Fallout 3 and New Vegas are great titles in their way but Fallout 2, along with the original Fallout, defined the series as it is now known. The events of FO2 take place 80 years after the conclusion of the first game and roughly 30 years prior to the advent of the Lone Wanderer in the Capital Wasteland. You are the direct descendant of the Vault Dweller, living a tribal existence in Arroyo. At the behest of the village elder you enter the Temple of Trials, emerging with your ancestor’s Vault gear, Pip-Boy 2000 and a mission.
You, as the Chosen One, will have to traverse the wastes looking for Vault 13, the place where a Garden of Eden Creation Kit is supposed to be. Along the way you’ll encounter the Enclave, representative of the New California Republic and perhaps the Brotherhood of Steel. Gameplay is a combination of isometric exploration and turn-based combat and surviving in the Wastes is a much tougher proposition than in Fallout 3. Stuff really wants you dead.
Fallout 2 is a true RPG, close to the pen and paper games that originally defined role playing. Interacting with NPCs and the environment is all done via dialogue trees and a point and click interface with a lot to see, do and explore.
Graphically FO2 is nowhere near current titles but it still makes up for this by dealing with far more adult themes than any of the recent updates. Drug use, prostitution and the issue of slavery rear their heads and are explored in a manner that brings these issues close to the player. You never know, you may wind up a slave at some point. Or owning a few
The theme of karma carries on from the first title in the series, ensuring that your actions have ramifications beyond your immediate location and dictating available options. Choosing to ally with particular factions and how you resolve disputes becomes integral to later play, a method that remains sophisticated even today.
The lore of the Fallout universe is expanded on in Fallout 2. Reams of information regarding the nuclear war, Vaults and sometimes just personal stories of people in exceptional situations can be found all over the Wastes. You can recruit party members to assist in your quests, should you be lucky enough. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system (Strength through Luck attributes) remains in place, Skills can be upgraded through learning or levelling and optional Perks are available from the outset when designing your character. The option to play through as anything from a lumbering warrior to a charismatic shyster and every permutation in between ensures that Fallout 2 will never truly get old. Just a little dusty.