Turning back the clock on Fallout

So, not happy with Fallout 3? If so, you’re crazy. Game of the year, in my not-so-humble opinion.

But even though this irradiated epic is one totally fine modern RPG, loaded with the actiony, first-persony stuff that you just have to have in the post-Oblivion era, the new game is worlds apart from its predecessors, released by Interplay in the 1990s. Wake up from a decade-long coma and you’ll wonder what happened to the isometric camera and turn-based combat. Oh, and Monica Lewinsky.

In short, the new boss is not the same as the old boss. As great as Fallout 3 is, hardcore types still in love with the first two Fallouts’ third-person point-of-view and oh-so-calculated battle mechanics must have a hard time accepting that these role-playing conventions went out of vogue at the same time as beret-wearing interns. Thankfully, these grizzled folk don’t have to come to grips with a new apocalyptic RPG, as modders have been putting in long hours to renovate the old ones for contemporary computers.

To get started, be sure to visitNo Mutants Allowed immediately after digging those old Fallout boxes out of the closet. But be warned: this is a capital-H hardcore site filled with fanatics who think Fallout 3 pissed on the graves of its predecessors, so skip the attitude in the site’s forums and go straight to the mod index (hands up if you think the site admins screwed up by not naming this section the Vault), which has the most complete collection of Fallout files on the net.

With a few tweaks here and there, Fallout 2 shines up pretty nicely

As with most mod communities, the one here blends good and bad. Your mileage will vary as to which is which. But everyone will want to begin withMatt "Mash" Wells’ patchesto get the 640x480 games running in higher resolutions for modern widescreen monitors. Then be sure to installTimeslip’s Sfall mods, which do a lot to remove the sluggish feel of the turn-based games. These small files make the Fallouts more palatable in today’s A.D.H.D. gaming world by cranking up movement and combat to ten times their original speeds, adding mousewheel support, and allowing play in a window.

From there, continue to get your mutated feet wet. ConsiderTeamX’s Patch 1.3.4,a handy file that addresses lingering bugs in the first Fallout. Look atPal’s Fallout Update Modfor its introduction of three new quests and 27 new characters. And be sure to check into Killap’s hugeRestoration Projectfor Fallout 2, a veritable expansion pack that adds in a pile of locations, characters, and quests cut out of the original game by the developers at Black Isle Studios. All of the mods also seem to play nice with both the original Fallout games and the revamped XP- and Vista-compatible downloadable versions of the duo fromGood Old Games, so you can go homebrewed without hunting around in a bargain bin.

The lone drawback to all of these great mods is that they can draw you into the past so often that you don’t take the time to fully appreciate Fallout 3. Try not to miss the classic-in-waiting that modders will be also obsessing over in a decade—unless, of course, a nuclear holocaust drives us into our Vaults.


FarCrysis is exactly what it sounds like: the incestuous union of two great games

If you didn’t get enough of hunting the Jackal in the real Far Cry 2, soon you’ll be able to hunt the evil arms dealer again in the FarCrysis total conversion for Crysis. Creator Simon “Simrad” Radivoev is keeping the rough outline of the plot while crafting all-new missions to mix everything up. No word yet on a release date, although the mod has been in production since early 2008, so we just might see something playable soon.

December 16, 2008