"Among the desert weeds and radiation of post-apocalyptic California live the last remnants of humanity. Jaded and cynical, they wallow in poverty, their run-down settlements small outposts of civilization in the midst of the all-encompassing nuclear wasteland Ė but underneath the dirt and grime lies a devilish brand of humor and the utter freedom to make whatever you want of yourself and the world. This is the premise of Fallout and Fallout 2, two incredible CRPGs that have enchant..."
Among the desert weeds and radiation of post-apocalyptic California live the last remnants of humanity. Jaded and cynical, they wallow in poverty, their run-down settlements small outposts of civilization in the midst of the all-encompassing nuclear wasteland Ė but underneath the dirt and grime lies a devilish brand of humor and the utter freedom to make whatever you want of yourself and the world. This is the premise of Fallout and Fallout 2, two incredible CRPGs that have enchanted gamers for nearly a decade.
Then, on the other hand, we have Brotherhood of Steel. A top-down action-RPG that boasts oodles of profanity and women dressed like rejects from BDSM porn flicks, it dazzles the gamer with gems of scintillating wit like pervasive toilet humor and scenes with mutants urinating. Unique plot elements such as bandits and evil cults are guaranteed to thrill even the most discriminating player, as are twists that are either predictable or lame, even frequently contradicting the established canon! Add to this excruciatingly boring and linear gameplay and a soundtrack that consists of silence and Slipknot, and you have yourself a winner, right?
This game is not Fallout. Itís an atrocity.
You can kiss the freedom of the CRPGs good-bye. From the outset, youíre given the choice of three slightly different characters to play Ė no ability to create your own. But fear not, for the designers have compensated for this oversight! On every level up, youíre given a piddling handful of points to invest in skills that barely make any difference in the gameplay. For instance, you can increase your melee or gun damage by a whopping five percent! Even should you bother to max all five levels out, which takes quite some doing, itís the difference between taking four smacks to kill enemies and five, and youíre mashing X anyway. Of course, there are other skills too; for example, you can increase your maximum HP, but why would you care when it regenerates anyway?
Thatís right: your health slowly replenishes over time! Because the enemies are too stupid to move around unless you get near them, you can stand in one place until Armageddon and stare at the screen as your HP bar inches closer to the full mark. (Better yet, go make a cup of coffee; god knows youíll need it.) If you ever find yourself running low on stimpacks, youíll find yourself hard-pressed to avoid relying on this, as damage is basically impossible to avoid without a lot more trouble than itís worth. Enemies take several hits before going down, and because the angle of the camera is so steep that you canít see very far around you, your guns arenít exactly long-range; you canít maintain distance for longer than three seconds without a lot of running around. Itís much easier to simply let them swarm mindlessly around you, mashing X as they throw themselves onto your weapons. You donít even have to do anything like think, because if you have targeting on, it conveniently locks onto the next enemy when the one youíre fighting dies!
It doesnít take long for the thrill of watching your enemies explode in showers of gore to wear off. You trudge along a dungeonís sole narrow path for literally hours at a time, mashing X over and over and over again as waves of all two or three different kinds of enemies Ė sometimes just one! Ė wash over you. Their AI is pathetically bad; if armed with grenades or flamethrowers, they do more damage to each other than to you. Each dark, dreary area is much like the last, and when you reach the end, you get the pleasure of fighting a boss that requires no more strategy than the enemies you just slaughtered, boasting as many as one or two attacks! And after a long, monotonous battle, you get to go aaaaaall the way back out again.
Brotherhood of Steelís dungeons are mind-numbingly linear for the most part, but it occasionally breaks out of the mold and throws you into huge, almost mazelike environments riddled with nooks and crannies. Unfortunately, even this usually goes awry. Either youíve just beaten the dungeonís boss and now, forced to backtrack through the whole bloody cavern while it teeters on the brink of collapse, you have to figure out how the hell youíre supposed to get out, or youíre engaged one of the gameís occasional ďfind and kill all 50/60-some of X baddieĒ quests. Thereís usually anywhere from 15 to 25 spread out over one sprawling area (incidentally very, very similar to the others in the quest), some hidden inside winding housing complexes or cowering in corners after fleeing a fight. God forbid you miss one, because not only can you not proceed with the game until every last one of the 50/60-some is dead, but you canít even leave the area until itís been wiped clean.
Brotherhood of Steel does that a lot. It isnít satisfied with merely exuding linearity; it has to shove it down your throat. It abandons everything that made the Fallout games special: their personality, their wit, their freedom. Instead it has mindless hacking and slashing. Itís more than just a blur of monotony: itís an agonizing experience for anyone who expects some semblance of quality from games, and a kick in the groin for fans of the series. Itís simply appalling that a piece of trash like this calls itself Fallout.
Community review by viridian_moon (August 17, 2006)
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