Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel
Ladies (who am I kidding…) and gentlemen, may I present Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel? It’s an off-shoot of the Fallout series, that exchanges most of the RPG elements for loads and loads of combat. Hence the “tactics” in the title.
As the title also implies, the game focuses on the Brotherhood of Steel, an organization made up from the descendants of whatever US military survived the nuclear war. It mainly seeks to get its hands on all advanced technology, so that the civvies couldn’t use it to blow themselves up again. The player is a new member of a BoS branch near Chicago: they are what’s left of a failed blimp expedition and have started, among other things, accepting recruits from among the locals. As such, you’re promptly sent out on a mission to deal with some pesky raiders.
The character creation is the same as in other Fallout games (SPECIAL attributes, skills, traits and perks), but here you can almost straight up dump any stats that influence communication. With the exception of “barter”, killing related skills are the most important here. And don’t try to make a jack-of-all-trades guy – your first team members will be a medic and a sniper. Oh yeah, you don’t control only the player character here – there’s a combat squad of maximum six…let’s just say people that you will command. The only difference between the PC and them is that you can let them die in a mission. But that is inadvisable – beside all the lost loot carrying capacity, these will be men and women that you, personally, lead through some tough situations and trained them accordingly to your needs. You can’t easily replace a high level medic or a heavy weapons expert. Except for one guy named Brian that I took along early, to be a pack mule and a generic butt monkey. His idiotic mug and uselessness eventually got to me and there came a time when he died, and I just carried on with the mission, without loading an earlier savegame.
You start with Farsight and Stitch; you also take Brian for his strong back but not much else.
Gone are the days of randomly wandering between towns. There are only two types of locations: BoS bunkers, where you offload loot, buy new gear, and recruit new members. And missions, where you offload your ammo via shooting, loot new gear, and hope that the new guy isn’t useless. You won’t be returning to mission locations afterwards, but one bunker can be the hub for several missions. Oh, and there are also random encounters while travelling, but there’s nothing much to talk about there.
The missions themselves are pretty straightforward. You are dropped off at the start, the objective is somewhere at the end of some linear path, and between you and it stands an army of soon-to-be corpses and loot donors. That’s pretty much it. However, combat has been reworked. Like, there are three flavours of “Turn Based” to choose from. Individual turn based works like in other Fallout games, where every character gets a turn. Squad turn based gives a turn to one side, then the other. My favourite is the continuous turn based mode: it plays much like a real time strategy game, with everyone acting at the same time and action points regenerating according to Agility scores. It’s fast, it’s intense and you’ll be saving and loading a lot.
Since controlling six troopers at once can be troublesome, sentry mode has been introduced to the CTB mode: there are three states of it, that determine whether your soldiers open fire on their own or not. This is useful for, say, luring an enemy into an ambush, or just leaving some troopers unattended while your macho man BoS Paladin goes face to face with the foe. Another neat thing is stances: your characters can now crouch and lay down. Yep, the sniper is going to be seeing a lot of dirt in her career.
This game had multiplayer to boot! Take this, newer fallouts!
While blasting fools, raiders and other miscreants that don’t run away when they hear “Brotherhood of Steel” is fun; it’s hard to accomplish without a decent boomstick. And this game has loads and loads of boomsticks. A lot of them are taken from real life too (unlike that abominable combat shotgun from Fallout 3 that looks like a mangled PPsh 41), even if it would not make much sense (…so, I’m firing my Sten gun at some supermutants…). There’s a pleasant array of armor too (I still think the local Power armor looks sweeter than its cousins in other Fallout games). Mines appear in the game and are hated, a lot. Unlike in, say, Silent Storm (where bomb defusal was done by shooting at it), they are trickier to spot and remove.
What I consider an oddity is how much food you find – I event started collecting it instead of eating it. Another interesting thing is that, beside the money that the BoS uses, you have to use drugs to buy stuff from visiting tribes. Must be the local ravers then (*zing*).
And there are a lot of idiots in the wastes that try and halt the march of the BoS. You might start with raiders, but soon you’ll be popping giant roaches, gunning down deathclaws, and grinding super mutants into pulp with a Pancor Jackhammer (one of the most pleasant experiences in the game). What’s interesting is that the defeated factions will send some of their people to fill the recruit pool, so you might have a pretty colorful squad at the end.
The graphics have definitely improved since the first and the second game. The places you’ll fill with corpses look desolate and run down, while the BoS bunkers are cold and clean. The gore hasn’t gone away and there’re lots of them (unless you turn it off…why would you do that anyways?) and it adds to the fun. The sound isn’t special, but you can live with that. Though the shouts of the enemies will only float as lines of text…
While the lack of roleplaying and character dialogue might put some fans off, it’s not the worst thing, especially when “Tactics” gives away that this is, indeed, a different game. And, when you think about it this way, it does it’s work admirably.
…and then it’s declared non-canon. Sigh.