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Reminiscing about Fallout
[ Game -> Editorial ]
Editorial posted by DarkUnderlord Sat 05 Feb 2005, 1:39 AM
More info on Game: Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game | More info on Game: Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game

What makes Fallout so good?

It was November '99 and there I was looking at the back of this computer game package.
This year's Fallout Nuclear Survival kit uses the latest technology to keep you alive and kicking in the event of a nuclear disaster.  Just look what the experts are saying:
- Fallout has everything necessary to be the best role-playing game of all time ~ Next Generation
- Fallout could signale the return of the Old-School RPG.  This one looks like a winner ~ Gamespot.

The game was $20 and had apparently been out for a while now. It's sequel "Fallout 2" was sitting on the shelf next to it and was also $20 (Both part of the Gamers Collection). The brown packaging of the first appealed to me more than the purple 'bug' that adorned the second but I didn't buy them. Instead I made a mental note to come back later.  In the mean-time during a conversation with a friend about "Commandos" I asked if he had ever heard about "Fallout".  He had. It was great he said.  Had "turn-based combat".  That was great I thought.  I had only just finished playing the second game in the X-Com series: Terror From the Deep.  I enjoyed the challenging turn-based combat in that game.  I went back to the store and bought Fallout 1.  I'd buy Fallout 2 later if I enjoyed the first one.

Two weeks later I was suffering some kind of withdrawal.  I'd just finished Fallout for the second time. Why the second time?  Well, the first time through I thought I'd do everything "right".  I was talking to people, being the general nice guy hero-type.  Then I got to the Brotherhood of Steel or rather, outside the Brotherhood of Steel.  Wanted me to go to "The Glow" and bring something back so off I went.  I couldn't get in.  I swear I moved my mouse all around that God forsaken hell-hole and I didn't find anything.  It was a trick, surely. So I went back to the BoS...

... and died from radiation along the way.  So THAT's what those "you have received a high dose of radiation" messages meant?  I reloaded from a pre-Glow visit, used the Rad-X but still couldn't find a way in. I went back to the BoS again.  Nope, they wouldn't let me in either.  I went back to The Glow.  I couldn't find a way in again.  I gave up.  It must be some kind of trick.  My game from that point on changed.  Angry that I seemed to be missing something, I went straight to the Gun Runners and used that anger to take them out.  Oh God it was difficult but I pulled it off with a combat shotgun and metal armour.  You see, stupidly, I had been increasing my energy weapons skill right from the start.  Then when I got the 'tag' perk to tag a fourth skill, I tagged energy weapons.  They went from something like 114% to the max 200% instantly.  As soon as I got my hands on that Plasma Rifle of Gabriel's, I was set.  The rest of the Gun Runners didn't stand a chance even though my armour was less than optimal.

After that I found my way into the Cathedral.  I took them all out.  The Military Base was next and with its location taken from a computer, I walked in and gave them the same treatment.  That was it.  It was all over but I hadn't done it right.  Who were this Brotherhod of Steel?  Was there really a way into the Glow?  I did only what any reasonable human being would.  "Getting into the glow Fallout" I think was my query in Yahoo (back in the days when google was only for those "in the know").  It brought up a thread at a place called No Mutants Allowed and I read.  

It wasn't specifically about getting into the Glow but it had the words I needed to read. "Rope". "Beam".  I re-started.  I went back.  There it was.  Was I really so stupid as to miss that fairly obvious beam poking out there?  Apparently so.  I continued my game, I got into the Brotherhood of Steel.  I talked to Vree.  I took out the Military Base. In the end, I talked to the Master.  He committed suicide.  Suicide?  Had I really just talked this big bad evil guy into death because his plans were flawed?  Yep.  I'd finished the game twice and my second experience was completely different to my first time through.  I had used my speech skills to kill something which took a mammoth shootout to accomplish before. I'd even visited 3 whole new areas.  Junktown, which I had skipped at first. The Glow which was an experience in and of itself.  The Brotherhood of Steel.

I turned the computer off and wandered around the house for about an hour. Kind of lost.  I was thinking about what I'd done and "that was cool" was about the only way I could sum it up without delving into some sort of psuedo psycho-babble that would make Freud proud.  I hit the net and went back to that place I had found before and started posting wild, crazy ideas about Fallout 3.  Fallout 3?  Damn, that reminded me... It was December 2000.  I went back to the store and bought Fallout 2.

What's missing in Fallout 2?

Finishing the game off was a disappointment.  I summed it up (in my style at the time) in this thread:
I've just finished Fallout 2 (Hey, I only bought it about 2 weeks ago), and I have to say, after FO1 I was left with an empty feeling. A sense of loss. I kind of felt sorry for the Vault-Dweller for being booted out. (I also felt sorry that I couldn't kill the overseer)....

But after FO2. Nothing. In fact, after I spent a couple of hours running around the Enclave wondering how to finish it, I was RELIEVED that I had finished it. You know, like 'Oh thank god that's over!'. FO1 was great. It was new. It had about 3 - 4 ways to finish it. FO2 was lame. It was just FO1, with more quests, (which built up my hopes of a spectacular ending) and then a dumb shootout. I mean, I don't get it?

Also, how can you wander around the Enclave in Advanced Power Armour and everyone treats you like a soldier. But... as soon as you talk to the president (who had NO security around him) he *knows* you're a mutant? WTF? After you kill him, and the soldiers who come running, and everyone else on the level. Then blow up the computer. (No hacking into it with a high science skill and setting self-destruct. I mean, hell, I was expecting that getting the guy to release FEV would kill everyone one, thinking it had something to do with my high speech skill, but nooooooo. He does it even if your speech sucks. You can't even repair the nuclear bomb sitting there and set it off.)

Then, after all that, there's some big-bad ass packing an 'End Boss Plasma Rifle' and an 'End Boss Claw'. What is this? Quake? Hell, it's got a bad storyline (FO1 just G.E.C.K. instead of Water Chip etc...), a bad ending and an End boss. It MUST be Quake. Why the Hell can't I talk that Frank Horrigan out of combat? This IS Fallout right? I mean, that great game where you can talk your way out, shoot your way out, sneak/lockpick your way out or do something else to save your ass. Isn't it? Isn't that what the title says 'Fallout 2'? Well.. All I can say is I was somewhat disappointed. (And what's the deal with getting the Advanced Power Armour. It's in a locker. Is that it? You walk up to the guards and say 'Hi I'm a recruit', and then walk down and get your armour. WTF? Ain't that just a little too easy? I mean, just a *little*??? Considering that in most cases you've only just gotten the Hardened Power Armour?)

The ending makes the game.  The ending is what makes the struggle through so worth-while.  Fallout rewarded different styles of play by making an ending possible that suited your style.  Thief type?  Sneak into that high security door and set off the nuclear bomb under the Master.  Intelligent speech type?  Talk him out of his plans once you've got the right information from Vree.  Combat dude or dude-ette?  Shoot the bastard.  Those three simple methods were available during most of the quests through-out the game.  Speech, Combat and Thief.  Apparently it was Tim Cain's mantra during the design phase of Fallout.  I'm yet to play another game like it.  By having those three simple options available at almost every turn, Fallout has almost endless possibilities.  Play the game again and you find another way to do that quest or you get a bit more conversation you didn't know about.  Alternatively, drop your intelligence right down and you get different conversations altogether.

By having just three alternative ways to complete quests (and it's especially important these options are possible during every part of the main quest) you create a game that becomes a unique experience for everyone.
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