May 28, 2014

Let's Talk About: Fallout 2

Fallout 2 is lauded as one of the best, if not THE best CRPG of all time. It literally came out a year after the first one, so that should put things in perspective. Fallout 2 was made with Fallout's engine and uses a lot of its assets, but it not only better but arguably perfect. Meanwhile, Call of Duty gets a new game every year, has a bigger budget, and an improved engine with new assets, and yet manages to never, ever improve even slightly. It just goes to show what being in a development team with no restraints and tons of passion can do. Yes, this was truly the high point in the history of Interplay, when its slogan "By Gamers for Gamers" actually meant a damn. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's get back to the game.

Fallout 2 takes place a whole 80 years after the events of Fallout, but despite that large time gap is still very much a sequel. It's interesting to see the long-term effects of your previous incarnation's decisions, even if it's not like Mass Effect where decisions carry over from previous games. You see how villages grow to full blown towns, the Super Mutants moving on from being "Humanity's next evolutionary step" to being just one more race of rejects in the post-nuclear world, and even how the NCR got to the point that it is at in Fallout: New Vegas. Gameplay is fine-tuned, allowing more immersing interactions and reactions from NPC's, the ability to fully customize your character and your party members, and pretty much just play, however the hell you wanted...Provided you got past the extremely cruel hurdle that is the game's first act. You could even do crazy roleplaying things like getting married or becoming a Porn Star (This is the real image of the perk for being a Porn Star, by the way.)!

But story is where things kinda falls off. First off, the game has a lot of pop culture references. I mean A LOT. Like too much. Nearly every other character makes some sort of reference to something that happened that was relevant at the time, or references a famous film like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then there's the actual plot of the thing. After The Vault Dweller got kicked to the curb in the first game, he went and founded his own community! With blackjack! And hookers!..But not really it's just a village that eventually develops a stereotypical tribal culture and worships the Vault Dweller as a prophet of sorts. You play the grandson of The Vault Dweller, and of course you are dubbed The Chosen One. From there, it's essentially the same plot as the previous game: Save your people by finding an elusive item, only to find an even greater threat that must be destroyed. Here, however, we were introduced to one of Fallout's most enduring group of evil assholes: The Enclave.

Extremely well equipped, dangerously effective, and incredibly zealous in agenda, The Enclave are a shadow government that has existed since even before the War, twisting the United States into an autocratic police state determined to outlast everyone else on the planet. Unfortunately for everyone in the wasteland, that agenda has not changed even after the United States was blown to smithereens. In my opinion, they are just the stereotypical "evil empire" that seems to act irrationally because MUHAHAHAHHAH EVIIIIIIIIL. I mean, sure, they are intimidating, with their working flyin' machines, augmented Super Mutants, and incredibly awesome custom Power Armor, but their plan to take over the Wasteland is f#$@ng dumb, even though it leads to one of the best plot twists I've ever seen in a video game.

Get it?! DICK RICHARDSON. Humour!
Let me break it down for you. The Enclave moved to a secured oil rig just before the war and are thus free of radiation. They, therefore, wish to eliminate all sentient beings that have been exposed to the stuff, even humans who are for all intent and purposes normal, declaring them impure. They created a virus that would kill them all, and leave only themselves alive. Now think about this one; The Enclave will be the only humans left...How can they hope to sustain a population with only a couple hundred people? Granted, there's no known number on how many Enclave members there truly are, but what happens when they finally take the mainland? Won't they also be irradiated and thus be rendered impure? Or will they live their whole lives in those clunky, hard-to-make power suits? What will they eat, as all the plants and animals are QUITE impure? Radiation does not just magically go away because you killed all the people who had it! None of this is ever explained! Gah!

This one Mr. Handy spouts off about 5 references to movies on a loop.
But what about that big twist, you may ask. Well, you may already know it, but it was in Fallout 2 that we learned the true nature of the Vaults; They were never meant to save anyone, but rather to run social experiments on various groups of people, with the Vaults that had no such experiments being a control. This essentially meant that the malfunctioning of the Water Chip in Fallout that started the whole series and incidentally set all these events up until now in motion was because the chip was DESIGNED TO MALFUNCTION. Mind. Blown. The best part about this twist is that you hear all of this from the freaking President, who has some very loose lips. This would also pave the way for some of the more bizarre and creepy stuff we'd see in Fallout down the road...
Fallout series are one of the most fun games in history of rpg.
So, does Fallout 2 deserve all its praise? Yes, yes it does. The story may not be as strong, but the villain is compelling. The gameplay is much stronger, the references can be really funny if you know your trivia, and not even the most recent addition of New Vegas had as much variety for the main character as this one did. The consequences, interactions, and reactions were all fine tuned to the point that the world of Fallout 2 just came alive as you played it, and let's not forget the ridiculous number of possible endings for each and every location you came across. Simply put, it's the best Fallout game ever and you really need to play it if you have not already.

Seriously, where did he get the armored suit? It's nowhere in the game!

Have a dissenting opinion? Think Fallout 2 actually sucks? Talk about it! Share what you think about Fallout 2 and hey, share some fun stories about it. Next time: Fallout Tactics!

More Let's Talk About:

Fallout 1, 2 Tactics, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4