Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel Review
developer: Micro Forté
PII-300, 64MB RAM, 750MB HDD, 8X CD-ROM
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Mar 14, 01
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Nikola "Bunny" Zakic
Being a gamer isn't as easy as it's cranked up to be. While you're sitting in a dark stuffy room and loosing your good sight because you've been watching at that radiating screen for hours, you're in severe danger: you could die just before the end of the level, or even worse, your system could crash, and you didn't save the game for hours. This could result in direct injuries (You could get electrified while ramming the screen with your head, or break an arm while calibrating your treacherous joystick with a rock). Then, there's the misunderstanding of your girlfriend/boyfriend who thinks you're neglecting him/her because of your computer, and finally, a possibility that you could die of hunger as you spent all your money on video games. Most of these cases can be solved with medical assistance, but as for the last one - well that's where we hop in - we can tell you which game is worth spending your last couple of dozen dollars on, and which isn't.
Still, even when you're reading the articles, you'll have to pay heed that the author may be someone you know very little about, and the review will mostly depend on the personal impression and some absolutely private and personal momentums the author may be experiencing at the time (You could reach a conclusion about my mental state judging on my photograph which frequently appears on the site, and you could conclude something on the mental state of the EIC who keeps posting it and hoping to increase the traffic). Fortunately, there are some cases where you cannot go wrong, regardless of weather you are listening to your philosophical reviewer or not. A good example for this would be Fallout Tactics.
Fallout 1 & 2 left a deep mark on the time when they appeared. Good story, authentic environment of a post-apocalyptic world, and a perfectly used RP element gave the players an authentic MAD MAX like experience. These games also brought a new method of play (real time mode ran through the most of the game except when a fight broke out, when it switched to turn-based mode), and it will forever be remembered for the quality of dialogues and NPCs and its extreme non-linearity.
Even though it isn't a real sequel, Fallout Tactics contains all the best elements of its predecessors, and introduces novelties that will make it popular today. MicroForte had developed this game, and it was published by Interplay (who else?). This game is a digression both to the storyline and gameplay of the previous Fallout game. The very Brotherhood Of Steel subtitle makes it quite clear that this is not an official sequel. This organization (well known to all Fallout fans) got established after the holocaust by a group of soldiers in one of the vaults. Their Vault was a secret military base, so that the entire brotherhood relies on army discipline and hierarchy. The inherited weapons and their superior technology made the Brotherhood the only ones who can stand up against chaotic gangs of criminals and herds of mutants ravaging the countryside. Fallout Tactics will let you assume the role of one of the Brotherhood's conscripts who survived the crash-landing of his transport-zeppelin. You and several of your teammates, who also survived the crash, realize that you're thousands of kilometers away from your home-Vault, and decide to set up a Brotherhood "franchise" near the devastated Chicago. Your newly established fraction grew and spread, protecting the civilian population in exchange for food and conscripts. The trouble starts when huge gangs of Raiders and Super Mutants start ravaging your territory in retreat before some unknown force.
Just like the story slightly stepped away from the original concept of a lone vagabond on a mission to save the world, the old RPG gameplay got transformed into a squad-based strategy which did retain certain traits of the original games.
First, you'll get to lead a six-member squad instead of your hero and one or two of his friends. Still, you will only be able to create your character and the rest of them will be pre-created (you will be able to distribute their earned EXPs later, though). The RPG element remained intact. A lot of stats and traits are exactly the same as in Fallout 1 & 2 (even the little pictures remained the same), giving any Fallout connoisseur a chance to immerse into the Fallout world immediately. The couple of new traits have only been introduced to emphasize some new features of the game (like driving ability), but there aren't many of them and you'll have practically no trouble in getting to know them. It was a great relief to have a team of people: this gives you a chance to form a team of specialists, each one of whom will build up in his own area of interest, rather than building up one character in all areas.
Even though this all doesn't seem too much of a change, the genre did suffer serious transformations. The focus shifted from roaming, exploring the map and speaking to the NPC to fighting huge numbers of various enemies. The dialogues have been simplified, you won't be able to choose your answers, and so the NPCs will always have the same attitude towards you. This sure wounded non-linearity, but it's not quite dead as you can still roam the map freely, and you'll be able to hit on any enemy fortification from any side and any way you want. The squad based strategy features have been introduced, and they let you coordinate the members of your team and offer advanced tactical possibilities. Large numbers of enemies, the difference between their intelligence, terrain configuration and other numerous obstacles will make you carefully plan each action before you attack. The characters are suitable for specialization from the very start. It does all depend on your decisions, but why would you make a natural-born-sniper carry heavy machine guns, or try to teach a buffed Rambo how to use a computer? Not that anyone would stop you if you really wanted to do it... Apart from movement and firing orders, you can also determine a basic formation, and set soldier's default reaction on enemy fire. Your soldiers will be able to crawl, kneel, run and use weapons in several different ways.
Good squad based strategy, nice atmosphere, good cinematics;
Bugs, missions are too long for most players.