17 December 2010

Fallout 1 [the 1998 original]

I got this gem from 1998 running on my stationary computer with Windows Vista. No color corruption problems or errors like with Windows 7. All pictures in this post are from my current Fallout 1 game.

Fallout 1 and 2 (and Fallout Tactics) are beside the Temple of Elemental Evil the only turn based RPG's I've played. But I really enjoyed these games when I was a kid. Fallout 1 and 2 are probably the two games I've played the most, at least six times each from start to finish. The graphics are godawful by today’s standards, but at the same time it kind of fits in with the setting of a post apocalyptic world. The graphics and range of colors is a tad better in Fallout 2. Though the main reason to play the first two Fallout games is the story and the exceptionally good RPG elements.

These games also have a great feel to them as the environments are believable for a post apocalyptic world, full of shanty town, ruins and most importantly great wastes where there is nothing to se or do. You have a world map on which you can travel from location to location, while doing so you can see the days go by in the top corner. Both Fallout 1 and 2 should run on any system up to Windows Vista, you may need to change the compatibility mode to "Run as Windows 98/Me", but other than that they are smooth and working.

The first game is about the "Vault Dweller", a guy living in an underground protected vault as the world went to hell up above on the surface in a nuclear war over what resources remained 2077. The water purification system of your vault starts to malfunction and you get the fun and adventurous task of traveling the friendly wastes and try to find a replacement (ideally from another vault). The surface world is now populated by the broken remains of humanity, trying to get by in small communities, fending off mutated animals, raiders and mutants. The game is dark, and gritty with occasional dark humor.

The second game is about the descendant of the "Vault Dweller", now living in a village with a bunch of natives, once again you have to set out in order to find a "garden of Eden creation kit" - something all vaults used to have for when time came to leave the vault and make the barren world able to sustain crops and farming. This game is much larger, includes far more locations, quests, larger world map and is a perfect sequel. While being filled with a little more dark humor and weird stuff it still shows the bleak outlook for "humanity after the bomb" but also gives examples of different cultures and political ideas taking root once humanity starts organizing again.

Fallout Tactics was a bastard from the start. It was a lot less an RPG but more of a Squad based tactical combat game with RPG elements such as stats, experience points and inventory system. You played as a team leader for a group of Brotherhood of Steel initiates as they were assigned missions to salvage old pieces of technology, provide security for wasteland villages in return for new recruits and fights against slavers, raiders, mutants and machines. It is a great game on it's own - graphics shouldn't bother anyone as they still look rather good for this type of game. But as I said, it is not a RPG.

My main problem with Bethesda's "Fallout 3", beside the story being a bad fan fiction version of the story in Fallout 1, is that you basically stumble across towns, factions, camp, monsters and super mutants in every five feet - making the whole "wasteland" seem so overpopulated with people and locations that it no longer felt like a great waste were tiny clusters of humanity isolated themselves in small towns hundreds of miles apart. On top of that, the game took place on the east coast in Washington DC because Bethesda wanted to start fresh - but they couldn't help but throw in a lot of shit and references to the old games just making it a mixed experience. I should add that out of the 5 expansions the only one worth getting (and in fact getting Fallout 3 for) if "Point Lookout". It mixed Lovecraftian horror with a Post Apocalyptic swamp setting. That expansion pack was fantastic. But I cannot believe how much they fucked up the main game. I guess Oblivion was sort of a warning which direction that game developer was taking after the brilliant Morrowind. Dumbed down, aimed at the console generation watered down "RPG-lite" where fast travel and large arrows on your local map show you the destination of your current goal so that your lazy ass brain can sleep itself through the experience and still win.

If you can't stand graphics from the "olden days" then I would recommend getting Fallout New Vegas instead. It doesn't feel forced and filled with shitty references for the sake of pulling Fallout 1 and 2 fans into buying it - Fallout New Vegas is more of a standalone product with a "Fallout feel" to it. It has the location right, the environments are again set in the Nevada desert like F1 and F2, there are mountains and wastes that block your travels as you explore the world and the story (and ending(s) ) is far superior to the mediocre "screw you" ending of Fallout 3. I actually can't understand why this game has a lower rating than Fallout 3. The only thing I can come to think of is that Fallout 3 was hyped to hell and was a dud, so the game critics and people who played Fallout 3 just thought this was more of the same. It may be very similar, but there are a lot of important changes that makes this standalone game better than the crapfest of Fallout 3.



For a modern gamer (younger generation) Fallout 1 and 2 might come off as a bit difficult. You get quests but there is no map showing you which way to go, where to, you will have a description of what needs to be done but you have to ask around, talk to people and sometimes work your ass off to get quests done. There is no fast travel between locations. You can't carry more weight than you profile allows to, all combat, NPC interaction and skill checks are directly based upon your character profile. As you level up you put points in various skills to increase your characters potential. You cannot hit people with guns if your "small arms" skill suck - as opposed to Fallout 3 / New Vegas where you can always hit someone by simply pointing your gun at them.

