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Game Over Online ~ Fallout 2

GameOver Game Reviews - Fallout 2 (c) Black Isle / Interplay, Reviewed by - PseudoNim

Game & Publisher Fallout 2 (c) Black Isle / Interplay
System Requirements P100 16MB 4x CDROM
Overall Rating 96%
Date Published Sunday, November 22nd, 1998 at 02:39 PM


Divider Left By: PseudoNim Divider Right

War. War never changes. I love that quote (and everything that follows) in Fallout's intro. And in Fallout 2's intro. Like it seems to be somewhat of a tradition these days (Dune 2000 is another example), the intro is redone but not only the beginning is very similar, the whole theme feels familiar. Except when the preamble ends and the animated story begins. There, Fallout 2 has nothing to do with 1. What happens in the intro (which is a great intro indeed, in fact, one of the better ones in the industry)... is very cool and disturbing at the same time. Disturbing in the sense of the anticipation of what's about to come... the foreboding, I should say. Remember the Brotherhood in Fallout 1? The good old technofreaks who helped you out (if you helped them out), even let you join them, and graciously threw in a Power Armor or two? Well, it looks like in Fallout 2 you're pitted up against an enemy who's to the Brotherhood what the Brotherhood is to the Neanderthal man. I've seen them in action in a random encounter, and they seem deadly, ruthless and effective. And hostile. But more on that later.

Fallout 2 takes place about 80 years later than the events depicted in Fallout 1. At the end of Fallout 1 (and I hope I'm not breaking the story to anyone reading) the Vault Dweller was expelled from his Vault 13, since the Overseer was afraid he would corrupt the Vault from within and make the inhabitants move to the Outside. He roamed the Wasteland, until one day he settled down in a village. That village, Arroyo, is the starting point in Fallout 2. The Vault Dweller was considered somewhat of a God by the simple people of the village, and you, the Chosen One, are a direct descendant of the Dweller. The village is dying, sick children are born more and more often, and even the brahmin don't breed properly anymore - so you have been picked to seek out the Holy Vault 13 from which your ancestor is from, and find the G.E.C.K. buried within - the Garden of Eden Creation Kit, packed in a neat briefcase and designed for complete regeneration of a confined land area including plant life, water life and other conditions, and developed by the infamous Vault-Tek.

And so you set out on your quest. All you have to start with is a spear and a load of inspiration by the Elders. You also have a eerie feeling the village shaman is a crazy old freak who can't say two words without throwing in 'spirits' or some other incomprehensibilia. But then again, everyone knows that. At least he can heal.

While your main Quest is to seek out the GECK, nothing prevents you from helping out the usual humble folk of the Wastelands. Your subquests start in your village - and those who hate giving away freebies, you'll (probably) cheer up knowing your experience goes up with every quest you do. Often times people help you out with goods, too - at some point, I ended up spending $800 out of the kindness of my soul, and unexpectedly received a Desert Eagle .44 - which is worth well over $1400 on the black market. Truly, give and thou shalt receive. Incidentally, on the point of money. I'm disappointed with Black Isle: in Fallout 1, the money units were bottle caps. In 2, it's, well, money. Dialogues use the $ symbol, and there's a few mentions of 'bucks' and 'dollars' around, so my assumption is they got cheap and uninventive and reverted to dollars. Quests get progressively harder, and often times you're wondering which one to take first - they're all hard, and you're out of ammo for any of them. But it's fun. And it brings your Karma up, too - making you an Emissary of the Light Side. Sure, you can play a mass murderer, too - but I don't think I'll try that, because I hate melee weapons and I just haven't found enough ammo to deal with everyone who'll want to kill you in case you become a mass annihilator.

