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Mercenary's menu Fallout

Fallout Tactics

Game review
Press-demo (beta) review
Single Player demo review
Multiplayer demo review


Single player demo review
To download or not to download?

Standard practice is to write reviews to already released games, or restrict oneself to simple previews. But Fallout Tactics demo is a separate topic of discussion. This demo has created a furore among those who is not indifferent to Fallout. First of all, it has impressive size - 120 Mb in single file. Until now many people cannot download it or hesitating if it worth it... Initial comments on the game are varying a lot. Some people think the demo is wonderful, others are disappointed. Nevertheless, nobody is left indifferent, and this is good sign. Very few project have drawn such attention at the demo stage. When describing this demo, I will not spend too much words on game bugs. The developers have often warned there will be a lot of them in this version, and also many features are not implemented in it. Let's hope the bugs will remain in this demo only.

The demo includes four very interesting tutorial missions. No projects has paid so much attention to interactive instruction in game controls details. Each mission is teaching how to use some game features: burst fire, grenade throwing, sniping, ambush preparation, running, crawling, moving stealthy, opening locks, talking to NPC, etc. The mission starts with small cut scene where you can visually learn how to complete the mission objective.

So... that's real Radiation Deer?

Fallout Tactics has indeed excellent engine. Colour lighting, smooth tiles and 32bit color are traditional attributes of powerful accelerators. Micro-Forte programmers has proven their engine is able to implement such features fast enough without using any accelerators - I have learned this at first hand. At least Fallout has made a step over 640x480 mode. Tactics allow to play in three resolution modes - 800x600 and 1024x768 in 16bit color, and 1024x768 in 32bit color.

The engine successfully adapts sprites and tiles to higher resolution. While other games simply reduces the size of all objects, Tactics keeps the picture proportions.

Most interesting game moment is two real maps included. Each mission sets a number of objectives to achieve if you wish to win the game. The demo visually demonstrates how you can achieve the same goal in different ways. Tactics are large. Each map size is comparable to big town from initial Fallout series. Screen scrolling is very smooth, in spite of complex architecture and substantial amount of tiles and objects. Even bonfire animation don't slow up when the screen moves. However there is some incompleteness to notice. For example, building roofs sometimes do not disappear when you are standing in open doorways. As a result, you cannot see what is inside such building.

Generally, the developers have really succeeded to reproduce the athmosphere of Fallout on new, more powerful engine. There are enough signs confirming it - familiar music beloved by game fans, and even the spirit, something you can hardly catch, landscape details, various small things... All is like in Fallout, but much better, making new game even more intimate.

This is not Arulco!

Fallout Tactics have been often compared to X-Com and Jagged Alliance. Yes, these games have one common feature - tactics genre. It was good to note the developers have not tried to borrow other game experience but kept the traditions of original Fallout combat system. For example, this game is also switching to turn-based mode once the enemy is spotted. But now you can set the behaviour style for your characters, e.g. aggressive - and they will shoot on enemy as soon as he reach the effective range. The combats are not so quick as in other tactical games.

Yes, Fallout system is far from reality. Accurate head shot does not mean enemy's death. However this system perfectly fits multiplayer. Action points are being spent in slightly different way here. 1 AP allows to do several steps instead of one. And, for example, running takes less APs than croach movement mode. However running mode has own disadvantages, while croach mode provides better hiding.

Unlikely JA, the distance of combat matters a lot in the game! The weapons are not balanced yet, but you can clearly trace main principles. Even pistol may be very useful in the game, because it takes less time to shoot, and some models have burst fire mode - three bullets per shot. Shotguns are important too. Double shot from shotgun can significantly damage even soldier wearing metal armor (this demo has only two armor types). With respect to shot calculation, Tactics offers the unique opportunities. Like in previous Fallout series, burst mode is very unusual in Tactics. It is very dence and almost fatal in close combat. But if the distance is long, auto weapons mostly produces the wide area fire. You can easily damage own units so be very careful! The demo version arsenal is not too large, about 3 or 4 names from each weapon class.

TB versus CTB

You can try new CTB system in this demo as well. The fans of Fallout have been so afraid of it that even a priori declared Tactics outcast and renegade. But the system appeared to be not so bad like we presumed. We just forget how tiresome TB combats may be. And the second mission proved it clearly. Here you have to fight about a dozen of huge cockroaches. You just cannot imagine how boring it is in TB. Generally, CTB is not too different from common TB. APs simply regenerate simultaneously for whole team, accelerating the game process. This is not realtime mode where you have to play relying on spinal cord, and not lingering TB. It is very good combination of two systems. Many players were embarrassed by the speed of AP regeneration but one should remember - this is just demo version, and player is to be able to adjust AP regeneration level in release.

I cannot say what mode is better. Seems CTB is to be more preferable for multiplayer. Anyway, it is not project failure but pleasant innovation for whole tactics genre.

Personnel is everything!

Tactics system of character stats description is almost the same as in original Fallout. Plus rank system, new perks and racial specifications. The abundance of stats in Fallout really allowing to create unique and interesting characters. The domination of certain skills defines the character role. Medic can only heal and cannot shoot, so it is useless to send him on mission as sniper. Scout is able to hide excellently, set the mines and sneak into enemy's camp. At the same time the game has no obvious character classes - just skills and special stats you can develop to create a necessary specialist.

By the way, it was pleasant surprise for me to discover the game still allow to steal! Believe me, I have taken a sin upon my soul, but get some nice stuff on one mission.

In addition to hireable characters, there are NPC in the game. And I just liked the new dialogue system allowing you to remain in tactics screen. I see no retreat from RPG base of Fallout here. You have to act, not talk in Tactics!

Not a SkyNet, but not an arithmometer too!

And finally, another important game aspect - Artificial Intelligence. In this demo AI's not too intelligent - sorry for this pun. But there are some good inclinations. For example, the enemy is patrolling his territory and already able to go croach, prone, retreat in due time, and even hide to place with better cover, far enough from your cutthroats.

Generally, the demo makes a good impression. Tactics has justified my hopes. Let's just wait for developers to fix existing imperfections - improve weapon balance, change cursors and modify AI. I have no doubts they'll do it. So I think the success of Tactics is inevitable! If someone will ask me if it worth to download this demo, I'll definitely say yes. Take a chance to see all these great things with your own eyes!

- Yuri Bushin

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