Combat is not in real time but turn based. Meaning every single enemy and ally and you yourself will take turns to use up all available action points you have. Turn sequence, that is how fast you will be able to react in the great chain of events in combat, is quite important as you don't want to be on the bottom of the combat chain once the battle begins. You can either shoot, or make aimed shots at which point you will be able to choose what part of the enemy you want to hit. Eyes and groin shots tend to do most damage, limb shots will either knock your opponents down or make them limp around. Enemies that start to feel outmatched or become too wounded often try to retreat. Combat doesn't end until all hostiles are dead, running or out of sight.

Dialogue options in these two games are particularly rewarding and directly linked to your characters Intelligence stat. Low intelligence will make it impossible to do quets, as you will talk like a neanderthal (for real) and no one will understand you. A very high intelligence will give you more dialogue options and a high "speech" skill will make you a smooth talking and very convincing - making peaceful solution more accesible, making it possible to get paid more for jobs etc.

You will have a general reputation, karma track and a reputation based on specific locations. If you kill a lot of innocent people you will be shunned, and may be attacked on sight. In both games there is room to play as an outright evil character and still win the game, certain NPC's will be able to join you on your travels - based upon your charisma stat this group of unique individual that might be convinced to join your cause may range in size and composition.

If you can find, and you are a fan of old school RPG's and post apocalyptic settings in particular then I really recommend the first two Fallout games!

Some more pictures from my current wasteland adventure, my two allies Ian, the guy in jeans and leather jacket was an caravan guard. Tycho the wasteland ranger in the leather armor and brown pants. And "Dogmeat", a dog that starts following the player once you reach a certain location, acting as your trusted ally until death. I myself have at this point got hold of the Power Armor by joining the Brotherhood of Steel after completing their suicide mission used to test people who want to join.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for a nice overwiev of the Fallout games. Hope for more reviews like this.

    Don't agree on Fallout 3, but people have different oppinions.

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  2. No problem Jonas, my pessimism with Bethesda really goes back to Oblivion, after treating myself with the excellent game of Morrowind Oblivion felt like a punch in the nuts. And Fallout 3 to me felt more like Oblivion with guns than a Fallout sequel. Some of my anger and disappointment had settled when I gave New Vegas a try. I think that and the mix with familiar locations and a less campy and forced story made it more appealing to me.

    I think I could do overviews of games I like, similar to this one, every now and again.

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  3. Fallout 1 and 2 still today the worlds best two RPGs over a decade since they were released. They really are RPGs unlike many of the RPGs of today since you could get a totally new game depending on your character and its stats. So much great dialogue depending on your stats and previous actions. Only game with better dialogue have to be Planescape Torment and guess who made that RPG? The same guys indeed.

    To the question about Fallout 3. The great step into modern gaming for the Fallout series or an abomination? Here's my take on it. The game itself is a decent game, gave me couple hours of entertainment. One of the problems is its name. It would imply its a Fallout game when its really not.

    Fallout for me is humor, diversity, options, choices, dialogue and taking on a role with your character. Fallout 3 lack in the same black humor and twisted references to movies, series or other pop-cultures as the first two games. It doesn't feel like your stats actually mean anything in Fallout 3 since you need stats to be able to play a mini game to do tings not actually doing the thing in the first place. Same with shooting. No matter the skill you will hit if you aim yourself. It takes out the role-playing when the stats actually doesn't mean that much. Dialogues were not very interesting deep or diverse. And the few choices you make doesn't seem to effect you that much later on in the game more then one time maybe.

    Much criticism there but as i said its a OK game but its biggest fault is to have the same name as the worlds two best RPGs and never be able to fill up those shoes.

    PS. Like your blog Anatoli very good and interesting reading even tho I'm more into board and video games i enjoy the figure game part as well.

    /Kalle

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  4. Well said Calle, I do have Plansescape Torment as well as Arcanum. Both are excellent games. I feel like the golden age of RPG's was back in the 90's and early 00. The topdown perspective suits the medium perfectly imo, and those games were indeed more about story, character development, dialogue choices and lots of moral decisions.

    Some games today can come close, for me games like The Witcher with its great moral choices and Dragon Age - spiritual successor to Baldurgs Gate series and Morrowind which was pure magic in terms of immersion even though the fighting sucked are three good examples. But there is often too much focus on graphics these days while the dialogue and choices are lazy and shallow.

    Thanks, I try to make somewhat logical crossovers between miniature wargaming, boardgames, litterature and other stuff whenever possible. The focus is primarily on miniature wargaming first, and boardgames second. But I like to throw in stuff like this post about Fallout - keeps the blog fresh without losing the "theme" too much :-)

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