More on the subject of the environment. Some of you may remember the Blades in Fallout 1. It seemed perfectly normal to have Blades banners and posters on walls back then; however, I find that 80 years later, and in cities unrelated to Fallout 1, it's rather unlikely to find any Blades references, especially on the walls. Also, the art is pretty much the same in 2 as in 1 - but, in 80 years, shouldn't the world have deteriorated more since everyone is either dead, on drugs, isolated in protected cities or trading on the black market? I.e., put plainly, doesn't give a damn about maintaining the world? Maybe in 3 there'll be more waste to the wasteland. And another complaint: I call it the Barbrady Syndrome, relating to Officer Barbrady from South Park. You know how he always tells everyone to 'Move along, nothing to see here'? I find this to be present a bit too often in Fallout 2. That was somewhat of a problem with 1, as well, but I never wrote a review on that. At a point in the game, there's a crashed vertibird (a twin-blade helicopter) with two dead bodies in Power Armor (or an advanced version thereof) lying in a canyon. When you Examine it, however, all you get is a 'You see nothing out of the ordinary'. Yeah, absolutely. I'm sure in 2241, when a working car is but a cherished memory and people travel by foot, a crashed vertibird must be a common occurrence. Like that field outside town, I'm sure there's one crashing there every day or so. And there actually are objects (though these actually are worthless, no sarcasm) where you get a 'Move along, nothing to see here' if you Examine them. I guess that tells you Black Islers watch South Park. There was even a way to kill Kenny in 1, though I was too lazy to replay half of the game for that.

The artwork in the game is great. The engine is the same as in Fallout 1, and the somewhat low-color palette is felt - but it looks perfect for what it's supposed to be. This is not the lush landscape of Alien Earth - and I was appalled by some kids on IRC whose psychology was 'Does it have 3dfx? No? Bleh! Screw it, I'm not playing it.' Same comments about multiplayer anger me too - it's true Fallout 2 has none, but the point is, this is strictly a single-player game by its theme and design - and I don't think multiplayer would do any good to it at this point. Maybe in Fallout 3. I think things would go completely out of control, since the environment reacts favorably or unfavorably depending on what you do - and your NPCs never venture forth to, say, shoot someone. If you had a human companion, and, say, he got bored over you talking to every single person in the city, he could take target practice as a hobby and inflict some serious damage to your Karma. Or then again, separate Karma can be kept for different players... but had they started working on multiplayer, the release would have taken much too long and we wouldn't have had a chance to play it so soon. The first test of a multiplayer RPG, from Black Isle, anyway, will be Baldur's Gate - and depending on how that goes, further possibilities will be discussed.

To return to the graphics, just like in Fallout 1, the overall feel of the post-nuclear world is extremely well-done. The decaying buildings, the shabby populace, drugs, guns and prostitution ruling the streets, complete anarchy, or, rather, the law of the jungle - whoever has the biggest gun wins. The animations of the people you speak to, albeit few, are exceptionally well-done - lip synching, emotions, et cetera. On the other hand, what disappointed me slightly, was the random encounters that have a cave nearby. In the cave you usually have an array of creatures of the same type, which is great for XP points - but in my experience, every single time I've stumbled upon the caves, they had exactly the same layout. That's cheap if you ask me. But oh well.

The music is excellent, just like in the original. A few new tracks have been added, though - and I love them. The old ones got to me eventually, considering how much time I've played the original - the new ones have about 300 hours ahead of them for sure. The voice acting is great - too bad there's not much of it. The skulls cracking, ribcages blowing apart, everything's there, and it sounds as sickening as ever (or as beautiful as ever, depending on how you look at it). Too bad the ribcage effect, both visually and audibly is usually the same - that's kind of annoying. But at least burst mode is fun, when you rip apart the enemy's head and half the torso, hands included. Mmm, violence. No wonder this is billed 18+. Oh yeah, and because of sex. And drugs. The full set, in short... well, except for rock'n'roll. While I'm on the 'corny quotes' note, there's a point where a Duke 3D quote is made fun of - and as funny as the quote is, the rebuke is funny as well. Great job, I wonder if there are more cliche phrases I can get laughed at in the game.

