Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, Xbox
Publisher
Interplay
Developer
Interplay
Genre
Action/RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Strong Language
 
Grade
The Good

• Decent voice work
• References to previous games

The Bad

• Terrible camera angles
• Virtually no music
• Limited weapon choices
• "Been there, done that" feel

 
Grade
D+

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel is the first console game to bear the Fallout name, unfortunately it will likely be the last game to bear the Fallout name as well. The series has a very devout following on PC, where the first 2 games were instant classics, so you would expect an almost built in audience for this game, right? Wrong. In making Fallout: BoS the developers stripped away almost everything that made those games classics - creating your own character, non-linear gameplay, open-ended story - and instead opted to simply make a Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance clone. In fact, this game plays almost like a mod for BG:DA rather than a full fledged game of it's own, you could call it "Baldur's Gate with guns" and describe it perfectly.

The story, such as it is, has you beginning the game as an Initiate in the Brotherhood of Steel, and you must search the town of Carbon for your missing comrades. The story eventually leads you to discover that an army of mutants is searching for a very powerful weapon, and you are tasked with stopping them from finding it. That's about as deep as it gets, unfortunately. You can talk to various townspeople, and the voice acting is decent (including some famous video game voices; Tony Jay from the Soul Reaver series, Cam Clarke from Metal Gear Solid) but unless they have a quest for you, it's pretty pointless. Other than the setting, this is exactly the same game you played 2 years ago in BG:DA. From the interface, to the traits/skills you learn, to the quest types, everything feels like it was just ripped from that game and given a new name to sell more copies.

Graphically, the game doesn't look too shabby, but the engine is starting to show it's age, and the terrible top-down camera angle does nothing to help that. You can rarely see more than a few feet in front of your character, which results in plenty of cheap hits by enemies you can't target yet. The flame and lightning effects look terrible, and there is almost no variety in the enemy types. You get basically 6 enemy types: scorpions, rats, human/human-like, spiders, deathclaws, and robots (and you only get those last 2 in the final chapter). In an attempt to add more enemy types, you then get small, medium and large versions of those enemies, but that's it. The occasional boss is tossed in, but again, they are just bigger versions of enemies you've already fought.

If the fighting of those enemies was interesting, that might be forgiven, but it's not. Weapon choices are even more skimpy than enemy types, either you shoot it or you beat it to death, that's it. The weapons are practically all the same, while there are multiple variations of pistols, bats, and gloves, they all boil down to the same thing; light/heavy melee, light/heavy guns,and grenades (which are totally useless). You'll find that you stick with one particular gun or melee weapon for an entire chapter, you typically can buy a good one right at the beginning, and then nothing new or useful shows up until the end. Health and ammo are given to you in spades, by the end of the game I had amassed over 200 stimpaks (health potions), and had more ammo for each weapon type than I could ever use.

Level design is average, nothing special, but not terrible either. Environments go from broken down towns to desolate wastes and caves, and then back again. There is an awful lot of backtracking, expect to go through any given area 2-3 times in a quest. The characters are pretty generic too, you can choose from Cyrus; the big slow guy, Nadia; the quick nimble gal, or Cain; the ghoul mix of both. There are 3 hidden characters, but unfortunately they are simply clones of the originals, just with different skins. The game ends up playing the same no matter who you choose, as you are forced to use both guns and melee anyway; specializing in only one will leave you unprepared in the later chapters. The music in the game is a mess, the vast majority of the game is eerily silent, with occasional ambient music. When you encounter a boss fight or hairy situation however, blaring nu-metal blasts repeatedly then instantly stops when the fight is over. It makes you wish they would either turn it off completely, or leave it on the entire game, either way you grow tired of it quickly.

In the end, it's hard to tell who this game's target audience is. Fans of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance have similar games coming out soon that are more appealing; Champions of Norrath (from the studio that made BG:DA) and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2. Fans of Fallout will find virtually nothing here that will remind them of the PC games, and many are avoiding this game entirely due to Interplay shutting down Black Isle Studios and canceling the PC Fallout 3 in order to get Brotherhood of Steel made.

If you've never played a Fallout or hack-n-slash game before, don't start here. Go out and pick up the first two Fallout games for the PC, they are vastly superior and can be found together for around $10 (and if you're reading this, your computer can likely play them, the requirements are quite small), and the original Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is only $20. If you are a die-hard hack-n-slash fan, this might tide you over until the other games in the genre come out, but once you get those you'll likely never play through Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel again, so a rental would be best. In fact, I can't recommend buying this game to anyone, especially at full price. Maybe when it drops to the bargain bin, it would be worth picking up if you're in dire need of another hack-n-slash, but until then, rent or stay away entirely.

- - Darken Rahl

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