Better game mechanics than the original, but not quite as "edgy"
(This assumes you have played the original Fallout.)
Primarily, Fallout 2 fixed a lot of the annoying game mechanics found in the original Fallout. Things like...
- NPC interaction is vastly improved; you now no longer need to use the "steal" skill to move items, and you can give specifics for equipment use and combat behavior.
- You can push NPCs (and other in-game characters) out of the way. This is a Good Thing, especially if you have ever gotten stuck in the original because an NPC was blocking a doorway you needed to go through.
- You can transfer more than 999 items of one type at once. This is a big deal for money, so you can spend more than 999 dollars at a time.
- Allies in combat are highlighted in green, and neutral/non-combatants are yellow. The green was a perk (Friendly Foe) in the original Fallout, but now comes standard. Which is nice, because all those guys in leather jackets can start to look alike.
There are a ton of areas you can explore, and dozens of new items and weapons. Each area has a number of minor quests you can complete, and there are quite a few hidden areas that will only show up under certain circumstances. It is easier to play this game as a "bad guy" than it was to play the original game that way, and replayability is high because there are so many choices your character can make.
While the game does introduce some more "adult" topics such as racism/slavery, organized crime, drug farms, and political corruption, overall the story just seems a bit more... well... goofy. Some examples:
- Myron the super nerd NPC
- You can become a porn star (really, don't you have anything better to do?)
- The stereotypical "shotgun" wedding
- Joining the mafia (kind of interesting, but not very realistic)
- The car (a "Deus Ex Machina" item; it just means that overland travel is too slow and you have to carry too many items at once to successfully complete the game)
- The Hubologists (a blatant mockery of Scientologists)
- The aliens; I guess they needed "tougher" bad guys than just mutants, so they had the aliens land (plus, they just look silly)
- There are a number of "special" random encounters that are tie-ins to various movies (the bridgekeeper, the tin woodsman), or are just plain odd (the exploding cattle)
I could go on, but you get the point.
One other thing I found annoying is that this game is really, really hard to get started with. Since your character is a "tribal", you are limited with your initial equipment and surroundings. It takes way too long to get a decent weapon, and the initial encounters (particularly the geckos/fire geckos) often left me saving and restoring more than I would have liked.
The Bottom Line
Less of a true post-apocalyptic style adventure than the original, but definitely worthwhile. If you liked the original, the improved mechanics will be a welcome change... just don't expect quite as "gritty" of an adventure.