Ninja Game Den: New Retro Gaming

By Shamus Posted Sunday May 15, 2011

Filed under: Links 272 comments


Reader JPH (who you are likely to recognize if you follow the comments here) runs the blog Ninja Game Den. He’s doing something really interesting: He’s retro-gaming titles he’s never encountered before. For example, he’s playing Deus Ex for the first time. Here’s an excerpt:

But most importantly, it means that the gameplay is no longer filler for the story. The gameplay is the story. The game features no cutscenes (besides the very beginning and the very end) and the only time you lose control of your character is during dialogue, which is pretty much necessary. All of the action occurs in-game, and virtually all of it is avoidable if you play the cards right. And people will treat you very differently depending on what you choose to do during the game. It forces you to think about the ramifications of your in-game actions, instead of just entering no-think mode once the cutscene ends.

Do read the whole thing.

I’ve been eager to read this sort of thing for a long time. How well do the classics really hold up? Would I like them if I played them for the first time today? It’s encouraging to see that it’s not all rose-colored glasses. Deus Ex really is special, and it holds up even now that the graphics have gone stale.

For another blast from the past, there’s his experience with the original Fallout. If you’ve played the game, then go read his take and come back.

(musical interlude)

Painful, wasn’t it? I know, you were probably going crazy like I was. He missed Shady Sands entirely! He’s picking on a 256 color game for lack of color variation! And the game is much more vibrant later!

But I think his criticisms are fair. And he didn’t even ding the game for the terrible interface, which I hated even in 1999. The only criticism I might object to is the one concerning color. Fallout does more with 256 colors than (say) Fallout 3 does with 16 million. (Thanks mostly to the latter’s green filter and frequent lack of contrast.) But the point is, the opening of Fallout is clunky. That tutorial is tedious. (And gets worse on subsequent play-throughs.) The first-time visit to the character creation screen is daunting. There is only one solution to the elevator shaft, and only one piece of rope in this part of the gameworld. The opening is both too free and too restrictive at the same time. You have the freedom to explore a bunch of useless empty map squares, but only one solution to an early game puzzle.

I wonder how many people got bored and quit at this point in 1999.

It’s interesting to see the classics through fresh eyes.


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272 thoughts on “Ninja Game Den: New Retro Gaming

  1. James Schend says:

    Fallout 1 was always overrated. It got so much positive attention due to uniqueness, not necessarily quality. Fallout 2 is the standout game in that series.

    1. Eric says:

      As far as gameplay goes, I have to agree… mostly. The Temple of Trials and not giving the player a decent gun for the first three hours of the game were such massive blunders that playing through Fallout 2 enough to get to the Den is honestly something I rarely do. It’s just a shame that Fallout 2 took such a “for the lulz” angle on the game world and lore… it just doesn’t have the same quality of narrative, nor its its world as coherent. I’m honestly not sure if I prefer the sequel’s better gameplay, or the more atmospheric and logical world, compelling story and compact feel of the original.

      1. Tomulus says:

        I loved Fallout 2. The interface was greatly improved from the first game and the quests/story/challenges were still very satisfying. I didn’t even mind the silliness. (I did play the sequel before the original. I don’t know how much that has affected my judgement).

        What always bothered me was Fallout Tactics. Here was a game with the most freedom during combat (including vehicles!), and a decent setup for a story (the rest of the story was OK, after a slow start). But! They removed the roleplaying!! The end of every mission just kicked you back to the BoS bunker. Very little dialogue, no exploration, no immersion. When I played it, I was waiting to be let out into the world, but it never happens!

        1. ehlijen says:

          Fallout tactics was not a roleplaying game, a fact its makers should probably have advertised more strongly. It was a tactical combat game trying to follow in the footsteps of XCOM and Jagged Alliance and it was a decent stab at that goal.

          It could probably have gotten a lot better press and sales if it had just been clearer on what it wanted to be and what not. It’d never have been as good a tactical game as fallout 1 and 2 were RPGs, but I think the amount of dissappointed fallout 3 yearners cost it some success.

          Ah well, at least it gave us the punch gun :D

          1. Tizzy says:

            I never played Tactics, but I believe it was well advertised as a different game; they did that job well on that point. It’s just not what people wanted; they wanted fallout 3.

      2. Tizzy says:

        I agree with Eric. What I remember from Fallout 2 is a great relief at the countless fixes in the poor interface of the first one, delight at how much bigger the world was, and then a great disappointment at how all the atmosphere had been lost.

        *Everything* was played for laughs in the sequel. Oh look, there’s Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Every other character is spewing dialogue from this or that hip movie. Barf! The first game was infused with humor, but a very subtle one, and the occasional outright gag was made all the funnier for it. The sequel had to beat you over the head with its “humor” every single instant. :(

    2. Gravebound says:

      “Fallout 1 was always overrated”

      You misspelled “Fallout 2, KOTOR 2, and Diablo 2…”

      Those three games were all disappointments, to me, compared to the originals. I found the beginning of Fallout 2 WAAAY worse than than the first game.

      1. acronix says:

        Anything is better than the Temple of Trials.

        1. Dys says:

          You know the weird thing? I quite like the temple. I find it amusing to make a speech character, with no combat skills whatsoever, and watch the game bend over backwards to make sure I don’t die in there.

          No matter what skills you take, no matter how you build your character, you can pass that test.

          1. acronix says:

            My experience was the complete reverse: I had so much trouble with the temple all my characters always had speech (for the “final boss”) and melee (for scorpion mashing).

            1. Tizzy says:

              Same here. Great relief at finally getting out the place!

      2. Vipermagi says:

        However, unlike D1, D2 is still actually enjoyable to me.

        1. Patrick the Iconically Unknown says:

          FO1 did have a clunky interface that was poorly explained. The economics of the game were easily abused. During later parts of the game, if your stats were high enough you could convince someone to trade you 1000 caps for your 750 caps straight up. That’s a clear lack of simple algorithim testing. There’s no excuse for that sort of oversight. There were signifigant parts of the game poorly explained, leading to wndering around the desert wondering wtf you are supposed to be doing. I accidentally blew away a mutant in the LA sewers that was a key to continuing a quest. I had been blowing away mutants for hours and didn’t think this one to be any different. I shot him, instantly failed the main quest and had to relaod and lose 2 hoursof game time.
          But it was an awesome game. It was one of the true RPG’s being released amongst an Ocean of FPS and RTS games. Remeber how RTS absolutley DOMINATED 10 years ago? FO1 had actual interactive conversations, with QUALITY voice acting. It’s post apocolyptic style ( that post-modern 1950’s style) was both funny and fresh as opposed to the ‘Mad Max’ style that has been done to death. It was also shockingly brutal. Name me one other game that would let you go from town to town gunning down every man woman and CHILD. Even GTA series didn’t have kids getting blown away. It wasn’t as much an awesome revolutionary game as it was SOMTHING DIFFERENT. And failures in game design aside, the actual story of the game was very good.I was bored to death with Heroes of might and magic, Master of Orion. I had been playing FPS for 5 years and they all started looking the same. Doom 3, Unreal, blah blah. FO1 wasn’t perfect but it was awesome, in a way, revolutionary. And thats where the FO3 and NV fail, maybe we expect them to give us something revolutionary and different, rather than continuing on the heels of the first 2.
          And anyone who thinks KOTOR2 is in any way better than the first is a complete f’n idiot.
          Diablo was a great game, but Diablo 2 was better in every way. If you were to give a list of greatest sequeals ever, in games, music, movies I don’t care what category, you would have to have D2 on your list. It’s 12 years since D2 came out and it is STILL on the shelf for 40 bucks. In the history of video games you can’t find a title with more staying power than that.

          1. Shamus says:

            Please not to be calling people idiots. I am the moderator, and I hate doing my job.

            Yes, the bartering was comically goofy. The “I’ll give you this radscorpion tail for your radscorpion tail and a stimpack” was my favorite karma-neutral way to rob people. Horribly broken.

            1. Raygereio says:

              And anyone who thinks KOTOR2 is in any way better than the first is a complete f'n idiot.

              Pah, offcourse he or she would be an idiot. How can anyone find a game with what’s objectivly (because it’s my opinion, you see) the most interesting and deepest story in the entire Star Wars franchise better then the first game (which was boring in it’s narrative and commited the unforgivable sin of introducing us to Carth Onasi).
              Silly people. ^_0

              1. Patrick The Caustic says:

                The story was fine, the acting was ok. But the missions were broken, conversations missing and the ending kinda goofy. I remeber reading there was en entire area that they had to cut out involving HK47 because they ran out of time and they couldn’t get the dialoge mechanic to work. Like a typical obsidian game, it was buggy and had memory problems, just like new vegas. It COULD have been better, but it wasn’t.

          2. krellen says:

            KOTOR is only great if you like the plot-twist mechanic and you were completely blind-sided by the reveal.

            1. Gravebound says:

              I would say there are other reasons to like the first KOTOR. If you liked the characters (HK & Juhani…not so much Carth) and had more fun with the various quests. And maybe you appreciate end-games that aren’t completely botched. Or that terrible tutorial level (KOTOR 2 and Fallout 2 have this in common).

              KOTOR was great, so you can dismount your high horse anytime.

              1. krellen says:

                I definitely hated the Endar Spire more than Peragus.

          3. Deadpool says:

            I’m curious, what Mutant in the LA sewers?

            1. Patrick The Caustic says:

              It’s been so long, but I think he had a quest for you to do and in exchange he told you where the chip was. Or maybe he gave you the key to where it was. It’s been 9 years since my first play through of falout, so I really only remeber the anger of losing 2 hours.

              1. Deadpool says:

                Ahhhhh… Likely a Ghoul. And probably the sewers of Necropolis.

                Only thing in the underbelly of LA is the Mother Deathclaw…

        2. Gravebound says:

          I have the opposite problem. There is nothing more mind-numbingly dull than trying to play through Diablo 2. The first one was a straight shot downward toward Diablo. It was quick. The second had you wandering through big, flat expanses of nothing, occasionaly giving you a 2-3 level dungeon. Maybe it gets better in the late game?

          I’ll never know. In four different attempts to slog through the game I never made it past the sewers. By that point I just don’t care at all about even booting up the game anymore that I just uninstall it. Compared to Diablo 1 which I always finish before I feel the need to uninstall. Easily the superior game, to me, at least.

          1. All I can say is that DII/LOD was a lot of fun to play. It is why I was willing to try WoW.

  2. Harry says:

    I’m afraid to see I’ve tried to play the first Fallout at least twice now, based entirely on Shamus’s recommendations, and each time I’ve also been put off by the clunky beginning. I usually make it to Shady Sands, and give up there.

    It just… isn’t very engaging. I expected a great story, great writing and great characters, but what I got was “fetch the water chip,” bland writing and forgettable NPCs.

    1. Eric says:

      Fallout’s writing isn't going to wow you with its insight into human nature in the same way Planescape might, but it does feature highly functional dialogue with realistic characters. By that, I mean that NPCs aren't going to dump exposition on you whenever you ask a simple question, they're going to behave in ways you don't expect, the game won't always make it clear if there's a skill check involved or not… it's a subtler, less mechanical approach to character interaction, where NPCs aren't so much lore dispensers and quest givers as they are just ordinary people. We’ve become so used to just listening to NPCs prattle on for hours, telling us their life stories, their thoughts on the nature of existence, begging us for their help in even the most trivial of circumstances that Fallout can actually seem bland in comparison just because it strays from the usual drama and romance that BioWare and Bethesda have made standard. Getting your head around that will be key to enjoying Fallout and its character interaction.

    2. Ranneko says:

      Yeah, I have run into exactly this problem, the stupid rope and elevator shaft.

      I have a friend who will play through this game every so often but I think when I try this again I will pretty much approach it with Gamefaqs in hand.

      1. Johan says:

        I had to look up the rope in a walkthrough, I bought a box set with 1, 2 and Tactics together in… 2007ish? And I had nearly completed Fallout 2 before I got past that part of Fallout 1.

        Of the Fallouts I truly rank 3 and New Vegas above 1 and 2, but that’s mostly because of the exploration. Fallouts 1 and 2 never actually felt “big” to me, sure the time/day counter went up pretty fast and your little marker traveled across the map, but it was obvious that there was exactly *nothing* outside the towns, and each of those were not more than a few screens with not much to do in them. Once I found the water chip I send myself every which way hoping something interesting would happen, and it never did. This is one of those criticisms that is hard to make because the counter is “well they didn’t have the technology to build a huge, open world the way Bethesda and Obsidian did,” but that’s exactly the point, we’ve come a long way and I think we’ve improved in almost every way. Fallouts 3 and New Vegas have so much more to do, they have more interesting characters who have more to say, they have more and dare I say better game mechanics, and for all that we all love to come down on their AIs, you have to admit that it’s still better than Fallout 2’s and eons ahead of Fallout 1.

