War…war never changes. Arguably one of the most famous quotes in video game history thus far, those few words summarise the Fallout universe to a T and being narrated by Ron Perlman is always a good thing. On the surface, Fallout 2 is more or less like Fallout 1 – the same graphics, sounds and game play (isometric viewpoint). It looks like a massive expansion pack however that’s far from the truth as Fallout 2, even though it has many elements of Fallout 1, the game feels a lot more complete. It’s like having a chicken then fill it with stuffing goodness – that is Fallout 2.
To those who played Fallout 1, there’s not much real change in comparison to 2. I won’t go into details about the changes however I will say that shelves, tables and practically anything that can hold items actually have stuff in them so it’s worth your time checking them out. Also there are some non-playing characters (NPCs) will actually make a comment or two about you breaking into people’s places just to rummage around their belongings – nice touch as it makes you think that the game is watching you every step of the way and to be quite frank, it is.
The game is dubbed as a turned based role playing game (RPG) – that is it’s heavily stat driven and the outcome is played out by your turn / my turn analogy – like a game of chess I suppose. All the calculations are completed behind-the-scenes thus every action you take are determined by a dice roll that’s compared to the skill you are trying to do (e.g. lock picking). And being a RPG, character creation does take a little forward planning however the good news is that there’s absolutely no template to choose from – well that’s a little lie as there are three pre-set characters however you can modify them or simply create a new one from scratch.
Dubbed as the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, it’s designed to create literally any sort of character you wish to create. And for the astute mind, the acronym S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is the first letter of the seven character attributes being Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. And if you think combat skills are the most important ones, think again as this game is designed for both conversation and combat related actions – quite unique considering most RPGs are heavily combat orientated. And if you don’t believe me, create a character with just 1 for intelligence – the conversations are hilarious to read however very challenging as well due to that intelligence also governs the allocation of skill points. So basically all the stats plays an important part and personally, thank goodness for that.
Once that’s all said and done, it’s off exploring the Californian wastelands and make no mistake, it’s a brutal, unforgiving world – well quite frankly, it is after all, the wasteland’s where there’s no rule other than to survive. It’s gritty, dirty, and downright disgusting however totally entertaining. The premise I felt is quite poor considering as the timeline sets 80 years after the event of Fallout 1 (i.e. 2241), there’s no iconic exiting the fault as this time, you play as the descended of the Vault Dweller, this time dubbed as the ‘Chosen One’, directed by the village elder to search for the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.). However as you progress through, this main plot tends to be forgotten only to be replaced by another however I won’t say anymore. Yet again though, the game cleverly knows this as you’ll read the comments from the Chosen One mumbling just that – being side-tracked all too often from the main quest, that is to locate the G.E.C.K.
The world is certainly alive with many characters to talk to and things to do and see. Also one of the stronger features is the element of cause and effect – that is you think you’re having a light conversation with a chap in a small town only to realise there’s an effect literally miles away in a huge city. Also there are factions to worry about and being in the wastelands, you can be a legendary boxer, get married then sell her into prostitution for extra cash and so on. Yes it may be cruel however after all, it’s a lawless area where the strongest will survive. And to those who’s so incline, you can take drugs and get addictive to it or even be a porn star.
The game viewpoint is isometric so basically you are viewing the game’s three dimensional objects in two dimensions. So there’s a ‘blind spot’ mainly on the left hand side so it pays to explore as there are doors or even items that’s ‘hidden’ away from plain sight. Yet visually it’s quite impressive as the world is filled with litter, broken roads, paint peeling off from walls and even have a day / night cycle. In addition the sound quality is quite decent however there’s little of voice acting – actually the only voice acting arrives from those ‘talking heads’ – but they are decent enough. However sounds from all the weapons and the background musical scores are simply divine to listen too.
Being an open world game, you can literally go where you heart desires. This was a break through from other open world’s games as some you cannot go further unless a quest tells you too. This game though is so open world, you can finish the game in about an hour – seriously. Obviously there’s luck involved however the point is, it’s truly open world. Other than that and depending upon your reading skills (as there’s a lot a text), it took me close to 100 hours to complete it. Note that this includes the turned based combat as even the simplistic of fights can take a couple of minutes.
There’s not much bad points to this game yet granted upon release, there were a lot of bugs. Then again, name another open world game that hasn’t got bugs at release. Thankfully though, they are not game breaking and because of the multiple choices results in multiple endings. Such a brilliant game that you can dictate the pace and style instead of the game dictating you. The choices are yours to make and it doesn’t punish you for being evil as well. A truly remarkable RPG, Fallout 2 broke the RPG boundaries of not being fantasy, having plenty of things to do / see and most importantly, anything goes so tread carefully.
And now I understand how women communicate.