In fact the game probably would've ended up released as Wasteland 2 if Interplay had been able to get hold of the rights from EA. But I think it worked out better that they didn't, seeing as now we've got both the next Fallout game and the reborn Wasteland sequel to look forward to. It's like the franchise has undergone mitosis and split into two separate organisms that have mutated in their own vastly different ways. Well okay it's more like three organisms if you count Fountain of Dreams, but I don't foresee a sequel to that one being kickstarted any time soon.
There are unofficial mods for this to increase the resolution and fix issues, but I'll be playing the GOG.com version entirely unmodded in glorious 640x480 res, just as it was in ye olden days.
Baldur's Gate by over a year) so it's not actually doing bad at all here.
The intro begins with a cartoon of Vault Boy cheerfully watering his plants inside Vault 13, showing how awesome it is to be sealed inside an underground box behind a massive cog-shaped door, listening to 40s pop songs all day. See, the end of the world isn't so bad after all!
Anyway, a nuclear apocalypse apparently happened and now all those suckers who were taken in by that advert and actually bought themselves a room in Vault 13 get to have the last laugh. As everyone else is now dead and can no longer laugh.
He goes on to explain the events that led to this bleak future: conflict over diminishing resources, the Chinese invasion of Alaska, the US annexing Canada, and the big red nuclear button getting pressed.
I get to create my own Vault Dweller or I can pick one from the selection available. Thankfully the developers have taken pity on players who struggle to compare lists of numbers in their heads and have also provided a written backstory for each candidate to indicate what kind of playstyle they're suited to.
The game uses the SPECIAL system for character stats, which is a lot like the D&D system except that the first letter each of the attributes spells out the word 'SPECIAL'. I can also tag the three skills I want to focus on levelling up out of that endless list on the right and pick some optional Traits from the box on the bottom left as well if I feel like it.
Whoa there's a button here to print out my stats! Well, print it to a file I mean... which I can then print out with a printer. I have no idea why I'd ever want to do that, but now I'm dying to click it anyway.
The Traits are an interesting idea, as they all have a catch: Finesse means you inflict less damage but have a higher chance for critical hits for instance. Which sounded good to me so I grabbed it. I also took the Gifted Trait, which gives me less skill points to spend each time I level up, in exchange for a permanent +1 to all attributes.
I took the seven extra attribute points I got from that and used them to boost my Intelligence, which I'm hoping will giving me some of those skill points back again and open up more dialogue options as well. Then I put the spare points into Perception as that seems to be the sharpshooting stat. There you go, rocket scientist gunslinger.
Though there was no 'Rocket Science' skill (just a regular boring 'Science' skill), so I went with 'Small Guns', 'First Aid' and 'Speech' instead.
The only clue I've been given is that there's another Vault nearby and it'll likely have the part I need, assuming they're not using it to ensure their continued survival.
By the way, isn't that face model awesome for 1997? Pretty well animated as well. It's all pre-rendered CGI like you'd expect, but each of these talking heads started out as a real sculpted clay model before being scanned into the computer.
Huh, they just told me over the speaker that they can't open the door because of technical problems. Man, I'm starting to think this whole crisis is just a con to get rid of me. Hey would you like me to look out for a door chip as well while I'm out, you bastards?
I wonder if this poor soul lying next to me was waiting by the phone for them to fix their technical problems as well. The extreme decomposition of his flesh and clothing is certainly consistent with someone who has been left on hold.
I'll take those bullets then, plus his knife probably has some value as well. Shame there isn't a 'take all' button here to speed things up a bit.
Outside of a fight I can run around the level in real time, but once an enemy turns hostile the game enters a turn based combat mode. I get a certain amount of action points each turn (represented by the green dots above my pistol), which work similarly to the time units in the old school X-COM/UFO games. Any action such as taking a shot, accessing my inventory, or moving around the invisible hex grid that makes up the floor costs a certain amount of action points. Once they're gone I have to click the 'end turn' button and let the enemies have their own go before I get my action points back.
The trouble with this is that I'm really crap at fighting right now, so even though I'm only against rats it's taking forever to kill them and end combat. Then a few steps later everything comes to a halt again and I'm dragged into another fight.
SEVERAL RATS LATER.
Though everywhere's all scary and cloaked in blackness right now, so I think I'll just click on the Vault 15 button and let it automatically walk me over there.
I can interact with people by holding the mouse button and bringing up this list of icons. They're all fairly easy to decipher: the top one must be 'Talk', binoculars are 'Examine', the backpack must mean 'Use Item', and Vault Boy's head obviously means... uh...
Oh it just brings up my list of skills. At any time I can open up the Skilldex and access skills like 'Sneak', 'Steal', 'Lockpick' etc. Not the slickest or most efficient interface, but it works well enough.
