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Fallout 2 - Retroview

And Now, The Rest of the Story

By: Red Raven


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 10
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 8
   Plot 9
   Localization NA
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 5
   Difficulty Unbalanced
   Time to Complete

20-80 Hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Fallout 2
 

   Sequels to popular games always have a hard time succeeding; not only must they live up to the expectations of the gamers that made the first one successful, but they also have to be innovative enough to rope even more players into the series' fold. Fallout, which can be said to be one of the most groundbreaking RPGs seen in years, would also be an enormous act to follow. But the great people at Black Isle have managed to expound on the formula that made the first game a classic while at the same time adding enough new ingredients to the mix to make Fallout 2 an enjoyable experience to anyone playing the series for the first time.

   So, what exactly has changed since the first game? On the surface, not very much. The way one interacts with the post-apocalyptic Californian coast still largely remains the same. The graphics are pretty much the same standard sprites overlaid on minimalist CG stills. Music also remains of the less than pro-active environmental variety. And hey, the combat looks identical. So why give this game any originality points at all? The reason: all the innovations lie within the already nigh-perfect features of the previous game.


Sorry...wrong floor.
Sorry...wrong floor.  

   Let's take the plot for an example. In the original Fallout, players not only had to battle the various hostile critters, but also an unforgiving time limit that dampened any drive to explore. Such aggravating limits are now non-existent, and the freedom to roam the countryside is increased. To complement this change, the number of cities--and their size--has been increased as well. What this means to the gamer is that he or she will encounter quite a large number of new people and interesting locations at his or her own pace.

   The dialogue, which practically made the first game what it was, also has been expanded significantly to the point that there never seems to be a minor character: they ALL have distinct personalities. All these elements combine to form a very deep and entertaining storyline that makes you feel as though you were in control from the beginning. Just about the only "disappointing" change in the feel of Fallout is the notable absence of as many evil sidequests as in the original. No big loss...unless you like running from vigilantes armed with miniguns and rocket launchers every time you stroll into a new town.

   The combat system, the gem that it is already, is friendlier when it comes to controlling a party. In the first Fallout, it seemed as though getting additional party members was merely an afterthought thrown into the mix at the last minute. Black Isle has since added some very party-friendly controls in for the player, ranging from a much needed trade command to some basic manipulation of the computer AI (you still cannot control party members directly). It might be odd to think of an RPG where you cannot control your own party, but overall it adds a level of realism not usually associated with this genre.


Might not be the most exciting visuals...
Might not be the most exciting visuals...  

   While most of the guns and items from the first game make their reappearance in Fallout 2, there are still some very nice additions to your arsenal, mostly in the way of high-tech weapons. New laser guns and rifles, frag grenades, and armor help Fallout 2 stand out from the original. There are also whole new classes of enemies you can fight, ranging from soldiers with high(er)-tech weapons to robots to aliens. Each offers their own unique challenge to overcome and helps keep combat exciting by having a variety of attacks and strategies you must defeat to survive.

Needless to say, you'll be playing this game again sometime soon after you beat it the first time. If you do spend months scouring the basted landscape for every unique random encounter, gathering every weapon, and exploring every dialogue choice, you still would miss out on a lot by not going through at least a second time as the opposite sex. Even if you are not a perfectionist, Fallout 2 still offers enough humorous sidequests and dialogue branches to convince just about anyone to play again.


...but they can certainly be fun.
...but they can certainly be fun.  

While the game ultimately has some balance issues to contend with (the game is extremely difficult at the beginning and at the end), Fallout 2 remains the sole sequel to date that I loved for not adding much to the original. It still has that unique aura of Mad Max-like coolness that has yet to be reproduced by anyone else. So if you are looking for something completely different from anything you are playing now, or are just wondering why everyone still talks about the Fallout series as much as they do, you owe it to yourself to go and buy this game.





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