Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game to give it it’s full name, spawned a pretty popular series, but other than Fallout 3, I have never actually finished one of these.
So, once more into the breach, and let us wander the California wastelands to see how Fallout stacks up nowadays.
The game starts with you being sent into the wastes to find a water purifying chip. Once you solve the water issues you are tasked with investigating the “Super Mutants”, from there the story dissipates a bit, as you back and forth between various towns before a slightly anti-climatic last quarter of the game.
I like my turn based isometric games, but something sits wrong with Fallout out for me.
When you pick your S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats at the start, you can really bork your game. I required one complete restart, and a lot of training in game on my second attempt to be able to beat it.
Your move time is based on your Agility, if you don’t put enough in this core stat, you can’t do anything. You can’t use VATS attacks, and you may not be able to use any decent weapon. It took me about 8 hours to realise my first character was completely unplayable, and that a melee specialisation is just the not a viable tactic in Fallout early on.
Suffice to say, the second time, I had to roll a character type I don’t especially enjoy playing as, though it does mean that Aids Burger from Fallout 3 was reborn.
My issues with the game…
So apologies to the fanbois, but I have a fair few issues with the game.
Pixel Hunting: Christ this gets annoying… When you need to attach a rope to Vault 15, or repair the electric barriers in the Military Complex, hunting the bastard pixel you need to attach stuff to has you running backwards and forwards as you clicking on everything except the one pixel you want.
NPCS blocking you in: FUCK. This required a full reload 2 hours previous because my companions trapped me behind a table and wouldn’t move.
Levelling is a pain: I completed the game at level 11. And it was a chore grinding that much, I believe it goes to 21, but man that’d take too long. It means I missed all the interesting perks, but because the process of grinding is so tedious, latter levels/perks just aren’t worth the time.
Karmic choices: It really isn’t clear what is good or bad. OK, murdering the nice shop owner for the evil Casino owner is obvious. But the gunrunners or the regulators? Isn’t clear at all. Why is killing the nutters at the Cathedral considered bad karma? Especially when they attack you for asking the wrong question.
The User Interface: Man this is atrocious, having to manually add 999 together 30 times because you want to spend 30000 caps is just bad design. Same with the clunky way you need to pick the pocket of your companion to give them guns or ammo, or how you access and use the inventory.
Game Length: the game is actually very short if you know what you’re doing, or use a guide. There is about 10 hours of game to get through, but due to the slightly annoying way you have to talk to EVERYONE this is stretched out to 30+. On my first playthrough it took me about 8 hours to get to the Hub. On my second, I did it in about 40 minutes… It was at this point I decided to just use a guide. There are too many unidentifiable people you need to have a really specific conversation with to find out the information you need, that it can be a right pain when you accidentally insult somebody who instantly murders you.
Being instantly murdered: Being killed by a guard for choosing the wrong conversation option is annoying, but I can see the humour in it (especially when you tell him to bring it on). My issue is Piss Willow the one armed blind ass-nugget suddenly Critical Hitting you for 4 times your maximum health. It means you have to constantly save and reload your game because dumb luck decided you didn’t want to live anymore. It happens throughout the game, but it gets much worse in the final third with the Super Mutants suddenly deciding they want to crit you for 200… I get that it is an RPG so RNGesus exists, but it vexes me.
Broken save files: FUUUUUUUU, I lost a lot of progress because either the save didn’t save, or I saved at a point where the game decided to bug out. As a result, I ended up having to have a rolling 3 file save as back ups, and extra backups.
What’s good then?
I’ll be honest, I am struggling to see many positives here.
The humour is pretty dark at times, and I did enjoy a lot of the incidental messages especially around punching people in the groin…
When wandering the world map you’ll see a few random events that have no bearing on anything, and are only pop culture references, such as the T-Rex footprint, or this beaut.
Unlike the X-COM games, and Jagged Alliance 2, Fallout actually has a really good final boss, something that was lacking in most isometric strategies (and Fallout 3). You fight a giant “thing” with duel plasma miniguns, Super Mutants constantly spawn behind you, and then you have to escape the facility before it explodes. It is (as it should be) the most exciting part of the game.
It was nice to have a final boss, and then “something”, and not just roll credits.
The ending is also very good at summing up what you did, and points out things you may have missed. This does link into the unclear Karmic choices though, as apparently I was supposed to murder all the raiders. I just rescued the girl, and left them to it.
Fallout isn’t a terrible game. but it is a little bit too broken in key places.
The story is decent enough, and the humour is perfect for me. But I honestly can’t see past the bugs on this one. I don’t especially like Fallout 3 and this is much worse.
I question the replayability, as I found that a lot of play styles simply aren’t doable early in the game. So the replay value will come from your karmic choices, so if that is your bag a second playthrough is a must. For me, not so much.
Pros: Dogmeat, exploring, final boss, no tunnels!
Cons: Dogmeat dying, V.A.T.S doesn’t really work very well, UI, and AI, not vault-tec bobble heads!