Reviewed: 02/12/2006


Fallout was 1997’s best role-playing game. It was released in a time where people had been waiting years for something really groundbreaking to come by in an RPG, and Interplay didn’t miss the mark.

In order to survive a great nuclear war in this futuristic game, the survivors of humanity sought shelter in underground vaults to escape the nuclear fallout (hence the title). The character is in one such vault, but escaping the wastelands is not the only problem. This vault’s water-recycling chip has malfunctioned and the leader of the community is asking the player’s character to go to a neighboring vault for a replacement. If only a journey in the wasteland were simple.

Players find that there are communities on the surface, and they’re scraping the bottom trying to survive just like those below. Gangs that resemble something from the Mad Max series roam the wasteland preying on those struggling to make a living. Some people have undergone transformations; so have some animals. Finding a water chip or other suitable drinking water is not going to be an easy task.

Screen Shot
The inventory.

The game system takes some time to get used to, but not so much that it detracts from the enjoyment of the game. Mostly a mouse-driven game, players have cursor options to select actions, conditions, and manage inventory. Taking care of said inventory isn’t a comfortable process, as players are forced to manage all loot in a single columned interface.

Fallout does some things quite well. Character creation is quite thorough, including optional traits and perks to enhance characters’ starting abilities, making him/her unique. Fallout‘s creators also attempted to implement a system of “right and wrong,” and player interaction with NPCs is affected by Karma. As two more examples, sound and music both compliment the story environment without going over the top.

Like games of the time, there are some things that greatly under-perform. Most roaming NPCs are fairly useless for more than a grunt, snide remark, or comic relief. While players can recruit companions, they have no control over them, allowing for situations where the recruits will shoot players (and other NPC companions) in the back or block the path. They do not target what the player targets most of the time, and players will notice when trying to do something nefarious that combat will provoke NPCs to target other people, including children, which just cause one’s Karma to bust. Also, players’re forced to trade with them to provide them any resources. They don’t wear armor or gain levels making them weak and pathetic in the end-game.

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Iguana Bobs!?!? My favorite!!

Look out for bugs. Remember, the patches that are released for this game are supported by Windows 95 only, since there was no other workstation OS out at the time. Heed my advice and save the game often, both to dodge the bugs and NPC accidental assassination attempts.

The presentation of the story is both humorous and enlightening. The previously touched-on story is set in the future, but most everything looks like it came out not long after World War II. What’s left of civilization is surviving under the tow of two-headed cows while rusting autos and modern technologies similar to our era are strune about. Bottle caps are the currency of choice and iguana sticks are to die for.

All things being said, Fallout is still one of the best RPGs ever made for the PC and sparked a great trend. It is true that it came out around the same time Blizzard released Diablo, but Fallout breaks the mold of the dungeon-slaying, fantasy troop that is all too expected in an RPG.

-Joseph Proveaux

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Excellent
Story Excellent
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Great
The Verdict: 7