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Fallout 2 - Review

Across the Wasteland...

By: Metus


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 10
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 8
   Plot 8
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 9
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Variable
   Time to Complete

30-60 hours

 
Overall
number
Criteria

Fallout 2
 

   In 1998, Interplay released the second part of their Fallout series, Fallout 2. When it was initially released, it was plagued with tons of bugs that caused many gamers to throw their hands up in frustration. Also, partly due to this, it had mediocre sales and passed many players by. However, it's impressive gameplay and overall atmosphere still make it shine today.

   Whenever you encounter an enemy and start combat, a small hiss will sound signaling the change from real-time to turn-base. You can carry a weapon in each of your hands, and switch between the two freely. However, if you open your inventory to draw some items from there, it'll cost some movement points. There are more then 50 different weapons, ranging from rocks to flamethrowers to laser rifles. One great feature is pinpoint targeting; you can target with almost any weapon and when you do so, a diagram will come up of the enemy. This diagram will be like a wire model, and from it you can aim for the legs, eyes or even the groin. Another wonderful addition is a unique death animation for each type of weapon, for every single kind of living thing in the game. Cows can melt, people can explode into a mist of blood and even kids can run around burning alive. This game earns its Mature rating.

   The entire world of Fallout is very fleshed out, allowing you to join gangs, gather NPCs for your team or help a bunch of supermutant miners. People will act and react to situations, some which are caused or affected by you. You can even get married, and if you wanted to, sell your spouse into slavery. Equipment management is well done for the most part, with every item being within a touch of a button. The only flaw about it I can think of is when you try to use an item from your inventory. It never clearly stated how to, but it was relatively easy to figure out. Experience is handled like usual, with you gaining some from monster killing and quest completions. One unique aspect they have are perks, when after gaining a few levels you are given a choice of one.


Is it hot in here?
Is it hot in here?  

   The music in the game is acceptable. It tries to convey the atmosphere, and does so successfully, but can sound depressing sometimes. I even had a few favorite tunes, but when I played the majority of the way through I had the music turned off as a lot of it did not suit my personal preferences. Another strike against the music is the fact that they re-used plenty of it from Fallout 1. The sound, on the other hand, is something to marvel at. I have never heard a game's audio as rich and as descriptive as this one. The environmental sounds are great, the guns sound accurate and realistic, and the voice acting is top-notch. If you check the actors' credits from the game, you'll see they're an experienced and talented crew.

   Although an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic future might seem new, the Fallout series was inspired by the earlier Atari/Commodore game called Wasteland. It had a similar style, with multiple solutions to problems and unique NPCs to recruit to the player's party. The Fallout series and Wasteland are pretty much the only games in the distinct genre it's created, so it does give a value of originality to all of them, however Wasteland essentially laid the tracks for Fallout, so it's not breaking new ground.

   Throughout Fallout 2 you're given a main goal that needs to be accomplished, but the game itself is extremely non-linear. There are more side quests then someone could possibly count, but they're not a hassle. They help develop your character and the world and give it more shape and substance. It does keep you wondering sometimes when you're going to do what you've set out to do, and so can come off as confusing, un-necessary or even annoying, but that's very uncommon. Most of the side quests are detailed and don't have that "run here and deliver this"-type feeling which help in their entertainment value. Overall the main storyline is stable, if not a bit thin, but you'll find yourself ending up doing plenty of quests that have no relation to your primary objective whatsoever.

   I will admit I'm not easily entertained, and am somewhat picky when it comes to games. I need a compelling story, characters I can care about and relate to and a world that feels real and can pull me in at a moment's notice. Fallout 2 delivers on it all. There is not one RPG in the world that I have replayed, except for one. When I try to replay a game, it seems boring and tedious, no matter what it is. I have played Fallout 2 about 7 times now, and I'd love to start up an 8th game. I find this game extremely interesting, and every time you play you can walk down a different life path. Want to become a slaver? Go help capture and subdue innocent people, but you're friends will hate you for it and might leave. You could join the Wasteland Rangers and snuff out injustices across the land, or you could walk into a seedy bar and just kill everyone there. This game is realistic in whatever it does, making no one invincible and everything accomplishable.


Your new best friend.
Your new best friend.  

   The graphics in Fallout 2 are decent, but are by no means its strong point. A few months ago it would've looked good, a year or two ago it would've looked excellent. For now however, they're just there. A good amount of variety exists, and the weapon effects provide some nice eye-candy, but you don't need a 3D card to run it, and that's apparent. There are barely any movies in the game, with one for the beginning and one for the ending and a small one in-between; the beginning movie is one of my all-time favorites.

Fallout 2's difficulty can vary greatly due to the fact that you can change difficulty settings in-game, and that the battles can be extremely difficult or extremely easy or anything in the middle. Also because of its non-linear gameplay, if you wanted to you could walk to the hardest sections of the game at the very beginning, but if you build up your character and stay within your capabilities then you should be fine. I would give it a medium difficulty, because although I would end up having to reload a battle a few times, there would never be one place in particular where I would be completely decimated.

Fallout 2 is one of those great games that only come around once in awhile, and are a lot of times not recognized. I've had many memorable moments within the game, from getting my first suit of Mark II power armor to getting intimate with a girl and having her mafia don father waiting outside the door. One thing I didn't mention is the fact that there are multiple endings, which are all dependent on how you handled every city in the game. If you push real hard you could probably beat it in 30 hours, whereas if you took your time and savored every moment you could end up playing 60 hours worth. I consider this one of the best games I have ever played, and anyone who has not experienced it is missing out on something extraordinarily amazing. Plus, since it's been out for awhile now, I've seen it being sold for 20 dollars with Fallout 1 included. I strongly encourage you to pick this jewel up as soon as possible.


Watch out for radiation.
Watch out for radiation.  



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