the sticking point. By referencing only fictional drugs in this report, and reminding us that the encouragement of the use of "proscribed" drugs is a no-no, it looks likely that all that's been removed from the Australian version of the game is the morphine. Or, more realistically, that morphine has been given a fictional rebranding.
Course that's just speculation on our part, as with Bethesda refusing to comment on the matter until the game's out we're unable to confirm it, but that's certainly what it looks like.