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Game of the Month: Wasteland 2

By James Page

Developer: InXile Entertainment
ESRB: Mature
Release Date: 09/19/2014
System: PC/Mac/Linux
Rating:
Graphics: 3.0 out of 4.0
Game Play: 3.5 out of 4.0
Personal: 2.0 out of 2.0
Total Score: 8.5 out of 10.0

WastelandWelcome to the barren wasteland of Arizona. Although there was never much in the southwestern deserts of this state, even less remains in modern times. The Bombs have dropped, reducing civilization to ashes and trapping the survivors behind deadly clouds of radiation. Among the survivors are a group of army engineers who occupy a prison and turn it into a base of operations. From this base the engineers spread out over the land to help and protect the people who also survived the apocalypse. For their heroic actions the people of the wasteland begin to call the army engineers the “Desert Rangers.”

Over time the Desert Rangers help many people and vanquish increasingly greater threats to the people of the wasteland. However, things change with the passage of time. They move from the prison to a massive fortified base in the mountains.

The Desert Rangers grow complacent over the years and turn away from helping anyone they can and turn to protecting lands around their stronghold. Eventually, the people forget the heroic actions of the past, and remember only the bad.

New enemies rise from the ashes of the old and occupy deserted strongholds. The time has come for new Desert Rangers to take up the mantle of the old and step out of the stronghold to again venture forth into the wasteland. These heroes will have to make tough decisions to uphold justice and protect the many citizens of the wasteland.

“Wasteland 2” is a sequel to the post–apocalyptic RPG from the late 1980s, “Wasteland.” Originally released by Interplay, Wasteland put the player into the shoes of four people trying to maintain law and order in the barren radioactive wasteland of Arizona. The four people belonged to an organization known as the Desert Rangers who operate out of an old prison and strive to protect the inhabitants of the wasteland from problems such as raiders, slavers, religious zealots, robots, mutants, mad scientists, and killer rabbits. The original Wasteland was an innovative game, for its time, which presented the player with a world full of choices where the answers were never black and white, and the decisions one would make would have an impact throughout the game.

WastelandWasteland had never spawned a direct sequel but its spiritual successor, “Fallout;” also developed by Interplay, built upon the foundations created by Wasteland. After the Fallout series was purchased by Bethesda, the game-play style was changed and the series went on to gain widespread recognition and acclaim. However, playing “Fallout 3” and “New Vegas” reminded people of the fun time spent with the original Wasteland. Brian Fargo, creator of the original Wasteland, initiated a Kickstarter campaign and after a successful funding and development the long-awaited sequel to Wasteland was released.

“Wasteland 2” builds upon the elements which made the original great and incorporates numerous technological advancements made over the past 25 years. Wasteland 2 uses a world map feature, popular with games from the 1990s, where the player will plot a course of travel from one location to the next, all the while trying to avoid clouds of radiation and searching for water.

When one enters a location from the world map, players will be transported to an area map where they will be able to interact with various nonplayer characters and engage enemies. Battles take place in the area maps and are tactical in nature. The players will be able to maneuver their characters around the map to take advantage of the terrain in order to beat their enemies in turn-based combat.

The world of Wasteland 2 focuses heavily on resource management and opportunity costs. Items needed in the game are hard to come by, and as a result, the player must conserve the precious resources of water, healing items, and ammunition. Although it may be tempting to engage and kill an enemy with a rifle, this action will waste ammunition that won’t be available for use when the player really needs it in the future. In the end it may be better to avoid unnecessary combat.

This element of opportunity cost extends to character creation. The player must develop each character with a specific set of skills which will prove beneficial in the wasteland. However, there are too many skills to split among the characters, and as a result the player must either sacrifice skills or accept a weaker position with each in order to have access to more skills. These decisions tie into the game’s greater element of choices and consequences.

Wasteland 2 reintroduces elements from a bygone era of gaming to provide an enjoyable experience. Although the graphics in the game are not as advanced as some games, which are available, the overall story, comedic elements, and various cultural references more than make up for this small shortcoming.

Currently, the game can be purchased through Steam or Gog, and more information can be found at http://wasteland.inxile-entertainment.com. Overall, one will be absorbed into the world within the game and quickly lose track of the many hours of enjoyment spent playing the game.

Remember, like all games if you play them just to have fun there will never be a bad game.

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