The worst thing about Fallout 1.5: Resurrection using the old amnesia plot is that the main character never has to explain why, on the run from mysterious ghouls, he/she opted to seek solace in a cave so infested with mutant critters that even the people in the nearby town apologise for it. But that’s OK. Punching and stabbing a few rats and mole rats and scorpions is a fine reminder that this isn’t your modern, fancy, VATS-enabled Fallout 3 or 4, but the far more brutal original.
Resurrection is a Czech-made mod, ten years in the making and two and a half years in the translating. It’s a Fallout 2 mod—easily installed over the top of any copy, from GOG to Steam to the original—set between the first two games, and with an installer that packs in a few handy features such as support for high-res, unlimited saves, and mousewheel. They don’t make the experience feel all that much more modern, but they smooth out a few annoyances.
What awaits past the old interface and annoying starter dungeon is a great new Fallout adventure that keeps very true to the originals, while still putting its own stamp on things. The action takes place around Albuquerque and a few other smaller settlements such as corrupt Rat City, and all of them have quests and characters. Tonally, it’s something of a mix between the first two games, settlements are in better condition and more characters are around, as in Fallout 2, but minus most of the silly stuff that divided the fanbase.
There’s a real sense of threat in wandering around: that sense of being unwelcome anywhere, with everyone you meet thirsty for blood or caps. How you handle them is, as ever, up to you. The areas aren’t densely packed with characters, but those you meet offer plenty of potential for missions and ways to stab people in the back, as well as acts of bastardry such as persuading a poverty-stricken girl prostitution is her best way of making a few caps and then running off afterwards instead of paying her. Even in a tough world, that’s a dick move. Literally, and figuratively.
Calling Resurrection “tough” isn't simply just recognition of its '90s lineage, when RPGs didn’t hold your hand. This is a Fallout game for Fallout fans, and it pulls no punches. To give just one example, while Fallout 2 didn’t particularly mind you walking across the whole map (handy for the 15-minute speed-run) and fleeing enemy encounters, Resurrection quickly throws you against a gang of angry ghouls who can take you out with their high-powered rifle before you get close to the exit marker. Get past those, and the game’s not averse to encounters where you start off surrounded by wild dogs. In short, rushing this one isn’t a great idea—in as much as you can rush a game promising around 25 hours of content.
Not that you’d want to, anyway. Resurrection does a good job of not just setting a story in the old Fallout universe, but understanding its appeal, flow, and general maturity level when dealing with the darker side. Fallout itself occasionally took things a touch too far, such as the porn star options in the second game, while here it’s part and parcel of a brutal world where the meek have inherited slightly less than jack shit.
Given the new setting, it’s easy to forget that this is even a mod. Really, the only major things it lacks are the close-up animated portraits for key characters, since those would have been too much of a headache to model and implement. You get around 80 maps, just in case you thought any corners were cut here. This is very much a modding labour of love, and one well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the original games. If you haven’t played those, you’re better off doing that first, and not just because they’re classics for a reason and well worth playing.
They also offer a smoother introduction to ’90s-level-difficulty nuclear wastelands without expecting too much know-how on your part. As long as you’ve taken advantage of the manual that comes with most purchasable copies of the originals, anyway. For longer-term fans, especially those disappointed that we never got the cancelled Van Buren (parts of its story, yes, but not the traditional Fallout style), this is as close to a proper third instalment as you’re ever going to play.
Fallout 1.5: Resurrection is out now and can be downloaded here.