        1. Khizan says:

          Fallout 3 has more interesting characters than 1 and 2?


          Fallout 3’s characters were insipid and offensively stupid for the most part.There was more good writing in Junktown than in the entirety of the Capital Wasteland.

          1. Johan says:

            Interesting characters may apply more to New Vegas, but Fawkes certainly had more personality than any of the Fallout companions.

            1. krellen says:

              Fawkes was Sulik in mutant clothing.

              And if you just want personality: Myron, baby. Myron! (I never said it was a pleasant personality.)

              1. Johan says:

                Nah, Sulik was something different, something high on life with a dash of prophecy, but something different. Fallout 2 did infinitely improve character interactions, and for that alone I have played it more (no more friendlies being as much a danger as enemies). But for all that Fallout 2 still felt “small.” There was more of it than Fallout 1, and I do actually remember a few random encounters, but still there wasn’t a whole lot of exploration to be done in what is, at its heart a cool and interesting idea for a setting, it was dots of interest separated by vast seas of tedium. Perhaps this is realistic in a post-apocalypse, perhaps there shouldn’t have been subways full of ghouls or the wreckage of burned out towns or really anything of interest in the Capitol Wasteland besides a large crater and a few dots of life, but those were the interesting parts.

            2. Khizan says:

              I’ll grant you FO1, but the companions in Fallout 2 include Marcus, who Fawkes is a pale imitation of.

        2. Dys says:

          By ‘something interesting’ do you mean one of these or these?

          Funny, I thought there were more of them, perhaps the list is incomplete. My point was that most of them are based on level, skills and stats. You won’t always see all of them.

          1. Johan says:

            In Fallout 3 I didn’t have to pray to the Random Number God to get something interesting, exploring the map was enough.

            1. Khizan says:

              And exploring the map is all the game had. The main plot was horribly railroaded and executed terribly, the characterization was terrible, and the Brotherhood went from being isolationist tech hoarders to heroes and good guys.

              And, sadly, aside from a few things like the cannibal family, most of what you found was offensively dumb. The “vampires”. Harold. Tenpenny and the ghouls. Big Town and Little Lamplight.

        3. acronix says:

          I found a couple of special encounters on my first playtrough. I guess they really are random. No matter what I did, I always, with any character, found the brahmin herd. Fun thing is the wiki says is a hard one to get.

  3. JPH says:

    To be fair, I really don’t think Fallout is a bad game. It’s just that it gave me a really bad first impression, and it’s hard for me to push onward.

    And the color thing, that was mainly just me nitpicking. I never really assumed the game wouldn’t have more interesting colors later on.

    In any case, I guess we’re even now, huh?

    Also: I’m still looking for old titles to play. Was considering Unreal or one of the earlier Quake games. Anybody got any suggestions?

    1. Shamus says:

      * One of the Thief games. Theif 1 is an interesting specimen because they were afraid to really embrace the stealth mechanic, so you end up with combat sections. Theif 2 embraced the concept. Theif 3 filled in the world and had some free-roaming bits, but the levels were compartmentalized due to the limits of the consoles of the day.

      * You could do Deus Ex 2, just to compare & contrast.

      * No One Lives Forever, which made a huge splash at the time but is seldom mentioned today.

      * Quake 2, but to see the great-grandfather of the industrial brown space marine shooter. (Quake was much the same, but I feel like Quake 2 was where the idea became a formula. It’s also way easier to get Q2 running these days. Q1 came out right as the world was transitioning to Windows 95 & hardware acceleration, and it’s kind of wobbly on today’s hardware.)

      * Original Half-Life.

      * Unreal, to see how friggin BIG games could be.

      1. JPH says:

        I actually did install Thief 1 on this computer and tried to play it, but it would freeze every five seconds (not exaggerating). Maybe if I looked into that more I could fix it.

        I actually have played through Half-Life 1. I liked it a lot.

        Quake 2 and Unreal are both games I’m considering. No One Lives Forever also interests me, but I can’t find it for purchase anywhere and I’m kind of scared of trying to pirate it and contracting viruses.

        I’m abstaining from Deus Ex 2 because I loved the ending to Deus Ex so much that I really don’t want that ruined. I really, really hope Deus Ex 3 doesn’t suck…

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          See if this thread helps you with thief issues:

        2. Unreal is quite a fun game, at least it was for me, although it pissed me off that my housemate and I couldn’t play the campaign through cooperatively the way we played Heretic and Hexen.

        3. neolith says:

          AFAIK amazon has both NOLFs for less than ten bucks each. Those are awesome games by the way. ;)

      2. Sekundaari says:

        “Theif” three separate times. Hasty typing or copy&paste?

        1. Shamus says:

          Hasty typing. True story: I Always, ALWAYS type “Theif” and have to backspace and correct it. Most words, your fingers get the hint after a few times and you stop making that mistake, but my brain refuses to learn to type Thief correctly on the first try.

          1. Sekundaari says:

            Sounds somewhat familiar, actually. Only personal sort-of-example I remember right now is environment; I tend to forget the middle n. A certain steampunk online flash game requiring fast typing of long words really exposed that problem. A non-native typist gets a pass, perhaps, but I’m sure I’ve got Finnish examples too.

            Anyway, it just reminded me of Michael Delving, which reminded me of Lulzy, so all in all it was a positive mistake.

            1. Chargone says:

              the fact that the n is basically silent means that i’m quite sure lots of people forget it, actually.

              1. Teldurn says:

                That’s funny. In order to get my brain used to correctly spelling many words, I pronounce them differently. In middle school, when I first learned the word, I originally started pronouncing it as “en-vy-run-ment”, but it later got morphed into what I currently say, “en-vy-urn-ment”.

                Also, I love words, so exercises like these are much fun for me. :)

                1. Gravebound says:

                  In order to quickly spell ‘friend’ without “I before E…” I would pronounce it (in my head) as ‘Fry End’. XD

            2. Vipermagi says:

              Holy crap, I never knew there was an(other) N in environment o-o So many typos, darn it.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Dont feel bad.At least you arent typing thiaf.Now that would be silly.

          3. Velkrin says:

            I bet your face is rogue with embarrassment.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Ugh,thats a really bad pun.Did you steal it from Rutskarns computer?

          4. Joshua says:

            And here I thought it was the word “rogue” that everyone misspelled.

            1. Syal says:

              Are you dissapointed to find otherwise?

      3. Eric says:

        Quake 1 is actually very easy to get running. There’s dozens of source ports available that add new features, more modern multiplayer functionality, better visuals, etc. I found Quake 2 to be significantly more dated just because the modding community for it is nowhere near as big and dedicated.

        I have to second the original Unreal and its expansion pack. You can buy the Unreal Anthology (Unreal, Return to Na Pali, Unreal Tournament, and UT 2004) for as little as $10 these days, which is a steal considering how much gameplay you get… and that’s not counting the literal hundreds of mods available for all of them.

        All are excellent games, but the original Unreal is great to see because I think it’s kind of the trend-setter that nobody really latched onto (instead going with the Quake model of corridor after corridor). Unreal made its mark with extremely (and I mean extremely, even for today’s standards) large levels with multiple paths, puzzles, and some extremely crazy and ambitious layouts, especially later in the game. It also had a real art style with great colour, detailed textures, and really felt like a unique sci-fi world. Not to mention that it holds up extremely well today, with great enemy and weapon variety, and some of the best AI of its time… it even rivals modern titles in that respect. It’s such an amazing shame that Unreal never received a proper sequel or successor, because it did so many things right but somehow ended up (relatively) forgotten next to its multiplayer cousin and the Quake series.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          Unreal 2 wasn’t half bad actually, and had some interesting levels which were quite open and the the “hold the line” sections with deployable stuff like laser fences.

          Shame UT3 decided to forever mess up the setting and make future single-player games in it nigh-impossible.

          1. Cineris says:

            Yeah, Unreal 2 was reasonably fun. I bought Unreal Anthology like two years ago for $5 on sale and played through it — For a game I essentially paid nothing for, I liked it a lot.

            The problem for many people is that it was more “Halo” than it was “Unreal” though. People [rightfully] objected to the game bearing the name Unreal 2 when it was more like a spinoff, Unreal: Adventures in Space with Cmdr Shepar… I mean Dalton.

            As for UT3 screwing up the universe irreparably : The Unreal Tournament games have all had major continuity problems, so much so that their storylines, such as they are, should basically be ignored.

        2. Vipermagi says:

          I think the updates (especially visuals and gameplay) kinda defeat the purpose of the retro-reviewing, though.

      4. Ingvar M says:

        If you’re looking for console-based shooters, “Perfect Dark 64” (some may say “Goldeneye 007”, essentially the same engine, but I can’t comment, because I haven’t played that).

      5. Dys says:

        There are no combat sections in Thief!
        There may possibly be enemies you can’t sap, but I always treated the zombie levels as a test of speed. :)

      6. Bubble181 says:

        Quake? Pshaw. He should go play Wolfenstein 3D. I still have the big binders with printed-out (on a star printer! On a ream of paper!) maps of all the levels for all 6 episodes. Huh. Need to go replay that :-P

      7. Bai Shen says:

        I’m currently working my way through the original Half-Life, having never played it before. However, I got sidetracked by Portal 2.

        So far it’s been interesting and enjoyable. The graphics are a little dated, but that doesn’t really bother me.

    2. B.J. says:

      +1 for Thief. I like how you pointed out that Fallout 3 haters are hypocrites.

      1. Khizan says:

        No. No, we’re not. Not necessarily, at least.

        Fallout 1 has a clunky intro and some bad pacing/design decisions, yes. But it sets an interesting and complex world and it generally sticks to its own story, and it doesn’t actively insult the intelligence of the person playing it. The story IS somewhat railroaded as you do need to save your vault, but it’s nothing near as bad as the way FO3 sets you up on rails.

        Fallout 3 contains Little Lamplight. I’m pretty sure nothing else needs to be said.

        As well, Fallout 3 lacks the essential feel of the Fallout world. Fallout games are grim, and dark, and funny. Fallout 3, by comparison, is so sterile that you can perform surgery on it.

        Fallout 1 is not a shining example of perfection in gaming, but you can love FO1 and hate FO3 without being hypocritical.

        1. JPH says:

          To clarify: When I made that implication in my review, that was meant as a joke on the color scheme. It wasn’t my intention to say that ANYONE WHO LIKES FALLOUT 1 IS A HYPOCRITE or whatever.

          1. B.J. says:

            Yeah you also point out that Fallout 3 is claimed to be a terribly designed game but Fallout 1 has some pretty crappy puzzles and plot direction in it.

            Fallout 2 is my favorite of the series but when Bethesda was making Fallout 3 suddenly the first game was enshrined and everything Bethesda did was Bad and Wrong (Badong).

            For example people bitched that Fallout 3 had an excessive focus on violence and gore, while “Extreme Violence” is in the Fallout 1 design document and the first two games are ludicrously gory. People bitched about the short main plot; Fallout 1 can be finished in a very short time if you know what you are doing.

            Basically most/all of the Fallout 3 complaints can be applied to the first games.

            1. Ben says:

              I think you are strawmanning a little bit. Most of the excessive violence complaints were about how gratuitous VATS was with kill shots. The FO universe has always been partially characterized by violence and thats fine, thrusting that in our faces on pretty much every VATS kill is much less fine.

              As for the short plot, I’d suggest there is a difference between being short and being able to be shortcut through creative use of game mechanics. Also I’ve never heard complaints about plot length (10 or so hours seems fine to me), more about railroading and bad writing but the internet is full of crazy people so I wouldn’t doubt the complaints are out there.

              EDIT: Just read what Eric said.

            2. Eric says:

              Here’s your problem. On the surface, some of those complaints apply to Fallout 1 and 2, but dig deeper and I think it’s very obvious that the way the games handled themselves was far more tactful, intelligent and well-thought-out than Fallout 3.

