Games You May Have Missed: Fallout Tactics

This week, and wrapping up the review of the early Fallout series, is Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel. Now, there are two major aspects to this game that need to be addressed – it’s unique take on the Fallout games and how it helps explain some of the cannon issues between the early installments and Fallout 3.

Right off the bat, this game is unlike any other in the series, either before or after. While the game does retain some of the fundamental elements of the earlier games – skill usage, top-down view, character creation – it takes a radically different from what people have come to expect from the series. Most importantly, is the sudden reduction in the role-playing aspect of the game. Unlike the other installments, this one rail-roads players into following a set story line – thereby reducing the amount of possible role-playing. Also, there is a sudden demotion of the importance of the player character, but let’s work our way back to that.
Whereas the other Fallout games put role-playing and exploration first, Fallout Tactics focuses much more on the combat and strategic aspect of the game. Now, while this is a nice change to bring in a wider range of gamers, it takes away from the significance of the hand-made character. You see, within the game, you are part of a squad. And, because this game takes after the ‘old school games’ quite heartily, the game is brutally unsympathetic to players – there is apparently no coddling within the Brotherhood.
While you can style your character to what you really love to play, there is a new emphasis within the game to keep your squad’s needs in mind as well. So, sure, you love playing a bruiser that soaks up damage and cracks skulls with his trusty Louisville Slugger, but the team could really do with a medic. Unlike before, where you could ignore npc allies and expect them to take care of themselves, you need them and they need you. Which, at times, can put your favored play style to the back-burner for later editions to the series.
However, don’t let the little hiccup turn you away from the game. With enough experience and tweaking you can make nearly any squad build work. And this game does so much for those that love blasting raiders and mutants into oblivion. Unlike the other games – where it’s either a point-and-click repetition of combat, or newer, button mashing one – there’s strategy involved here. Now, cover is crucial, even in the early levels. Along with that, flanking, traps, and all those things that just add flavor to the other installments take the center stage. Even if you’re not a huge fan of strategy games, it’s a nice change from standing side-by-side with your companion and firing into enemies doing the same. Yet, compared to what else it does, the combat is just a small feature for this game.
When Fallout 3 came out, there were mixed reviews, to say the least. Some of the more outspoken critics against the game were those that claimed it went against the pre-established lore of the game. Now, at first glance, it does seem to – The Brotherhood of Steel, for instance, becomes some philanthropic faction whereas their west-coast counterparts are isolationists. But, if you play through Fallout Tactics, or even watch the opening cut-scene, it helps to explain why the Brotherhood is so far East, and why it goes against so many of the core beliefs of the original Brotherhood.
Unfortunately, I’m running out of space for this much needed game in the series. So, if you’re a die-hard Fallout fan, or if you just like a good strategy sim, then Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is certainly worth a look.