Liam: As we have both lamented in previous articles, the decision to cut both single player and PC games from the line up was unavoidable. Sadly this meant the loss of many great games that mean a good deal to me. Fallout Brotherhood of Steel may not be the biggest game, or important in the grand scheme of things but it allows me to bring a little Fallout to the marathon.
I started playing Fallout one in the late nineties after reading a preview in PC Zone and was not disappointed. As well has having a very detailed RPG system with varied playmates promoted by the SPECIAL system allowing players to take various approaches to playing the game. You can go through the game as an evil gun-slinger, dispatching all in your path, a sneaky assassin hiding in the shadows waiting for the perfect opportunity or a silver tongued diplomat. The game itself does force you into combat situations but many aspects of the game can be solved by speech or investing heavily in one of the multiple non-combat skills. Some of the most fun to have in the game is to have a low intelligence play through where the dialogue spoken by your character pays a light-hearted homage to Lenny from Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. Hilarious when running around one-shotting people in the groin with an electric sledgehammer.
Fallout is set in the aftermath of a massive nuclear war sometime after World War Two. The detailed world created in the game series balances the ‘apple pie’ 1950’s Americana that the world is somehow stuck in, with a bleak, desperate and often quite savage depiction of the post war landscape shadowing the paranoid cold war attitudes at the time. The initial attraction I had to the game was centred around the mature content. Drugs were a vital part of the game, both as a game mechanic improving various statistics and as a social commentary. Drug addiction, manufacture and the organised crime it supports being used as multiple plot devices. Sex and prostitution (homosexual and heterosexual) were rife in the game and it even touches on a false rape allegation. Slavery, torture, kidnapping, extortion, the Mafia, gambling, alcohol abuse… they all had a part to play in the Fallout world, sometimes with an element of humour but always with that desolate feeling bubbling underneath.
After Fallouts massive success a sequel was developed by Interplay and Black Isle imaginatively named Fallout 2 – considered by many including myself to be the best in the series. Interplay continued to develop two spin offs, this game and Fallout Tactics before the IP was acrimoniously acquired by Bethesda who took the franchise away from it’s isometric, turn based roots with the still very excellent Fallout 3 a decade after the original. Fallout New Vegas was released two years later developed by Obsidian Entertainment, staffed by many original Black Isle developers.
I have a feeling that playing this game for one hour is not going to do it justice. I’m hoping that my knowledge of the series (although I have not played this game) will help me a great deal.
Joel: This is a bit of an odd one – Despite being a fan of the Fallout franchise, I’d somehow managed to go about my life without even knowing this existed until Liam suggested playing it when we were deciding on the list. I’ve put a lot of time into Fallout 1 and 2 and recently gave Fallout 3 a go – I’d owned it for years but knowing it would likely consume a serious portion of my life I’d put off starting it – within 3 hours of starting it, my PS3 died. My second PS3 died, more specifically. So because I’m superstitious, that’s gone back on the shelf, where it will probably stay until you can buy a PS3 for less than £50. Which is a shame, I was enjoying it as much as I thought I would. But we’re not here to talk about that.
So with Liam not having played it either, it seemed prudent to have a go on it, get a feel and come up with some reasonable challenges for the night. Rachael kindly jumped in to be my player two and we set to it. It’s actually pretty good, once you get used to the weird third person, top down viewpoint. It’s quite similar to the previous iterations, you interact with NPCs, achieve objectives, develop your character’s stats and all that good stuff. The only real differences are the viewpoint and the combat not being turn based, though you can opt to do that once combat has started, but honestly it made the game quite slow and clunky.
Two player mode is exactly the same as single player except for the fact that there are two of you. As you would expect from a Fallout game, there is a lot of story and the progression is fairly slow, at least to begin with. The time we’ll have to play this will really only allow for the completion of the first main objective – clearing a large warehouse of radscorpions and giant rats, but it’s good fun, presents a reasonable number of potential metrics for measuring a “winner” and has the added bonus of the boss fight music being a Killswitch Engage track – I’ve got a lot of time for that! We’ll have to press pretty hard and skip a lot of the cutscenes to achieve it within the hour. This, however, is not the end of the world as it means avoiding interactions with possibly the most annoying NPC I’ve ever “met” – the delightfully named “Armpit the bartender.” John Mariano has a lot to answer for. He makes Navi from Zelda seem like a pleasure.
This is going to be one of the less heated games in our list. Although we will be competing in some ways, friendly fire is ineffective and we can only complete our main objective by working together. We Haven’t fully decided on the challenges – it may be XP/level based, kills based, item based – we just don’t know yet. I wouldn’t like to call a winner ahead of time here as we are both pretty green on this one. Definitely looking forward to it though and to playing it properly after the marathon as it really does seem pretty good.