Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
What a thermonuclear disappointment. To someone like me, who loved all three Fallout role-playing games on PC, this is a power fist to the face--an insult. Brotherhood's setting has neither the bleak, epic feel of Fallout's post-apocalyp-tic Wasteland, nor any of its characteristic '50s retro-futurism. Its mutants and ghouls are merely monsters, not the irradiated subcastes of humanity they were in previous games. Worst of all, its gameplay offers nothing but rote combat, nearly devoid of strategy, story, or purpose. What's left is a tedious trek through a vapid version of Mad Max. You'll waste your first three hours wandering and hunting vermin. If you make it through that, you'll graduate to boring fetch quests and more extermination missions. The plot improves eventually, but even so it'll seem dumbed down to Fallout tans, while newcomers unfamiliar with the series' story will dismiss it as derivative and campy. I suspect that, because of financial problems, Interplay had to ship this baby half done. But half-cooked babies just aren't palatable, even in the Wasteland.
Pest control sucks. So what I want to know is who thought "punch 60 radscorpions to death" would make for memorable mission objectives in a dungeon brawler? Sorry, the old stick-and-carrot ruse of more powerful weapons to kill even stronger rats and roaches isn't sound enough incentive, what with no particular story, style, or substance to support it. When ghouls with ray guns replace the critters, the going admittedly gets a bit better, even if the poor camera and crappy plot don't.
Recently, a rash of virtually identical action-RPGs invaded store shelves, each offering a top-down perspective, hordes of monsters to slay, and constipated-looking characters in the story scenes. Fallout ms supposed to be a break from this monotony--not to mention a sequel to one of the best PC games ever made. So what happened here? This disgrace feels exactly like Interplay's own Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II, except with unpolished visuals, soulless storytelling, and methodical hack-n-slash gameplay.
In Falloufs postnuclear-holocaust world, the wretched remnants of humanity are besieged by Hulk-esque mutants, radioactive monstrosities, and leather-clad bandits of the Mad Max variety. As a member of the military survivaiist organization Brotherhood of Steel, you'll eradicate these irradiated horrors to make the wasteland safe for humankind in an action-RPG similar to Baldur's Gate.
Brotherhood of Steel borrows the grimly humorous mood of the excellent Fallout PC games, but trades straight-up role-playing for lots of visceral combat. Develop your skills in heavy weapons, stealth kills, explosives, sniping, or hand-to-hand combat. More than 50 melee, ranged, and explosive weapons provide plenty of ways to exterminate undesirables. Hey, post-nuke life is tough-survival takes guts. And bullets.
Fallout the RPG came out in 1997 and set the gaming community on its ear. Its open ended gameplay, mature yet funny themes and the almost cartoonish over the top violence was a welcome relief in a time when things needed to be shaken up a bit. The sequel came out a couple of years later and built on several of the unique devices that the first originated but it didn't matter, by this point a rabid fan base of fans had fallen in love with the Fallout Universe. The [sequel] could have involved finding a shopping list and it still would have been loved. The third entry was only purchased by die hard fans as it walked away from the RPG side of it and made it more of a tactical game (thus the title: ) but kept it's feet firmly planted in the dangerous burnt out wasteland that the fans have come to love and respect.
You should know that I am as big a Fallout fan as they come, and when I initially got this game, I called in sick to work because it was so addictive to me that I could not put it down. It's true, despite all of its faults, I absolutely loved this game. The ambience is superb, with the scorched earth look and blown out buildings everywhere, I knew I had come home even though it's been several years since I played a Fallout game, the whole thing just felt "right" to me. But here is where the rabid fan and the average gamer are going to split hairs. The game has excessive load times, to the point of frustration, and even would lock up on me. When I stayed home to play the game, no fewer then 3 times in a 10 hour stint, the game actually froze in mid load. Thankfully this title has save stations everywhere, or I might have really blown a gasket. Next, the themes of this title are a bit over the top, and I know that's saying a lot, but show me another game where sleeping with a hooker multiple times (and getting a disease) is instrumental to completing the game. Not a title for the little ones mind you, the use of four letter words is excessive.
But for everything wrong, I found several things right, the game is the right length for me (around 11 hours) and the controls are spot on. And while the angle that you look down on everyone is a tad too steep, the exploration in the game is very good. At some point in the game you might go into a destroyed building and open a half smashed refrigerator only to find a gun or armor you didn't even know existed. Yes, the discarded items can be small and hard to see, but the game answers that by automatically highlighting any object that is within reach and can be carried. It's a debate that could go back and forth depending on your preference.
Keeping up with the story is fairly simple, in the original games you had one giant quest with dozens of mini-missions and multiple paths to get there. Here, you feel fairly "on task" as mini-quests come up and are easily solved in chronological order. You start the game able to pick from three pre-made characters, a man a woman and a ghoul. Fans of the series will recognize "fallout boy" in the level-up screen and you can add experience points to different traits like medic, or heavy weapons which in turn will make you more adept at these skills. You are able to unlock other characters as you play and there is even some NPC help towards the end. But (there's always a but), what the game does offer is some two player adventuring where two of the characters go at it as a team and try and beat the game.
It's exactly what I find fun in games and the fact it's a Fallout title automatically makes it a winner in my book. But to the rest of the world, load times, freeze up, tough viewable angle and way mature themes might make you want to rent this one before buying.