              On extreme violence: Fallout 3 is violent and gory, but it’s almost comically so. Punching people with your fists can make their heads explode. Limbs are severed by 5mm pistols. Giant yellow ogres reused from Oblivion butcher people and stuff their body parts in bags. It’s bloody, but it’s not in any way realistic; it’s so commonplace that it quickly becomes boring, forgettable, and standard. It’s a novelty, and it wears out as quickly as the stupid slow-motion killcam does.

              Fallout’s gore, on the other hand, helps reinforce the setting and feels proportionate to the weapons you’re using. It’s rare that you would see truly graphic scenes when using standard weaponry (blowing holes in people’s chests with .50 pistols isn’t a stretch, considering a real Desert Eagle can, in fact, do that), and when it does happen (people melted by plasma weapons, torn up by miniguns, etc.), it feels genuine and brutal. It’s also not common enough that it loses its impact like the gore in Fallout 3. It would have been easy to add “ludicrous gibs” to the game, but they showed restraint and kept it special, sort of a reward for mastering your enemies.

              On the short main plot: Fallout 3’s story isn’t too short, really. In fact, it’s a good 10-15 hours, and it doesn’t allow for much in the way of skipping segments or trying to creatively bypass sections of it based on skills or reasoning. Largely, this is because there are many, many artificial barriers that stop you. Imagine being able to enter Raven Rock right from the beginning of the game because you could pick the lock on the door? Oh snap, your giant, epic quest has just been conquered in the span of half an hour. No, Fallout 3’s main quest isn’t very short, but the only reason it’s as long as it is is because there are so many arbitrary contrivances that serve to prevent you from making non-linear progress in what is billed as a sandbox game.

              Compare that to Fallout 1, where playing a non-combat, stealthy or speech-based character is as legitimate as playing a rocket-launching tower of muscle. It doesn’t force you into combat encounters to slow you down, or deny you the use of your skills in perfectly reasonable situations. The game does not throw arbitrary barriers in your way, instead allowing you to go wherever your skills will allow. Technically, it is possible for someone to beat Fallout on the first try very quickly on sheer luck alone, but it probably won’t happen because the game does a good job of providing a believable progression from location to location which isn’t in any way forced on the player. The only real barriers are a) your character build, and b) the information on the world you are able to gather – not impenetrable locked doors that magically unlock when a plot variable ticks from 0 to 1.

              Fallout 2’s main quest is a bit different because it forces the player to go through at lot of combat to get through, and requires more sub-goals to complete. The biggest difference is that certain story elements don’t emerge until the player has achieved prior goals, and therefore it’s impossible to ask about certain topics in conversation, scripted events won’t fire, etc. Even then, you can still get through quickly, and the roadblocks don’t feel random – the open-world feel isn’t killed off despite the improved structure and more predictable progression.

              On crappy puzzles: what, exactly? Using a rope to descend into a giant hole in the ground is a crappy puzzle? For me, puzzles in RPG should be all about logically using skills and items in the game world to solve challenges, and they most certainly should not be pointless lever-pulling, trial-and-error affairs. That kind of design is lazy and sloppy. The player should be rewarded for thinking intelligently, with character choices reinforced by the possibilities allowed for by the game. Or maybe you just really like the Towers of Hanoi puzzle, no matter how contrived its inclusion is?

              1. B.J. says:

                See this is exactly what I’m talking about. Blowing someone’s head off in Fallout 1/2: tactful and intelligent. Blowing someone’s head off in Fallout 3: Totally Non-tactful and Unintelligent.

                Essentially you’re splitting semantic hairs. We’re talking about a ten year technology difference here; hard to compare the gore shots from a tiny sprite to a full 3D model. Extreme violence is extreme violence.

                Fallout 1&2 (moreso 2) are great games, but they are not flawless works of immaculate art. Stop trying to put them up on a pedestal.

                1. Eric says:

                  1) My response dealt in the nature of the content, not in the general aesthetic; furthermore I discussed the difference in approach, with Bethesda focusing on gratuitous, unrealistic gore-porn violence, and Black Isle focusing on realistic and brutal violence.

                  The argument you’re putting forward is that all graphic violence is identical, which is fallacious. Allow me to present what you’re doing in a few different contexts:

                  a) All rap music sounds the same, because it features rapping.
                  b) These two cars are powered by the same engine, therefore they are identical.
                  c) Tom Hanks stars in two separate films, therefore both films centre around the same character.

                  Your straw man/sweeping generalisation is not convincing, nor clever, and my distinction does not constitute “splitting hairs” – which, I should mention is itself a fallacy, and effectively ad hominem.

                  2) You did not respond to the rest of my post and chose to only focus on the violence. I would be interested in hearing your own well-informed observations regarding the differing narrative and gameplay structures between Fallout 1/2 and Fallout 3. Furthermore, could you please clarify what you meant regarding the poor puzzle design in Fallout 1, and why, presumably, Fallout 3’s puzzles (I cannot recall any, come to think of it) are better?

              2. Knight of Fools says:

                And having to find the only rope on the face of the planet in order to descend into a place you really didn’t have to go anyways is an awesome puzzle.

                A game that stops being fun stops being a game in my opinion. The rope puzzle wasn’t a problem for me at all, since I’m a thieving pack rat and I picked the town dry my first stroll through, but what really turned me off about the first Fallout was the arbitrary and intrusive time limit. Run out of time because you were off saving entire towns and such? Game over! After several hours of playing you had one hour left before you had to save the day, but you were an hour and ten minutes away from accomplishing your goal? Might as well start a new game, buddy!

                There were ways around it, and you could increase the time limit, but I never became interested enough to sit down and bugger through GameFAQs so I could play the way I wanted. There shouldn’t have been a need.

                Fallout was fun, yeah, but it failed in the sense that it also had those binary values, except in Fallout 3, at least the world didn’t explode when a huge timer ran out. Not being able to progress immediately isn’t nearly as bad as not being able to to progress, EVER. Games are essentially a waste of time in the scheme of things, so there’s no need for a game to rub how much time you just wasted in your face.

                For me, that was the finger that pulled the trigger in the original Fallout. I’d much rather play a generic FPS with NPCs telling me to “Hurry up already!!!!”. At least the NPCs won’t shoot me in the face and force me to start from the beginning if I don’t do what they tell me to do.

                1. Eric says:

                  The original intention was that the player would be caught between exploring the world, and saving Vault 13 (and later defeating The Master). As it stands, there are only a few different events that occur based on how long you dally (such as Necropolis being invaded by Super Mutants), but originally the Master’s army was supposed to sweep across the map, with a power struggle type game emerging revolving around holding the individual towns/cities/communities. Like many things in Fallout 1, it had to be cut in the end.

                  Even so, I don’t see why the timer is that big a deal for some people. The 500 day time limit that existed in the original version of the game was already pretty damn long – I have trouble even reaching the 150 day water supply limit while playing, and that’s in games where I finish all the side-quest content. I guess some people play more slowly than I do, but I tend to be pretty thorough, so I don’t know…

                  Either way, are you seriously faulting the game for adding a consequence to your needless dallying regarding an urgent task? Oh no, how dare there be negative outcomes! You paid money for this game, and now it’s telling you you’re not, in fact, the gigantic badass you thought you were? I’m sorry for being a little facetious here, but really, the game sets down an objective for you, and then tells you what will happen if you fail it, and you complain when you decide to outright ignore it? That’s not the game’s fault, that’s your fault. Not every game needs to or should cater to whatever fantasy you envision for yourself. You can’t engage it on its own terms, that’s fine, install a mod, or don’t play it, but it’s part of the game and it’s absurd you think that the game is somehow wrong because of it. It’s like saying that chess is broken because your pawns can’t move diagonally.

                  1. Dys says:

                    Forgive me if I am recalling this wrong, but don’t you get a game over screen when the timer runs out?

                    The time limit was never a thing of joy to me, either. I prefer Fallout 2’s limitless main quest, simply because I prefer not to be under time pressure. Ever. It was far from arbitrary though, being kind of central to the main quest.

                    What bothers me is, given that this is meant to be about choice, why stop me playing if I choose to just not do the water chip quest? Why not just kill the vault and carry on? I may be remembering it wrong, apologies if that is the case.

                    1. Teldurn says:

                      I don’t recall with perfect accuracy, but if I’m not mistaken, Fallout 2 doesn’t have an actual unlimited time limit. If Harkunin gives you that 5th dream vision, the game alters itself. Come back to town with a GECK before that 5th dream, and you save the town. But if there are 5 dream visions, the town is captured by Enclave and need to be released from the prisons.

                      I could be wrong, though.

                    2. krellen says:

                      IIRC, you get the 5th vision when you get the GECK, regardless of how quickly it’s been done.

              3. Teldurn says:

                I think Eric deserves to win the whole entirety of the interwebs for this. If I had the power to give it myself, I would.

                This response is just about everything we (the Fallout 1/2 fans) have been saying for years and years, but this is much more eloquent. Thank you, sir.

                TL:DR version: Holy shitballs, this is awesomesauce!

                1. Chibi C'thulhu says:

                  What bothers me is that people go back and forth about how incredibly amazing/terrible Fallout 3/Fallout/Fallout 2 is. Isn’t the purpose of a game to have fun? Fallout had a crappy beginning, but overall it was very enjoyable. Fallout 3 had a plot that could be really crappy at points, but if you can acknowledge that and ignore it, it’s actually a fun game. I’m not saying that either of those games are perfect/terrible, but the point of enjoyment is that you kind of have to ignore the little bad things. None of the Fallout games are horrible gaming experiences that are piles of unplayable crap at all, but sometimes people act like that is an entirely true statement.
                  tl;dr shut up and play the game, or don’t. Don’t demonize it.

    3. Abnaxis says:

      I’ve been thinking about doing something like this with the original system shock. Now all I need to do is find a few hours to start my blog rolling–so hard to do while moving…

      1. JPH says:

        What sucks about the System Shock games is that they’re not available for purchase anywhere (rights issues, I’m assuming) so you either have to buy it off of eBay or Amazon or pirate it.

        Of course if you already have it, that’s a different story…

        1. Klay F. says:

          The biggest problem I had when I bought System Shock 2 off Amazon (I lost my original copy, I think I may have lent it out, then moved away without getting it back) is that I have Windows 7 and it doesn’t support the video codec used by the game. So I cant see the beginning and ending cutscenes. That said, you can alway watch them on youtube and you can still play the entire game and not miss anything else, there is really no reason to not play System Shock 2, the entire game is stellar.

          System Shock 1 is also pretty good, but you need DOSbox to run it and DOSbox isn’t very friendly to people who aren’t technically inclined.

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Like Shamus said,thief is quite a good oldie.Especially 2.

      Oddworld is also a good one.And it comes cheap on steam,with all four games now(though Id recommend just 1 and 2):

      Master of orion 1 and 2.

      Ascendancy is a tricky one.Its a good game with very interesting concepts,but very,very poor ai.A shame really.

      Im not sure if Id recommend the original x-com though.Its a very old game with a really steep learning curve.But,if you dont mind wasting days to learn how to play it,and dont mind quite old graphics,you definitely should try it.

      1. JoCommando says:

        Ascendancy… wow… good times. Thanks for reminding us of that one. I can’t put my finger on why, but it always struck me as having much more charm than either of the MOOs, with fewer numbers to keep track of.

        Some cursory google-fu reveals that a remake has been released for various incarnations of iPhluff. If I had one of those doohickeys, I’d rebuy this in a second.

        Oh, and never trust a Dubtak.

      2. El Quia says:

        X-COM is an awesome, if quite a bit frustrating at first, game. Mind you, I am talking about X-COM: UFO Defense. I really hated terror from the deep’s guts. Why? because it was the same game as X-COM I, only really, really awful :p The extremely longer maps, the hideous terror mission on ships, the stupid guns that only work underwater and then you forget to change equipment before going into a terror mission… and I sincerely think that the graphics in X-COM II are worse than in X-COM I.

        Another game series that I love a lot is the Quest for Glory series. I know it’s hip to bitch Sierra nowadays, but the QFG games were awesome. as far as I remember, the only thing you should never forget is to make a dispel potion. I think in QFG I was possible to get stuck in a part where you need a dispel potion and you can’t get it unless you already have it on you. But, except for that, I don’t remember other dead ends. And they are really awesome. QFG II could be tedious for some people, specially the way they implemented copy protection by having the towns being literal mazes, and the parser of the first two games (although QFG I was remade with a point & click interface). They are a weird mix of RPG and adventure game that are really enjoyable and have all this great puzzles and colorful characters and funny moments hidden all over the place… the first time I played QFG I as truly magical for me.

