The 1997 release Fallout is set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with mutant critters, rough survivalist humans, and a rare sci-fi plot in a genre saturated with D&D-style fantasy narration. You, one of the inhabitants of an underground vault, must venture into the radiation-baked wastes to find equipment necessary to save your fellow vault-dwellers.
From the first moment, when you design your character, the game is engaging. Should you focus on sniping skills, so later on you can expect to put a bullet in a man's eye at 100 yards? Should you be able to count on talking your way out of sticky spots? Should you rely on good trade to finance your adventure, or perhaps focus on an aptitude for the ol' "five-finger discount?"
The decisions don't end there, though. From the first moment you stumble upon your first peaceful little village in the wastes, it is your choice whether to help them with their woes, coldly pass on by, or maybe even massacre the inhabitants for a giggle. You can choose to be evil or angelic, but your reputation will start to precede you sooner or later, and your encounters will be strongly affected.
Fallout's graphics are characterized by a third-person, isometric sprite-based view (think original Starcraft or Diablo). Despite this somewhat dated format, the visual appeal of the game is one of its greatest strengths. The post-nuclear world of the wastes is beautiful, if brown. Exploring the world of Fallout is one of the greatest pleasures of playing, second only to the first time you obtain a plasma rifle and roast some cocky bandits.
The gameplay of Fallout is intuitive and relatively smooth, if a bit old-fashioned. The dialog is realistic and even thought-provoking, the puzzles are tricky but not impossible. The combat is turn-based, and actually involves a lot of thought and strategy, but it takes a while.
All-in-all, Fallout is a fantastic game that can still captivate and delight the modern gamer looking for an old-school rpg experience. The best part? Fallout is available for download at GOG.com, DRM-free for only $5.99, and it's been adapted to work with modern operating systems without a hitch or trouble with backward-compatibility settings. They offer the sequel as well. A real bargain for instant access to heavily-irradiated fun!