By Charlie Goodrich Sunday, 18 Jul 2004

Fallout takes RPGs to a place where they have never been before and does an excellent job. A great and original story, fun combat, nice graphics, customizable characters, and different ways to play through this game will have RPG lovers hate sleeping because you won’t want to stop playing.

Let’s begin with the story. It takes place sometime in the future in a world that has been ravished by nuclear war. However, the American government prepared for this by building “vaults”. Vaults are heavily defended structures that house American citizens and protect them from the outside world. But when Vault 13’s water purification chip breaks, they must send someone out to find another one. Your lucky character gets picked and you set out on a journey to save your Vault. You have 150 days left before your Vault runs out of water. However, you can buy water for your Vault to extend the time limit. Throughout your adventure, you will encounter towns that have survived the war, characters who will want to aid you on your quest, bandits and enemies who will want you dead, tons of missions to do, and a deeper threat you will have to deal with.

The music in Fallout isn’t anything special. Most of the music will go unnoticed because you’re having so much fun playing the game. The sound effects are very good. All of the speaking characters in Fallout have great voices. All of the guns sound different. Melee weapons sound good too. If you get a critical hit, you can hear and see a large chunk of flesh being bashed out of your opponent. Music to my ears.

Controlling your character is easy and quick to figure out. You move, attack, use items, and skills with the mouse. With simple clicks of the mouse, one can reload your gun, target an enemy, wonder around town, and speak to people. Everything is that simple.

Because Fallout was made in 1997, the graphics are a bit dated. They are still good though. The graphics reminds me of Diablo. The use of shadowing makes things appear more realistic. Characters will look different depending on what they are wearing, and the weapon effects look good. The only bad thing about the graphics is some of the environments and character models do have that jaggy look to them. Like I have said before, graphics don’t make any RPG good and Fallout is a good example of this.

Strategy is needed to win fights in Fallout. The combat in Fallout is turn based. You are giving a certain number of Action Points (AP) per turn that you can spend doing whatever you want. AP is used for moving, attacking, and using items. When attacking your enemy, you can choose to attack a certain body part of your enemy. Hit them in the leg and they won’t move as well. Shoot them in the eyes and their accuracy will decrease. It costs more AP to target a certain limb but it may beneficial. Different weapons can also do different things to your opponent too. A flamethrower will burn people to a crisp, a plasma rifle will turn them into a pile of dust and a rocket launcher will blow them to bits.

How you customize your character plays a big part in Fallout. You control how he or she looks, what their stats are and what abilities they possess. You begin with a certain number of points that you can distribute to things like strength, intelligence, charisma, and stamina, and every time you advance a level you get more points to improve your stats. The abilities are things like using different types weapons, getting lower prices on items, having higher resistance to radiation, and better odds of getting a critical hit. These are just a few of the twenty plus abilities you can pick from. You get to add new abilities every three or five levels. Deciding how to spend points is very important to who your character is. You can create the ultimate bad ass who can destroy anything using large rocket launchers and miniguns. Or you can make a stealthy character who can sneak past foes and use computers to get what he needs. You can also choose whether your character is good or bad. By helping people and being ethical, you can become a hero of the wasteland. Or you can kill everyone (even children and the elderly) for profit and fun. This allows players to play through Fallout multiple times and each time be different.

Fallout is the complete gaming experience. A fantastic story, nice visuals, fun, engaging combat, easy controls, great replay value, and tons of customization make Fallout one of the best games I have ever played. If you like Diablo or RPGs in general, Fallout will blow your mind.

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