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Fallout Opening Analysis at No Mutants Allowed
Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Sat 28 April 2012, 20:42:55Tags: Eric Schwarz; Fallout; Interplay
No Mutants Allowed has posted an opinion piece on Fallout's opening, written by Gamebanshee's Eric Schwarz. As expected, the piece is mostly positive, even if the author does point out some well-known issues with Fallout's character system and names the timer and skill usage among the game's other, if minor, problems:
There's also, unfortunately, the issue of the timer. Specifically, 150 days doesn't seem like a lot, and while it's more time than the ticking click might suggest, putting the player on a time limit from the very beginning can feel stifling. Worst case scenario, the player really does run out of time, earning a non-standard game over. Starting over a game was actually fairly common back in 1997 when Fallout came out, especially in RPGs, but by modern standards, being forced to replay the beginning of a game due to a few bad early choices seems patently ridiculous.
Last, the tutorial isn't explicit about a few things. Using skills in the environment may not be entirely clear, although with experimentation most players will eventually figure it out. The same goes for more advanced combat functions like aimed shots, and even some of the basic rules in combat like action points. These are all important, and unfortunately they're very hard to communicate in the passive way Fallout attempts. Fortunately, back then, games still came with instruction manuals!
Fifteen years later, the first Fallout still demonstrates effective teaching of both its narrative and gameplay through subtle gating, smart scenarios of vary scales which lead from one to another, and by giving the player increasingly challenging tests with a good feeling of progression and mastery. There might be a few rough edges, but for a game with so many moving parts, its opening accomplishes a lot without resorting to a single pop-up. Compared to contemporaries like Baldur's Gate, Fallout's opening still stands the test of time as a smart and effective piece of game design.
The full article discusses interface and controls, combat, world map, and such locations as Shady Sands and Vault 15.