Genre:   RPG

Developer & Publisher:     Interplay

Released:   1997

PC Requirements:   Pentium 90 or faster (P120 recommended), 16MB RAM (32MB recommended), 30MB available hard drive space (150MB recommended), Direct X certified SVGA video card, Direct X certified sound card, 4x or faster CD-ROM drive, Windows 95/98/NT, 100% Microsoft compatible mouse.




by Drizzt

Anyone ever get tired of the endless numbers of CRPG´s we get, where we must "battle a horde of goblins and orcs, rescue the kingdom and in the meantime collect our huge reward enough to build a golden bridge across Faerun? Anyone? Well, not me anyway, but I thought it would be time to get something a bit more refreshing and original. So here I sat and remembered a quite unique and some say, revolutionary game, released in 1998, called Fallout. Made by interplay, it is still considered by some one of the best CRPG´s ever.
So what was it that made this up-comer so well-liked and praised? Let us enter the wasteland...

An old LP-player is playing the slow and so-very-30´s song made by The Ink Spots, called "Maybe" from a radio somewhere. On the TV there are some of the usual commercials, followed by a propaganda-program showing "our" victorious forces, and showing us the US flag.
The picture slowly zooms out of the TV, the radio fizzes a bit, and then goes quiet, when the camera reveals a world of ruins, shattered, destroyed and utterly smashed to pieces, making no sound but the faint howling of the wind around the burned ruins of what once was a big city. This is the world of Fallout.

This intro-sequence still sends shivers down my spine when I watch it today, and I can easily say it is one of the best, if not the best intro of all time.
The following part, where the narrator tells the story of a world gone insane with desire for power and which was eventually destroyed by its own inhabitants, a very atmospheric music plays in the background, and all this adds to the already very in-depth feeling of the game.

Without revealing too much, I hope to be able to explain the main plot of the story.
So, the world as we knew it ended in a devastating nuclear war, somewhere around 2090,
when war was waged over the few resources left on earth.
A very small part of the population was able to take shelter in large vaults which were built underground, constructed to protect the "vault dwellers" (as the people in the vaults are called) from all the outer world's hazards.
Very small groups, which lived in quite remote places, also survived the war, and these have started to build a new civilization. A civilization where resources still are scarce, and nobody is far from resorting to violence in order to get what we want. A merciless cruel world, and one which the player has 100% freedom in order to explore.
The player becomes (and yes, I say "becomes", not "plays", because the first is much more in order in this case) a dweller of vault 13, which has managed to stay shut for almost 100 years, but now it faces a catastrophic turn of events.
The part of the vault computers which supplies them with fresh food and resources, the Waterchip has broken, and it is up to the player to go out into the recently described world and find a replacement. Also, when searching for the waterchip, he or she also understands there are much more evil forces at work, and the results can be disastrous, not only for the surface world, but also for his/her own vault.

So what is the game like? The interface may be a bit complicated the first time you play, but after an hour or so, you easily click around the menus, use items, steal things, and most importantly, wage war against all who oppose you.

Ah yes, combat, the most exciting part of the game. You should know, that this game is turn-based, and it works absolutely marvelous.
You have a certain amount of Action Points (AP), which you can choose to distribute in different ways each turn (shoot, walk, use your inventory).
One piece of warning: If you have the UK or German version of the game, there will not be many graphic scenes of violence, but if you have the US or other European versions of the game, it is VERY graphic to say the least (not that I mind, just thought I would put a warning there).
What I found most appealing is the option to shoot "aimed shots" at certain body parts (head, legs, arms, groin, eyes), having bigger chance to hit certain parts and smaller chance to hit other ones, doing different damage.
Also, the damage caused to opponents can cause them to run away (or, if stupid, attack you). For example, cripple their legs and they can just move 1 or 2 hexagons (yes, everything with movement and also the ground at all to do is built with hexagons) in their round. Cripple their
arms, and they can not use a ranged weapon.
On the mention of weapons, there are many different kinds of weapons and to be used,
and some may also be upgraded.
One thing making it very interesting as well is the "Special Encounters", where the developers have put some interesting Easter eggs, and where you can get certain items unavailable in any other place. (A well-known example: The UFO with the Elvis Picture)

The character creation seems very much like any other CRPG's, but the fact that you must choose two "traits", which gives you a bit of advantage in a certain aspect, but a disadvantage in another, makes it very much more interesting to create your PC.
Otherwise, you put skills as usual on different skills, and configure your attributes as you wish to have them.

Leveling up is one of the most interesting aspects of the game, most of this due to the things you get every 3rd level, called "Perks". These gives you special bonuses in some skills, and can give you a better skill when talking to people, make they like you more, and much more like them. There are a lot to choose from, but not all can be chosen depending on your attributes, so you would do well to choose these well when creating the PC after checking the Perks in the manual.

The graphics seem very much outdated today, but trust me, when playing, you practically live in the world, and not much else seem to matter.
The sound is good, although there are a bit of lack of some background sounds, such as people talking when in the city and the likes. There are however, some great performing made by actors at Interplay when it comes to the NPC's you can talk to who have their own "heads" in the dialogue part. (I especially liked Loxley in The Hub)
The background music is not much of music (more like faint sounds of howling and the sounds of a desert landscape), but it is perfect and suitable for whatever environment you are in (it changes with the location).

What about npc's? Well, of course there are a few, but these you have very limited control over, and they don't seem to bright either, as one of their greatest joys seem to be to fire a burst of bullets in your back as soon as you turn your eyes in another direction. Besides, you can't tell them to wear armor, or to choose what weapon to use.
I played through the game solo, without any NPC's at all, since I found them quite useless and mostly annoying. But it is still a lot of fun, and never does the people you talk with feel "empty" or "just another person" (as I thought it to be in Morrowind due to the limited dialogue).

Another thing I feel I unfortunately must take into consideration are the bugs. There are numerous of them (people stop talking to you, people attacking you without reason, crashing bugs, long loading times), unfortunately. So the first thing to do when having the game installed is to install the patch, but remember to do this before you start the game, since the patched version wont be able to load your old saved games.

The bugs and small problem of npc's apart, this is a must-have for all Roleplayers, no matter if you like action, adventure or just a good story. Also, the number of ways you can actually play the game, the fact that it is quite big, with different ways of completing quests, and the refreshing kind of character shaping it promises for quite a bit of replayability value.
And most important of all, there are no elves, orcs, or goblins.

My Rating:

Graphics: 7/10
Sounds: 8/10
Gameplay: 9.5/10
Story: 10/10
Replayability Value 8/10

Overall: 9.5/10

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