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Fallout 2

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I think I've narrowed down what it is exactly that I don't like about the Fallout 2. It's how wildly inconsistent the tone can be. To me it's on the similar level with the Warcraft games in that both series try to be silly and serious at the same time but warrant neither. I really don't think those tones juxtapose well together and would work much better if they were separate from each other.

 

Most of Fallout 2's soundtrack is eerie and depressing so when something that's suppose to be funny comes along it feels wildly inappropriate. I don't exactly feel like laughing in presence of Moribund World, Khans of New California, Industrial Junk, City of Lost Angels etc. Those tracks seem better suited for a horror game than a comedic RPG as they evoke fear and desperation.

 

Ron Perlman isn't exactly humorous either when he's describing how desolate the wasteland is. This is absurd, what is going on here? The Fallout 2's tone seem wildly out of focus and when tries to act all serious like with the aforementioned Ron Perlman descriptions it doesn't warrant any emotion from me because it's dishonest.

 

In Fallout 2 I remember a specific point in the game that just broke me and not in a good way. I got to the Central Council area in Vault City and went into the parlor room. Inside the parlor room there's a vault citizen peeing that will not shut up about the fact that he's peeing. That's the joke, that's literally it and when I found him I let out a long sigh and then shut off the game. I mean what am I supposed to make of something like that? It's not funny, it's not clever and the brow of the game's "humor" tunneled it's way to China for how low brow it was. If I wanted to listen to absurd pee jokes I'd go watch one of the Scary Movies, ughhhhh.

 

Anyway, I think it's fairly safe for me to say that neither Fallout 1 nor 2 are for me and quite frankly I don't get why people like them. Their mechanics are janky, color palette is bland, combat takes forever and the world didn't interest me in the slightest. Since the game was beyond me at this point I began looking for reviews of Fallout 1 & 2 to see if anyone else had a better idea of what made them great. They didn't provide any good answers either and overall were pretty mixed. Outside of pure nostalgia I can't find a good reason to play Fallout 1 & 2. This is a surprise to me since I loved and adored Planescape Torment which was released a little over a year later after Fallout 2. I guess Black Isle Studios wasn't quite there yet.

I'm not saying I started the fire. But I most certain poured gasoline on it.

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I love Fallout 2 because of how random it is, personally.

Oh yes, the combat can be quite fun once you get the hang of it, especially when you make someone explode upon a critical hit. I'd highly recommend setting the combat difficulty to wimpy and getting your luck skill as high as it will go in order to get the most out of the combat. I think Fallout 1 & 2 suffer from mislabeled difficulty settings. Wimpy is actually normal and normal is actually hard at least from my experience.

 

The world itself is a different matter entirely however. The whole apocalyptic future with 1950s iconography setting quickly gets old IMO. I had a similar issue with Bioshock but I feel it's amplified here in Fallout because everything's so lifeless and desolate. I get that the setting is supposed to be that way but then why would I have any interest in exploring something so dead?

 

I find Fallout 1 & 2's world to be incredibly un-immersive and not worth exploring. This sharp contrasts my experience with Planescape Torment where everything was worth investigating and very immersive. The level of writing in Planescape Torment and it's unfamiliar setting is what really engrossed me. I sort of knew what to expect when it came to Fallout 1 & 2's world which kills a lot of the mystery for me.

 

I'm wondering if taking a more disinterested approach when it comes to Fallout 1 & 2 might help me enjoy those games more. I am thinking about doing a run of Fallout 2 where I just slaughter everything. That might be fun.

I'm not saying I started the fire. But I most certain poured gasoline on it.

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I think Fallout 1 and 2 are great, some of my most favourite games (and I also loved Torment). I played them again recently (like a year ago) prior to the release of Fallout 4, and still think they hold up.

 

If I was to describe why I like them? Well, the core premise in all the Fallout games (with the possible partial exception of New Vegas) is to explore how civilization adapts and mutates in the aftermath of an apocalypse. They are sort of frontier simulators - the humour in them and the contrast you don't like is possibly because to the residents of the world, its not depressing: they're in the only world they have ever known, fighting to survive.

 

Its also very much a retro-punk game, and should be treated as such. Its not supposed to be realistic, but rather a very particular genre of dystopian roleplay. It sounds like this theme just isn't for you, as opposed to the game actually being bad. For example, while Torment has one of the most extensive and arguably superior story and writing of games in this era (and possibly since), as a game and a world to explore many if not most would argue its less polished, and possibly inferior to Fallout 1&2 - it certainly has a smaller scope than F2. Though the infinity engine does make for more beautiful backgrounds.

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If I was to describe why I like them? Well, the core premise in all the Fallout games (with the possible partial exception of New Vegas) is to explore how civilization adapts and mutates in the aftermath of an apocalypse. They are sort of frontier simulators - the humour in them and the contrast you don't like is possibly because to the residents of the world, its not depressing: they're in the only world they have ever known, fighting to survive.