        Oh, and BTW? Don’t even think that QGF V will give you a satisfying end to the saga… well, in fact, don’t even think that QFG V is kinda like the others :S

    5. Friend of Dragons says:

      I recently played through Star Control 2 (which is now available for free) and quite enjoyed it.

      1. Sumanai says:

        And to help with finding said free version:

        It’s called The Ur-Quan Masters and is available here:

    6. Khazidhea says:

      An old favourite of mine that I’ve always wondered how others would view it nowadays without my rose coloured glasses is The Longest Journey.

      From memory the game play is standard adventure game fare, but for me the story was simply amazing, spanning two worlds – 23rd-century, science-oriented Earth that you live in, and its counterpart, Arcadia, where magic is reality and technology is the stuff of legends – coupled with vibrant characters.

      1. Installed that a few weeks ago so I could get my kids to play through it. I STILL love it but the pacing is bad, and slow. Cut scenes take forever. It is still beautiful though, and I still LOVE April Ryan. There were also quite a few puzzles that were just too crazy for words.

        1. Yeah, I really enjoyed The Longest Journey once I figured out how to get out of the starting area, which took me FOREVER. That puzzle with the inflatable duck inner tube, the bandaid, the fishing pole, and the calipers was just so totally non-intuitive it became a real gamestopper.

          1. Khazidhea says:

            I agree with you about how illogical some of the puzzles are, my logical mind couldn’t cope with some of the hoops the game seemed to want me to jump through, so I admit at times I turned to online walkthroughs just to be able to progress through the story.

            I recently went looking for games that are somewhat similar and found Syberia. I was loving it until it crashed about a third of the way through (at best guess), and I’ve yet to find the time (or summon the effort) to try and troubleshoot the problem. I’d be interested to hear from others who’ve played it, if the game is worthy of my troubles to get it running again so I can finish it.

            1. Dys says:


              If you’ve ever played them, you know what I mean.

              Need to get a guy’s belt?
              Then pour custard into the toilet, add an octopus and feed him prunes.

              Custard. Octopus. Why?

              1. Lalaland says:

                The games that logic forgot and for bonus lulz my first install was corrupted by a virus so random game objects/scripts just didn’t work

              2. Deadpool says:

                Adventure games were weird… Still, once you “got” the game’s thinking, it all fell together interestingly. I was a big fan of the Leisure Suit Larry games and they were all easy sailing after the first two because I finally understood how it worked…

        2. Don Alsafi says:

          I’ve been playing through that, for the first time, with my girlfriend, after hearing its stellar reputation for years. We were initially blown away by the incredible detail paid to the dialogue and characterization, but the overly-long cut-scenes and bad pacing has deflated a lot of our enthusiasm.

          We’re still playing through it, and will to the end, but even odds as to whether we’ll pick up the sequel.

          (And I just finished Half Life for the first time two days ago. Doing quite a bit of retro-gaming myself, it seems!)

    7. Alexander The 1st says:

      Dune 2000 (It has weird split menu screen rendering in Vista though, so caution with that – the actual game plays fine though)? Especially if you’ve played SC II or Dawn of War recently.

      Alternatively, Descent 1 – 3?

    8. Gravebound says:

      The original Wing Commander, still in my top 10 (I love flight sims and space sims), I got playing pretty well in DOSbox. I recommend it.

      Or the 16-bit Shadowrun games. (The battery recently died in my Genesis cart…now I have to use emulation if I want to play through again.) :(

      1. Neil D says:

        Ooh, if we’re going back to the heyday of Origin, how about Ultima Underworld?

    9. Lisa says:

      I’d suggest some from the Ultima series. Though you may want to start at Ultima VI, since prior to that it’s very much ‘symbolic’ tiled art and key commands for everything (K for ‘klimb’!).

      Oh, and don’t bother with Ultima IX. Seriously. Just don’t.

    10. Irridium says:

      Stroll through Good Old Games and pick some stuff up.

      Not sure what you already bought/played, but here’s my recommendations:

      Planescape: Torment – frequently cited as one of the best RPG’s of all time. Like, top 3 of everything.

      Freespace 2 – One of the best space combat sims ever made. I actually played it for the first time a few months ago(thanks GoG!), and I agree with that sentiment. This thing is easily the best space-combat game I’ve played.

      MDK 2 – A third-person shooter made by Bioware. If only Mass Effect 2 was this fun to play…

      Those are my recommendations.

      Oh, also the Timesplitters games for the previous generation of consoles, if you can find them.

      1. JPH says:

        My brother also has Planescape: Torment, so I could play that for free.

        My brother actually has a bunch of CRPGs that I might steal at one point or another, including but not limited to Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Planescape, Morrowind, Icewind Dale 2, Neverwinter Nights 2 and KOTOR 2. I’m tempted to plow through NWN2 and KOTOR 2 so I can say I’ve beaten every game by Obsidian, although Shamus’s post about NWN2’s ending kind of scares me so I’m not sure on that.

        I’ve bought two games on GOG so far: The Witcher ($5 sale whoo!) and Duke Nukem 3D (figured with all the DNF hype I might as well check out where it all started). Was considering getting MDK 2 earlier.

        1. krellen says:

          Just make sure you play Mask of the Betrayer after finishing the core campaign for NWN2. I promise you that it makes up for the “rocks fall, everyone dies” ending.

          1. Irridium says:

            I second this motion.

      2. Dys says:

        Ooh, ooh, Arcanum… of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. I love that title so damn much. Good game too, if horribly imbalanced.

    11. TSED says:

      I made a few on your site. I’m sure you saw them (M&M 4-7, CotDS).

    12. Drew says:

      I thought Beyond Good and Evil was a pretty fantastic game at the time, but I can’t bring myself to play it again. I’d love to hear what someone had to say about it today.

    13. Jarenth says:

      While I have no idea if they’d be considered ‘classics’ in any sense of the word, I’m going to suggest tracking down Little Big Adventure 1 and 2. I had a tremendous amount of fun with those as a kid. 1 is a little more focused and had (in my mind) the better story, whereas 2 is a lot more varied and just plain bigger.

    14. Sekundaari says:

      Suggestions eh? The earliest good game I played was Age of Empires II… I mean, I have played some older games, but Age was my first.

      Oh wait. Apparently FPSs are good too? Is 2001 old enough? Have you played Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis or the GOTY edition? If you answer yes, yes and no, then I have a suggestion, which I kinda spoiled, didn’t I. Anyway, it’s my personal data point most in favor of Shamus’ Golden Age of PC Gaming, though it is somewhat of an acquired taste. The addons only improve it, of course.

    15. ehlijen says:

      If you haven’t yet and you’re into those sorts of games, XCOM-UFO defence (aka UFO: Enemy Unknown) could be an interesting one. It’s not like anything else on your list though, so I’m not sure it’s your kind of game.

    16. Vipermagi says:

      Have you played Advent/Adventure? That could be fun.

    17. Blake Winton says:

      Star Control 2? I spent a lot of time on it back in university, and I wonder how it holds up…

    18. RCN says:

      1 – Yay, I have access to this site yet again, so thumbs up to me.

      2 – Try Civilization Alpha Centauri, considered by many the best iteration on Civilization (for a good reason)

  4. kanodin says:

    I’ve been going back to the classics you oldsters keep telling me are amazing as well. His experience almost perfectly mirrors the first time I tried Fallout 1. My second try however I managed to muscle through the opening and found the amazing rpg with a great setting and interesting story I was promised.I now list it as probably my favorite rpg.

    Also Rutskarn is right around my age and I know he loves the original Fallouts (drink) so I’m not an isolated case.

    1. JPH says:

      I’m apparently the same age as Rutskarn.


      I really don’t think age has much to do with it, I think it’s just more of a personal preference thing.

      1. Rutskarn says:

        It’s worth mentioning that I’m also a great fan of Deus Ex–although I first played that one in 2005, so it wasn’t ostentatiously outdated at the time.

        I’ve actually finished the game four times–all but the first time without killing anyone but Anna Navarre.

        1. Johan says:

          There’s supposedly an exploit you can use to not even kill her, but I’ve never gotten it to work.

          Also, it seemed every time I was in the missile base, there was a man on top of a crane (he was an importantish character maybe?) who would throw a LAM the moment I entered his field of view… a LAM which didn’t make it over the railing and killed him instead. I always felt kind of guilty for that one on my pacifist runs.

          1. Matt K says:

            I’ve never killed Anna in my play throughs, she just happens to walk past a few prox mines that someone placed in the aricraft I was on.

  5. Alarion says:

    True, Fallout 1 starts slow and expects the player to read the manual (and the first steps therein detailed). Fallout 2 pulls this off much better, and explains the beginning better. Also, you have more freedom in your travel choices more quickly (though some choices are quite dangerous).
    Oh, and just a tidbit: There are two pieces of rope in Shady Sands. One can be bartered from the guard at the beginning (no idea which of the two), but you have to pull up the barter screen manually, so it’s even more easily missed than the one in the random container in a map that’s otherwise nearly useless. Talk about not coddling newcomers.

  6. Eärlindor says:

    Got your email, sent a reply.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Fallout really is a hard game to start.Like Ive said,I quit it myself few times before I managed to get somewhere.I think the point where the game really had me was when Ive reached brotherhood of steel for the first time,which is quite a looong way away from the beginning.

    One other classic that is also quite hard to get into,but extremely good when you manage it is the original x-com.Lack of tutorial is pretty harsh,but once you manage to learn the basics,you can finally enjoy the terror.

    1. I have a similar thing with Fallout 2 – by the time I’m out of the first village I’m burned out on combat and Redding or wherever it is you go first has nothing of interest in it, so I have no idea where to go from there and I haven’t been able to progress further.

  8. Khizan says:

    One thing about the early Fallout games is that they came with a brick of a manual. The Fallout 2 manual, at least, was probably 80 pages long, at least, and covered pretty much everything about character creation. I haven’t seen a PC game ship with an actual manual in YEARS, though.

    1. JPH says:

      I have the manuals on Adobe. The Fallout 1 manual is 124 pages long. Fallout 2 manual is 166.

      No way in hell I am reading all that.

      1. Neil D says:

        But that’s part of the whole retro game experience!

        1. Soylent Dave says:

          But we used to read them while the game installed.

          That doesn’t take quite so long now that computers aren’t made of bakelite.

          1. JPH says:

            And now we can play iPhone games or whatever while we’re waiting.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Almost.You can read the whole war and peace while dawn of war is installing.

      2. Deadpool says:

        I would recommend it. Whole thing is written as a handbook by Vault-Tec with tiny notes from the Overseer. It’s rather amusing…

  9. Amstrad says:

    The first thing that leaps at me was the incorrect claim that Fallout’s character system was entirely unique as opposed to other RPG’s of the time which were D&D based. This is patently WRONG. Fallout was originally intended to be a GURPS based title and only after licensing issues arose was the SPECIAL system created. The similarities between GURPS and SPECIAL are quite easy to spot and GURPS was a popular system when Fallout came out.. my point being that while daunting the initial character creation screen was probably about as confusing as Baldur’s Gate’s character creation would be for someone who’s never played D&D.

    1. JPH says:

      GURPS? Never heard of it.

      Yeah, I’m a heretic, I know.

      1. Amstrad says:

        Oh hey, no big deal. GURPS had its brief heyday in the 90s and then died off quite a bit. D&D on the other hand is still going strong. I don’t expect anyone who wasn’t around and into RPG’s during that period to know about it. But your average RPG fan of the time would very likely have been familiar with it.

        1. TSED says:

          GURPS is STILL going strong in the tabletop circles, really. Nobody PLAYS it, but everyone KNOWS about it.

          So it’s kind of strong… Ok. You win.

          1. Johan says:

            It’s a popular joke around here when someone says “OK, I’ve got a great idea for a setting and a game, now which rules should we use?” and everyone immediately says GURPS.

            GURPS: everyone knows of it, no one plays it.

            Well that isn’t true, but it seems to be the stereotype.

            1. JPH says:

              I guess I’d be “the exception that proves the rule?”

