Quite Possibly the Greatest RPG of the 90s, Given a Decent Shot
Playing Fallout today can be, in a word, daunting. The game's graphics and isometric camera angle scream "90s," and the game's mechanics have long been extinct in the games that have come out recently. However, if you give Fallout a decent chance, without any preconceived notions of what the game should be like, then you'll find an amazing game hidden under some 90s dust.
I've had an on-and-off relationship with Fallout for many years now, as dumb as that may sound. As a teengaer, I picked up both games in their original diamond cases, and played a bit until I just found myself losing attention. At that time, we were seeing fantastic leaps in game design (early 2000s), and Fallout seemed like a remnant of another decade. I remember killing a few rats and shutting the game off in boredom.
Years later, when GoG had just come on the scene, I thought there was no better time to pick the game and its sequel up again. Again, however, I noticed myself put-off at the graphics and mechanics, perhaps even more so due to the near-decade since its release.
However, I've been unable to access my main gaming PC for a while now due to some work, and the only chance I've had to play games has been on my laptop which, while fast, has no dedicated graphics. As such, I'd been browsing my backlog of GoG games, and thought I'd give Fallout another try. This time, for whatever reason, the game stuck. While the phrase "one more turn" is usually applied to games like Civilization, I found the phrase applicable (though perhaps not in the same context) to Fallout.
At this point, you've probably played Fallout 3, or Fallout: New Vegas, and have some idea about what the Fallout franchise is about. The game is, on its surface, a post-apocalyptic RPG, and follows many of the tropes of the genre: raiders, mutants, and the struggle for life in the desolate world. But there's so much more than that in the game. Sure, the game can be completed in a few hours, and you're not going to find 300+ hours in the game as you would in a game like Fallout 3. However, the game's world just feels so much more real and personal, even though not every character has spoken dialogue. It's hard to describe the immersive-ness of the game, and probably even harder to picture from its screenshots. Just know that the game is immeasurably deep, and much more dark, than the current-gen offerings.
The game has its problems, of course, especially for modern players. There are an abundance of skills and attributes that one needs to figure out before starting the game, with little knowledge of how these points will impact the game beyond a short description. The player may find that he's chosen the wrong skills only after having played a few hours. For instance, choosing an low Intelligence number (IN) causes your character to be a babbling idiot, which can cause your game to be nearly unplayable. Granted, you'd find this out pretty early on, but it illustrates how certain choices can negatively impact your game. The use of a guide on your first playthrough, if only to build your character, isn't a terrible step.
I hesitate to go into too much detail, because the discovery of the game's character can really only be done by yourself. The story is a thinly-veiled attempt at giving you a time limit to go through the game, although it does have its moments. Mostly, you'll be venturing from settlement to settlement, and doing a few side quests here and there. While they're not necessary, you'll find that if you try to pursue only the story missions, you'll be somewhat bored. The settlements themselves are fantastic, even for what they lack in depth. There are multiple solutions to each mission, which is certainly fantastic, even by today's standards. I'm rambling, but the game is much, much deeper than it looks.
Fallout is a game about discovery, and I mean this beyond just a general qualifier. It's the game that really pushed me to explore games from past decades, despite their graphics and mechanics, similar to how Patrick's embracing of Monster Hunter led to an adoption, or at least interest in, less-mainstream games. Each new town in Fallout is something to be explored, saved or destroyed. It's all up to you in Fallout, and while the newer games may have changed the formula up a bit, it's worth it to play the predecessor to the modern RPG.