If you've ever played a CRPG (computer role-playing game) you must have heard Fallout meantioned. Maybe you even googled it and found some crude pictures of a dark and depressing isometric game. What is Fallout all about? And more importantly, what is Fallout 2 about?
First things first, if you're into fairies, orcs or elven archers, turn away. This is not a game for you. Fallout's world is full of mutants, rotting corpses, endless wastelands, grave robbers, pornstars, mothers scaring their children to eat their iguana-on-a-sticks with stories of one-headed brahmin (Fallout equilevant for cow) and such. You might even catch a STD on your travels if you're not careful (yes, Fallout has condoms). Now that I've made sure that your brains are tuned for Fallout, let's begin the review...
As a modern gamer, we all look at a games graphics first. So I'll make no exception here. Fallout 2's graphics are dim, dark and low resolution. The game is isometric. There is no crosshair. No DX11. Not even DX10. DX9? No. It's DX5. So why would any gamer buy this game and play it with their i7's? I'll tell you why. When you make your first critical strike and the opposing Raiders body turns to a pile of guts and blood, you know why. And that's not all. The cities and towns found in the Fallout's vast American world are all buzzing with life, murderers looking for their next hit, hookers ready to give you something extra for your hard earned bucks and even drug dealers selling stuff that make battles a little easier.
The animations are limited when not in combat, people walking around in circles around town and the random opening and closing doors when bar patrons stumble on the streets pissed and ready to fight. And when the fighting starts, the developers love for guts and gore really kicks in. Flying projectiles that reduce humans (or mutants) to gory piles of entrails, people running scared and hitting each other, severed limbs, ribs showing, you name it.
The textures in the game are generally very dark and dim but fit the world of Fallout like a Power Fist on a ghouls face. I'm not going to discuss about the resolutions or shaders or anything because this game came out in 1998 and it really doesn't make it justice if I start comparing it with modern games. Let's just say that if you still haven't developed a 'golden-eye' for games and don't mind playing a game in 640x480 resolution, the graphics are great. Bloody, but great.
Score: 9 (Modern gamers: 1)
The story of Fallout 2 doesn't really make any difference. Your village is dying and you're sent to retrieve the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit). What happens in between is the salt and pepper of Fallout 2. During your travels across nuclear bombarded USA you come across settlements, towns and bigger cities full of people and literally thousands and thousands lines of written dialogue that vary from your basic 'This town is [INSERT TOWN NAME], welcome!" to the more extreme "I want you to become a pornstar so I can make money.". The dialogue and character responses are so varied that modern games (even the likes of Mass Effect) have nothing to say.
What makes Fallout 2 so intriguing are the side quests. There are literally hundreds of them, from your average 'Kill the giant rat' to a bit more Fallout'ish 'Have sex with wise-guys wife to steal her jewels'. And each and every one of these quests can be completed in more then one way. If you've made your character a charming, pleasing fellow, you can talk your way out of most of hairy situations. If on the other hand your character is a big, beefy, no-brains brawler, you can just kill your target. And his henchmen. And their families. And children. And dogs. You can actually kill EVERY SINGLE NPC in the world. And still complete the game. How many games you know that allow this? Seriously? Children?
Score: 10 (Impatient players who rush to the finish: 6)
The gameplay of Fallout 2 is the carrot in the cheesecake. The game is played from a top-down isometric view. You move your character by clicking on a point in the ground. By clicking the right mouse button you can choose to interact with the environment. Maybe blow up an outhouse? Pick up a rock? Throw the rock at annoying children? The choice is yours. And it really is yours. I've heard of players that have completed the game without killing anybody (apart from the first village) and I have personally killed every single being in the world.
Talking about killing, the battles of Fallout 2 are played directly on the town/city/cave you're on. The game switches to a turn-based, tile-floored killing spree. You (and possibly your companions) and your enemies take turns spreading lead, throwing spears, using Stimpaks and more. The games utterly complicated RPG-engine calculates your hit-%, damage and even the chance of hitting an outsider. I don't even remember how many times I've loaded a game just because I accidently hit my companion and exposed his lungs. And the hardware to create those wounds is impressive. You have just about every single weapon ever created, from baseball bats to power fists, simple zip guns to sniper rifles and even miniguns and plasma grenades.
All in all, the combat is very slow paced (yet very, very brutal) so it might not suite everybody.
Score: 10 (FPS-fanatics: 1)
I thought you said this was an RPG?!?
Now for the part that makes Fallout Fallout (weird sentence...). Fallout 2 (as does Fallout and Fallout 3 + NV) uses a special SPECIAL -system to represent your characters attributes. SPECIAL stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. In your average RPG, these statistics don't really mean a thing but in the world of Fallout, every statistic has something to do with everything you do. Talking to a big, intimidating guy? If your strength is big enough, he is frightened of you. Trying to have sex with a small boy (yes, the game has homosexuality and small children)? If your charisma is big enough he might give you. The possibilities of the SPECIAL -system are limitless, thanks to the developers. You can do anything you can think of, and that's lot to say.
Once you hit the desired exp mark you gain a level. Simple enough? Well Fallout makes leveling fun with Perks. Perks are a kind of 'built-in' buffs that the player can choose for his/her character when a certain level is achieved. These range from your basic 'Do more damage with rifles' to the more Fallout'ish 'Opposite sex hates you but you get lucky with the ladies'. The choice is all yours.
In my honest opinion, Fallout 2 is one of the last REAL RPG's out there since it really let's you choose how to play and develope your character.
Score: 10 (Hack'n'slash fans: 4)
So all in all, Fallout 2 is an outstanding RPG if you can look past the crappy graphics and don't mind the slow-paced combat. In my books, this is the greatest game ever created. Properly patched and with the Fallout2RP this is a game that lasts from father to son! (Just make sure your son is 18, since this game is very brutal, in both graphics and language)
War. War never changes.