When Fallout was released in late 1997, the game garnered high praise from nearly every major publication dealing with the computer game industry. Not surprisingly, the developers have followed up the title with a sequel, Fallout 2. Adhering to the old adage that you don't fix it if it isn't broken, the game is every bit the equal of it's predecessor but with enhancements that make game play even more riveting. As a rare entry in the role playing genre that caters to all levels of game playing skills, Fallout 2 begins rather slowly but picks up speed as the main character develops the skills, equipment and savvy to simply survive in this post-apocalyptic nightmarish wasteland. Through both subtle innuendo and in-your-face contact, the somewhat naive lead character methodically learns the terms of existence in a very human (and at times painful) way. The game is tough. Resources are scarce at the beginning and things don't get much better for quite a while.
The game world is much larger and even more inhospitable than the original. Things have settled down a bit since your ancestor left Vault 13 nearly eighty years ago and the various pockets of humanity have coalesced into severely repressed and dangerous factions you'll have to deal with in order to accomplish the overall objective of helping your village survive. Progress can be frustrating at first because of the weaknesses of your character (he's just an ordinary guy), lack of weaponry (or skills) and inability to discover ways to make what passes for currency in the world (bottle caps!). You'll be forced to rely on some decidedly tasteless schemes to "finance" your trek and you'll be required to make some difficult decisions on moral issues (e.g., prostitution, slavery) to ensure survival. Places (towns, camps, etc.) and people you encounter during your travels have unique methods of dealing with the overwhelming problems of the land and each locale includes lots of NPCs. Like in the first game, interaction with NPCs plays a large part in story advancement but beware, the enemies, mutants and crazies you meet are meaner and more plentiful than before. Oftentimes your only survival tool is to retreat and live to fight another day.
Survival in Fallout 2 is approached in a refreshing and innovative manner that requires some original thinking and doesn't depend on fantastic, imaginary gimmicks as do so many fantasy-based role playing worlds. You learn to make do in an extremely realistic portrayal of a world hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Because of the huge world, travel/exploration can be a daunting aspect although a semi-solution is offered (I won't spoil the surprise). Fans of the original will love Fallout 2 with its more intensive story and gritty game play and new players will no doubt want to go back and play the original as well.
Graphics: Richly detailed, dark and moody. The bleak landscapes and realistically rendered scenes evoke a definite feeling of desolation and despair. Characters (mutants and general population) are frightfully presented as caricatures of what one can only imagine as strife-torn, unlucky survivors of a deadly and ghastly post-nuclear battleground. Exploration in this wasteland should trigger all too real eerie and creepy feelings of disgust and horror based on the mood setting graphical environments.
Sound: Sounds are very conducive to setting the mood and seem to be intertwined seamlessly with game play. Don earphones, turn off the lights and immerse yourself in the ambiance of nuclear devastation.
Enjoyment: I loved the original title, this one is even better. Terrifically designed character creation module, superbly developed plot with lots of surprises and tough, gritty game play. Struggling to get your character's traits, attributes and abilities beefed up is what a role playing game is all about and Fallout 2 delivers big time with it's adaptation of the character to his bleak surroundings. Well balanced physical and mental requirements of survival are emphasized and immersion in the game world makes for some long nights in front of the computer screen. Puzzles are created fairly and the interface is a dream to use. Even with the mostly minor glitches encountered, the game is still a triumph likely to be embraced by all serious role-playing fans. And the developers quick response to patching the problems shows a total commitment to consumer concerns.
Replay Value: The character creation option is so completely functional and varied, playing through the game again would be a viable option although the major quests and objective would remain the same. Still, with such a customizable feature providing an extraordinary range of possibilities, exploring as a different character would change emphasis on the "how to" factors needed to complete the game.
People who downloaded Fallout 2 have also downloaded:
Fallout, Fallout Tactics (a.k.a. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel), Diablo 2, Fallout 3, Diablo, Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn, Fallout: New Vegas
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