Well met kind stranger, if I may persuade you to refrain from talking about Radscorpions for just one moment, I would like to inquire about water chips, in the hope that you know of a location where I may obtain one.
I'd like to, but I can't, because there's no dialogue option here that even mentions water chips. Though there is a 'Tell me about' button. Hmm...
"Sorry. No clue."Well that's helpful, thanks for that. Man it's like I'm playing Wasteland all over again, guessing at what keywords he might actually know something about.
Incidentally the universal currency in the Fallout world is bottle caps (symbol '$'), which makes a lot of sense seeing as metal coins would be the first thing to be destroyed in a nuclear explosion. Or maybe they're all radioactive now, who knows?
I've heard somewhere that the party system in this was kind of hacked in at the last minute, so the only way to trade items to and from a sidekick's inventory is to steal from them (they don't mind). So I'll sell my stuff to Ian here, then use the money gives me to recruit him and just trade all my stuff back to me afterwards. Or I could let him hold onto it for now I suppose, seeing as he'll be sworn to carry my burdens.
Alright, is there anything else in this town for me to do before I go off looking for Vault 15 again?
He doesn't know anything about water chips, but he does add a town called Junkyard onto my map and offers me a side-quest to kill Radscorpions. Well I've got a sidekick now, I could use the experience, and it sure would be nice to get these people to shut up about Radscorpions already, so I can't see why I shouldn't give it a shot.
Alright I'll just check my journal for a second to check the details. Assuming that I even have a journal.
Well kudos to the developers for at least letting me know about it, not just giving me a surprise game over a few hours in. Now I know that I should only travel to places on the direct path to getting this water chip and that I shouldn't use the rest option after fights to recover my health. I'll get this Radscorpion job over with, but after that I'm saving the side-quests until I've gotten this water chip business resolved.
Maybe the scratched out button could've helped me somehow. Perhaps it could've been for a missing 'water chip detector' system that was later violently patched out of 2000-model Pip-Boys with a crowbar because... I dunno, it had a design flaw that fatally electrocuted 5% of owners, or made an annoying humming sound, or something.
Right then. I'm off to kill the Radscorpions.
SOON, IN THE LAIR OF THE RADSCORPIONS.
Fortunately Ian is the Angel of Death, firing off two shots every turn, always right between their eyes. I can't control him directly, or stop him from accidentally shooting me instead when I've strayed between him and his target, but if I can lure him over to the enemies he's able to take care of the rest.
Incidentally, the game lets me save anywhere and any time (even during battle), so if things start going bad I'll likely not lose much progress by loading my last save. Hasn't come to that yet though.
The moral of this story is that maps are fantastic and should be in way more games than they are.
It's weird how the Fallout games split the weapon skills up like that I reckon. At some point I'm probably going to end up fighting enemies armed with sci-fi plasma disintegrators, while I'm stuck using some ancient off-brand AK47 because of my choice to tag 'Small Guns' 30 hours ago. But 'Energy Weapons' seems like a totally useless skill to start building up now, because how many laser pistols am I likely to find at the start of the game?
- I find the water chip, maybe fight off a boss monster, and then get back home just in time to find my own Vault on fire and everyone dead. Now I must avenge them!
- I do a bit of fighting/talking, learn a bit of game lore, but otherwise find it was a wasted trip... except for a single clue pointing to my next destination!
Then I grabbed their tails and ran off screen to get back onto the world map again.
The water chip search hasn't been going so well though. I've been searching through the lockers and so far I've found... some flares. Well that'll certainly help me make some rooms brighter for a bit. Doesn't really help me prevent the impending death of a Vault full of people though.
I tried examining and repairing all the computers along the walls up here by the way, but I had no luck at all. This place has really gone to shit since the rats moved in.
ENTER COMBAT, SHOOT A RAT, EXIT COMBAT, WALK A BIT, ENTER COMBAT, REPEAT.
Well okay, now what? I've searched the base top to bottom twice over and there's no hint of what I'm meant to be doing next. Well I suppose my options are:
- Go back to Shady Sands and tell them that their old Vault sucks. This'll cost 3 days maybe and will likely get me nothing, though I can then continue onwards towards Vault 13 to ask for advice (which will burn up another week.)
- Go south to a new location and basically just ask everyone if they've seen a water chip (or another Vault). No idea what this'll cost me.
Maybe I should start investing some points too boost my weaker skills now I'm at level 3... but I'm just going to dump them all into Small Guns again instead. First Aid sounds like it'd be an important skill to have, but it only heals a tiny amount of health and costs hours to use, so I'm going to stick to using Stimpaks for now.
Also I've decided now that I'm going to south to Junktown, because even if it takes in the exact wrong direction it'll at least feel like I'm getting somewhere.
