Fallout 2

More radioactive role-playing from Interplay.

The original Fallout was one of 1997’s best games. It featured a detailed character creation system, a host of statistics, lots of combat and more nifty stuff to find and use than you could shake a Geiger counter at. As a role-playing game there was plenty of adventuring, and the fascinating post-apocalyptic sci-fi motif was quite unique at a time when role-playing and high fantasy were largely synonymous. Though there was a fairly detailed plot driving the game as well, the real attraction was the quest to get better weapons and armor and battle more interesting and challenging foes.


Everything is in an expected state of decay.

Fallout was a critical success, so it’s not surprising that Fallout 2, Black Isle Studios’ much-anticipated sequel, reprises every one of the qualities that made the original game so popular. There’s lots of turn-based combat, with the same plethora of gruesome and spectacular death animations. There are even more weapons, items and quests to find in the world. Taking heed of players’ comments, though, this time around there is no time limit, and the game is much longer. Whereas gamers could easily rip through Fallout in twenty hours, Fallout 2 should last at least twice as much once you seriously delve into it.

Set eighty years after the end of the first game, this post-apocalyptic role-playing odyssey builds on the story of the Vault Dweller. The backstory is simple. Cast out by his or her own people, the hero of Vault 13 wandered the Wastes for a while before founding the village of Arroyo. By the time Fallout 2 begins, little remains of the legendary founder but collective memories, an old blue and yellow vault suit, a barely-functioning Pip Boy, and a water flask. Unfortunately, the village is dying; the crops are withered and the wells are running dry. The solution? Send you, the player and lineal descendent of the Vault Dweller, on a quest to find the one object that can save Arroyo: the G.E.C.K., or Garden of Eden Creation Kit.

Naturally, no one has the foggiest idea of where one might find a G.E.C.K., other than that it might be best to scout out another vault to see if anyone happened to have an unused one lying about. Armed only with a spear, the vault suit of your forefather or mother and a genuine Vault 13 water flask, it’s your job to scour the wastelands looking for salvation in a suitcase. And scour you will, all over northern California and Nevada. There are a lot of places to visit in Fallout 2, though few are critical to the main plot. Just as in the original game, however, you’ll want to buff up your character through a lot of side quests before tackling the nastier bits of the main story.

Fans of Fallout will immediately feel at home this time around. While there are a few new skill and perk options, character creation remains basically the same. The interface remains the same. Combat remains the same. So much is the same that you could swear this is was an expansion pack that just sort of gotten out of control. What is new is an increased variety, in locations, non-player characters (NPCs), creatures, weapons, and items; what is improved is NPC intelligence, plot scripting, and variety of experiences. No longer are your companions dead weight; they can and will fight with skill, and you can customize their responses and their gear. For those so inclined, unarmed combat has also received a boost; it is now possible to build a viable Bruce Lee character.

2_1So what’s not to like? A few bugs and balancing issues are to be found in the original version (many cleared by subsequent patching). But Fallout 2 is still entertaining regardless. In fact, it’s addictive. You’ll find yourself fidgeting through a day at work, eager to get back to the game so you can further unwrap the story. Don’t be surprised if you dream of stimpacks and go searching for ammo for your shotgun. The new features, including a fusion-powered Highwayman car (complete with fins) which makes traveling the Wastes a heck of a lot faster.

This is still a must-have for fans of turn-based combat RPGs. Fallout 2 is built around the time-honored motto of this sort of game: Travel to fascinating places. Meet interesting characters. Kill them. Take their stuff. Repeat as necessary, all while absorbing the thrill of surviving in a post-apocalyptic hell. It executes this formula exceedingly well. The unpatched version has a few bugs and balancing issues, but it’s still great fun nonetheless. Just be sure you’re prepared for some bumps in the desert as you push your Highwayman towards the sunset.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95/98

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