A post-apocalyptic single-player RPG, the spiritual successor to Wasteland.

The very concept of a computer-driven RPG seems oxymoronic. In fact, most any RPG is oxymoronic in that the element of "roleplaying" is generally substituted with "uses swords and magic to kill stuff". Without going into yet another tirade about why RPG’s all suck essentially, plugging them into a computer only exacerbates the problem, since a computer can’t really take the place of a skillful GM, only emulate it through a series of ultimately inadequate IF-THEN statements. In the heyday of the the computer RPG, when titles like Star Trail, Bard’s Tale, and the first few Ultimas were out, approximately NONE of these titles actually qualified as a roleplaying experience, since the real point of the game was to kill stuff and become more powerful so you could eventually kill bigger stuff. Betrayal at Krondor came closest. Then came that cancerous growth known as The Elder Scrolls: Arena, which moved the wannabe RPG experience fully into the realm of a bad 1st person mouse-driven combat game, and things went downhill. The wild success of Daggerfall seemed to put the nail in the coffin of the genre.

Then came Fallout. Winner of numerous awards, it turned game design back towards the story focus, as opposed to technological advances and badly copying other engines. If you have not played Fallout yet, go get it before the technology seems too old for you to take seriously. A relatively clean, fun engine, funny writing, a plot you can really get into with twists and turns, and freedom of choice all over the place… this is what great games are about. I played it several times through, each time taking a different approach, and it was great every time.

Weaknesses of the game include the following:

It can be too easy for veteran gamers to complete the game super fast. We’re not talking superfast like the hour and a half it took my friend Jared to finish Ultima VI the first time he played it, but it is possible to finish Fallout in under a week easily, even if you have to go to work.

There is a goofy time limit which compels you to focus on your job and not just wander all over the damn place. This is actually sorta good, since it adds a sense of urgency, but the time limit was too short for a lot of people. A subsequent patch allows you to set the game timer to a more leisurely setting.

Like all CRPG’s, there are various cheeses to get a super character. There used to be a radiation bug which caused your stats to skyrocket, and there is a way to make unbelievable amounts of money away from the computer, a la UO macroing.

Still, this is one of the greatest games of all time, possibly beating out Betrayal at Krondor for top CRPG spot of all time (in my mind, anyway).

Mu rating: 9/10. It fails to get a 10 just because it should have been longer.
 

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