    2. Yep, I try to play Planescape and that entire DnD thing is confusing as hell, no question.

    3. Cuthalion says:

      This makes me think of Knights of the Old Republic. See, I played Baldur’s Gate 2 recently, after I had done a bit of D&D 3.5, so the learning curve wasn’t too bad. But I had never played any such thing when I played KotOR. And guess what? KotOR uses a lot of tabletop conventions (Star Wars d20?) without explanation. I remember being confused about what a fortitude save was. “Save”? Like “saving the game”? Sure, it makes sense now that it means “the game rolls an invisible die that takes into account your fortitude bonus to save you from poisons and such”. But at the time? No. And then they used terms like “1d4”, which I didn’t understand either at the time and had no obvious explanation. I just guessed that the “d” was a weird term for a “-“, as in “2d6” = “2-6”, which was the right general idea, but actually wrong.

      I wish they had bothered to explain what those terms mean.

      1. Ben says:

        Thats one thing a lot of RPGs do terribly, explaining how their mechanics work. On the plus side with KOTOR and the other DnD games compared to more recent games things were quantified and contextualized. DA:O for example talks about “lowering defense” it doesn’t give a percentage of how much it lowers defense or even what defense does just that an ability lowers defense.

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          Oh boy… Do not under any circumstances try to figure out the battle mechanics of a typical Japanese RPG if that’s complicated and abstruse to you. “scratch damage” versus “direct damage”, “triple attacks” when one character runs between two others to attack enemies, which somehow means flipping over the enemy’s head, “bezels” that contribute to “hero actions” that are accumulated by some attacks but not others, and fade after a turn or two of *not* using a hero action. And some turns are exclusive actions to each character, and others happen simultaneously. And that’s just for the 1st level characters that can’t even use magic yet.

        2. Zukhramm says:

          This is the worst thing about Mass Effect 2. The game gives you a couple of guns to switch between, but (at least I couldn’t find) a way to compare them. Yeah yeah “you can enter a mission and try for yoursefl blah blah”, but but that’s a backwards and cumbersome solution that would solved by just showing me the numbers.

  10. BeamSplashX says:

    I figured out that you needed rope for the Vault only when I needed it to enter The Glow. I also only found Necropolis after the super mutants took over, and didn’t realize you could enter the sewers.

    Also, I killed everybody until I got to The Hub. Probably didn’t help. Otherwise I loved it, having played it last summer.

  11. ngthagg says:

    I’m glad it’s not just me who struggled with Fallout. I picked it up from GoG, based on the positive attention it received. I made three attempts to play Fallout:

    1) I’m a Japanese RPG guy, and the big knock on jrpgs is the lack of character customization. So with the huge range of options in Fallout, I decided to make a smooth talker to wheel and deal my way through the wasteland.

    I met a couple of rad scorpions just outside of Vault 13 and died.

    2) Obviously, I needed a bit more in the way of combat options. So I decided to make a brawler. I would punch my way through the wasteland.

    In an attempt to rescue a girl from raiders, I literally brought a knife to a gun fight and died.

    3) Screw this, I thought, I’m looking up a guide. I created a character intended to breeze through the game, and started working my through, completing everything according to the guide. I got a lot farther, but eventually got bored. What I found was that although there were lots of ways to progress through the game, it seemed like 90% of them were clearly inferior. Often it was a matter of “do this extra thing and get experience, or don’t do it and get nothing”. I realized I could get the same experience by just reading the guide without having to waste time actually playing the game and quit.

    I haven’t played Fallout since.

    1. I played a similar smooth talker character, but with the difference that i also specialized in small guns. I was basically a glass cannon, but I managed pretty well. Despite many untimely deaths.

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      One thing of note about JRPGs – the class systems in the games will almost certainly ensure that no matter how you setup your game ( ), and in most of the tatics games, you can actually switch your class around mid-game, without having to re-start. Your Archer getting owned by some thieves with knives? No problem – just switch them to a Fencer, and let the good times roll again. Need an archer again? Switch them back. Fighting a swarm of long range physical fighters with low Magic Resistance? Switch your entire team to Black Mages and wreck havoc.

      WRPGs, as far as I can tell (Main experience being Mass Effect1/2, Dragon Age: Origins, and Fallout 3), don’t allow for that malluability – if you get your build “wrong”, you’re stuck with it. Want to level up to get around to fixing your build? The enemies just *further* optimised THEIR build.

      EDIT: And I’ve never heard of a single game that allows you to talk your way through everything…oh wait. Silent Steel, but that was an interactive movie. So yeah.

      1. Deadpool says:

        Yeah, Fallout will let you talk your way out of a LOT, but there are times where a wise smooth talker would just walk away… Just as there are dialogue options a brick can’t make.

        1. Alexander The 1st says:

          I noticed it when I was playing Dragon Age: Origins – on the way to the urn, there’s these LARGE groups of fighters that, even if you try and stealth by as a Rogue and do so successfully, WHOOPS! Didn’t max out Stealth? Yeah, there’s these three Assassins just chilling in the hallway in Stealth themselves…and you’re more than likely to bump them. I don’t even know if you can full stealth past them. I was at either 2-3 skills of stealth, and it aggravated me to no end.

    3. BenD says:

      This is pretty much the experience I had with Fallout 1. Choice paralysis followed by wild and crazy exploration of freedom followed by terrible punishment… followed by following instructions that weren’t included with the game, but frankly should have been included.

      Except that after dealing with the water problem I thought, ‘Ah! The time restraint is now lifted. I can play this game like it really IS an open-world game.’ 12 hours later I got to a town that had been ruined and re-inhabited by super mutants with no plot or story to offer. I slew a few, feeling the intense sensation that Something Was Wrong. Referring to a guide proved me right: I was missing a TON of content and wouldn’t be able to achieve many of the possible goals – all because I’d elected to explore the big gameworld.

      Ragequit. I will never go back.

      Does Fallout 2 contain similar nonsense? If not, I might give it a shot.

      1. Deadpool says:

        I’ll never understand this. “Argh I am so mad that I missed some content that I’m going to stop playing and miss MORE content!”

        I mean, I get the frustration of noticing I screwed up, but… You can’t have choice without consequence. Not real choice anyways…

  12. Jjkaybomb says:

    I played Fallout 2 for the first time about a year ago, and I was in awe of it. Except I keep hearing people ding in for not being as good as the original. Its very odd.

    1. Khizan says:

      I think it’s better than the original, if you’re willing to overlook the stupidity of my Vault Dweller going from laser toting high tech badass to leader of a primitive tribe.

    2. Ben says:

      It is and it isn’t. FO1 wins on world coherence, FO2 really starts going down the track of making the world more of a theme park then a world with a lot of pop culture references a similar. However as a game FO2 works a lot better, FO1 has some pretty frustrating design in places that FO2 streamlines out very nicely.

      1. Bret says:

        Except the opening.

        Temple of trials is awful, and the game takes far too long to get going. I mean, the first gun you get is just awful.

  13. swimon says:

    I’m in a similar situation actually. Having grown up on the Nintendo consoles mostly I missed a lot of good PC games. So I’ve been checking them out now that you can get them cheap without DRM and no mucking around with dos-boxes.

    I had pretty much the same initial reaction and I agree with almost everything in that review. That said I really liked Fallout 1 it has its flaws but I can’t name a single game that manages to hold a tone so sombre for so long without it getting tedious and after a while the atmosphere gets to you. The combat is like pulling teeth though there’s no getting around that.

    Actually playing the classics without the context they became classics in is interesting, there are a lot of surprises. For example Fallout 2 is not even mediocre and Deus Ex 2 did not give me leprosy (it really isn’t as good as the first game but it’s above decent, a fun game… just don’t expect any more than that).

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “and Deus Ex 2 did not give me leprosy”

      You mustve read it wrong,it actually gave you cancer.

    2. JPH says:

      I have no doubt that Deus Ex 2 is a fun game, but I’m not going to get it because I loved the ending I got in DX1 so much and I’m aware that DX2 basically retconned all three possible endings to the first game. Might sound petty, but I just can’t accept that.

      1. Bret says:

        Doubt it’s a fun game.

        It’s… contentious at best. Borderline unplayable on modern systems due to odd loading and tiny levels. Hateful characters, generally.

        And the ammo and inventory, less said the better. Still, has enough interesting stuff to be worth a brief look.

      2. McNutcase says:

        If it hadn’t been sold as the sequel to Deus Ex, it would’ve been a decent if largely forgettable game, some nice thoughts provoked, nothing to really rave about but nothing that sucked too hard.

        But it was sold as the sequel to Deus Ex, and it didn’t come close to meeting the standard set by Deus Ex. For that, the fans eviscerated it.

        I played through it. I uninstalled it, I sold it, and I’ve had no desire to ever bother with it again.

        Deus Ex is a permanent fixture on any computer I own that can run it, because in all the playthroughs, I’ve still never seen everything it has to offer.

        So, if you hadn’t played Deus Ex, the sequel would be reasonable as a suggestion. It’s certainly easier to play than the original. But I really can’t recommend playing it AFTER playing the original.

        1. Raygereio says:

          If it hadn't been sold as the sequel to Deus Ex, it would've been a decent if largely forgettable game

          Agreed. I played Deus Ex 2 before Deus Ex and thought of it as an okay’ish game. Certainly not good, but not terrible either.

          Then I played Deus Ex, looked back at Deus Ex 2 and while I still don’t hate the game, I do understand the bitter tears of disapointment fans of the the original must have cried.

      3. swimon says:

        No I totally get that. Deus ex was a special and magical game with really interesting ideas and the second game really doesn’t hold up.

  14. guy says:

    Minor note: You actually DON’T need to go into vault 15. It doesn’t seriously progress the plot; it’s water chip is buried under a thousand tons of rubble. Actually, it’s biggest plot significance is the door that was ripped off from the outside, hinting at things to come.

    That’s the thing about fallout. There are seriously only 4 places you HAVE to go. The Cathedral, the Necropolis, The military base, and vault 13.

    1. John R. says:

      You actually don’t have to go to Necropolis, and you don’t ever have to return to Vault 13 after you first leave it. If you take care of the other two areas, you win.

    2. JPH says:

      I realized that after I got to the third floor of the vault and it told me I needed to go “elsewhere.” I’m still mad about it though, ’cause that’s where the game pointed me to and I figured there would be something important there.

      And like I said on my original post, the fact that Vault 15 doesn’t tell you anything makes me wonder why it was even in the game to begin with.

      1. kanodin says:

        It’s there to teach rope usage 101 of course.

      2. krellen says:

        Vault 15 is just your first hook. It’s deliberately false because it exists just to lead you to the wider world. If you set out immediately from Vault 13 to Vault 15, you’ll notice that you will pass Shady Sands – it is directly on the path. The game designers set it up so that if you follow the markers you’ve been given, you’ll start on logical steps to accomplish your goal.

        Going to Vault 15 turns up nothing, so you go back to the only other place you’ve seen – Shady Sands – and poke around for information. Various people there will suggest things you can do (clear out a cave, save Tandi from raiders, just start walking other places which they will add to your map.) Those other places introduce you to the Water Merchants at the Hub, who add more time to your clock, and the Hub will lead you to Harold, who will give you your foreshadowing about the plot that comes after the water chip. You can, in fact, ignore the water chip and just move on to the Master if you like.

        The game never really leaves you stranded. Every place you find will lead you to a new place, and eventually those places will lead you through the plot. The biggest difference between Fallout and the way modern games work is that it won’t explicitly tell you which of those places is the “next one” in the chain (and by extension, allows you to bypass the chain by jumping links altogether.)

        You’re supposed to approach the game looking for the next thing to explore; if it seems you’re “done” with a place (or “done for now”), you’re supposed to move on to another one. The developers didn’t feel the need to tell you explicitly to move on (the closest they ever got was that message you missed in Vault 15), which they do a lot more these days.

        1. BenD says:

          Except it won’t necessarily lead you to the next place in the plot fast enough for the plot to still BE THERE when you get there. *fume fume*

          1. krellen says:

            Yeah, I’ll admit that the time limit is sort of annoying. Fallout 2 fixed that.

  15. Jokerman89 says:

    “Ninja game den” got it, adding it to my favriouts now, great blog JPH

  16. Allan says:

    I remember being told the freedom of choice in Deus Ex was super duper mega amazing, so I finally played it last year. And it was pretty good for a while I admit but once it railroaded me into switching sides to the NSF I quit the game and have never booted it up since.

    1. JPH says:

      It’s true, the game does have more railroading than I expected. I was willing to put up with it though because I just loved the storytelling so damn much.

    2. Vipermagi says:

      I actually tried to stick to UNATCO there on my first playthrough, and ended up googling whether or not you could actually do that after futilely running around for an hour or what. Ugh.

