Developer(s) – Interplay Entertainment
Publisher(s) – Interplay Entertainment & Bethesda Softworks
Designer(s) – Christopher Taylor, David Hendee & Scott Everts
Producer(s) – Brian Fargo & Tim Cain
PEGI – 16
Developed as a spiritual successor to Brian Fargo’s Wasteland, Fallout was released back in 1997 to a great deal of critical and commercial success with the game garnishing several gaming awards, and making use of the then-new RPG system called the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system (standing for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility & Luck), which would go on to feature in every main Fallout entry since. Although this game remains a cult classic, and like Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I found far too many issues with it for myself to label it as such and found it much less enjoyable than what reviews will suggest.
Graphics – 8/10
The best thing about the game by some distance to me is the graphics. Set in a post-apocalyptic America, which was especially unique to gaming at the time, it features an isometric top-down view as well as hand-drawn visuals, which I have always welcomed with open arms, being featured in some of my favorite games of all time, such as the Final Fantasy PlayStation 1 trilogy as well as Grim Fandango. What I do like about the original games in comparison to the ones that Bethesda would go on to develop is that the atmosphere also seems much darker, and therefore, providing a better take on a post-apocalyptic environment in some respects.
Gameplay – 6.5/10
What I don’t like about this game, however, among other things, is how it plays out. Largely turn-based, it features what is, in my opinion, a broken combat system, as well as a ridiculous method of open-world navigation. Though there may be variations in combat, I found gameplay overall to be extremely monotonous and far too repetitive to be enjoyable to any great extent. Though it can be argued that some of the best games ever developed have an element of repetition to them, the extent that this one presents is far too obvious for it to be passable.
Controls – 5/10
In addition, the game’s control scheme is also extremely mediocre and frustrating. Aside from the playable character initially having all the agility of a pregnant cow, movement, as well as combat is also turn-based, so players can only move the character a few paces at a time before having to move him/her again to wherever it is they need to go. I thought the original Baldur’s Gate games were terrible in terms of movement speed, but this game to me takes the cake in this respect.
Lifespan – 5/10
The game is also painfully short for an RPG; even lasting a much shorter time than its spiritual successor, Wasteland. Lasting just shy of 6 hours, taking in side quests, it’s short even for the time, as RPGs had been well and truly established at this point as being capable of lasting 80 hours plus. As the gameplay is nowhere near immersing as many other RPGs released either at that time, or in the modern-day, I wouldn’t warrant anyone play it for any extended amount of time in either case, but that doesn’t stop it from still falling well short of established standards of the genre.
Storyline – 7/10
The game’s story is quite well-conceived, however. It revolves around a survivor of a post-nuclear apocalypse leaving his underground vault, in which survivors dwell against the harmful radiation of the outside world. He has been charged by his vault overseer to recover a replacement computer chip to repair their water purification system, which is responsible for ensuring the vault’s inhabitants have drinkable water. The player is given five in-game months to find the chip, but this can be extended by completing side quests, which give temporary fixes. Although the game’s story may sound very simple in scope, it is best conveyed by the game’s dark atmosphere and feeling of isolation in stark contrast to later games in the series, which convey this quite as well, in my opinion.
Originality – 6/10
Although Fallout was one of the first to do many of the things that it did, it still stands out to me for all the wrong reasons. It was nowhere near as revolutionary as its spiritual predecessor, and to me, it doesn’t stand out as one of the most revolutionary RPGs, or one of the best in terms of overall quality, since like many games in the series overall, I found far too many problems with it to look upon it in the same light as others.
Overall, Fallout, whist eventually paving way for a brighter future for the series, got off to a pretty bad start in my opinion. The gameplay is far too repetitive for an RPG, it lasts nowhere near as long as the average RPG of the time, and I even have a hard time seeing how this game was anywhere near as influential as other players suggest it is compared to the many Japanese RPGs that had been released prior, such as Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger.