Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Fallout (computer game)
|Game modes:||Single player|
|System requirements:||Intel Pentium 90 CPU; Microsoft Windows 95 or higher, or MS-DOS 5.0 or higher; 16MB RAM; 2x CD-ROM drive; DirectX 3.0a (if playing on Windows); 1 MB VESA-compliant SVGA graphics card; Sound Blaster compatible sound card|
|Input:||Keyboard and Mouse|
Fallout is a computer role-playing game produced by Tim Cain and published by Interplay in 1997. The game is an unofficial sequel to Wasteland, but it could not use that title as Electronic Arts held the rights to it. There were two role-playing titles in the series and one squad-based tactical combat spinoff: Fallout and Fallout 2, both RPGs, and Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, respectively. Fallout 3 (codenamed "Van Buren") was in production in 2003, but was cancelled by Interplay when Black Isle, the RPG unit was closed. The Fallout franchise was acquired by Bethesda Softworks in 2004, and a new Fallout 3 project is currently in development.
The background story of Fallout involves a "what-if" scenario in which the United States tries to devise fusion power resulting in a hegemonic United States that has less reliance on petroleum. However, this is not achieved until 2077, shortly after an oil drilling conflict off the Pacific Coast pits the United States against China. It ends with a nuclear exchange resulting in the post-apocalyptic world the game takes place in—although it is said in Fallout 2 that nobody knew who sent the first missile.
The protagonist of the first game is a descendant of those that managed to find solace in government contracted fallout shelters known as the Vaults. The year the game takes place is 2161, somewhere in Southern California in Vault 13. In it, the Vault's Water Chip, which controls the water recycling and pumping machinery for the vault, has malfunctioned. This results in the player character being selected to leave the vault with minimal supplies, a handgun and a small amount of ammunition to find a new water chip. Eventually, the main character learns of a graver threat to not only his vault, but the rest of civilization. A mutant by the alias "The Master" has begun using a pre-war, genetically engineered virus to create a race of "super" mutants. The player defeats The Master and returns to his Vault. There, he is told that he has changed too much, and that his return would damage the isolated Vault world. He is exiled.
|Developer:||Black Isle Studios|
|Publisher:||Black Isle Studios|
|Game modes:||Single player|
|System requirements:||Intel Pentium 120 CPU, Microsoft Windows 95 or higher, 30MB available hard disk space, 16MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM drive, DirectX 3.0a or higher, Direct-X certified SVGA graphics card, Direct-X certified sound card|
|Input:||Keyboard and Mouse|
The second game takes place 80 years after the first. It tells the story of the original hero's descendant and his or her quest to save their primitive tribe from starvation by finding an ancient environmental restoration machine known as the "Garden of Eden Creation Kit," or GECK.
The player does eventually acquire a GECK by finding Vault 13, less its former human inhabitants. He returns to find his village captured by the remnants of the United States government known as "The Enclave." The player, through a variety of means, boards an ancient oil tanker to The Enclave's main base, an offshore oil derrick.
It is revealed that the Vault 13 citizens were captured as well. The Enclave has created an airborne disease to destroy all living people on Earth, in order to allow Enclave citizens—the only people not mutated at all—to take over the planet.
The player frees both his village and Vault 13 from Enclave control, and destroys The Enclave entirely.
The fact that in both games the character is raised in an isolated community works nicely with the plot structure, allowing the character to be as ignorant about the game world as the player would be and explaining why the map you start with is almost completely unexplored.
Mutations And Their Causes
According to the "Fallout Bible" (a series of documents answering questions from players by designer Chris Avellone), it is interesting to note that most of the mutations in Fallout and Fallout 2 are not because of radioactive fallout. According to the Fallout plot, most of the mutations the player experiences are because of a pre-War biological serum, named the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV). Some players feel that this reliance on FEV paints the story with a genetic engineering theme that a 50s-viewpoint game should not have.
When Fallout was first announced, one of its major selling points was its plan to use the popular GURPS ruleset created by Steve Jackson Games. GURPS is known for its point-based character-creation system which allows players great freedom in customizing their characters in any setting or genre, shying away from the class- and level-based progressions and specific settings that characterized some of the competing rulesets of the time (such as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons).
However, creative differences between the two companies led the developers of Fallout to abandon GURPS and develop their own proprietary character creation scheme, called the SPECIAL System. SPECIAL is an acronym representing the seven basic attributes that define Fallout characters: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. In addition to these attributes, characters could also develop Skills (statistics representing their chance to successfully perform specific tasks, such as firing a gun or picking a lock), and Perks (special abilities that allow characters to bend the rules of the game in their favor).
Attributes remain generally constant over the course of the game, and represent the player character's most basic identity. Skills, on the other hand, are improved as the player gains experience points and levels up. A new Perk is also chosen every third or fourth level.
Much of the game of Fallout is spent traveling through the post-apocalyptic wasteland, visiting towns and other bastions of civilization, and interacting with non-player characters.
Fallout stands out among other contemporary computer role-playing games, in part, because of its system of moral choices. Most major locations in the game are characterized by a conflict between two or more competing factions. The player is offered the opportunity to work for any of the factions and to help them defeat their enemies, thus determining the ultimate fate of that location.
For example, in one early mission, the player enters the village of Junktown. Junktown is officially controlled by the sheriff, Killian Darkwater, but a crime boss named Gizmo has also gathered a great deal of influence to himself. The player is initially hired by Killian to collect evidence against Gizmo, but Gizmo quickly makes a counteroffer, hiring the player to assassinate Killian.
At this point, the player can give a recording of Gizmo's counteroffer to Killian, proving that Gizmo is a murderer, and eventually leading to his execution. Or the player can actually carry out the assassination, murdering Killian, and handing Junktown over to the crime boss.
After the end of the game, when the player has made many such decisions, a final epilogue plays, outlining the ultimate fate of each location that the player influenced. Because of the player's choices, the world of Fallout can either become increasingly peaceful and civilized, or increasingly savage and barbaric. Or a mixture of both.
Because the ending of the game is so variable, Fallout 2 had to take place primarily in different locations from the original game, to avoid violating the fiction created by the player the first time through. Similar challenges have plagued other video game series that featured variable storylines and moral choices, such as Deus Ex and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Combat in Fallout is turn-based, and depends on the use of Action Points. Each character in the game has a specific number of Action Points per turn, a figure which is derived from their Agility score. Each action that can be taken in combat costs a certain number of Action Points to perform. Thus the strategy of the game involves the clever and efficient use of Action Points to maximize the player character's damage potential and safety during combat.
For example, if the player character has seven Action Points per turn, it may be wiser to wield a pistol that costs 3 Action Points to fire, rather than a pistol that requires 4, because with the former pistol, the player character could attack twice every turn, rather than just once, thus doubling damage potential. After firing twice, the player character would also have 1 Action Point remaining, which could be used to step behind an obstacle and avoid a counterattack.
During combat, the player often has AI-controlled allies, which can be a source of frustration for players, as AI-controlled characters will sometimes run directly into unreasonable danger, or will open fire with an automatic weapon when an ally is within the area of the weapon's effect.
One prominent feature of the combat in Fallout is the graphic depiction of violence. Death animations, in particular, often show bodies being blown to pieces, humans being burned alive, and upper torsos being shredded by hails of automatic gunfire, leaving only a pair of legs behind. One popular Perk that is available at the beginning of the game (and is thus technically called a Trait) is "Bloody Mess". This Trait ensures that every time a character dies, the player will see the most gruesome possible depiction of their demise.
Under normal conditions, the severity of the death animation depends on the amount and type of damage done to the character with the final, killing attack.
Fallout draws much from 50s Pulp magazine science fiction and superhero comic books. For example, computers have no transistors and use vacuum tubes; energy weapons exist and resemble those used by Flash Gordon. The Vault Dweller's main style of dress is a blue skintight jumpsuit with a yellow line running down the center of the chest and along the belt area, though the main character's appearance changes while wearing armor.
Fallout also draws minor influences from other sources. One of the initial armors available in the game is the one sleeved leather jacket, which bears a resemblance to the jacket worn by Mad Max in The Road Warrior. Also, the armor featured on the cover of the game is powered armor.
The Fallout games are famous for their Easter Eggs. While the first game mostly had references to the 1950s and 1960s pop-culture (Doctor Who, Godzilla), in Fallout 2 there are many references to Star Trek, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and Monty Python; some fans of the first game think that there are too many of them in the sequel.
- The song that plays during the introductory sequence in Fallout is entitled "Maybe" and is sung by The Ink Spots. The song in Fallout 2 is Louis Armstrong's "A Kiss to Build a Dream On".
- Three key members behind the original Fallout (Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky and Jason Anderson) left Interplay in 1998 and founded Troika Games.
- "RadAway" was a medicine in the original Fallout that lowered the game character's levels of radiation contamination. Supposedly it worked by bonding itself with radiation particles making it possible for them to "pass" through your system.
- In Fallout 2, the reason why Vault 13's water chip malfunctioned is explained, although it can be interpreted as merely a joke. In a random encounter, the Fallout 2 character discovers a portal similar to the Guardian of Forever. If he enters it, the player is transported to a small section of Vault 13, devoid of any other characters. When he interacts with the only computer he can, he breaks the Water Chip, ensuring the events of the player's past continue as they should.
- Fallout games feature well-known actors as NPC voice-talent. Notable appearances include Richard Dean Anderson (as Killian) and David Warner (as Morpheus) in Fallout, and Michael Dorn (as Marcus the Mutant and Special Agent Frank Horrigan) in Fallout 2.
- The Vault, a Fallout wiki encyclopedia
- Duck and Cover, A comprehensive Fallout fan site
- No Mutants Allowed, Another comprehensive Fallout fan site
- Nukacola, A French Fallout fan site
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