Friday, 13 December 2013
Fallout 2 (PC)
Today I'm having a quick go of classic PC RPG Fallout 2 by Black Isle Studios, the sequel to Interplay's Fallout. Though Black Isle was actually just a division of Interplay (and still is actually, although it's really an entirely different Black Isle now as the original Black Isle died back in 2003 and was reborn as an entirely new company called Obsidian Entertainment... kind of. Not that Interplay or this new division known as Black Isle have anything to do with the Fallout franchise anymore as the rights were sold to Bethesda during 2007 who then released Fallout 3 and tasked Obsidian (the original Black Isle staff) with making a sequel called Fallout: New Vegas..
My copy of the original Fallout from GOG.com ran like a dream on Windows 7 with no messing around, but I got this one from Steam instead and my attempts to get it to run haven't been entirely plain sailing. Fortunately a quick ini file edit was enough to fix the screwed up colours and get the gameplay working fine... though that then ended up breaking all the videos. But with the fan base the game has I'm sure there's an amazing mod out there that fixes everything!
Vault Boy's definitely changed a little though, in this pre-war Vault dweller instruction film at the start of the game at least. Apparently Vault-Tec decided it'd be easier to go with cel-shaded 3D for the animated characters so we've got the parade float balloon version of their heroic mascot standing in for him here.
Right, I should probably start off by filling in some of the Fallout series's backstory, in case you don't know or have forgotten.
No, wait, hold on. The narrator himself has just assured me during this cutscene that the details are in fact trivial and pointless, so I'll just say that humanity finally went and blew themselves up. A few fortunate souls found sanctuary from the atomic annihilation in giant underground bunkers called Vaults, where they were sealed away for the rest of their lives.
Yep, this is definitely a Fallout game. Starts with the apocalypse and then gets worse from there.
In fact there's very little about this that isn't like Fallout. This menu is absolutely identical to the one in the first game, even down to the scratches on the paintwork.
I'm sinking Char Points into Agility to get more Action Points in combat, and Charisma to get an advantage in dialogue (hopefully, I still dunno how that works). I'll probably raise Intelligence a bit as well because I know that gives me more Skill Points to spend each level up on that ridiculously long list of skills on the right.
I can tag three of them now to get a percentage boost and double the value from each point I put into them, so I'm picking Sneak and Steal to let me get my thievery on, and Melee Weapons because I'm an idiot. Bringing a knife to every gun fight isn't likely to end well, but I already went with Small Guns in the first game and picking Energy Weapons or Big Guns isn't likely to work out, as the things probably won't even show up until halfway through the game! Don't know what the devs were thinking there.
My tribe's elder has bad news. The water chip for the village well has broken down and I'm to travel out into the wasteland to find a new one.
But before I get to worry about things like that, I first have to complete THE TEMPLE OF TRIALS.
Also this temple is pretty impressive. I was expecting to be the re-purposed ruins of a pre-war shopping mall of something, but it seems that the tribe has actually built this themselves.
In combat mode I get a number of XCOM/UFO style Action Points to spend on hitting monsters, looking in my pockets, or moving around on the invisible hex grid each turn. Right now it costs me 1 point to move to an adjacent hex and 4 points to insert the pointy end of my spear into an adjacent ant. After that I end my turn and let all the ants have their go.
The thing is, I'm playing as a thief skilled in melee weapons, so fighting with spears and sneaking past things is what I should be good at. Anyone playing as a diplomat or a gunfighter would probably find these fights dragging on even longer as they miss their shots over and over again.
Hey, it worked, I got the door open! That's awesome, as I really didn't want to have to start searching everywhere for a key. There's ants all over the bloody place down here.
SEVERAL FIGHTS LATER.
'You see: Impenetrable Door'. If that's actually true (and I doubt the game's lying to me here), then I'm going to need to find a switch or a floor panel to get this thing open. I did find some a block of plastic explosive earlier in a vase, which tends to open most doors... but not impenetrable ones. Because they're impenetrable.
SOME SCORPIONS LATER.
Well at least this is all over now because I've finally dragged my weak, wounded and fatally poisoned ass over to the temple exit! But first this guy wants me to fight him in hand to hand combat to prove that I really am worthy to be the Chosen One and carry out the quest for the GECK.
