Fallout 1 & 2

The past several years haven't exactly been kind to role-playing game fans. Very few role-playing games have been released since 1993, and those that have made it to retail shelves have largely been unsuccessful at combining playability and originality with the complexity that role-playing game fans love. The release of Blizzard Entertainment's action/role-playing game hybrid Diablo in early 1997 only increased role-playing gamers' anticipation for an equally playable game in a more elaborate, detailed world. After a four-year drought, the wait is over. Fallout is one of the best role-playing games to be released in several years and it succeeds in entertaining gamers by providing a fresh and compelling storyline, good graphics and sound, and attention to those little details that can transform a good game into a great one.

Fallout is an unofficial sequel to 1987's Wasteland, one of the most popular role-playing games of all time. While the overwhelming majority of computer role-playing games are set in some pseudo-medieval, Tolkien/AD&D-inspired world of orcs and battleaxes, Fallout is set in the future, several years after an exchange of nuclear weapons has devastated most of the world. Inhabitants who survived did so largely by sheltering themselves in giant underground vaults. Your character's life has been spent entirely within one such vault. A broken chip for your vault's water recycler forces your character to leave the relative safety of the vault to search for a replacement chip aboveground in the wasteland, where you'll encounter struggling communities of survivors, Road Warrior-esque gangs, human mutants, and even stranger creatures. Hardly a typical setting for a role-playing game, but the originality of the setting is one of the strengths of Fallout. In Fallout, rather than trudging through yet another dreary dungeon, in search of ye olde magic artifact to expel demon horde #782, your character will explore the haunting remnants of our own civilization and attempt to unravel the mysterious forces at work in postapocalyptic Southern California. The old 90210 neighborhood has changed, gang violence is rampant, two-headed cows roam Rodeo, and the new fashion accessory is a rocket launcher. And if the guns of the locals don't get you, the radiation might. Brandon, Kelly, why are you glowing like that?



The original Fallout provided gamers with the opportunity to truly "role-play" a variety of highly personalized characters in a stylish, postapocalyptic setting. Since Fallout was almost universally heralded as 1997's best role-playing game, it's not surprising that developer Interplay Productions decided to quickly follow up on the success of the original game with a sequel using a substantially similar game engine. Fallout 2 improves the already impressive tactical-combat and character-development systems of Fallout, allows gamers to explore a more expansive gaming world without imposed time constraints, and accordingly, is in many ways an even better game than its predecessor. However, the initial release of Fallout 2 is also afflicted by a number of bugs and other gameplay quirks, which suggests that the game was released before it was thoroughly play-tested and debugged. But even though Fallout 2 was released prematurely, it still delivers an outstanding role-playing experience.

Fallout 2, like the original game, combines real-time movement with tactical, turn-based combat. The isometric perspective graphics engine is now capable of a couple of new tricks, such as depicting "glowing" torches and similar items, but is otherwise almost identical to the one used by its predecessor. While there are a couple of new tunes, the haunting and apt music is largely recycled from the original game. Fallout 2 is essentially a "more of the same" sequel that adopts many aspects of the original game with only minor tweaking, but the development team did make a number of notable improvements to certain elements of the game's design. Many gamers thought that Fallout's gaming world was too small, which allowed players to speed to the game's conclusion relatively quickly, at least in role-playing game terms. In fact, you were somewhat forced to zip through Fallout's world because the game's main objective had to be completed within a relatively restrictive time period. Fallout 2 more than adequately addresses such concerns, as it features a significantly larger gaming world that you are free to explore at your leisure, no longer encumbered by the requirement to complete the game within a specified amount of playing