A good while ago I did a thing about Batman, took 3 or 4 posts but I quite liked it, so here we go again. This time Fallout...
War. War never changes. The dulcet tones of Ron Perlman open each of the Fallout game to date, emphasising you are entering a desolate game world. But what about Fallout itself, does Fallout ever change. Well let's start at the very beginning.
Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (1997) (PC/Mac)
Slightly pointlessly long title. From this point I shall call her Fallout.
9 years prior to the release of Fallout, Interplay had released Wasteland, in which a team of Desert Rangers, the remnant of the US Army, explored a post apocalyptic world, examining what remained of civilisation, including the city of Las Vegas, but more about that much later.
The game was a critical success and was due to spawn 2 sequels, one by Interplay and one by the games publishers Electronic Arts. As time went by the EA effort became it's own standalone title 'Fountain of Dreams' and the Interplay sequel, initially titled 'Meantime' fell by the wayside and was never completed. However, what wasn't completed gave the groundings for an all new franchise to be born, that franchise being... Fallout. Whoo big reveal...
Fallout itself was set in post apocalyptic 2161 version of the west coast of America. The bombs dropped years previously after an escalating war between the US and China primarily over the last of the planets natural resources. Some people survived above, some like you survived in large subterranean fallout shelters known as vaults. you start off snug and tucked up nicely in Vault 13. You get a choice of 3 characters or a create your own option who is then approached by the Vault Overseer as the water system has developed a problem and predictably you're he only the person thinks can fix it.
So after a (decent for the time) bit of cut scene action you're out and making your way to the wasteland. Controlling a character only known as 'The Vault Dweller'. If that's to be mysterious or to save programming in lookups for the name in loads of dialogue I'll let you decide.
The game took a pseudo-isomeric view with mouse clicks guiding the player round the screen, and the camera moved via arrow keys.
Each of the characters available for selection in the game set up has a different approach, you can have a diplomat who will try and talk his way out of situations through to a brute who will strike first and then forget to ask questions later as he's too dense for that.
Fallout graded the character using a system known as S.P.E.C.I.A.L. This system, still in place in the modern titles, determines the 7 basic attributes the character has:
These then determine a set of sub skills, which level up with the character through the distribution of skill points.
A theme through each of the titles is some of the skills could be improved outside of levelling, you can find books in the wasteland which when read put skill levels up.
This way of levelling and character development wasn't unique at the time, in fact the title was due to initially use the table top GURPS system, however this idea was dropped and SPECIAL was developed in house by Chris Taylor, Jessie Heinig and Tim Cain.
Once you're out of the vault one think is certain, at some point you're going to have to fight. Combat could be initiated by the payer or aggressive characters would attack when the player was close enough. You'll start off with rats, but enemies do get bigger and tougher.
Here lays one thing I was never a big fan of (same for Fallout 2), the combat was entirely turn based, something I never got on with. You could launch attacks until you run out of points, then you stood there and took the retaliation and repeat. Dull, dull, dull. I never liked stuff like Final Fantasy for the same reason.
That's the primary reason to this day, I've never finished Fallout, or Fallout 2. I started playing through each game again for this very (series of) post (s) which were going to be for keyboardwarriors.co.uk before turning up here, so I knew what I was talking about, and found I still can't get on with that style of combat.
It's probably me.
Fallout is generally considered to be excellent, and ignoring the combat it's hard to argue with that. The multiple approaches to puzzles, the interactivity of the NPCs you meet all work well and it was a sign of better things to come. Such as:
Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (1998) (PC/MAC)
Dropping the stupid subtitle like it's hot? If only...
All of the key features from above return, multi solution puzzles, interactivity, Ron Perlman, Turn Based Combat (GAH), excellent story, SPECIAL, character development. Can't go far wrong can you?
This time you play as a descendant of the character from the first game called (for the same reason I assume) 'The Chosen One'. It's now 2241 and the 'Vault Dweller' founded village of Arroyo, Oregon is suffering a drought. The player character is sent forth into the world to find a GECK (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) to end the environmental woes of the village forever. First stop? Vault 13 from the first game, but not much luck there... so the fun begins...
The game essentially plays the same, however some basic changes are made. Currency is more scarce and items cost more, encouraging scavenging. Skill values peak at 300 points not 200 and the higher levels are harder to get too. The items are more varied both by type and variations on a type (3 types of minigun?).
SPECIAL is still present and working better than before, generally everything feels like it's had a bit of a polish and upgrade. Skills can be further upgraded by reading books, although mostly in the early stages as they have a cap of 91%.
Also introduced is Jet, a drug which has got me out of tight spots in 3 and NV! Here it's a new drug sweeping through communities. New factions include the New Californian Republic (bringing people together) and the Enclave (claims to be old government, has very nice kit).
As with the first game references are made to 'pop culture' but here they're a bit more in your face. Reno in particular is OTT. Play it, you'll know the bit I'm on about.
The upgrades are welcome but clearly incremental though, graphics are very similar, sound, general feel hasn't moved on much. But it wasn't broke so they didn't need to fix it. Well maybe the combat.
Still a cracking game if you like turn based combat, worth a go.
Next time, the demise of the isometric-ness!