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Fallout 2 (Windows)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168675)
Written on  :  Mar 01, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars

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Consult your spirits, Sulik!

The Good

Oh, where to begin... "Fallout 2" is so great words aren't enough to describe it properly. Well, actually, it is as great as the original Fallout, and that says it all. If, by any chance, you are one of those weird creatures who never ever played the first "Fallout", immediately stop reading, get it, play it, and then come back. Now we can talk...

You probably loved the original "Fallout", didn't you? Either this, or you just don't like role-playing games, because otherwise you couldn't possible dislike what was, quite possibly, the greatest RPG of all times. Well, are you ready for some more RPG goodness? Here it comes: "Fallout 2". Everything the first game did, it does also. And it even surpasses its precedessor in several aspects, that makes the gameplay even more enjoyable.

"Fallout 2" is a serious game, that has a serious story and a serious setting. It is not about some silly ancient prophecies, shiny-armored warriors, or special agents with square jaws. "Fallout 2" is a universe in itself, a shockinly realistic, highly detailed post-apocalyptic world, that is yours to do whatever you like to. Some locations are even cooler than those seen in the first game - among those the "sinful" town New Reno, or the Chinatown in San Francisco. There are also more locations than in the first "Fallout", so if you really want to explore everything and to do all the quests, this game will easily eat up months of your time. I completed it without even visiting some of the locations, and even so it was quite a long trip. However, if you really feel like playing "fast-forward", you can complete the game in one or two hours only! That is possible because there are only few things you really must do in order to complete the game, but there are loads upon loads of things you can do. And this is, ladies and gentlemen, what role-playing is all about.

Indeed, when we look upon "Fallout 2", we see an amazing example of a game with nearly limitless possibilities. Most role-playing games still have a lot of restrictions: enemies you have to kill, tasks you have to accomplish in order to proceed, and so on. Even such a rich, deep, and detailed RPG like Planescape: Torment contains a good portion of obligatory bosses and linear gameplay. What often annoys me in RPGs is the fact they usually have so much combat. Sometimes I just feel I need a little bit more role-playing than just whacking monsters and gaining experience points for it. "Fallout 2" provides such role-playing. Just for the purpose of curiousity, I created an especially weak character whose only strength was an insanely good speech skill. I just wanted to see whether it was really possible to "talk your way through". And you know what? I reached the Enclave, the final, and relatively small section of the game, without having killed one single being. Yes, that's right. And I came not as a first-level wimp armed with an old rusty pistol, but as a mighty warrior in advanced power armor and a gauss rifle, at a proud level 13. How's that for role-playing? I could literally talk myself out of any dangerous situation and solve every conflict peacefully. But that's just the way I enjoyed playing. Somebody else would probably find it more interesting to play the game slaughtering innocent children and then selling their parents to slave dealers. You have impact on every location you visit, and at the end of the game the results of your behavior are presented through the magnifying lens of the narrator, who tells you what became of all those cities you either saved, devastated, or ignored.

Perhaps the most important improvement over the original "Fallout" is the party management. No more stupid partners who will run away just when you need them desperately, or who will go fight some critters in the corner of the map while you are struggling surrounded by tough deathclaws. You have now the combat management menu available, accessing which will grant you the possibility of telling your friends exactly what you want them to do. They will attack, according to your instructions, either the toughest enemy, or the one who is currently attacking you, or any enemy of their own choice. They will finally be able to wear the armor you give them. They will use any drugs if you tell them so, or will fight until the bitter end without healing themselves even once. Of course, the interface is somewhat uncomfortable (a much better and simpler way of party management is presented in Arcanum, a game that can be described as "Lord of the Rings meets Fallout" - by the way, get this game if you enjoyed this one!), but it is still significantly better than the poor party management possibilities of the first "Fallout".

The Bad

It is a great, great game. Yet even though it does many things better than the first Fallout game, it still cannot beat this immortal classic in one aspect: originality. The first "Fallout" was just too good for the designers to built the sequel on a completely new ground. Why not repeat something that has already proved to be good? It is all true, yet somehow you can't help feeling "Fallout 2" is more like a huge expansion to the first game than a true sequel. It is just a bit too similar. It hardly even looks better than the first "Fallout". A little disappointment was for me the intro. Now don't get this wrong - it is absolutely fantastic, but it's almost the same as in the first game! Mellow old-fashioned jazz music, black-white screens (nothing is more convincing than this to adequately reflect the atmosphere of a war, and you know why? Because in our minds, the word "war" is instinctively connected to WWII, hence the retro ambience... brilliant!), a short commercial for some vault-related technology, everything fades away, to leave just the horrible pictures of war and destruction, and the monotonous narrator voice... Yes, of course it is great. But it is obviously copied from the intro to the first "Fallout", and that spoiled the greatness for me in a certain way. Now, "Fallout 2" starts in an entirely different location, different from everything we saw in the first game, so in the beginning you almost have a feeling you're going to play a game about some Chosen Ones getting some holy-shmoly artifacts and saving the world, while fighting with spears... But no, after a while, you venture into a typical post-apocalyptic world, which is also strikingly similar to the universe of the original "Fallout". This is not really a complaint, it's rather a thought about what "Fallout 2" could have been with a little bit more originality... I guess we would play then no other games at all.

The Bottom Line

Perfect role-playing game. A universe squeezed somehow onto a single CD. An amazing sequel to an amazing game, that leaves almost nothing to be wished. This is what gaming is about, folks. If you never played it, then you missed probably the greatest role-playing experience available, set in an unforgetable world of destruction, despair, and the slight hope you can bring into it.