"When The World Is Gone, We Have To Hold On"
In the early 90’s PCRPGS were not so hot. Sure there was the occasional Ultima, or Might and Magic, but the market was still lacking. Enter Fallout, from Black Isle, a different type of CRPG. And one than would usher in a new era of fantastic CRPGS.
In Fallout, your are a inhabitant of Vault 13. The world above is dead, and those lucky enough to be saved, have not seen the surface for a long time. You are sent above to find a water chip, little do you know that this simple quest will change your life, and that of all the surface dwellers forever.
Topside a few scattered groups of people have banded together and have built up a primitive new world. Akin to “Mad Max” and the Phillip K. Dick novel, “The Penultimate Truth”. On your quest to save your Vault, you will meet hundreds of shady characters, and many will offer to join your cause, it is up to you who if anyone to trust. You will also uncover a city of mutants, they were once human but no more thanks to the nuclear wastes, that they have made home.
The plot is well written and full of mystery. From the awesome opening, till you achieve one of the multiple endings Fallout, will keep you glued to your monitor, as you explore a dystopian society that is more than it seems. Several factions have appeared in the new world and it is up to you to join or ignore them.
In Fallout you make your character. From basics like Male/Female, to stats, and cool perks. Perks include, being extra lucky, to the funny and bizarre spontaneous combustion. You can accumulate a party, or not, it is entirely up to you, as are the factions join one and gain the perks of being a member or be a loner. Or even betray your own Vault. This can all be overwhelming at first, but after an hour or so, you will wish all RPGS were this open-ended. This also lends to high replay value.
Skills include which weapons you are proficient with. You have many choices here, swords, guns, hand to hand, blunt, etc. Gun combat is probably the most satisfying. But once more it is up to you. There are skills you must “use” as well, from medic to increased defense. There are passive skills as well.
The combat can either be set to turn based, or real time. Turn based is somewhat easier, but the basics remain the same. You have action points or AP. Doing things in battle consume these points, from attacking, running, reloading, etc. In battle you will face mutants, humans, etc, all with a certain weakness.
You explore towns made of scrap, ruined Vaults, a Necropolis, and that is just scratching the surface. The setting makes Fallout one of the most unique RPGS out there, and give the game much personality. Rivaled perhaps only by Planescape: Torment, ShadowRun, and Arcanum.
The graphics are good for the time, and while a little dated today, they are still passable. The areas are well detailed and have a certain charm. The character graphics are nice and well detailed, such as when you equip a new type of armor or weapon. Lighting effects help convey dark areas, or the brightness of the wastelands.
The sound effects are nice. But the music and the voice acting steal the show in Fallout. The music is often just audible in the background, and never pretentious. The VO’S are all top notch.
Getting Fallout to run on newer machines is a chore. Why can't there be an easier way?
Why couldn’t there have been full voice acting?
If you stray to far early on, you will be sorry.
The Bottom Line
Fallout helped get Black Isle off the ground, and remains as one of their best games. If you were not old enough to play the “Wastelands” CRPG, Fallout, is a good alternate. I cannot wait till Fallout 3!