      1. Johan says:

        There was apparently a lot of choice that got cut from Deus Ex due to time/money/everything constraints. Some of it never made it past the drawing board, some was still in the finished product.
        A possible option to stay with UNATCO, I’ve heard rumors that at one point JC could be a girl, etc etc.

  17. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Ah, Fallout 1.

    So good, but so, so bad.

    I remember playing it around the time Fallout 3 was released, or maybe it was when Spoiler Warning was doing Fallout 3, either or, I played the game and thought it was clunky, slow, ugly, boring, and very, very old for a game that was supposedly from 1999.

    Then I fought the leader of the raiders, grenaded him to death, took his armour and fought all of his goons on my way out of the camp.

    The rest of the game was pure awesome and I’m so glad I was just bored enough to make it through the beginning.

    Though now that I think on it, Fallout is another on my list of RPG’s I started but never finished…

    That’s a really long list at this point, I should get to work on that.

    1. Stellar Duck says:

      It may look ugly for a 1999 game, but that may be explained by it being a 1997 game. :P

  18. Etra488 says:

    The Escapist forums tore me a new asshole for playing Half Life 2 the first time a few weeks ago.

    Because the game is 7 years old, it’s apparently immune to criticism. I didn’t know what to think from the response.

    There are still sacred cows, apparently.

    1. Raygereio says:

      Well, your first mistake was going to the Escapist forums. ;)

      HL2 was immune to criticism the moment it was released though. I never heard a dissenting voice of criticism amongst the chorus of praise anywhere. Much like how you’ll hear not a single negative anything about Portal. I guess Valve hired a battalion of voodoo priests to place a hex on everyone and turn them into fanboys. That’s the only explenation I can come up with anyway. Good thing I never go anywhere without my fancy tinfoil hat.

      I played HL2 for the first time last year and I for one was quite surprised at how someone managed to make a game that varried so quickly between bad, uninteresting and frustrating. Quite an impressive feat really.

      1. JPH says:

        Whoo-hoo for differing opinions!

        I absolutely adore Half-Life 2. It’s my favorite shooter of all time (I don’t count Deus Ex as a “shooter” because there’s a lot more to it than just shooting, plus you don’t actually have to shoot if you don’t want to), and most of that is because of the storytelling and atmosphere.

        And once again, this has nothing to do with nostalgia, because I didn’t get around to finally playing through the whole game until last year (I’d played it before but didn’t get very far).

        If you ever do decide to lurk in the Escapist forums, you’ll start to notice that pretty much every week there’s at least one thread where someone says “Hey, I just played Half-Life 2 and it like totally sucks and stuff, why do people love it?” And a flamewar ensues.

        It just goes to show that everything is subjective with games. No game is objectively great or terrible, it all depends on the person playing it.

        1. Raygereio says:

          No game is objectively great or terrible, it all depends on the person playing it.

          Though naturally if your opinion differs from mine, then you’re just wrong!

          1. JPH says:

            Noo, they have not gotten better. You’re better off elsewhere.

            1. Raygereio says:

              To clarify: JPH replied to me talking about my (bad) experiences with the escapist forums. Something which I edited out, because I felt it might be intepreted as needlessly flamish.

              1. JPH says:

                Oh, whoops. Didn’t notice that.

                Pay no attention to the handsome comment behind the shower curtain

              2. Etra488 says:

                What’s the story with that place?

                Why would Shamus associate himself with a website that has such a dubious community? I branched from Twenty-Sided to the Escapist – I wouldn’t have known about that site if it weren’t for this one.

                The internet already has a bad reputation of being filled with mouth-breathing trolls, and the Escapist forums makes those mouth-breathing trolls look bad.

                1. JPH says:

                  I’m pretty sure it’s because Yahtzee is there.

                  It’s a shame, because I love the Escapist for the people it employs – Yahtzee, Shamus, the Extra Credits team, that’s all three of my favorite gaming “voices” so to speak. But the community there has some of the most entitled brats you will ever see or hear.

                2. Shamus says:

                  The Escapist has a wonderful team of people running it. I’ve met some of them. Traded emails with others. I LOVE their approach to content: Find entertaining people and pay them to entertain your audience.

                  I will say it all comes down to moderation policy. The person with the banstick shapes the community. You can look around to other sites, much like mine, with similar audience size, and find a very different sort of discussion. The other site might have a very hands-off approach, only stepping in when there are death threats or other attacks. Other than that, people are free to flame, argue about abortion in a thread about BioShock, start up threads on religion, flame people over differences of opinion, and otherwise act like Internet People.

                  The result is that the community is more active, but also more aggressive and combative. Some people prefer a… erm… “lively” forum. Other people (including myself and most of you) prefer a smaller thread with tighter a moderation policy.

                  1. Deadpool says:

                    Also, plenty of people use the site for the content and mostly ignore the forums.

                    I for one did that and migrated here after hearing about Spoiler Warning in one of Shamus’ collumns…

                    1. BenD says:

                      I for one found the Escapist through Shamus. Shamus, you can quote me on that.

                    2. SyrusRayne says:

                      Interestingly, I discovered Twenty Sided and The Escapist completely seperately, and didn’t notice for about a month, during which time I actually read some of Shamus’s articles. How’s that for paying attention?

                  2. Khizan says:

                    Personally, I’d like to see you get a “real” forum so that I could read the various discussions in a more readable format than hundreds of little boxes. Trawling down the entire comments thread to look for new replies to each individual conversation going on makes me sad. :(

                    1. SyrusRayne says:

                      I agree, a “real” forum would be quite great. Don’t get me wrong, this type of system is great. But when the community hits a certain size, blog comments get hard to read. =P

  19. krellen says:

    Fallout 1 (and 2, mostly) is really an “Explorer” game. If you’re disinclined to the Explorer gameplay style (which is a vanishingly rare breed these days, so most younger gamers probably are so disinclined), it can be utterly brutal.

    1. JPH says:

      I like exploration in games. Hell, recently I got Fuel based on Shamus’s recommendation and I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring empty wilderness and looking for collectables. But Fallout just isn’t doing it for me.

      1. Deadpool says:

        I think the reason he said that is some of your complaints are counter exporation.

        Overseer says “We need the chip. We have NO idea where it is, but we know there’s a nearby Vault, so we figure you might start there.”

        You then skipped the big, giant green circle as you walked past it and complained that the first place you went to look for the water chip (Vault 15) didn’t pan out. Just kind of weird.

        You also went on GameFAQs twice in less than an hour. Back in ’97 I found a dead end, turned around and went back to exploring some more.

        Considering the evidence, I can see why someone would think you weren’t into exploring. Considering every time the game forced you to explore you ignored it, looked it up on an FAQ and got mad about it…

        Oh well, to each his own I guess. I do miss the days where exploration games actually involved exploring though…

        1. JPH says:

          The reason I consulted GameFAQs isn’t because I don’t like exploration. It’s because I thought I was doing something wrong. I figured the rope was somewhere inside the vault (which I’d already searched over several times) and that I was just missing it somehow. Once I read GameFAQs and realized there was a city I didn’t notice (I was panning the map around when I passed by the city, I have A.D.D., give me a break) then I had to backtrack and all that.

          And that’s not the only reason I didn’t like Fallout. I didn’t like it because I found nothing about it fun. It felt like pulling teeth.

          1. TSED says:

            Yeah, uh…

            I always interpreted “exploration” as “trying everything that you can,” and not “wander around in giant pointless circles and loops” (though that’s definitely part of it).

            It STILL sounds to me like you aren’t very in to exploration. Some, yes, but how often do you reload a game to try every single conversation option in a given dialogue? How often do you pan around an area well after you’re done it just looking for secret doors or whatever?

            Then again, I do have a bit more achiever in me than explorer, so maybe that’s what’s talking.

            1. JPH says:

              Good lord, such contempt…

              I’ve done both of those things you mentioned. Many times. FUEL was just an example.

              1. TSED says:

                Don’t take it personally. I come across as hateful to EVERYONE younger than me.

          2. acronix says:

            Don`t feel bad: I also ignored Shady Sands on my first playtrough.

          3. Deadpool says:

            I’m not trying to make you like it, I’m just pointing out why someone would think you don’t like exploring.

            Onto the complaints, I find most of them are about as much your fault as the game’s. Not really an ADD-friendly game, and I know there isn’t anything you can do about THAT, I’m just not sure one should fault the game for that.

            While not a hand holding kind of thing, it’s just about this side of impossible for a play to NOT walk past Shady Sands. It’s also pretty normal for a player to exhaust all options (i.e. go back to the big green circle) before giving up (i.e. checking GameFAQs).

            Saying you don’t LIKE the game is understandable. You don’t have to. Hell, I’d imagine most people from this generation won’t like Falout. Going by sales, most people MY generation didn’t like it.

            But out of all the legitimate complaints about this game, “I had to actually pay attention and look around” just seems a bit out of place.

            1. Raygereio says:

              I’m willing to wager that most people prefer figuring things out themselves, instead of having the sollutions to whatever they’re facing being spoonfed to them.
              But at the same time most people will react badly to both being directionless and being clueless as to what’s being expected of them.
              “Paying attention and looking around” is all fine and well, but not everyone will follow the same train of thought and arrive at the same conclusion. What one guy will think of as a logical course of action, the other guy won’t even come up with.

              1. Deadpool says:

                While I agree in general, in this particular situation it doesn’t work out.

                There’s two places to explore in the whole map. If one has nothing, logical conclusion to ANYONE is to look at the other.

                He panned the map around and missed the second location. This was his fault, not the game’s. It’s a shame, but still hardly the game’s fault.

                Looking around and paying attention is the heart of exploration. If you fail to do those, you don’t get to complain that the exploration has failed.

                This wasn’t a particularly complicated or illogical puzzle.

                1. JPH says:

                  It’s still the game’s fault because the game gave me no sense of direction whatsoever.

                  It told me to go somewhere that didn’t have anything. It didn’t suggest that I explore or that the rope might be elsewhere, it just said “Go to this place” and the place was a dead end.

                  It was very easy to assume that I was missing the solution and that the solution was in the vault. Even if I’d noticed the town I still would have thought that.

                  1. Shamus says:

                    It’s true. Even if you DO stop at Shady Sands, there’s no reason for you to expect you’ll need that rope. It’s likely that a majority of players stopped at Shady Sands, went to the vault, found out they needed a rope, and were then obliged to backtrack. (Although those players might remember SEEING the rope, so they might not have sunk too much time into a futile search.) I’m sure I did exactly that on my first play-though.

                    And after you find that the chip isn’t there, the game just says, “You’ll have to look elsewhere for the water chip.” This is perfectly reasonable in a tabletop game, but videogames? Few offer that sort of hands-off approach. This is NOT your modern RPG with quest markers, clearly marked quest dispensers, and a detailed map that keeps track of everything for you.

                    I enjoyed the hell out of the game, but I can look at this gameplay and understand how lots of people would find it irritating. And Black Isle DID go out of business, so…

                    1. Deadpool says:

                      To be fair, if you examine the the area, the description DOES tell you about needing a rope. And this isn’t a Bethesday game that’s littered with useless items. Every item you find has a use. Shady Sands has nothing but ammo, explosives, skill books, healing items and ropes. Two ropes, one to be found, one to be stolen/bartered/scavenged, and just about any character build will have enough carry space to loot Shady Sands dry.

                      The only way to miss Shady Sands is in the odd chance you’re NOT looking at the map as you move. And if you loot every container, you’ll find the rope.

                      Also, in Shady Sands, very NPC with a dialogue tree points you to Ian, who has directions to Junktown… Even if you miss the message at the end of Vault 15, or if you can’t find your way into Vault 15 the game STILL gives you other leads. At every step in the game, all it takes to find a lead in your search it talk to people and loot containers. Pretty simple and self explanatory when one gets down to it.

                      In the end, one has to remember that this is a game that predates the massive growth of GameFAQs, when a player exhausted all options before quitting instead of Alt+Tab’ing at the first huddle because god forbid they have to backtrack a bit. It’s a very Metroidvania approach to RPG’ing…

                      This is clearly not the kind of thing that makes money. Then again, looking at game sales and trends says that neither does choice/consequence, or having dialogue affect gameplay in anyway, or anything other than a cover shooter… Fallout 3 outsold Fallout, Bioshock outsold System Shock, Mass Effect 3 will probably outsell Mass Effect 1 despite our protests…

                      I certainly don’t expect any game to have such a complete and utter lack of hand holding as Fallout did, but one must wonder if that’s a GOOD thing. Victory is much more rewarding when one has to work at it…

                  2. Deadpool says:

                    The game never actually said there was anything in Vault 15. It said “We need a Water Chip. There’s a Vault nearby, seems like as good a place to start searching as any.” Turns out it doesn’t pan out, but while walking there you find another possible lead: a small settlement.

