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Page 1 of 2Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel has been out for almost a week now and has received mixed reviews. Having just finished playing it myself, I must admit that it seems a strange basket for Interplay to have put all its eggs into. I feel like I want to recommend the game, but I'm not quite sure to whom.
Probably the best way to judge whether you will enjoy BOS is to ask yourself how much you enjoyed Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. The feel of the two games is very similar, although F:BOS made great improvements on the Dark Alliance engine, in my opinion. In BOS, you can use height to your advantage, meaning you can jump onto barrels to stay safely out of the range of enemies equipped with melee weapons while you pick them off with ranged weapons. Also, you won't become encumbered by the loot you gather, which relieves you of the tedious chore of schlepping back to the local merchant to sell your wares.
Does the lack of encumbrance hurt the realism of the game? Yes. Does it help gameplay? Immensely. And here's where the die-hard CRPG fans bow out. On almost every decision between realism and gameplay, the developers came down on the side of gameplay. Such is the world of console gaming.
So, you have to decide if you are a "glass half full" role-playing gamer. If you are, then you can really enjoy this game for what it is, an action game that gives you some control of how your character develops over the course of the game. There are a bunch of skills that you can use to tweak you character, but you'll mostly want to use them to make him or her more effective at giving beat-downs. If you are dead against the trend of genre blending in today's games (or feel that the release of this title was the final nail in Fallout 3's coffin), stick with the PC versions of Fallout.
From what I've seen, many Fallout fans have decided to do just that. But I consider myself a fan of the original games (and of CRPGs in general) and I really enjoyed BOS. It's kind of like the Phantom Menace of the Fallout franchise (the Raider Matron gets my vote as the Jar-Jar Binks of BOS). BOS looks the same, and sometimes feels the same, but it's definitely a step down from the quality and scope of the original source.
Which isn't to say that it's not fun. My only major gripe as far as adherence to the original titles is that there were no geckos to hunt. You may recall from my optimistic preview that I was willing to give Interplay slack on a lot of things for the chance to blow away some radioactive geckos in real time. Aside from the absence of geckos, you get to take on radscorpions, ghouls, mutants, huge rats, raiders, and most of the other enemies from the original Fallout titles.
The missions are similar to a few that you may have taken on in the original Fallout RPGs. For instance, you get to deliver a mail bomb, fight in gladiatorial combat, and retrieve a hooker's dead cat. You almost always have the option to spew vitriol on the people you converse with and sometimes doing so will get you discounts from merchants. Just a warning - swearing is prevalent throughout the game, so those who are bothered by it need not apply.
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