Fallout Cover
Platforms Windows, DOS, Mac, OSX
Genre Rat Slashing Computer RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 7
Score 4  Clock score of 4Gameplay: 4
Fun Factor: 4
Gfx/Sound: 6
Story: 3
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Fallout is a popular computer role-playing game from 1997. Its post-apocalyptic setting, off-beat dark humor, and deep gameplay has kept this game installed on many computers over the last decade. Fallout's fanbase has been pretty steady over the years and with Fallout 3 being released later this month, the focus on this series is really starting to build. So let's take this opportunity and look at where the entire series began, in the first hour of the original Fallout.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Fallout begins. I'm taken to a character creator where I have the option of taking a pre-made character or my own, I'm going to pick my own of course.

01 - My character is going to have very good charisma and luck, and slightly lower perception and intelligence. I'm not really thinking these through at the moment, just going with it.

02 - I pick an optional trait of Bloody Mess, "by a strange twist of fate, people around you die violently." Sweet! I also up my melee weapon, first aid, and speech skills.

Fallout Character Creation Bloody Mess

03 - I'm happy with my character's skills, though there's no options to manipulate his face or body, so I guess that's it for character creation. I select Done and a man's face appears in front of me.

04 - He tells me that the vault's water purification system has broken down and that I've been tasked with finding a chip to fix it. I have to leave the vault though and travel to another one (and what? steal theirs?). He thinks I'm the only one that can do it.

05 - Straight to the point as a cutscene of the vault doors opening and closing. Then write to the action screen. It's a isometric view of a cave with the vault door behind me. There are some rats scurrying on the floor.

Fallout Opening Cutscene Only Hope

06 - There's also a dead body next to me, which I loot for a machete and some bullets. I open up the inventory screen and equip my machete and the one I already have. Dual-wielding right away, not bad.

07 - I walk up to a rat, he attacks first as walking ended my turn. He misses, and then I slice him to bloody bits!

09 - I kill another rat and then the third one makes me miss three times before I finally take it down. Whoops, should I be looting these guys?

Fallout Vault 13 Cave Bloody Rat Killing

10 - None of these rats aren't carrying any gold or loot, too bad.

11 - I reach a dead end and retrace my steps through a path of rat destruction.

12 - I only have enough action points to attack twice per round, wonder if I can up that somehow.

Fallout Vault 13 Cave More Dead Rats

14 - Still just beating on rats, need to get out of this cave. Oh, a little map, this should help a bit.

15 - Found the exit! I'm going to save my game!

16 - I'm looking at an large map of the area but with only one section shown. On the right is a list of areas to visit, including my destination, Vault 15. I click it and the game travels there for me.

Fallout Overhead Map Vault 15

17 - Days tick off as I walk there. On my way I pass some sort of location but I just keep on walking by it.

18 - I enter Vault 15 via its only entrance, the Desert Entrance. I enter the only building around, a small shack. A drop is revealed and I climb down its ladder. Hey, another cave!

20 - There are a few more rats so I slice them up, then enter the already opened vault. Doesn't look like anyone is here...

Fallout Vault 15 Blueprint Map

21 - Holy crap a bear just attacked me! Okay, actually it was a Lesser Mole Rat but this thing is the size of me! It takes a lot more hits to take these giant mole rats down than regular rats.

22 - I wish I knew how to attack first, these rats always seem to get the first hit in.

23 - I'm standing next to a broken computer, maybe I can repair it or something. Nope, but I did try so I'm on the right track as far as skills go.

Fallout Vault 15 Skill Repair Computer

25 - Just beating up on some more rats, I think I figured out my combat problem. If the rats initiate combat they will probably hit me first, but if I initiate and approach them, it seems I can get the first stab in. As long as I have enough action points remaining after moving.

26 - I've cleared out all the immediate rats and open a locker. Inside are some health boxes and syringes. Not really sure what to do now, guess I'll keep searching around.

28 - Found another locker with flares in it. Ah, here's an elevator shaft, but I need a rope to climb down... My inventory has a bunch of ammo and tools, but no rope.

Fallout Vault 15 Rat Squeak

30 - Doesn't seem like anything else is going to help here, so maybe I'll head back to that location in between Vault 13 and 15.

32 - I pick my destination but on the way I'm stopped by some people just milling about. Guess I'll talk to them.

33 - One of them is named Duc and heading for Shady Sands, which I believe is my destination. We decide to travel there together, sounds safer. I holster my weapons as I enter the town.

Fallout Shady Sands Duc Conversation

34 - Conversations are pretty simple, just pick your choice of dialogue.

