Fallout 2 review by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
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The original Wasteland (Ed: see my review) was first released in 1988 and has been called the greatest game of all time. There was a Wasteland sequel before Fallout, but it was so bad that we will not mention it here (Fountain of Dreams). After the sequel fiasco, the Wasteland fans and many people at Interplay kept the dream alive. They wanted a sequel to the game that would be true to the original.
On October 13, 1997 Fallout was released. The Fallout "sequel" to the game was a spectacular effort and had all the makings of a first rate game. Many of the fans who had waited ten years found the wait excessive, but the game was a smashing success. Fallout is really the third game in the series, making Fallout 2 the fourth game. Are you confused yet?
Just to clarify Fallout 2 is really Wasteland 4. OK? Good!
Fallout 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed game that took RPG'ng out of the dungeons and into a dynamic, apocalyptic retro-future.
It's been 80 long years since your ancestor trod across the wastelands. As you search for the Garden of Eden Creation Kit to save your primitive village, your path is strewn with crippling radiation, megalomaniac mutants, and a relentless stream of lies, deceit and trechery. You begin to wonder if anyone really stands to gain anything from this brave new world.
Mastering your character's skills and traits for survival, Fallout 2 will challenge you to endure in a post-nuclear world whose future withers with every passing moment...
Over 100 new skills, called perks, available to learn during the course of your travels. Better to learn the exquisite art of Pyromania, the uncanny timing as a Demolition expert, or how to squeeze the trigger on your spiffy new Gauss-rifle faster than the next guy? Decisions, decisions....
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quite good except for when characters are blocking your main character in doors and other locations. The characters can be pushed with a push command and there are some cute comments when you push them. I think the designers just lost perspective, the characters could easily make those comments when you use an AI routine that pushes them out of your way. The only things that should block your movement are certain objects and enemies in combat mode.
Speaking of combat, many of the problems in Fallout have been corrected. NPCs now reload their weapons and the NPCs and the enemy are smart enough to have complex routines in dealing with combat. There are five parameters and up to six attitudinal guidelines per parameter to set for each enemy or non-player character. In the case of the enemy, these parameters are preset. In the case of your party member NPCs, you can go into custom mode and with some limitations, tell them how to fight.
Annother extremely annoying design error is friendly fire. You are given no warning that you may hit your NPCs with friendly fire. And your NPC allies often kill you and other NPCs in the heat of the battle. And while this is very realistic, it is not something that will get the game designers invited to dinner, unless it is poisoned. Most game players are going to be extremely frustrated and will save and start over many crucial battles, just because of this problem.
You wander around talking to people and having combat only when necessary. You can kill everyone in the game, if you are so inclined but your karma will be affected and the game will become harder, if not impossible, to complete.
On one of the last pages of the Fallout manual is a reference to the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK). The GECK was added to the manual by the creative geniuses who thought up the game. The plot of the first Fallout was for a vault dweller champion to seek the chip so that the dwellers in vault 13 could close the vault up and survive for a longer period of time.
When the original vault dweller champion found the chip in another vault and returned it to vault 13 he saved the people there from having to venture out into the radioactive wastes. The overseer of the vault turned the hero out due to contamination by the outside world. The vault dweller moved north to Arroyo and founded a settlement that flourished until recently.
Your task as the grandchild of the original vault dweller is to venture out of your secure Arroyo and find the GECK which will allow the descendents of the original vault dweller to survive in the still barren wilderness of the wasteland. Little does our hero know that the forces of evil have gained strength over the last two generations.
Venturing out with a vault suit and a sharpened spear, if you are perceptive enough, you, as the descendent of the original vault dweller, must save your people
There are a large number of interesting sub-plots that include and diverge from the main plot line. The main plot line is free flowing and multi-faceted with many solutions to the same problem. You can also take the role of an evil or a good player which has always been a popular option in a role-playing game, due to the large number of people who like to play evil characters.
The two dimensional graphics are not much improved over the original Fallout. A few new graphics had to be developed, but many of the original drawings were used to flesh out this world, which is more of an add on disk than a sequel.
The animation an other features of the game a tweaked a bit. But the most impressive part of the game is the cut scene animation at the beginning, when the ship is leaving for the Enclave complete with tearing lines, and at the end of the game when the Enclave goes up in a mushroom cloud.
Only three heads talk in your travelling group, which is somewhat of a disappointment. Various people in the game talk, which is a really nice feature. When you speak to people, like First Citizen Lynette, a screen with a talking head pops up. When Lynette talks to you her head is animated with full expressions and her lips and eyes move with the words.
The Loui Armstrong song that accompanies the beginning animation is great. The way the speaker goes from a tin sounding single speaker of the 50's to full bodied three dimensional sound is awesome. The exceptional music was by Mark Morgan for Four Bars Entertainment.
Sound EffectsMost of the pops and pings are on the money and they do the job. The fact that Interplay and Black Isle used a professional Foley studio to do the sound effects with three Foley Artists, a Foley Editor, Mixer, Mixer/Artist at West Productions indicates that they were serious about the sound effects.
UtilitiesThe game saves onto ten empty game slots which is archaic at best. Infinite game saves is a more reasonable option in this world where you can have 25 gigabyte hard drives. As you play the game, every map in the game is saved to the save game file causing the save game file to take on Herculean proportions.
Multi-player FeaturesThis is not a mulitplayer game unless you call adventuring with up to six artificial intelligences multi-player. While I realize multi-player games are great, but the artificial intelligence assholes are actually easier to take than some of the real-live assholes. Playing against real people is much to much like the real world. Obviously humans are less predictable except when it comes to the absolute certainty that the human player will invariable stab you in the back given the time and opportunity. Besides you cannot save and start over to master a problem with a human opponent.
In many ways the artificial intelligence player is far more interesting and dependable. Give me predictable artificial intelligence. The real world intelligences are far too predictable in their proclivity for wishing me and mine harm.
Cheats, Hints, WalkthroughAl Giovetti, Fallout 2 Walkthrough
Fallout 2 Cheats
Robert, I just love it when journalists write the review: 1. before they could possibly finish the game and 2. before the game is available to the public. This means that Robert reviewed a prerelease beta and not a shrink wrapped copy. We got our shrink wrapped copy on the 12th, amazing!
John, if the nicest thing you have to say about the game is the installation and the manual, you are really grabbing for straws to try to make the designers happy.
ReferencesRobert Mayer, OCR review, 8.5/10, (85%).
John "Imperious Rex" Hoskin, GameStats Review, 8/10, (80%).
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