Developer: Black Isle Studios
Release Date: 9/30/1997
For Fans Of: Nuclear Wastelands, Nostalgia, Creepy Atmospheres
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The Good: Creepy atmosphere, great characters and story
The Bad: No journal, crappy menus, bad graphics, can’t explore overworld map, confusing layout, bad AI, slow-paced combat, useless map
This game is what the more popular Fallout 3 and New Vegas is based off of. Fallout shocked the game community in the late 90’s and for a good reason. The game had a mature RPG theme that was rare in the day. The post-apocalyptic theme had a creepy atmosphere, haunting music, and an interesting setting. You are a vault dweller who is coming out of Vault 13 for the first time. You need to get a water chip because the one in your vault has failed. You only have enough for a few months so you have to get one before time runs out in game.
When you jump in to create your character is almost exactly like the new games. Pick your two perks, distribute your points among your skills and go. You can choose anywhere from explosives, survival, first aid, big guns, small guns etc. The game is an isometric point-and-click with turn based combat. This had a lot of problems for me. Any actions you use use action points which include opening the inventory, moving, using weapons, and healing. When your points are used the next companion or enemy takes their turn. This is fine and all, but I found issues where I was trying to snipe enemies from afar and companions would wonder off-screen and get into trouble with a pack of enemies and I couldn’t manually end the combat. I also found this pace extremely slow and it took forever to move around the small areas.
If that doesn’t annoy the menu will. To reload weapons you have to open your inventory and drag the right ammo over to the weapon. This uses action points, but this also applies for healing items. You can’t put a stack of stimpaks in the inventory, but instead just on at a time. The inventory is just a column that you have to scroll through and you can’t organize it. I also hate bartering because if you trade an item that has hundreds or thousands you have to click All which brings the number to 999 then repeat until all the items are over to your side. What crappy design choice is that?
There are plenty of weapons in the game that use various ammo types (same as newer Fallouts). You can buy them at random caravans you encounter in the world map or at stores. There are only about 15 locations you can visit, but each is unique and has various side quests. Keeping track of these is impossible because there is no journal to keep track of this. It makes figuring out where to go a pain because you forget some times. The useless map doesn’t help because it’s just a bunch of dots with no labels. This makes swapping areas confusing because you have no idea where to go.
The world map is also not explorable which would have been nice. You just float across an overworld map and run into random encounters. Overall, the game is worth playing for fans of the newer games and want to see the origins. The characters are interesting, and atmosphere is creepy, but the age really shows with terrible 2D graphics, and bad CGI rendered movies. If you have the extreme patience to get through this with maybe a FAQ then go ahead. Otherwise just don’t worry about it.