Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (Windows)

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Written by  :  Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe (1517)
Written on  :  Apr 30, 2001
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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A good, but far from perfect, continuation of the Fallout universe.

The Good

Fallout Tactics is easy to learn, especially if you're already familiar with the combat system (which is a slightly expanded version of the one used in Fallout and Fallout 2). The learning curve is balanced just right, just steep enough that you have to work to complete each mission, but not so difficult that you have to constantly restore and try again. The emphasis on tactical combat, while retaining the RPG elements from the first two games, keeps the play fresh.

Where the game really shines is in the area of intangibles: the ability to thoroughly immerse the player in a post-nuclear Midwestern world, to the extent that you merge yourself with the game. I found myself making up little back-stories and personality quirks for all my squad members. The AI is random enough that you don't get the same behavior every time, which can give your heroes all kinds of cool stories to tell their buds back at the base: Like the time Stein, my sniper, was really badly wounded, and probably would have died if the raider'd gotten off another shot, but then Keith my medic (who's normally a miserable shot) hit dead-on, saving his life. Or the time Farsight ducked just in time and the rocket went over her head and hit a group of enemies behind her. It has the same open-endedness as the original Fallout RPGs. There are no "right" or "wrong" choices. THAT'S immersion done right. Fallout Tactics OOZES with intangibles.

Using vehicles in combat is particularly fun, especially if you try to run down enemy raiders.

The Bad

The bugs. 1.25 is the minimum acceptable version for playing. Anything less, you'll want to download the patch Interplay has at their site. Even so, it's still prone to occasional screen glitches, random crashes, and long delays that make you wonder why it's pounding the disk so hard. I thoroughly agree with the previous reviewer who said Interplay shoved the game out the door about a month too early. It shows, and it hurts my overall impression. Game publishers, are you listening?

Also, the AI is a bit uneven. Most of the time it's good, but the enemies usually behave the same way (blindly attacking). Only rarely will they use any sort of strategy, such as trying to sneak up on you. Sometimes the AI exhibits outright stupidity, like the raider who blows himself to pieces with his own grenade. Also, enemies only react when you're close enough that they can see or hear you. They don't really patrol the area actively looking for intruders, which mars the realism a bit.

I also had some trouble getting used to the continuous turn-based mode, and found my characters dying before I had much of a chance to react. Unless you're a keyboard god and can master switching between six characters while keeping track of what they're all doing, you may prefer the individual turn-based mode, which is more like the RPGs. CTB is great fun with the vehicles, though.

The Bottom Line

Fallout Tactics is overall a very good real-time strategy / combat game with some nice RPG elements, and a welcome departure from all the fantasy and historical titles out there. It's a great game for people who like to really get into their games, but be prepared to have the illusion shattered every now and then with a GPF message.