I gotta admit, I don't really give a fuck what he wants at this point. I turned on sneak mode, stole his door key, and let myself out.
Anyway, my worthiness has at last been confirmed and I've been allowed to take the sacred jumpsuit, once worn by the legendary Vault Dweller themselves. It's perhaps not so useful on its own, but it does come with...
I gotta say, as journals go this falls on the wrong side of pathetic, but at least it gives me a list of what I need to get done. Which so far is mostly 'Get a GECK'
My Repair skill is only at 11% and I'm a little shaky from the 'dying of poison' thing, but I still managed to get the well up and running again on my first try. So either Feargus plain didn't bother to try fixing it himself, or his Repair skill is in the minus numbers.
Hang on, I wonder if this guy has anything to do with Feargus Urquhart, who was running Black Isle Studios at the time... nah.
The trip will take me a fair number of days, but it doesn't matter as there's no time limit this time! I can travel as much as I want, rest as many hours as I want, get knocked out by super mutants and dragged halfway across the map to their secret base etc. and my home town of Arroyo will still be doing fine regardless. With any luck.
You could argue that the lack of a ticking clock removes the sense of urgency and makes the Arroyo situation seem trivial, but personally I'm quite capable of using my imagination to pretend they're in imminent danger. I can live without getting a game over for taking my time and doing side quests in an RPG.
Once all the items are on the table I have to drag over the correct number of coins to balance the deal, which usually takes me several tries because my mental arithmetic skills are laughable. At least I can type the number in with the keypad instead of moving all 183 of them across by hand.
Still, the armour seems good, as long as no one aims for my right arm or chest.
Fortunately I quick saved right before my public demonstration of ineptitude, so now I can try a different approach. It doesn't throw me back to a save point or anything quaint like that.
This new combat control screen's definitely a step above anything in the first game, as it gives me some small ability to influence my sidekick's behaviour in fights. I'm not seeing a 'don't shoot me in the back with a submachine gun' button though.
Oh, plus I also have the ability to trade items with a companion now without having to pickpocket them out of their inventory!
Well there's no sign of Vic the Trader around and I've already lost my interest in this town, so I'm going to check to see if my conversations have added any new locations to my world map and investigate the closest one with some potential for looting.
I wouldn't want to return home to the adulation of my peers too soon anyway. I hear that fame is intolerable without fortune.
I'm starting to think that coming to these toxic caves might have been a bad idea. Even with my buddy joining in with his sledgehammer these fights are forcing me to hang around these puddles of nuclear waste at little longer than I'm comfortable with.
Well at least the poison eventually wore off, so I guess there's still hope for me. Crap, I only have 7 hit points left? Now I really don't want to be down here any longer.
I'm heading for the Den, in the hopes of finding some good side-quests and enemies carrying cash. Klamath had more to do in town than I expected (after my experience with Fallout 1), but I had no luck completing any of the quests, or even starting them really. One guy asked me to help him guard some cows, so I went to get some gear before saying yes. When I came back he wouldn't even talk to me!
They've taken the semi-pointless 'Tell Me About' button out since the first game, so I can't even try typing in keywords for people to not know anything about.
Sadly this nuclear powered Cadillac is way way more than I can afford and I don't think I'll be stealing the car keys any time soon. Oh well, it wasn't really my colour anyway.
There must be some amazing gear behind that door... shame really that they're a cult of self-righteous tech-hoarding assholes who would sooner spit on a tribal than tell them the location of the slaver's guild.
Oh the game has a day/night cycle by the way and I can choose to wait a few hours/days to recover health instead of using my First Aid skill or Stimpaks. That probably deserves mentioning.
Awesome, I found some RadAway in one of those graves. I'm half tempted to sell it, but I think it'd probably be best if I got rid of this radiation poisoning already. Who knows what it's doing to my stats... I definitely have no bloody clue.
I was trying to creep up unseen and surreptitiously pilfer from these well dressed gentlemen, but I guess my hand must have gotten caught on their spikes and they noticed me because all I got for my efforts was a bullet between the eyes. I'm only level two (and they have guns) so I haven't got a chance of beating these guys in combat really. Still, it's worth a shot, right?
All my plans to defeat those guards failed miserably in the end, but I at least managed to get a few to leave their post and chase me around. Then I heroically walked across the area exit grid nearby to escape into a different part of town with a hit point or two left. If I can get them to open the door and lure them all out like that then I'm sure I could slip inside the building and get my hands on whatever's in those crates. But I've got my team shot dead enough times for now, so I'll save that for later.
