In 1998, Electronic Arts published a computer role-playing game entitled Wasteland, unique at the time with its post-doomsday setting. Nearly a decade later, Black Isle Studios developed, and Interplay published, sort of a spiritual successor of the game entitled Fallout, also featuring a post-doomsday setting. Though definitely unique for its time, the game is nonetheless something of a disappointing beginning to its series, despite the acclaim it received.

Fallout features a turn-based battle system, with fights beginning when the player's character draws near the enemy. Action Points dictate how many actions a character can perform per turn, with a variety of weapons to choose from such as the protagonist's fists, knives, and firearms, although switching them consumes action points, as does moving around the battlefield. If lucky, the player might find an ally to join him or her, with the AI controlling this character. After the protagonist has taken his or her turn, the enemies take their turns, moving around and attacking if near the player's character.

For killing enemies, the player gains some experience and may level up occasionally, with the player able to distribute points into areas such as unarmed combat and firearms. The main problem with combat in Fallout is that enemies don't seem to give money, with the player starting out with none, the player's supply of weapon ammunition being limited, and fists generally being useless against more powerful enemies. Combat flows at an okay pace, but the need to use a guide to make sense of things somewhat spoils what fun the player might have in the game.

On the plus side, the player has a great amount of freedom in Fallout than in most other RPGs, and the menus are okay, with an always-welcome save-anywhere feature, though the downside is that there's too much freedom, and the game doesn't tell the player very well how to advance the main quest. Again, a guide is necessary to make sense of things, and in the end, gameplay outside of battle isn't any better than gameplay in battle.

The story has some good ideas, such as a post-doomsday setting and different endings, theoretically adding some replay value, though the execution leaves plenty to desire, what with the scarcity of developing cutscenes or any semblance of character development. Ultimately, there are even some RPGs older than Fallout that have better-developed plots.

The music is largely forgettable, although the sound effects and voice acting are decent for a game of its time, and the graphics look okay, although there are some imperfections on later operating systems such as Windows 7 such as random rainbow splashes.

Finally, the game is somewhat short, with the worst ending the player can get taking a little over three hours to see. Overall Fallout is a major disappointment, with just about all of its aspects lacking, alongside the need to use a guide to make sense of everything. Despite this, the game would spawn several sequels, and while they might show some improvement over the original, there's really no excuse for the lackluster nature of the original game.

The Good:
+Lots of freedom.
+Multiple endings.

The Bad:
-Too much freedom.
-Not short enough.
-Guide is pretty much necessary to play.

The Bottom Line:
Disappointing start to the series.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PC
Game Mechanics: 4/10
Controls: 4/10
Story: 3/10
Music/Sound: 3/10
Graphics: 5/10
Lasting Appeal: 4/10
Difficulty: Hard
Playing Time: Less than 10 Hours

Overall: 2.5/10

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