Fallout

a game by Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Platform: PC
Genres: Action, Adventure/RPG
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 4 reviews
User Rating: 9.3/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Fallout Games

Think about an RPG with the feel and style of Crusader that retains the immersive gameplay which make RPGs "da bomb." In Fallout, you get just that in a weird, post-apocalyptic, Road Warrior-type world filled with gang members, thieves, and mutants. Gamers can begin with a pre-generated character or build their own, modifying the character's skills as they progress through the game. Yet the most impressive feature is the ability to target specific body parts and blow 'em away with a vast array of weapons. You'll be able to watch headless enemies wilt to the ground covered in their own filth as you pick the pockets of their comrades. While you may need to be heavily packed (Pentium 120 with 32 MB RAM), the bounty for this most-wanted title is steadily climbing.

Game Reviews

In Fallout, you're a survivor of a nuclear war. Emerging from your shelter after the holocaust, you must brave the terrors of your new world. As the first GURPS (Generic Universal Role-Playing System) computer game, Fallout has tons of selectable attributes that enable you to control or to change virtually every aspect of your char acter. Every change results in a different cause-and-effect scenario, creating unlimited gameplay possibilities. Gamers looking for a true RPG definitely have a lot to get excited about with Fallout.

Fallout brings old-school sensibilities to the electronic RPG realm, as well as great graphics and extremely adaptable gameplay.

NUCLEAR FAMILIES

In 2077, humans--the lucky ones, anyway--live in giant underground vaults that shield them from atomic radiation. When your vault is crippled by a busted water purifier, you're elected to explore the outside world and find a solution.

Fallout's strength lies in its flexibility. Players can easily create any type of character through a simple interface. The game's plot isn't linear, either; you can seek out people who'll help you build a new water chip, or just steal one from another vault, or you can even blow off your quest altogether. Just be ready for the consequences.

GONE FISSION

The iconic, mouse-driven interface makes navigation and combat a breeze (though it's worth taking a peek at the manual, too). Conversations come to life through eerily realistic facial animations, and the main graphics shine with detail, while expressive dialogue and other crisp audio elements complete the post-apocalyptic scene.

Interplay set out to create a "real" role-playing game for the PC, and it's more than succeeded. Even mild fans of RPGs will find Fallout easy to fall into.

ProTips:

  • Even if it's redundant, talk to everyone.
  • Combat isn't always the answer. Sometimes it's better to talk your way out of danger, or simply sneak away from it
  • Your character's skills will improve over the course of a game, but basic stats like Strength and Endurance usually won't. Choose wisely.

Overview

World War Three has come and gone with the attendant nuclear holocaust, and life is rough. Stop me if you've heard this before ... anyway, a generation or two has passed with everyone living in underground vaults when a crisis strikes your particular vault; the water purification system has broken down and they need someone -- nudge, nudge -- to go find a replacement. Assuming that the radioactive world outside your door does not contain a friendly Wal-Mart, you pack up a gun, a knife, some flares, and head out to Mad Max your way to finding salvation for your friends and family back in Vault #13.

While Fallout certainly offers almost nothing novel in terms of storyline, it does have some interesting points. Unfortunately, being turn-based and rather short, it falls somewhere in the "OK, but nothing to write home about" category. It fails to live up to the graphical sophistication of the Crusader series, which predates Fallout by two years, and it fails to capture the excitement of Diablo's real-time combat, or Ultima Online's role playing possibilities.

Gameplay

Fallout employs a basic point-and-click interface that is somewhat cumbersome to manage in combat situations and can easily lead to your character choosing to look at the guy he should be stabbing, rather than using that movement point to stab him. The main actions your character can undertake vary depending on the situation, but they are usually a combination of moving, looking, talking and attacking.

If you've ever played any of the old text adventure games, you'll feel right at home in Fallout -- there's a kind of retro RPG feeling to the game; the only problem is that the packaging and promos for Fallout tout it as competition for the current crop of RPG/adventure games. Maybe it's just me, but even when I encounter an overwhelming force to fight in a turn-based game, it just fails to get my pulse pounding.