LATER, IN JUNKTOWN.
Oh also I've learned something new which seems like an important thing to keep in mind: time passes in real time inside levels and there's a day/night cycle. If I arrive at a shop at 1am they're not likely to welcome me inside with a cheerful grin on their face. So that means I have to wait outside until a civilised time, which just adds more hours to that bloody clock! The game's trying to stress me out man.
As far as I know, every single character in the game can be killed, even the plot critical ones. So it's very much in my interest to keep this shopkeeper alive in case he's the one who gives me the next clue about the chip.
MacGyver is grateful that I saved his life and all, but he'd like me to help out again by going up to the guy he suspects hired the killer and secretly recording his confession. I can either sneak in and plant a bug or trick him into straight admitting his guilt. Well I've got more points in Speech than I do in Sneak, so I'll go have a chat with the guy and see how that works out.
Funnily enough it was actually very easy to convince my suspect that I'm a badass assassin and I even got him to offer me a job to kill the shopkeeper for him. I guess all those points in guns finally paid off, though not quite in the way I expected. Or maybe they made no difference at all, who knows?
So now I have a difficult decision to make... nah, not really. I'll go back and present the recorded confession to MacGyver and see where this is all leading.
Okay cool I survived the fight, received my reward, and got a nice new shotgun out of the deal as well... now what? Shit, don't tell me that was all just a side-quest!
130 days left, plus I'd have to walk all the way back to the Vault when I find the chip, so subtract 10 days from that... and I still have no leads whatsoever. Well, MacGvyer did mention there's another town south of here so I suppose I should keep on travelling.
THREE DAYS LATER.
First though I have to figure out how to get inside. This door here just leads to a dead end and the room at the south of the building's no better. Maybe if I go around the right side I'll have better luck...
The Water Merchants are asking me to pay $2000 out of my own pocket to get the caravans to my Vault going, which is a little out of my price range right now. I suppose I could go get a job in the city, but that'd cost time.
Though who even cares about water caravans now that I've finally found the lead I've been looking for! It turns out that nearby Necropolis is doing just fine without the Water Merchants, meaning that they have an alternative source of clean water, hopefully making use of a certain chip.
So Necropolis may be my salvation here. The name's a little bit off-putting, but I'm sure there's nothing there that Ian can't take care of
Okay, apparently the parts needed to fix their water pump are lost in these sewers and without the water pump they're kinda relying on the water chip to live. So I fix their pump, they give me the chip, finally some clear direction!
TWENTY MINUTES OF WANDERING AROUND SEWER TUNNELS LATER.
I guess I'll take a chance and tell this guy to take me to his boss, because otherwise I may very well fall into a coma here trying to find anything in this maze of sewer tunnels, ruined streets and manholes.
So basically I guess I just wait around in here for an event to happen or... hang on. Holy shit, I actually managed to pick the lock! There's a super mutant out there with a disturbingly huge gun guarding the cells, but I'm sure with Ian as a distraction I can get enough bullets into his brain via the eye sockets to surgically remove any thoughts he has about using it. Then I just need to find my gear, rescue the other prisoners, and make a break for the exit!
Congratulations to everyone who's been scrolling down through the pictures and skipping all of the text, you've reached the bottom of the page! All I have left to say now is what I thought about my first few hours of Fallout.
Well I didn't love it, that's for sure. I respect the game for what it is and its place in RPG history, but I didn't particularly enjoy it for the most part. I suppose some of that is due to me behaving like a big baby about the time limit, instead of chilling out and ignoring it, but if I'm not supposed to worry about the timer then what purpose does it serve? If it's just there to add challenge than that's even worse, as failure means that the player has to replay a decent amount of a fairly text heavy RPG, which is going to get old fast if they decide to stick with their original dialogue choices.
As far as the gameplay goes... well I've got no problem with turn-based combat in a game, but when that game has an X-COM style tactical time unit based battle system, it seems like common sense to me that the player should be able to control more than ONE character directly.
But I didn't even get into all the other options available to me. I'm sure a sneaky character would have the option to resolve some jobs without combat. Immoral characters could've ended up pickpocketing all kinds of gear I missed out on. Maybe a charismatic character could've charmed that super mutant into not locking me in a cell at the end there. Or maybe not.
In the end though the important thing (to me) is whether I'd continue playing it regardless and I think the answer is... yep. It's an interesting game with decent writing and a ton of atmosphere, and I'd be curious to see where it's going. So the game gets a star.
(Also it scores bonus points for including a couple of genuine Fallout-themed recipes in the back of the manual.)
Well I'm done, you can go now. Carry on with your day.
WAIT! Before you do that, why not leave some kind of comment in the box below? You could talk about your own experiences with the game, give me feedback on my writing, share your opinion about my site... all kinds of things.