I'm getting a bit discouraged here to tell you the truth. For someone who is quite happily taking and selling every single object I can lay my hands on, I'm not ending up with a great deal of cash for my trouble and my track record for completing side missions is even worse. I haven't even found Fred yet.
So I decided to say 'fuck it' and trek off into the unknown. Hopefully I'll come across a more interesting town along the way, or maybe even one of those crazy zany pop culture reference random encounters I've been hearing about.
Here's how combat generally plays out for me by the way: I click on the knife, then click the enemy, click the enemy, click the enemy, and then click End Turn. I do that over and over until they're all dead or I need to use a Stimpak. I'm sure I'd do better here if I continually attacked only once each time before retreated out of their range to force them to burn up their Action Points chasing me instead of hitting me... but who has the time or patience for that?
Well just in case anyone needed reminding, the guys in the power armour are evil and like to gun down entire families (all at once if possible). I'm more or less beneath their notice right now though, so for now I'm spared from the Gatling gun firing squad. Man I need to get hold of some of their gear somehow. Then I'd show those guys guarding those boxes why they call me the Chosen One.
Actually I have no idea why my tribe decided that I deserved that title, because it definitely wasn't because of my ability to get stuff done, I realise that now. I'm starting to think they just wanted rid of me because I kept stealing all of their shit.
MORE WANDERING LATER.
This was my big chance to get my hands on some of that awesome tech, but it's just not to be.
TEN MINUTES OF SCAVENGING LATER.
Out of curiosity and boredom I decided I'd go off to google maps instead to look if this place actually exists, so that I can make absolutely certain I never accidentally come here in real life. It turns out that Klamath Falls is a real town in Oregon, around 350 miles north of where I started off in the last game. It's not a bad looking place really when it's not all blown up.
Also now I know roughly where two Vaults are (assuming the game map stretches down that far), so I could always go travelling down that way if I hit a dead end and I'm desperate.
SOME TIME LATER, BACK AT THE DEN.
He was just down the road from Becky's casino the whole time. I asked him to give me the $500 he owed her, but he claimed he'd never seen that much money before in his life so I beat him to death in the street.
Oh hang on, it was $200 she wanted wasn't it. They threw me off by calling her Rebecca!
Well at least I've got the cash to pay off the Slave Traders and rescue Vic. Or at least I would have if I could find anyone with enough money to afford to buy these bloody things off me. Right, it's time for desperate measures. I'm going back to that building I lured the guards out of earlier and I'm going to raid those boxes in the slim hope that one of them has cash in it.
But somehow, miraculously, I managed to defeat ALL the guards with just my puny knife! It took a few of my precious Stimpaks to keep me going, but I came away from this victorious. I suppose it helped that they had to use up their Action Points getting over to me first, so I got a free shot at them.
And now I am going to save my game. I am going to save my game SO MUCH.
I guess that's it for Vic then, he's screwed and I've lost my only lead to finding the GECK. I'm sure there's still plenty of options open for me, but this seems like a reasonable place to call it a day.
Stand by for my controversial opinions about Fallout 2. At first I thought the game felt more like an expansion pack to Fallout rather than a sequel in its own right, and it does reuse a lot of the art resources, but this world seems much more alive and interesting. The dialogue is just as good as ever, but there's more characters around and those characters have more character. Plus the wasteland feels a bit more connected and civilised this time, instead of being made up of isolated side-quest zones.
But I am really struggling to get into the game and I'm not entirely sure why. I think it may be due to the fact that I'm absolutely terrible at it, and I don't mean the combat for once. For a game that apparently lets you solve problems multiple ways, I don't seem to be solving a damn thing. It's all been going downhill for me after my epic success with fixing that well at the start, and I'm finding it pretty tedious and unsatisfying.
Though even I can tell that it's not a crap game and it does come with a recipe for pancakes in the manual, so I guess I have to give it a gold star.
Whoa, you actually READ all of that text? Or did you just scroll down to the bottom to see what I thought about the game? Either way I'm curious to see what you think about Fallout 2, the Fallout franchise, my writing, my site in general... all kinds of things. So why not leave me some feedback in the comment box below?