The biggest challenge in Fallout is not finding your way around the world -- even after a nuclear war and the rise of a supposedly savage dog-eat-dog "society," the folks you run into while walking around the world of Fallout are much more helpful and friendly than most of the people I pass on the street or stand in line with at the grocery story these days.

What is tough, however, is simply surviving the combat situations. From packs of rats right outside your front door at the outset, to giant radioactive scorpions whose venom takes your hit points down (until you figure out to cut off a stinger and take it to a nearby doctor who can make you an antidote), to the various thugs that for some reason the game repeatedly forces you to confront and kill, there are plenty of ways to die. In fact, it seems that your character is constantly putting him- or herself into bad situations, sometimes needlessly. Maybe all those years cooped up in the vault made you anti-social ...

One cool aspect of Fallout is its attempt to really make itself an RPG. There are extensive opportunities to talk with NPCs, many people you run into will trade items with you, and there is a definite structure to the world of Fallout -- it is not just level upon level of new monsters or bad guys to kill. While all of this is somewhat refreshing, it is nothing new in the RPG realm, but rather a return to the more pure RPG. There is also nothing veiled or difficult in communicating and trading with the NPCs -- just make sure you click through everything you can say to each character and make sure that you trade some of the shinier weapons for a few staples (like flares and rope) so that you don't stock up on firepower in lieu of the necessities required of an Indiana Jones/Mad Max type of adventurer.

Graphics

The graphics in Fallout are OK, but no one would call them stunning (aside from a PR person or two). I am reminded of the later Ultima titles, or the more recent likes of Postal -- the graphics are clear enough, good colors, decent environments, but after seeing tons of games that constantly attempt to boggle the mind and the eye with innovations (Diablo's wondrous caverns, Quake's true 3D, Tomb Raider's silky cinematics, Crusader's intricate environment, etc.), Fallout just can't measure up. Again, it is an attempt to place substance over style (and admirable pursuit these days), but the substance here is just so much Zork eons after the basics of gaming have necessitated new approaches and a more stylish look. Fallout in this sense is a victim of the times.

Audio

The very best part of Fallout is the opening sequence in which a great old 40's record plays to a newsreel of the events that led up to the world war. After that, the audio is adequate, but nothing more -- no real attempts at anything environmental or sophisticated, just the basic necessities.

Controls

Basic mouse controls cover everything in the game, but as mentioned above, the navigation between combat, movement and other actions is not always as smooth as it might have been. Still, after a couple hours of playing you'll get used to most of the basics. And besides, it's turn-based, so there's no real urgent need to master the intricacies right away, at least so long as you remember to save often between nests of Radscorpions.

System Requirements

DOS/PC version: Pentium-90, 32 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, SVGA (VESA-compliant), SoundBlaster-compatible sound card

Windows 95 version: Pentium-90, 16 MB RAM, DirectX 3.0a or 5.0, 2X CD-ROM drive, SVGA, DirectSound-compatible sound card. Some people have reported success running on lower-speed machines (486/66 and up), but Interplay does not officially support less than a P90.

Mac version: PowerMac with 16000k free memory, CD-ROM drive, System 7.1.2 or higher, and a variety of extensions (included on the CD)

All versions require 10+ MB of hard drive space and a mouse.

Bottom Line

Fallout is a decent game, and will certainly appeal to adventure-minded gamers who dislike the trend toward entirely puzzle-based games or who want a break from the fast-paced shoot-'em-ups wrapped around one quest or another. Be warned, though, that if you have been immersed in the likes of Diablo or Tomb Raider, Fallout will seem slow and clunky compared to the more modern adventure titles. I think it falls closest to the old text adventure games, but with more modern updates in terms of graphics, animations, etc. In the end, you still want to grab a notepad so that as you explore the caves or towns you can jot down E-E-N-N-E-S-S-S-W-W or other such instructions to mark your way back to the guy you need to barter with for a rope, so you can go back to the cave and get the lantern so you can ... well, you get the idea. All in all, Fallout's not bad, it's just fair. 77 out of 100 for a decent RPG where you can indeed actually advance your character and choose one of many paths through the story.

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