The new issue of PSM3 is on sale now.
"War. War never changes..." Ron 'Beast' Perlman is a bona fide B-movie hero, but of all his bizarre roles he'll never, ever top that iconic line - four words that'll forever send a shiver down my spine. Maybe I'm biased.
See, Fallout's my Mario, my Zelda and my Sonic all rolled into one - the ultimate gaming Lazarus of sorts, and a fitting testament to just how ruddy brilliant - and criminally underrated - hardcore PC gaming was back in the late '90s. In one sense, it's been rather emotional watching an Oblivion-buoyed Bethesda listen to their audience and latterly restore this diamond of a franchise from rusted relic to its former, gleaming glory. It was personal, see.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Back, back to the beginning...
In 1998 Baldur's Gate changed my gaming life. Never before had an RPG - not even PSone system-shifter FFVII - resonated so deeply. Maybe it was the whole Western thang - Black Isle's preference for realism and dialogue driven cause-and-effect trumping what I saw as Japanese developers' playschool morality and tunnel vision narratives. Ibeat Baldur's in a week at Warwick Uni and started to hunger for fresh quests. The game that sated me? Fallout.
Key to its success was that uniquely dark, fatalistic sense of humour. Consider its stark,anti- Hollywood ending. After slaving through the wastes, remedying the Vault's water supply and annihilating the mutant Master, the heroic Vault Dweller gets his final reward... banishment into the wastes by his bastard Overseer. Ouch. Mass Effect 3 climax whingers, take note.
The infinitely funnier Fallout 2 was even better, whether it was the daft conversations with your stoned village shaman, the shotgun wedding after some hanky panky with Farmer Grisham's daughter in Modoc, or your brief-but-glorious career in New Reno as a porn star... Granted, both of these older instalments have some icky barriers to entry now - namely the turgid grid-based, turn-based isometric scraps and crusty visuals - but when it comes
to belly laughs, cracking conversation trees and properly tangible moral consequences... well, they remain peerless. If you're still an original Fallout virgin, pop your cherry by visiting GoG before hitting up the Fallout Update/Restoration projects for some tasty mods.
The series' bastard children are barely worth a mention - curio value aside. Neither Tactics nor Brotherhood of Steel are bad games - in fact, they're both rather moreish and were certainly harshly treated both critically and commercially. On PC, Tactics was subject to a notable backlash as fans grieved that the R & P had been ripped, screaming, out of the G. Brotherhood, meanwhile, simply didn't have the console heritage to make anything more than the dampest of squibs on either Xbox or PS2.