                    You stop, you look around and you get another lead. A slightly larger settlement south. So on, so forth…

                    Out of all the things this game did wrong (and they’re there) this start isn’t one of them. It gives the player all the information they need while still fitting within the story (Vault 13 wouldn’t have any info of the outside world). All it requires of the player is that he/she talk to people.

                    For the record, I didn’t have any prior knowledge of this game when it came out. It was released two days after my birthday and I had a Wiz gift card (yeah, the Wiz… That was a LOOOONG time ago). No GameFAQs, no older friend to guide me and very little experience in the way of Western RPGs (more of a Square head at the time actually) and I don’t remember ever being stuck.

                    I saw rope for sale and I scrounged up some money to buy it. It interests me that the rope is the big issue in this playthrough because I remember seeing the rope and scrounging money specifically TO buy it because I figured “Well, I’m bound to need it sooner or later.” I’m exploring a broken down, abandoned world. Rope, duct tape and a towel are all gonna be worth their weight in gold where I’m going…

                    What annoyed me was that I couldn’t take the rope with me after I climbed back up…

                    1. Shamus says:

                      “What annoyed me was that I couldn't take the rope with me after I climbed back up…”

                      GIVE ME BACK MY ROPE. I PAID FOR THAT. Arg!

                      I spent SO long trying to find a way to un-tie that rope so I could sell it again. Annoying, because I just kept climbing down it.

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Pay?I dont understand what you mean by that.Paying for stuff?What an odd concept.

                    3. Deadpool says:

                      Like I said, I was pretty new to the western RPG style of stealing and sneaking… I actually Bartered with damned near every NPC. I also typed “Water Chip” and “Vault” into damned near every conversation…

          4. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well,like I said,it takes a looong time for it to get to the real meat,especially if you are playing it blindly.2 gets to the good parts faster,but you have to trudge through the cave first.

      2. krellen says:

        Just a brief aside, “looking for collectables” as your reason for exploring is a bit more Achiever than Explorer (there’s nothing wrong with Achievers, but it’s a different gaming focus than Explorer.) I’ll look up the site where these terms come from in a bit.

        EDIT: The Bartle Test

        1. JPH says:

          Hmm… It’s actually kind of hard to say which one I would be in that list. I’m not a socializer and I’m definitely not a killer, but between achiever and explorer I can’t really say. I don’t care that much about 100% completion, but I’ve also never really cared much about looking for glitches or easter eggs.

          Guess I’ll have to think about that.

          1. krellen says:

            IIRC, Achievers are the most common gamer type (I believe Killers are second.) It’s a very common drive. Even I’ve got about 40% Achiever in me.

            1. JPH says:

              I started to take the actual test, and it’s not really working out for me. For a lot of the questions, neither really apply to me, mainly because I don’t play MMOs all that much.

              And by the way, just wanted to say thanks for keeping a cool head and giving valid insight. I was kind of afraid I’d get a lot of anger and vitriol for that post of mine (and I did get a bit) but you’ve been really cool about this.

              1. krellen says:

                I’ve had a lot of practice being calm in blog comments. Back when FO3 first came around, I was one of the very few people commenting on Shamus’s blog that was negative about it, so I’ve already been through the crucible.

              2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                You can still do the test.I never played an mmo myself(well I dont count trial runs,because those were brief),but I can still answer those questions.

                1. JPH says:

                  Personally I think the whole thing is kind of stupid. None of those four categories really apply to me.

                  1. krellen says:

                    No one’s described by just one category; I’m primarily an Explorer, but my secondary attribute is Socialiser, which defines me slightly differently from an Explorer Achiever or Explorer Killer (I’m actually an ESAK, with a lot Explorer, almost equal Socialiser and Achiever, and no Killer.)

                    1. JPH says:

                      I would say that I’m primarily an achiever, but when I read the description of it it just doesn’t sound like me. I mean, beating a game just so you can brag to others that you’ve beaten it? That sounds silly.

                    2. krellen says:

                      Well, the “brag to others” isn’t really that important. Is your biggest joy the fact that you’ve accomplished something, earned some reward, or even just “finished”? That’s an Achiever.

                      Explorers want to know things
                      Achievers want to do things
                      Socialisers want to join things
                      Killers want to conquer things

                    3. JPH says:

                      Well I do like the sense of accomplishment, but my problem with this is that it doesn’t mention any of my biggest motivations and pleasures in a game.

                      Max mentioned BrainHex, and that rating system seems to have covered all of my bases perfectly.

                  2. Max says:

                    You might try this quiz, it has 6 categories instead of 4. Although it’s based on earlier quizzes, it has been expanded to include more categories, and each category is tied to a chemical in the brain that is supposed to be the primary thing that drives a person when they play games.


                    1. JPH says:

                      Now this, this is something I can get behind.

                      I got Daredevil-Survivor. And I think it describes me almost perfectly.

                      Daredevil: 18
                      Survivor: 17
                      Mastermind: 13
                      Achiever: 9
                      Seeker: 7
                      Socialiser: 5
                      Conqueror: 5

                    2. Max says:

                      I’m a Mastermind-Conqueror, and the my chemical messenger is dopamine. It’s been awhile since I took the quiz so I don’t remember all the scores, but I do remember that Socialiser was negative! Anyway I thought it was pretty accurate as well.

                    3. Deadpool says:

                      Mastermind: 20
                      Conqueror: 16
                      Socialiser: 15
                      Survivor: 12
                      Seeker: 3
                      Daredevil: 0
                      Achiever: -2

                      The description that I like to beat others probably comes from the high socialiser score (lots of yes to online multiplayer) but I prefer co op affairs to versus…

                      Still, mostly accurate I guess.

                    4. krellen says:

                      I’m a Seeker-Achiever-Mastermind, and my Survivor and Daredevil scores were negatives (Daredevil was double-digits negative).

                      So I should totally follow JPH’s reviews and do the exact opposite that he does. :)

                    5. JPH says:

                      Hey, as long as you follow them :D

                    6. Max says:

                      Who thinks we should get Shamus to take this quiz? He’s already described his perfect game. We can all try to guess what category he is in before he takes it.

                      My guess Survivor-Mastermind.

                    7. JPH says:

                      Judging by how excited he was about Mirror’s Edge back when it came out, part of me suspects that he’s a Daredevil-Survivor like me. Or maybe a Survivor-Daredevil, I dunno.

  20. Bentusi16 says:

    I’ve been playing games since I was 4 since It was about the only thing me and my dad could do together (he was in the navy working night shifts so I’d usually only get to see him maybe an hour or two a day).

    So I’ve got a surprisingly good collection.

    Old games I reccomend, with the bottom of the list getting more recent (+5 years in most cases). I’ve listed their genres best to my ability:

    Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (RTS)
    Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness and Warcraft 2: Beyond the Dark Portal (RTS)
    Starcraft and Starcraft: Broodwar (RTS)
    Mission Force: Cyberstorm (TBS)
    The Lost Vikings (Puzzle/Adventure)
    Shivers 1 & 2 (Point and Click/Puzzle/Scary)
    Myst (Point and Click/Puzzle)
    Lords of Magic (TBS)
    Descent (FPS)
    Oregon Trail 2 (I have no idea how to categorize this game. RPGish)
    Mechwarrior 4 and all its expansions (FPS)
    Alien Vs. Predator 1 & 2 (FPS)
    Freedom Fighters (TPS)
    X-Wing (Space Sim)
    TIE Fighter (Space Sim)
    X-Wing Alliance (Space Sim)
    Freelancer (Space Shooter)
    Baldurs Gate (RPG)
    XIII (FPS)
    Half-Life, Half-Life: Blue Shift, and Half-Life: Opposing Force (FPS)
    Thief 3 (FPS but mostly sneaking. You can get through the entire game without ever killing ANYONE.)
    Homeworld, Homeworld: Cataclysm, Homeworld 2 (RTS)
    Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (cRPG)
    Dungeon Keeper 2 (RTS. This game may or may not be free to download, I remember Bullfrog/Muckyfoot/Whoever owned the IP having it free to download at some point but I can’t seem to find the appropriate website or information.)

    They all have problems, but I had a lot of fun with them. Mind you, getting some of these is going to be impossible, and I can’t get most of the to run. This is also no where near an exhaustive list. Home of the Underdogs carries a lot of games that have gone freeware, and some amazingly obscure titles. Those it can’t legally give away for free it links to amazon or the companies pages. Check it out! I found some surprisingly good titles there way back when and it introduced me to system shock 2 and Dungeon Keeper 2.

    1. Mormegil says:

      What – a games list that talks about a bullfrog game but doesn’t mention syndicate (although I’ll agree the dungeon keeper games were great)?

  21. Zamalan says:

    The reason the game sends you to Vault 15 as opposed to Shady Sands is the story. The Vaults are secluded and shut off from the outside world. When they were locked Shady Sands probably wasn’t even there or (since the nuclear war and all) it could have been long gone. It is however located conviniently on your way to V15. The game kind of expects you to take a stop there. The game could also hold your hand and say “oh hey if V15 is overrun with super rats go somewhere else”.

    In my own first playthrough I went to V15 and when I couldn’t get down I went to the Shady Sands, I didn’t save Tandi there (because my charismatic talker couldn’t handle the scorpions), and I didn’t even think about going back and taking a rope.

    I also didn’t go to Necropolis because I zoned in, saw the mutant and thought “fuck this I’ll get killed”, so I never found the water chip. And finished the game by killing the Master, imagine the mind=blown feeling I got afterwards when I found out about the water chip.

    Fallout 2 sets you on a better starting path by sending you to the actual “next town”. But it has the bloody stupid temple, where my charismatic and intelligent gunslinger can only hope for the best against the giant ants.

    On why I found Fallout 3 (and Oblivion, because fuck you fallout3 is oblivion with guns) so different: It’s like playing D&D with yourself as DM. You can do anything you like. And doing it won’t shut off other options.
    It’s like Fallout3 sends you on your main quest line, and if you encounter something you can do it. I finished it, but when I was halfway through the main story i stopped bothering with sidequests.
    Fallout sends you on an objective. The game ends when you kill the final boss, and anything in between is optional.
    To finish fallout 3 you must do quest 1, 2, 3 all the way up to quest n. To finish fallout 1 you must defeat the Master (defeat =/= kill necessarily), anything in between is optional, there are playthroughs on youtube of characters with certain skills that go straight to the final encounter, avoid everything and kill the master with a series of lucky shots (lots of reloading).
    Personally I finished it purely by accident I was so entranced with doing “sidequests” that when I was exterminating the base full of mutants and the endboss, in the back of my mind I was still thinking I needed to find that water chip somewhere to save my own people.

    Don’t get me wrong Fallout 3 is a good game. Just as Fallout 1 and 2 are good games. But it’s not “Fallout 3”. I think Bethesda slapped on the name purely for comercial reasons, when they could just as well called it “Nuclear Winter: A post apocalyptic RPG”, or gave it a spinoff kind of title like New Vegas.

    Disclaimer: I started playing Planescape Torment and Deus Ex only last year and quit for some reasons as well. But something tells me that I should give it an hour or 2 and that they will start to shine, just as Fallout will start to shine. I also have Vampire the masquerade and Jade Empire lying around with maybe 2 hours played.

    1. JPH says:

      Well you know, patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter…

      1. xXDarkWolfXx says:

        Wow what a truly original line, i wonder if they repeat that more often in the game. Although i never actually heard that line more than once in New Vegas before i gave up and traded it in so i wouldnt know from experience.

        Edit: Dammit i forgot to change the website bar, dont bother clicking my name to get my blog its not the current address

    2. krellen says:

      There are two VtM games; you probably mean Bloodlines, but both are decent.

      Also, Shady Sands definitely wasn’t there before the bombs fell. It was built by the residents of Vault 15 after their Vault was breached.

      1. Khizan says:

        Bloodlines is perhaps my favorite computer RPG ever, which really, really surprised me, since I’m not a huge fan of most White Wolf games.

        But it’s well written, the combat is entertaining, the characters are fun, and the settings are amazing for a game of its age. To this day, I still cannot play the Ocean House once the sun is down.

