Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Fallout Tactics: BoS

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

Let me say first of all, I have played the first two Fallouts, and I liked the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system, the gameplay, the combat, the gore, the humor, and just about everything else. I am one of those people who is still worried about Bethesda and Fallout (when by all rights, they’re going to make a great game). So, it surprises me to recall that I bought Fallout Tactics: BoS (the PC game, not the atrocious Xbox games) when it first came out.

Sidetrack time: do you remember old PC game boxes? They were huge! I loved those boxes. They just had more room for awesome artwork and cool features, like see-through sides or multiple foldouts! Plus you could fit a Baldur’s Gate II (novel-sized) manual in there without breaking a sweat. Good times.

Sorry about that. Anyway. Fallout Tactics follows some Brotherhood groups as they travel east (into the Rocky Mountains, possibly). The game is like X-com meets Fallout. You still have the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, but you have a heavy emphasis on tactical, squad combat, and less of an emphasis on roleplaying and non-combat skills. For the people for whom such omissions ruin Fallout, I’m sorry. This game is too good for me to care.

You’ll eventually take control of six squad members, each of them a unique character with different skills. Then, you take them out into the wasteland on missions: fighting raiders, robots, super mutants or radscorpions, rescuing fellow Brothers, or just doing recon. The plot is actually pretty good, for a tactical game, and despite the lack of effect had by your characters on the conversations (there isn’t nearly enough talking for that), it’s an interesting journey to be sure.

What makes this game really fun is the mix of Fallout level progression with some pretty exacting squad combat. Although this may not be the most realistic (or tough) squad combat game out there, you could have fooled me. Your characters can go prone, crouch, run or walk, take quick shots or aim for the head (or eyes, or leg), switch multiple kinds of ammunition into their guns, and most importantly adapt to new situations.

This is where the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system makes its mark. Not only do all of your attributes affect you abilities (small guns, big guns, outdoorsman, grenades, etc.), but the Fallout system’s perks throw welcome options into the mix. Remember what I said about adapting? When you find the perfect sniper, you’ll want to outfit her with the best gun, ammo, and armor you can, and then make sure you level her up properly. Probably Tunnel rat, so she can crawl at full speed, Sniper (obviously), Increased Ranged Damage, and maybe Awareness, so she can instantly assess the health, weapon and other statistics of an enemy.

Obviously, each one of your characters can be customized to a high degree (remember how many options there were in Fallout?). You’ll need these abilities, as the number, aggressiveness and skill of your enemies balloons in the later levels.

The world on display here is quintessentially Fallout in its presentation, sound and feel, if you liked how the first games looked, this one is basically the same thing at a higher resolution. The developers haven’t changed what wasn’t broken, so when you kill somebody and get a critical hit, they get killed pretty hard. I think my favorite death animation is the one where a hole disappears in the left side and the body pirouettes around to the ground. I don’t talk about this stuff in public, obviously, but this game really hits the violence level right on the head. It’s comparable to Dead Rising, in a way.

Of course, saying the graphics are just a higher resolution (with a few other upgrades) version of Fallout 2’s graphics means that this game is a 2D isometric one, and a that barely surpasses much older games (I’m thinking Baldur’s Gate II here) in beauty at that.

Still, if you’re a fan of fallout, you’re not looking for beauty or hand-drawn backgrounds that really astound. You’re looking for raiders who complain about their left shoulder hurting a bit when you blow hole through it. This game takes the fallout world and mixes its traditional RPG gameplay with a tactical approach that I didn’t think would work. It does though, and it works so well, I wish more people had liked this game. I’d love to see an up to date version of Tactics, with great graphics to match its difficult and rewarding gameplay.

As it is, this is a fun game, albeit one that requires a large commitment to really get into it.  This is the only tactical game I’ve ever loved, ad it’s all to do with the relatively faithful rendition of the Fallout universe in the game. Give it a try, its probably selling for next to nothing on eBay somewhere.

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