Fallout Retrospective

If you're in the mood for some nostalgia, you may want to check out this PC Gamer retrospective that looks back at Fallout, Interplay's iconic post nuclear role playing game with its open-ended freedom to fail and its off-beat retro-futuristic Mad Max world. In the end, the article concludes that if anything, revisiting the game today makes you long for more old-school RPGs of similar scope and quality, and personally, I couldn't agree more. An excerpt:

I played the first Fallout when it was already a classic, and it introduced me to ‘darker’ games—for me, anything without an elven forest or a bloodless death. Its candour about violence, sex and humanity surprised me at the time, but I felt welcomed into the wasteland by the game’s sardonic humour and tongue-in-cheek mascot. That juxtaposition is one of the few still-recognisable elements of the series in its current incarnations. Vault Boy’s confident smile and thumbs-up remain a hilarious reassurance that all is right with a world gone horribly wrong.

This wink to the audience is presented with a far lighter touch in Fallout than I initially remembered. You have to have a keen ability to detect sarcasm and a penchant for reading descriptive text when you examine odd things (they’re not important, but you’re the one who looked) to be in on this joke of a post-apocalyptic life. But once you’re in, you start to see similar contradictions everywhere: in the power struggles of Junktown, the farcical religiosity of the Children of the Cathedral and the simultaneous value and disregard for human life. In a single Fallout quest, you can find cavalier dismissals of others and tender, human moments side by side.

All this is there for you to discover on your own. You’re flung unceremoniously from your Vault on a quest to save it. There’s no quest log, only a sticky note reminding you that people will die in so many days in the same tone that one might use to suggest a partner purchase eggs at the store. Unseasoned Vault Dwellers will quickly run out that clock before they discover half of anything, especially if they never take the time to ask for directions. But like the anarchy of the wasteland it’s set in, a lack of rules or direction also means a kind of freedom.