Snap37_1Post-apocalyptic role-playing done right.

During the 1980s, Interplay left its mark on computer role-playing through a classic called Wasteland. Universally hailed for its then superior gameplay, Wasteland threw players into a dreary, vast, post-apocalyptic world where mutants, blood-thirsty gangs, and radiation-scarred madmen roamed the land. It’s then probably no surprise that Interplay decided to revisit this desolate but attractive setting with Fallout. And the result is one of the finest role-playing games around.

During the introduction, we learn that the player character is one of the “lucky” few who have survived inside a massive nuclear bunker. Yet, after seventy years of isolation, time is beginning to run out for the vault-dwellers; the chip that controls the Vault’s water purification system has given out and supplies are running desperately low. With only 150 days left before the remaining water runs out, the leader of the Vault asks you to journey into the hostile wastelands to find a replacement chip.

But first, you’ll need to define a character that is suitable for this harsh environment. You can select from three default characters, or you can opt to create your own persona through a slick character generation system. Built on an original roleplaying system developed specifically for Fallout, the laundry list of skills and abilities may appear a bit daunting at first, but the designers have gone out of their way to make it easy and fun to use. As you select each skill and assign points to different abilities, small “character cards” provide a clear — and often humorous — definition of each skill.

Good Fun In A Nuclear World

Fallout really does capture the mood of your post-nuke surroundings with eerie images of war-torn ruins, vast underground caverns, and ramshackle settlements filled with strange animated characters and detailed backgrounds. Within the various towns and villages that populate the game’s world, Fallout plays like most role-playing games. You accept quests, enlist the aid of companions, sell crap, purchase weapons, and chat up with the locals.

Snap61_1From your first tentative steps outside of the Vault until the final conflict, combat plays a heavy role in your character’s development. Unlike the frantic hack-and-slash action of Diablo, Fallout uses a turn-based combat system, which gives it a much more sophisticated. As in X-COM, many weapons let you choose different attack modes, taking a quick snap-shot, firing a carefully aimed shot, or going for a rapid-fire burst. The aimed mode (single-shot only) lets you target critical parts of an opponent’s body; the chance of success is lower, but a critical hit will do more damage.

When you’re fighting alone in Fallout, the turn-based combat is a great asset, but if you hire non-player characters to join you in battle, be prepared for a little frustration. Depending on your perception and experience, an NPC can get the first turn in a battle; typically, they’ll use this turn to move in very close to the enemy, making it tough for you to target your desired victim without the risk of hitting your companion.

You’ll need a lot of experience, firepower and wits to go through the main quests. To make matters worse, there’s a constantly eroding time limit. In order to prepare yourself for these main quests, you’ll need to build a small fortune in caps (bottle caps are the method of currency in Fallout) and add to your experience by taking on various quests. At the end of it all you have a tightly integrated mix of combat, storytelling, and puzzles keeping it nice and fun, and it’ll keep you coming back for more.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, 650 MB HDD, Window 95

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