LGR – Wasteland – DOS PC Game Review

  21 Nov 2019


[typing] When it comes to post-apocalyptic
role-playing games for the PC, Fallout is pretty much the
undisputed go-to game series. And I don’t question that at all because, hey, it gets me hard. But go back a little bit further and
you’ll find that wasn’t always the case. Why? Because Wasteland! Developed by Interplay Productions
and published By Electronic Arts in 1988 for the Apple II, Commodore 64
and IBM-compatible PCs. This is the PC version here in the
typical big box-style retail package, although it was also released in the
older LP sleeve-style gatefold packaging that EA Games had throughout the ’80s. Hot. Mean. Radioactive. It’s 2087 and war… War never changes. And, yes, this is indeed by the
creators of the Bard’s Tale series, as well as the 1997 Interplay game Fallout. Guys like Brian Fargo, Ken St. Andre, Michael Stackpole and Alan Pavlish
worked on this Wasteland game, which was the game that provided the inspiration,
setting, and basic concept for the later Fallout series. Inside the folding box, you get some more awesome artwork, showing the developers of the game
and other assorted awesomeness that EA used to do back when they were
self-proclaimed electronic artists. Tucked away in this little Infocom-style tray, you get the game itself on two
double-density 5¼-inch floppy disks, ads for the official Wasteland
clue book and disk format upgrades, a Command Summary Card –
which is not actually a card and is more of a pamphlet,
but whatever, it’s useful as nuts – the manual, which details
all the information you need on how to install, play and understand
the game and its bountiful options, and a booklet called the Wasteland Paragraphs. This is not only entertaining but is
also the game’s copy protection, since there is nothing on the disks
stopping you from copying that floppy. Throughout the game, you’re told to
look up a numbered paragraph in here, and seeing as many of these
are vital for progressing the story, it’s a must-have if you’re
looking to enjoy the game and make it so that you
suck just slightly less at it. Wasteland begins with a title screen, showing you the 16-color EGA logo, as well as some credits and a bit of
backstory if you wait around long enough. The story is simple yet significant, so surely survey its specific sum and substance till it silently ceases scrolling. In 1998, global nuclear war broke out. What, you don’t remember that? I do. Because the United States and the Soviets had a little disagreement
over the Citadel Starstation. Yeah, this game was made before
the Iron Curtain fell, so just roll with it. Anyway, both the U.S. and the Russians
were being giant douche weasels, and proceeded to nuke the dick out of each other and… everyone else lost as a result. But it wasn’t complete and total annihilation, as several pockets of civilization remained. On of them was a company of U.S. Army engineers
in the Southwestern states near Las Vegas. They stuck together and over the next
89 years became the Desert Rangers, a group of dudes and dudettes who were proficient
in both combat AND nerdy mathematical wisdom. You start off in their base of
operations known as Ranger Center, and it’s up to you to form a party and investigate some ambiguous
disturbances in the nearby desert and beyond. You’re given a party of four to begin with, although you can recruit up to three more if you find any willing
non-player characters in-game. The cheekily-named Hell Razor, Angela Death, Thrasher and Snake Vargas are the default rangers, but chances are you’ll just want to roll your own. Based on the tabletop role-playing
games Tunnels & Trolls and Mercenaries Spies & Private Eyes, you’ve got eight stats to work with: Strength, Intelligence, Luck, Speed, Agility, Dexterity, Charisma and Skill Points. These do all sorts of awesomely geeky role-playey things, like determining your aim, dodging, lock-picking, persuasive ability, hit points, damage dealt, and so on. You can also choose your gender, which not only determines how you’ll pee, but determines how certain people treat you, and if you can enter certain areas. And you can also choose your nationality, which has little to no bearing on
the gameplay as far as I could tell, but I get it’s cool, if you want to ham up the
cheesy stereotypes for your role. Then you get to apply some skill
points to a plethora of skills, the number of which is
determined by your intelligence. And you’re off! Tim to do something stupid, die and be kicked back to DOS. Yes, this game is a difficult game. It’s a game from another time, when computer role-playing games
didn’t always rely on a massive world filled with a billion and one
places to go for content. But, man, it sure made what it did have count by making you feel more useless than a Phillips head screwdriver
at a flathead screwdriver convention. Chances are you’ll die off pretty quickly, because this is absolutely unforgiving until it bashes you in the head enough times
that you learn its quirks, strategies and agendas. Thankfully, controlling the game from
its top-down perspective is quite simple. While you can use your mouse
to move your party around, it’s cumbersome and finicky, so your best bet is using the keyboard. And since the rest of the game can