35 - Katrina is right near the gate and I ask her about everything I have an option for. She used to live in Vault 15 before it was attacked. I can also click this "Tell me about" button and type whatever I want. "Tell me about Fallout." "Never heard of it." Too bad.

37 - Everyone looks pretty sad here. I head into the nearest building.

Fallout Shady Sands Building Ian

38 - I begin talking with Ian. He's here recovering from a bandit raid.

40 - I ask him to join and help me out, but he wants a 100 caps. Bottle caps, they're the local currency, and I have none.

41 - Ah, shift-click runs, that will hurry things up.

Fallout Shady Sands Aradesh Conversation

42 - I enter another house and steal someone's Scout Handbook. Maybe I can sell it for a few caps. I enter Razlo's house but he basically kicks me out. Don't think I'll be investigating his book shelves for things to steal.

44 - Hey, a face to face conversation, with voice acting. This guy must be important. Aradesh tells me how scorpions are killing their herd of animals, sounds like a job for a hero. He tells me to talk to Razlo for more information, nah, not right now.

46 - I head further east and discover even more buildings.

Fallout Shady Sands Bookcase Inventory Rope

47 - Well, what do you know? A rope! Just what I needed. But who keeps a rope in their bookcase? Outside that building I find a herd of Brahmin, they moo when I click them.

48 - Shady Sands also has large fields of food being grown. I also saw a toilet before, this makes Shady Sands the most realistic RPG town ever!

49 - Time to head back to the vault.

Fallout Vault 15 Inventory Rope

52 - Finally made it to Vault 15 again. Time to head down that elevator shaft. The blood from the Lesser Mole Rat is still on the ground.

53 - Crap, I just dropped my rope on accident... Is it really gone for good? Good thing I saved when I was leaving Shady Sands - reload!

55 - Ugh, the controls in this game sure make it difficult to do things sometimes. I just want to climb down the shaft on the rope! Finally!

Fallout Vault 15 Killing Pig Rat

56 - And when I get down I get hit by a Pig Rat. Time to make the bacon.

57 - This level is littered with rats and pig rats and probably some lesser mole rats. I just got tag-teamed by two rats!

59 - Nice, I leveled up on a pig rat.

60 - I open another locker and find a leather jacket and another rope. I equip them both. Now I just need to find out where to go... well, there's another elevator shaft, too bad time is up!

Time for some scores out of 10.

Fallout Vault 15 Sweet Leather Jacket

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 7

Gameplay: 4
I have this great sense that Fallout is really, really deep gameplay wise, but the first hour just barely scratches the surface. All those stats, skills, and abilities only go so far early on and I spent a lot of time going from point A to point B. I also had a bit of trouble getting my character to do what I wanted at times, like trying to climb down the elevator shaft. I also accidentally dropped a key item way too easily because I was confused about the icons used. I did enjoy the turn-based combat though, just wish I had a few more options than slash and shoot.

Fun Factor: 4
My fun factor score typically doesn't fall far from the gameplay score, and the trend continues with Fallout. The first puzzle I encountered was how to get down the elevator shaft, I got the hint that I needed a rope, but who would have thought that rope was in a totally different area on some guy's bookcase in a random house. I think I just had the wrong idea going into this game. The game is pretty slow moving and I feel like I accomplished about 15 minutes of game in its first hour.

Graphics and Sound: 6
Fallout is a graphically dark game, I had trouble seeing rats in the caves and buildings and it was sometimes difficult spotting key objects. Other than that, I can't really complain too much. The isometric view isn't the greatest but it works for the game and made sense to use at the time. The sprites are actually decently detailed, even if everything looks a little muddied.

Fallout's music really seemed to take a back seat in its first hour, along with the sound effects too. I just barely noticed them. There was some voice acting and it's supposedly by some pretty popular actors (Ron Perlman is probably the only one I heard), but it kind of seemed out of place how infrequently it was used.

Story: 3
Hey, at least the game didn't waste any time, the first thing you see is some guy's face telling you to go save the vault! After that, I picked up some snippets from the characters in Shady Sands but that's about it. There's no explanation on what's going on in the world or anything. I'm sure it is deeper later on, but all we have is an hour.

Overall: 4
Fallout is one of those games where an hour is simply not enough, this typically happens with RPGs as there's just so much to cram in early. They need to establish a setting, the characters, and introduce the gameplay. I'm not much of a computer RPG fan and playing the first hour of Fallout hasn't encouraged me much. I can definitely see the appeal, but from my point of view, Fallout's first hour is below average.

Fallout Vault Pip Boy Thumbs Up