        1. krellen says:

          Yeah, if you’re in the right mindset, the Ocean House is one of the creepiest settings I’ve ever seen in a game (but I’ve never played any of the Silent Hills.)

  22. Jirin says:

    Not quite what you were talking about, but the post title made me think of this: Halo 2600.

  23. Fat Tony says:

    See this is exactly the type of thing I’d like to do, but my writing skills are rather… in-elligant and I’m much more… intellidgable when I’m orating rather than writing. So I’d rather do it as an Audio/Visual “Let’s Play” of classic titles than to blog Shamus style.

  24. Zaxares says:

    I quit Fallout 1 before even finishing the first combat. The interface was just terrible and nothing about it “struck me” or caught my interest. In light of what I’ve been hearing from FO fans over the years, I probably should have persevered and it would have paid off down the line, but the reality was that Fallout 1 just failed to capture my interest during the first crucial 10 minutes (remember, this was back during the late 80’s/early 90’s when you could complete most games in less than an hour), and so I put it down and never looked back.

    1. acronix says:

      It could be worse: The first time I launched the game, I died against the first rats. I didn`t throw the game away, though, but it was a bit jarring.

  25. Bubble181 says:

    a) To an earlier commenter suggesting Warcraft: of Orcs and Humans….Seriously? I’m a huge fan of Warcraft II and III, I’m still waiting for Warcraft IV (what’s this? On line games? I don’t know what you mean! :-P)…But the original, while a nice blast from the past, is really horrible to try and play these days. Either you rip out the game’s guts and rebuild it, making it far too easy, or you’re constantly fuming of the fact that you can select a grand total of 4 units at a time, and that only manually, one-by-one. Much of the “difficulty” in the game comes simply from the fact that you can’t command more than 4 units, while the computer will just come at you with 9, 10, 12 units.

    b) I’m an avid RPG player. I love me some western computer RPGs. Daggerfall still stands as my #1 game of all time (OF ALL TIME!). I’ve tried Fallout 2…And really couldn’t get into it. After about 4 hours of play, having reached the first little town after the one you leave from, I still hadn’t found anything really grabbing me or drawing me in. There’s “starting out slow” and “being a crappy game for the first 4 hours”. I admit I’m a completionist in the extreme, up to going back into the temple to check if I missed anything and whatever – but the quests and persons in that first village aren’t exactly that thrilling, and the first village you come to doesn’t really help much. I mean, I’m currently going through the original Neverwinter Nights campaign, and while it’s pretty cliché fantasy stuff and not exactly The Greatest Thing Ever, it’s still a vastly superior experience, to me, from my vantage point of 2010/2011. :-/ I know I’m a heretic.

    1. acronix says:

      *points* Heretic! We`ll burn you with the incinerator Josh didn`t sell in Spoiler Warning!

      1. krellen says:

        Oh, so that’s why he refuses to sell it.

  26. Meredith says:

    I’m definitely going to go give those a read. I’ve been doing some retro-gaming myself based on suggestions from this site and I had a terrible time with Fallout. In fact, I hated it and didn’t get very far. I really wanted to like Deux Ex, but no matter what I did I always seemed to end up in a fire fight and then get yelled at for it. I think maybe I’m not patient enough for stealth games, I had problems with Thief 3 as well. I’ll have to go back to them later this summer when I have time I suppose. All of this has made me reluctant to try other “best game ever” types in case it’s rosy-glasses hype and they’re really not as superior to modern games as claimed.

  27. Tizzy says:

    When I read JPH’s post on Deus Ex (a game I never played btw), I picked up exactly that passage that Shamus quoted. I thought it was an incredibly perceptive remark, and I guess we’ve become too used to games where our actions carry no consequences. I think JPH’s blog will turn out to be every bit as enjoyable as twentysided.

    Great, another blog to add to my read list…

  28. Falcon_47 says:

    “I wonder how many people got bored and quit at this point in 1999.”

    I got bored and quit at around that part last month, so yeah, i totally understand that guys review. I believe everyone when saying that the game gets better later on, but with todays “entertainment standards”, either you grab the players attention quickly or they’ll stop and move on.

    The game might have worked when it was first released but not today, srry to all the fans.

  29. Vegedus says:

    I played Deus Ex for the first time for around a year ago. And while it’s a really fun game, and does some neat tricks for it’s age, this “multi-solution” thing people always talk about didn’t really wow me. To me, the game is a nice FPS RPG, with a couple of neat tricks up it’s sleeve, but not a revolution in design.

    1. JPH says:

      I wouldn’t call it “revolutionary,” but I do think a lot of titles took pointers from it. When I look at the sidequest design for Fallout 3 and New Vegas it seems rather DX-influenced to me.

  30. Chris B Chikin says:

    That article you linked to on Fallout 1 could just as easily have been written by me. I downloaded it from GoG at Shamus’ suggestion back when they were doing The Pitt expansion in Spoiler Warning.

    I actually gave up before this guy – on all three attempts I made to play the game (one of which resulted in a ragequit after I was raped by six radscorpions two squares out of Valth 13). I had the exact same problems with the interface and hype (especially in light of the praise everyone gave it for things it seemed to me to get just as wrong as Fallout 3) and, on the third attempt, opted to resort to GameFAQs to get down the first elevator. After I couldn’t find the chip at the bottom I just gave up and haven’t gone back to it.

    Fallout might have been a good game back in 1989BC or whenever it was made (okay, that’s probably being unfair) but to me it seemed like the only thing the developers in Fallout 3 did wrong was in not straying enough from the source material. I found the game ridiculously confusing and eventually boring.

    [Oh, and Shamus pulls up Fallout 3 for the Irishman in the first town? The first person I spoke to in Shady Sands was a racially sterotyped Indian man who made me question if the game was even meant to be set in the States!]

    1. Shamus says:

      Fallout took place ~20 years after the bombs fell. Fallout 3 takes place 200 years after they fell. Accents can last a generation, but 10 generations?

      1. Bentusi16 says:

        I think in his computer he says the accent is something he’s faking because people like the way it sounds and it makes ripping them off easier.

      2. Deadpool says:

        I thought it was 80 years… Still, only one generation. Fallout also had a British guy (What the BLOODY, BLOODY, BLOODY HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?!?) whom I always enjoyed.

        Also, Vault 15 was designed to have a racially diverse membership to see if they all killed each other… Amusing seeing as how they turned out.

        1. Bret says:

          They formed massive gangs that terrorized the wastes for generations?

          …Or do you mean that functional western democracy bit?

          1. Deadpool says:

            I was thinking Shady Sands itself… Nice, quiet, peaceful town. No one killing each other. Only town in the game too…

            1. krellen says:

              Is that town as opposed to the cities that Junktown, Hub, and Boneyard are?

              1. Deadpool says:

                Only town in the game that’s doesn’t have people killing each other…

                1. krellen says:

                  The Hub is peaceful.

                  1. Deadpool says:

                    The one with armed guards everywhere, the Thieves Guild, two hostage situations and a mobster under the bar? Or am I thinking of the wrong town?

                    1. krellen says:

                      Well, as peaceful as any other modern city. There aren’t active gang wars like there are in Junktown and Boneyard.

                    2. Deadpool says:

                      Well, yeah, I guess it’s relatively safe, but Shady Sands is by the far the quiestest most peaceful town in the game…

      3. Sekundaari says:

        Well, The Vault tells me Moriarty came to America with his father, so it could be more like zero to two generations for him.

        1. Shamus says:

          That sounds pretty reasonable, then. (Laying aside the question of why ANYONE would move TO the capitol wasteland.)

          1. Irridium says:

            Well, if the game took place 20 years after the bombs fell(I think that was the original intention, but they changed it for some reason), then you can assume he came to the US as a lad pre-bombs, then just grew up in the wastes.

          2. Sekundaari says:

            Who knows, maybe Ireland was bad enough that America felt like the Land of Opportunity. Maybe they didn’t know how bad it was and were just hoping for a brighter future.

            I’m more interested in their form of transport. They would have had to sail across the Atlantic with probably nothing but wind and muscles.

      4. Chris B Chikin says:

        Fair play – I forgot about that. Still, the opening utterly fails to keep me interested in the game. With Fallout 3 and New Vegas I only look up GameFAQs (on the occasions I do) to find out the most fun way of completing a quest. If I need to consult GameFAQs to finish the quest at all then I think the defenders are doing something wrong.

        [EDIT: “Defenders”? I meant “developers” – can you tell I just finished a law exam? :P]

  31. JPH says:

    By the way…

    Yesterday I got 1,768 views. Busiest day I’ve ever had in my blog; my usual daily average is probably around 15 to 20.

    Today I have 1,652 views so far, and there’s still 12 hours to go.

    I’ve gotten 15 comments within the span of about a day, and I normally get maybe one comment per post if I’m lucky.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is… Thanks.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Being one of the thousand-odd people who hopped over, I hope you don’t mind a bit of constructive criticism: while I enjoy your tone, and the content, some of your articles (especially some of the older ones, so, yeah, maybe you’re already taking care of this, didn’t really notice it in the last couple of weeks of updates…) could really, really benefit from some proof-reading/editing.
      Typos will find their way in, always, no matter how many people read your article before posting it. Unfinished sentence fragments, or sentences that mutate from singular to plural or whatever half)way through are completely understandable, but avoidable.

      Oh, and to include a nitpick: Your previous post/next post buttons are *really* easy to miss – may be my resolution or whatever, but the “like” button is bigger than the “previous” button – that can’t be right :-P

      Lastly, it’s just a personal preference, and Shamus “Does it Wrong” too, as far as I’m concerned – with modern browsers, there’s really no reason to have each and every link open in the SAME WINDOW as the one I’m busy reading in. I want to stay on your site and read on, I click some link for some background, and I’m taken away from your site…Nooooo! :-P

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You can always middle click the link to open it in the new tab/window.Ive learned that a looong time ago.

        1. Chris B Chikin says:

          And there was me right clicking and opening in a new tab all these years. Mine eyes have been opened good sir!

        2. Bubble181 says:

          You and your fancy-schmancy so-called “solutions”. I’ll have none of that! I want my right to complain, dammit!

          Err, well, I guess I can do that, yes.

          1. krellen says:

            Formatting links to automatically open in a new window/tab is going to annoy people that do want to click on a link and go to a new thing without changing tabs. Leaving it a standard link leaves the choice up to the user on whether you will go or stay.

      2. JPH says:

        I don’t mind; in fact I really appreciate any criticism. As long as it’s constructive, of course.

        Some of those things I’m not sure if I can fix; they might be tied to the theme I’m using (I’m using, not I agree on the proofreading, though. Sometimes I’m in a rush to post something and forget to read over it and make sure it’s coherent. You may have noticed this in the comments I’ve posted here as well. ><

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Don’t worry, I usually find it’s the more interesting people whjo have the problem of thinking faster than they type :-P

  32. MrGamer says:

    Fairly similar experience to most here, played fallout, had a very difficult time, quit and restarted roughly three times. Pushed through and thoroughly enjoyed it afterward. Sadly became a zealot and made a sacred cow miasma around the game and became an ignorant parrot. Still a great game though, still better than F3 in my opinion.

  33. Annikai says:

    I have to say that I’ve had quite the opposite experience of this guy. I had a similar situation where I decided to try the older games after playing Fallout 3 (I left the game with a bit of a meh feeling because of the way that Bethesda kind of hid some of it’s most interesting parts in unmarked side quest). So I bought both Fallout 1 and Deus Ex, because I heard how awesome they are, and tried to play them both. I found Fallout 1 loads of fun with it’s open endedness with structure and had a pretty easy time finding things out (though I will say there were some issues like the fact that I was never able to touch on an entire aspect of game play because I chose a trait without thinking). I didn’t have too much trouble with fallout 1 but that’s because I grew up on old school JRPGs where you basically have to talk to every single character or you will have no clue what to do and I found some of the characters well written and interesting. Deus Ex on the other hand, I’ve never been able to finish the starting thing (with the statue of liberty). The problem is that it forces you to be a stealth character in the beginning and I’m not good at first person stealth. I’ve even tried to save as often as possible but I just can’t get through it (I still haven’t made it into the statue). I understand that it’s a good game it’s just kind of locked me out of all the enjoyment and exploration by forcing me to start with a stealth mission.

    1. JPH says:

      You don’t necessarily have to use stealth. If you put skill points into pistols or rifles you can handle the guards without too much difficulty if I recall correctly.

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