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Fallout: New Vegas mega-primer - a brief history of Fallout in two universes

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (2001, Developer: Micro Forté)

In the Fallout universe:

*NOTE: Only a few of the events of FOT:BoS are considered canon, and this article assumes the events alluded to in FO3 dialogue is the canon ending* 

All is well and good in California (as well as “good” can be in Post Apocalyptia), but not so in the Midwest. The Brotherhood of Steel, a quasi-knightly order dedicated to the preservation of pre-war technology, is fighting hard in and around Chicago. The Great Plains are now home to legions of malevolent factions, and the Brotherhood is the only beacon of order in sight. But their numbers are thin, so they’re forced to recruit from the local tribal populace in order to fill the ranks. The player takes on the role of one such initiate. 

Leading a squad of fellow initiates into battle against a clan of Raiders, the Initiate soon earns himself a place as a proper Brother of Steel. It is revealed that the immediate goal of the Midwestern Brotherhood is to push into Colorado in order to find “Vault 0”, a supposed treasure trove of pre-war technology and the key to dominating the Midwestern US. However the warring factions of the region make attaining their goals difficult.

After the Initiate has finished wading through the corpses of Beastlords, mutants, and Reavers, his unit finally reaches “Vault 0” (revealed to be Cheyenne Mountain). Vault 0 also happens to be the home base of a malevolent brain/computer hybrid known simply as “The Calculator”.

The Initiate’s unit strikes deep in Cheyenne Mountain, past the Calculator’s armies of robots, until it destroys the Calculator itself. Having finally found a defensible position, the Brotherhood formally establishes its Midwestern chapter.

Meanwhile, back in the real world: While Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is the third title released in the Fallout series, it is not to be confused with Fallout 3. Nor is it to be confused with the similar sounding Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. Nor, for that matter, does it have anything to do with “Van Buren”, the game that would have been Fallout 3 if it had been finished before publisher Interplay pulled the plug. It’s pure spin-off.

FOT:BoS is not well liked with many “purist” Fallout fans. It gets many of the details already established in the Fallout universe wrong (i.e. scarcity of fossil fuels, ability for the Brotherhood to manufacture Power Armor). Furthermore, it remains simply a tactical strategy game as opposed to a proper role-playing game. The player cannot respond to NPC dialogue, and the opportunity for free-form exploration is severely hamstrung. However, it does offer a far more robust combat system than the previous titles.

The most notable aspect of this new system was the introduction of the “Continuous Turn-Based Combat System” as opposed to the “Individual Turn-Based” of the previous titles. CTB acts similarly to Final Fantasy IV’s Active Time Battles in that combat isn’t strictly a matter of each character taking turns and waiting patiently for it to be his/her/its turn again. Instead, each player or squadmate has an onscreen action bar that fills up automatically at a speed determined by the character’s Agility stat. When it’s full, that character can attack. In addition to faster paced battles, FOT:BoS also enabled players to assume the standing/crouched/prone stances that have become a staple of today’s military shooters.


Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (Interplay, Developer: 2004)

In the Fallout universe:

*NOTE: Due to inconsistencies, few (if any) events in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel are considered canon. So you can read this, but don’t lodge it in the ol’ long-term memory unless you want to ridicule it later.*

The year is 2208 AD (131 AGW), the place is Carbon, Texas, and our hero is…a little vague. Okay, all of the heroes were vague from the previous Fallout titles but at least those games were decent enough to let us create our own. In FO:BoS the player must choose between 3 predetermined characters: Cyrus the guy, Nadia the girl, or Cain the Ghoul.

The story is actually pretty basic for a Fallout title. The player character joins the Brotherhood of Steel, knocks some heads around until a Super Mutant threat is discovered. Kills a bunch of Super Mutants (and a Super Mutant blob), knocks off for the end credits.

Meanwhile, back in the real world: FO:BoS wasn’t special, but it did contribute many notable firsts to the Fallout universe. It was the first console-only Fallout title (PS2, Xbox) and the first Fallout Action RPG, and the first Fallout game to totally suck. It’s also usually reviled by Fallout loyalists for another first: unabashed product placement. A real-world energy drink obnoxiously named Bawls Guarana replaced the series’ trademark Nuka Cola as post-apocalyptia’s drink of choice. This travesty even went so far as to make a Bawls bottle cap worth 50 regular bottle caps. Furthermore, FO:BoS is the only Fallout game to not feature Ron Perlman’s “War Never Changes” opening monologue. SACRILEGE!

Even the game’s own producer, Chuck Cuevas lambasted Interplay’s decision to undermine Fallout’s established artistic and material consistency in and article for Duck and Cover.

Right, let’s say no more of it.