be controlled with the keyboard anyway, you may as well get used to the
various commands and shortcuts. In fact, it even has a built-in macro editor, which allows you to program sequential
key presses and map them to the function keys. Mmm… built-in laziness. You just gotta love that. Besides the controls for
movement and resting and such, you also have the buttons below the
status window along the bottom of the screen. These menus let you use and interact with items and people, set up encounters, adjust the order or formation your party moves in, disband or split up party members, view separated party members,
save your game and quit to DOS, and radio your superior in order to get a field promotion, i.e., level up your character. It’s actually pretty self-explanatory. In fact, I was able to get the hang of the gameplay
without having to resort to the manual very much at all, which is always good in adventure
role-playing games like this. Not to say it’s simplistic, though, but it’s designed in such a way
that makes logical sense and actually seems rather ahead
of its time in some respects. Another thing adding to this is
the fact that the world is persistent, and doesn’t reset any time during a game session. That is, you have this big map to explore, but it’s populated by people, creatures and events
that change when you do something to them, and then they stay changed. They don’t reset when you leave. This may not sound like much nowadays, but this dynamic aspect goes a long way in making the world feel that much
more alive, malleable and believable. Then there’s the fact that it’s just a
freakin’ awesome place to explore. Seriously, like the Fallout games that succeeded it, Wasteland’s wasteland is one wonderfully
grimy messed up post-apocalyptic playground. The more you play it, the more menacing, the more hostile and the more
straight up interesting it gets. From psychotic leather-clad thugs
to murderous juvenile punks, to the disturbing cyborg Chopters, to blood-thirsty rabid dogs, to the disgustingly vile Trash Slitherers, to the killer… bunnies that look nothing like bunnies but will tear
you to shreds in a heartbeat. What the frick? This game is chock-full of
stuff that wants to kill you and the thing is half the time
it’ll just pop out of nowhere unless you’re incredibly perceptive. So just walking around
a simple desert town or through a seemingly empty cave
is positively nerve-racking. There is never a moment’s rest, unless you take a moment to rest, which you’ll need to do
in order to restore your health. Or heal yourself using medical
supplies and the appropriate skill. Or just find a doctor and have them fix you up
and take care of the more serious ailments, like, you know, being comatose
and having your face ripped off. Of course, there are things you can
acquire and actions you can take to prevent exploding like a blood sausage. Things like finding and buying sweet loot, providing you better armor and better weapons. from .45 caliber handguns to SMGs and rifles, grenades and freakin’
laser guns and rocket launchers. You’ll also figure out how to best go
about the turn-based combat system, which relies heavily on the proper mix of attacking, evading, running, reloading, using your skills and all that stuff. And you will be in combat a lot, and you need a lot of experience to
become even half-decent at staying alive. So the more practice you can get in without dying, the better. Eventually, you’ll run into more
focused story and plot elements that actually get pretty interesting, but it’s surprising just how
open-ended the game actually is. Contemporary CRPGs often had
a rather strict plot line to follow, but not so much here. It’s often just your crew against
the awfulness of the desert wastes, trying to survive and better yourselves, while gathering all the info
you can when you can, and figuring out people’s problems
as you come across them. And I think that’s fantastic. While a more linear campaign can be amazing, I also really enjoy a game that gives
you the tools to do what you want, while hinting at more as you dick around on your own
morally reprehensible terms. Yeah, the game is almost unbearably difficult at times, and even verges on being unfair with how certain
enemies will ambush you and keep you cornered. But in the context of this messed-up world and with how the combat works, it just makes sense to me and it keeps me highly motivated to keep me playing. In short, Wasteland is awesome. And it’s now on GOG.com and Steam, so the rare and expensive physical versions are no longer obnoxious barriers for entry. So, if you want a guided role-playing
experience with a grand quest line… this is not it. But, if you want a gritty, post-apocalyptic world that lets you bash in heads and reduce
radioactive monsters to a thin, red paste, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better
classic computer game than Wasteland. Did you enjoy this video? Would you like more videos to enjoy, hopefully? Definitely! There’s more. Click these to go to them. Or if you’d like even more… moreness, just click the subscribe thingy
to subscribe and things, because that’s a cool thing that happens on YouTube. It provides more content, and I do it every week. And as always, thanks for watching.

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