Then why is the soundtrack and environment so grim? I'm confused by this mixture of horror and comedy elements in Fallout 2 as they seem to work against each other.

 

In Fallout 2 I'm neither unnerved nor laughing my ass off because to me those themes don't complement each other and I'm unsure of how I should be feeling towards the game. So I'm left with the impression that Fallout 2 is just weird. But I don't like to come to simple conclusions like that because people have made Fallout 2 out to be this great game and so I would like further explanation for it. If Fallout 2 doesn't work for me that's fine but I would like to know why it works for other people so that I'm not left unfairly criticizing a game I don't understand.

 

Its also very much a retro-punk game, and should be treated as such. Its not supposed to be realistic, but rather a very particular genre of dystopian roleplay.

What is retro-punk exactly? Where does it stem from specifically and what kind of roleplay does it entail? Are the post apocalyptic elements from Fallout 2 apart of it?

 

it certainly has a smaller scope than F2.

A small scope, but with much more focus. Sigil has far more depth than any settlement I've ever come across in Fallout 2. In Fallout 2 the settlements function as quest hubs and little else. Whereas with Planescape Torment there are all these little facets and nuances that serve to flesh out the Sigil such as the factions. Does Fallout 2 have anything akin to the Godsmen who believe that all life sprang from a single source and constantly seek to test themselves? How about the Dustmen who believe that everyone should be purged of their passions and embrace death when it seeks them out. Fallout 2's content is spread thin across a map that takes around 5-10 minutes to get from one square to the next and when you do find something I've found it generally offers little of substance. Klamath, the Den, Modoc and Vault City really didn't inspire confidence with Fallout 2's depth for me IMO.

I'm not saying I started the fire. But I most certain poured gasoline on it.

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Retro punk is also called atom punk or fifties punk. Its a genre where the view of the future during the atom age is the one that actually comes to pass: a mix of traditional values, scientific exceptionalism and jingoism. The juxtaposition of the ludicrous nature of so much of this with the game world represent the logical consequence of such views is where the humour and horror, and indeed the social commentary comes from.

 

And to give you some examples: Fallout 1 (and 3/4) have the Brotherhood of Steel, a faction that came from an army group that discovered their government was conducting horrible experiments and so elected to abandon their posts, moments before the apocalypse hit. Subsequently they evolved to a quasi religious order that attempts to seize all technology in order to protect the people from themselves. In F2 you have the NCR, who believe in resurrecting old world ideals and will spread democracy by the sword if necessary. They stand in contrast to the Followers of the Apocalypse, who are simularly altruistic but don't believe central government is the answer. Or you have vault city (which you mentioned before) who are so convinced of their superiority that they will pay slavers and raiders in order to preserve their position (largely against the attentions of NCR and those they consider infirior). Or the enclave, the remnants of the US government who seek to reestablish the borderline fascist US state that existed prior to the war, considering all others invalid 'occupiers' they are happy to purge.

 

Locations in F2 are hardly just 'quest hubs'. New Reno alone, one of the larger settlements, has a full on gang war between different factions, all tied up with drugs, the enclave, secret deals etc. And unlike Torment where the factions are very interesting but largely static, in F2 you can join one or all of these gangs, undermine them or support them as you see fit, and ultimately determine who will define the future of New Reno. And that's just New Reno - the story lines in NCR, San Fran, Vault City and even the earlier locations like Redding and the Den have living stories within them that you, as a player can both discover and influence.

 

But it sounds like you are turned off by the theme, which might make these stories hard to appreciate since I think they are all pretty much tied up in it. Did you ever play Wasteland or its recent re-quel? It has a similar theme and mix of tones, and serves as the spiritual predecessor to the Fallout series.

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Am I judging Fallout 2 too much by what I've seen in the early game perhaps? It could be that I just so happened to do all the boring quests during my initial playthrough.I'm willing to give Fallout 2 a second chance. But I need to be doing something interesting and intriguing first. Were there any specific moments where Fallout 2 hooked you or were you hooked pretty much from the get go?

I'm not saying I started the fire. But I most certain poured gasoline on it.

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I do think Arroyo (the first area in F2) is not the greatest - but then it largely serves as a tutorial area - and while Klamath is okay, its not too interesting. But once past that and you get to the Den I think that location embodies the sort of sleazy wasteland survival - drugs, sex and crime - that permeates so much of F2's world. A good few story lines and characters there and if you pick up Sulik in Klamath then the Den can end with a nice bloody massacre of slavers, should you be so inclined (you can also join said slavers, if that's what does it for you). That's probably where the game 'got' me, but then I was a huge fan of F1 so I was already biased.

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You also need like 8 endurance - I never managed it since endurance isn't all that useful a stat in F2. However I've done a hand-to-hand only run with lots of strength, allowing me to become a heavyweight boxer in Reno. That helped with some of the gangs if I remember, and of course also opens doors down in San Fran with their martial arts tournament :)

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