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The game itself is simple, yet surprisingly complex. The game utilizes the SPECIAL system, which provides amazing versatility in character creation and execution. Skill tests are made using a combination of environmental factors, skill level and stat modifiers. Your character has a certain amount of space for equipment, armor and weapons.
For its time, the world of Fallout 2 was huge. There are easily 60+ hours worth of content in the game. The other trick of the game is that it can be amazingly short as well. There are certain loopholes which can be exploited to finish the game in under 30 minutes. Part of the sandbox style of play is that after the intro area, the game is completely non-linear. You can travel to any location you wish and play the game in any order you wish. It may not always be the smartest idea to go to certain places right off the bat, but you can!
Along with witty dialog and an epic storyline, Fallout 2 is packed with pop culture and obscura references. For instance: one random encounter has you running across a crashed USS Enterprise Shuttle from the original Star Trek. The deceased crew scattered around the shuttle are all wearing red uniforms.
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The normal in-game graphics are rather simple. The character runs around a hex-filled map (though the hexes are usually invisible) and dialog interactions are carried out in a computer menu interface with buttons indicating dialog or action choices. The game is punctuated by a few full-motion videos, but they are rare.
The game also features some advanced animation in the form of “talking heads." Most NPC dialog is carried out through text. However, several characters throughout the game are given special treatment with an animated head and actual audio dialog (hence the talking heads.)
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As with graphics, the sound design for the game may appear simple, but is actually quite clever. You will find an ambient track below the player-related sound and the music that fits the scene quite well. If you are in an abandoned town, you will hear the wind rustling, wooden doors banging against ill-fitting frames and windows creaking. If you visit New Reno, you will hear gunshots, screaming and hushed conversations.
The voice acting that does appear is excellent. Each of the talking heads has a very distinct personality, evident not only in their appearance but in their voice as well. Star Trek: The Next Generation fans will be treated to a performance by Michael Dorn (as Frank Horrigan.)
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Despite numerous bugs and glitches, Fallout 2 remains one of the most popular RPGs ever published for PC. Its timeless story, classic gameplay and cast of memorable characters make it worth playing again and again.
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Pentium 90 MHz
16 MB RAM
600 MB Hard Disk Space
DirectX compatible SVGA card
4X CD-ROM drive
Windows 95 or better