Much Steel, little Brotherhood, even less Tactics.
Having played Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, and greatly enjoyed them,
I had kept on the look-out for a copy of Fallout Tactics and
eventually found one in a bargain bin, sans manual alas. The lack
of a manual was annoying, but the familiar interface made up
for it. You soon figure out what's what, and the designers are
to be commended for having stuck with what worked, with only
minor changes, easily guessed without having to turn to a
I had read that the game was so buggy as to be almost unplayable.
Not so in my experience, and mine is version 1.13. In perhaps 20 hours
of play it might have crashed four or five times on me, not enough
aggravation to have me try and download the mammoth patch, an
impossible task for someone like me with only a snail-pace
So there I was, happy with my purchase, eager to play.
It takes a while to figure out the three combat modes in practice,
and that the individual-turn mode is quite useless: you must spend
all of an NPC's action points before you can issue your orders
to another NPC.
It is exceedingly easy to make a wrong move. I discovered that
in my first encounter with wasps. I clicked on the target-like
icon beneath a wasp. Silly me. Instead of shooting at the wasp, I found
myself running towards it. Even armed with this dearly acquired
knowledge I made the same mistake again and again even against
more obvious opponents. You have to watch the cursor very carefully:
am I going to shoot that, or to run towards it? It is a matter of a
few pixels off. And a matter of life and death. Worse: there is
a dead Raider there, and you want to move there where he lies in
a pool of blood. If you are not careful, if you do not pay close
attention to the mouse pointer, you will likely find yourself
running and looting the corpse, and wasting precious action
points. Once again, death for a fistful of pixels. In the excitement of
the action, who is going to engage in pixel hunting? I even
managed to destroy our Hummer twice, clicking the wrong mouse
Keeping your NPCs in formation is also impossible but in the
most trivial of circumstances and on plain terrain. For instance,
I had Farsight standing behind Stitch crouching, weapons at the
ready. When I instructed them to move ahead, Farsight ran ahead
of Stitch! Then Stitch slowly crawled ahead of her. Another time
I had Farsight, Stitch and Buffy (shades of Fallout 2!) in a
room encumbered with benches. The paths they took to move to the
other end of that room... rats in a maze, and very dumb rats too.
Formation is not conserved either when the lead NPC goes to loot
a corpse or to activate a switch. You have to manually return him or her
to the proper hex. Do not even ever consider moving your squad
up or down stairs or ladders, even a three-men squad. More often
than not, one will end up stuck under the stairs, another half-way
up, and you will have to re-group them manually.
All this makes for difficult, tedious play. I have seldom been
successful in catching enemies in a cross-fire. It is all hit-and-miss
pixel hunting, and you never quite have a clear knowledge of
how many action points you will have left after your carefully
planned move. This is unacceptable for a game that calls itself
"Tactics". Soon, you find that you are often much better off
trusting the computer with your moves by switching to CTB mode.
Fallout 1 and 2 suffered from incomprehensible line of sight.
You had to pace to and fro past a window until you hit a line of
sight that allowed you to shoot that ghoul inside. You could
see the ghoul, but you could not draw a bead on it. Fallout
Tactics suffers from the same flaw. Again, this is unacceptable
for a game that calls itself "Tactics".
Fallout 1 and 2 had engaging NPCs. Think of Sulik and his Grampy
Bone! You had many ways of dealing with each "mission", rather,
each location. You could become a slaver in Den, you could...
I have even seen walkthroughs were you did not kill anything,
not even a rat. No such choices here. In Osceolla I was hoping
to join up with Gimmon. I was thinking in terms of Fallout
1 and 2. No such opportunity here. The game is linear. No
choice anywhere. You cannot even get out of a location
before you have completed your mission. In Macomb you meet
a Raider who offers you information in exchange for food.
You have none. There is none to be had in Macomb. So what
do you do? You cannot leave Macomb and get some, as you
would have done in Fallout 1 and 2. When you roam the wilderness
you will never, ever, come across any town. Their locations
have to be revealed unto thee by General Barnaky or General
Dekker when and only when thou hast completed thy assigned
mission. Grotesque. And roaming the wilderness is a pain
in the... yes. Random encounters galore, over which you have
absolutely no control. I got so sick of it that I downloaded
an editor and pumped Buffy's outdoorsman skill up to 100%.
Even so, every few millimetres on the world map, I had to
click "No" to every encounters. I tried hitting Escape, but
the wretched thing misunderstood it as "Yes" :-(
The Bottom Line
Compared to Fallout 1 and 2? A disaster. You might enjoy it
otherwise, but the only half-interesting way to play it is
through the trainer by NM!LS/EYM. You don't have to resort
to God mode. Ctrl-W (W for "Warp") will save you enough
boring running around when, your mission completed, you have
to wend your way to evacuation point. And don't forget to
pump yourself up to 100% outdoorsmanship using a character
editor. Otherwise you will die of anger and frustration moving
from town A to town B on the world map.