Next Page: Rebirth and the Future

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35 comments

  • Henragorn - October 21, 2010 7:21 a.m.

    Very interesting article :) Cant wait to buy New Vegas
  • EricBratcher - October 20, 2010 11:23 p.m.

    Actually, in response to your point The_Tingler, you could do that with the ghoul dude as well. I was thinking I got a reasonable ending when I sent them in instead of a cop-out like you've described, but I may be mistaken. I reloaded that save several times to see all the variations and I may be forgetting which went with which.
  • EricBratcher - October 20, 2010 11:16 p.m.

    We're fixing the pics now. Sorry about that. I wish I could say it was a meta-joke.
  • Chaoscoolperson - October 20, 2010 8:45 p.m.

    Thanks for explaining the story so I don't have to play the others. Also Fallout 2 seems like fable in an apocalyptic nightmare. And finally Now I think i might get fallout New Vegas.
  • BrunettePride - October 20, 2010 11:45 a.m.

    Thanks for doing this! The first Fallout game I ever played was 3, which got me interested in the first two games on PC. I'm extremely excited for New Vegas, I have the Collectors Edition on pre-order and I really cannot wait to see what this is going to be like, especially with it being Obsidian. Going to be interesting to see some of Van Burens areas come to life!
  • FreekinIdiot - October 20, 2010 10:33 a.m.

    Where's your review guys? I'm desperate to read it :)
  • G0D - October 20, 2010 6:01 a.m.

    This definitely got me pumped (and more educated) to play New Vegas!
  • Smeggs - October 20, 2010 12:20 a.m.

    That Super-Mutant looks like a cross between Shrek and an Orc from WoW. Also, a device that can change the wasteland? *GASP* Could it be...A GECK?! God I hope Bethesda isn't that predictable, I really do. AND I BETTER GET A PROPER ENDING THIS TIME, DAMNIT! None of that "Pictures show up while narrator talks about how you died/failed/killed your teammate/turned into an evil douche and murdered all impure beings in the wastes with the modified FEV for about thirty seconds before rolling credits."
  • philipshaw - October 19, 2010 9:26 p.m.

    Getting New Vegas on Friday so this was a intresting read for me
  • 435 - October 19, 2010 6:52 p.m.

    Great article, aside from art mixups! Having played all of these to completion (yes, even the console beat-em-up piece of shit), it was a lovely trip down memory lane. Maybe I'll install 1 and 2 on my netbook tomorrow. :|a
  • AlpineGuy - October 19, 2010 5:17 p.m.

    Cool retrospective. Makes me really want to play the first two Fallouts now...
  • AA95mp - October 19, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    i can't fucking wait for new vegas! also i don't mean to be too nerdy but Harold is actualy a super mutant, just a different kind from what we're used to.
  • Chiefslapaho - October 19, 2010 2:29 p.m.

    cool
  • nikrusty - October 19, 2010 11:01 a.m.

    Awesome article dudes...thanks. I actually played FO 2 before the launch of FO 3 as I wanted a taste of FO Universe. The only thinng that FO3 really lacks I felt, a better more engaging NPC character playout, something akin to ME 2 series.
  • Dan3va - October 19, 2010 9:48 a.m.

    you got the images for fallot tactics and fallout brotherhood of steel mixed up. the 2004 releases picture is with the 2001 game and vise versa
  • Yaro - October 19, 2010 9:05 a.m.

    Funny, I took a quick glance at the pics (the map is awesome) then I glanced over the headlines and thought to myself "damn, I gotta read all of this" (as in it sounds interesting and I'd like to refresh my memory) and the first sentence of the article told me "you don't HAVE to read all of this"....I lol'd. You do what you please and you please what you do. Keep up the good work. =)
  • NightCrawler_358 - October 19, 2010 4:06 a.m.

    Great article! Man, i know its horrible to say, but i wish you could still kill children in New Vegas. I swear, in 3, everytime i go into Little Lamplight!-i just dream of the day.
  • Crimmy - October 19, 2010 3:58 a.m.

    Can you fix the Fallout Tactics and Brotherhood pics? They are switched. For some reason, that really bugs me.
  • The_Tingler - October 19, 2010 3:06 a.m.

    The most annoying thing about Fallout 3 was the slightly screwed up ending, which you briefly touched on. If you had a Super Mutant companion (whose name I forget), you could ask him to go in the radioactive chamber and he'd be totally fine - but the game would still treat you like you killed him. Really, really looking forward to New Vegas.
  • YuGiOhisbetterthanMagic - October 19, 2010 2:57 a.m.

    YES! although, i do have to be that guy and say that it is in fact, possible to get a G.E.C.K in fallout 2, so you dont HAVE to go back to arroyo empty handed.

Showing 1-20 of 35 comments

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