1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: Fallout: Apocalypse Made Fun

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fallout: Apocalypse Made Fun

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Fallout is one of those games that people hardly get into nowadays, but if they do they never forget the experience. Fallout 3 and it's subsequent expansions have both brought some new players into the series, and at the same time made it a little bit harder for them to appreciate the older games. As a hardcore Fallout 1 and 2 fan, I have to hear constantly that they're virtually unplayable because of the 2D isometric graphics, or the unwieldy (for today's standards) interface. Despite that I hope this review is going to give you some incentive to at least get interested in if not play Fallout 1 and 2, since for what it's worth they're the forefathers of the series. 

Beyond any sentimental value Fallout 1 and 2 are both exceptional games. There's a reason the story is what it is nowadays and it all started out with a Diablo-esque intro in blocky, pixelated CG, and the words "War, war never changes." It's sometime after the global nuclear war that could have happened but didn't in reality, several hundred years to be exact, and beyond the surface the world has changed very little. Gangs of mercenaries and pillagers wander the nuclear wastes in a predominantly deserted North America (no pun intended, but indeed most of North America as well as the rest of the world have been turned into desert flat lands). Only a few bastions of humanity still exist, strewn across, the tribe you yourself hail from, the New Californian Republic, New Reno, San Francisco. Among the desolate fields mountains and canyons those have gradually sprang up as people started coming out of the Vaults. The Vaults being government ran projects to preserve humanity in concrete and steel bunkers around the US, in case of an all out nuclear conflict. The Vaults are something more than that as later becomes apparent, experiments, and quite opposite to the obvious point they served, their purpose was never one to save humanity from extinction.

The first game starts out in one of those Vaults, where you are chosen to be the first human being to leave it, since the doors first closed more than a century ago in pursuit of a water chip. The vault Overseer informs you that if you don't find one everyone will die as clean water will eventually run out. He tells you that there must be other vaults in the desert and they're all equipped with replacements. So if you manage to find one, do everything in your power to obtain it.

Having left the Vault you'll encounter the various, though strange life that 'thrives' outside. Radioactive waste has created a special breed of mutants, both from the normal flora and fauna and from the former human inhabitants of the lands. You'll meet mutants, who are large and strong and generally can't be reasoned with, ghouls which are basically humans whose skin has been burned nearly off and mind hazed by the radiation, beyond any semblance of memory of their former human nature, plants, geckos, scorpions. Most of all you'll face off endless bands of scavengers and tribesmen, out to get you and all you may possess.

The gameplay is classic isometric RPG, with the combat being turn-based and relying on action points for anything and everything. The weapons are a mix of pre-war technology and sci-fi energy and plasma guns, but that's not the high-point of the game. Even though the combat is involving and interesting in itself and you'll spend a large amount of time and gain enormous satisfaction in outfitting your character with the best gear for your level, where the game really shines is the atmosphere and the storyline. Fallout lets you do a lot more than you would have expected of an RPG with a largely trivial plot-line. We've seen dystopian worlds in games before, we've seen post-apocalyptic, but if you've never seen the way Fallout does it you've missed out on a significant part of why Fallout is one of the best game series ever. The characters are deeply thought-out and convincing. The areas are beautifully designed to fit the style of the wasteland. The humor is typically dark and edgy, without being pretentious, or overly-attempting to shock. The closest Fallout gets to any other title of any medium, would be the Mad Max series and the 1997 film The Postman. There's even some references to the former, as the first armour your character is able to wear is a leather jacket, and the first companion you get is a dog named... Dogmeat.

The second game continues where the first one left off only a few generations forward in a tribal village that your character from Fallout 1 set up as he was unfortunately cast out of the Vault in the first game. This time around you're ordered by the tribe leader to find the mythical G.E.C.K. The Garden of Eden Creation Kit is something you may be familiar with from Fallout 3, just pour water and stir, and you have yourself a completely self-sustainable agricultural environment. The little grey briefcase is what started up Vault City, from Fallout 2. Again you have a time-limit to find the item, although this time around you can continue roaming around the game after you've completed your mission(Fallout 1 ends with you bringing the water chip back to your Vault). If you do, make sure to go by the church in New Reno and speak to the priest there, it'll help you to no end (although you'd wished you could have gotten that help earlier). Also make sure to use the mutated toe on Horrigan's corpse, and tell me what happens, because those hookers commenting on it constantly is starting to bother me after seven or eight years since I originally played the game.

But whatever you do in Fallout make sure to explore and have fun with the bizarre and often astonishingly real stories of the people that inhabit it. Then when you're finally bored you might as well stock up on some ammo and try to see if you can kill everyone. Make at least one good and one evil character if you want to completely experience the game. And don't forget to just lay back and enjoy the game. Fallout 1 and 2 are one of the few games that really bring the concept of immersion and pure fun to its fullest.   


  1. We thought about getting into this one. But the kids got so hooked on Dragon Age and Final Fantasy, we never quite got back to this one.

  2. Fallout3 still gets gameplay out of me to this day, even when I'm super busy.

  3. I didn't like New Vegas as much as 3.

  4. I only played Fallout 3, but I fell in love with it. The storyline really interested me.


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