The scenario of the game is excellent. There are a LOT less appalling grammar/spelling mistakes than in Fallout 1 (except for reoccurring "let's" instead of "lets", and for those who don't know the difference, I pity you). I have had a chance to play the beta version of Fallout 2, and I'm impressed at how much different it is. Not only the language quality is different - but the rudeness and raw insults are still there, which I was worried would be cut in the final. More, minor changes have been made to the quests, and things actually make a whole lot more sense right now. Too bad the game is so hard - but on second thought, that's a good thing, since Fallout 1 was so easy. As it stands right now, I'm going around hunting for 10mm ammo - because I know no one will have 12ga or 14mm ammo, so I might as well give up there. I've got an amazingly wicked 14mm pistol (which is the same one used in 1) and a H&K CAWS 12ga shotgun (which seems to be a rework of the original Combat Shotgun - but it's possible the CS is also in 2, perhaps as a more or a less advanced version of the CAWS).

And there's another really cool thing. You can actually own a car to travel the wastes. A real Chrysalis Motors Highwayman! Running on Micro Fusion Fuel - none of that gasoline crap. It'll cost you - but (or so I'm hoping) eventually you go out of the money trouble and start throwing cash out because it weighs too much.

Some things have been changed in 2 compared to 1, notably the experience point system. The amount of points you get when gaining a level is, as usual, proportional to your Intelligence points - but how you spend it is different. So far I've seen it at work on tagged skills only, I haven't got any untagged skills up to 100% - but this is how it works for tagged skills. Up to 100%, it's the same as in 1: one point per 2%. Past 100$, up to 120-130%, it's two points per 2%. Starting at 130%, it's 3 points per 2%. Past 150%, it's FOUR points per 2%. That's evil, and somewhat annoying. But I guess that way you don't get to have every skill at 200%. New perks were added, too - some more important, some less. Among the less important ones (that is, I'm not sure what it does in the game) is the Kama Sutra Master (do let me know if it somehow has any importance in the game). A notable one is Magnetic Personality, which adds 1 to your max NPC level. Yes, you're clamped there, too. Your maximum NPC count is 2 at the beginning, and you can increase it with this perk - but, like the hint puts it, more than 5 is always a crowd. Yes, but 2 is, like, nothing, either. Another very cool and useful addition is that you can actually control how your characters behave in combat, what weapon they carry and what armor they wear. You can also specify what kind of behaviour they should exhibit, and tweak everything up to how far they can go before running away and how often they can use Burst mode (on weapons that support it). What I found weird is that so far I haven't seen an NPC that can have Never as an option for Burst mode - and I find it strange; granted, some of them can't aim worth a damn, so specifying 'Burst only when you're absolutely sure you won't hit me' means nothing to them - but Never? I'm not sure why that's not available. But at least now, if you ever get a chance of owning two Power Armors like in 1, you don't have to sell it off (or trade it for drugs, just because no one carries any items worth as much as a Power Armor).

The number of locations you can visit has been significantly increased, as well. While you had half a dozen locations in 1 (okay, close to a dozen) it's probably double that number in 2. And they're more varied, too - a village, a corrupt town similar to the Hub, a mining town complete with a haunted graveyard and a mine, a real city, maintained and protected, as well as a Mafia-run city, a crazy fanatic-populated city and more that I'd rather not mention for purposes of guarding the storyline. And there's no time limit like in Fallout 1, either - so you got the leisure of doing the free healing by 'z'-ing your way through.

On a last note... the save/load times are horrendously slow. If you thought they were slow in Fallout 1, wait 'till you see this. On the other hand, according to Black Isle, a patch is in the works and should be out ASAP. So not much to worry about, I suppose.

In short, if it can be summed up in short, Fallout 2 is a worthy successor to Fallout 1, and for those who loved the original they're in for a whole new experience. Those who didn't like or even hated 1... I suggest you give 2 a chance, but if you truly, innately despised it (even though I fail to see why), then, well, it's truly your loss.

In six words... Life in the Vault has changed.

 

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Rating
96%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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