The first PC my family bought was in 1994.
It was a Compaq Presario, running Windows 3.1 and wasn’t running even an Intel Celeron (didn’t appear on the scene until 1998). It was a slow beast of a machine and we had a programme called ‘Tabworks’ to keep everything tidy and sorted on the desktop (incidentally, I loved ‘Tabworks’!) – besides my GameGear and GameBoy this was really my first introduction into gaming – we had ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘The Lion King’ on floppy disk (I think they had about 6 disks each!) it also had a CD ROM drive but I can’t remember using this much.
Later I upgraded it to Windows 95 using my Christmas money, it did give us more options for games (I got a free climbing game with it) but all I really played was ‘Simon the Sorcerer’ with my dad. I think I did buy ‘The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes – the Case of the Rose Tattoo’ but our computers spec’ wasn’t up to running it (first time I played it was on board RFA Fort George, New Year’s Eve in Portsmouth dock).
Eventually, somewhere around 1998 this PC finally gave up the ghost and we sold it to a friend as nothing more than a fancy typewriter. The second PC we bought was a Packard Bell, don’t know what make but I do know we entered the world of fast computers with the latest processor – the Intel Celeron, we now had all of 333Mhz to play with and Windows 98… the latest in PC technology. The best part though was that the computer included several games, we got ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Actua Soccer 3’, a racing game and the behemoth that was ‘Fallout’.
I fell instantly in love with ‘Blade Runner’, it was an awesome gem of a game and I have longed to see this in the vintage gaming sections (perhaps GOG could rescue it from obscurity and bring it into the light for the accolade it deserves). I played it long into the nights and occasionally had to be forcibly removed from the computer by my mum who wanted to use it for work (she taught computing), eventually I got all I could out it and moved onto the contents of the tin (the games were in a round tin).
I installed ‘Fallout’, curious because all the disk had on it was the rather attractive gentleman below and there were no instructions. The instant that voice over started and I saw the post-apolitical wastelands looming across my screen… I was hooked. I spent hours just wandering aimlessly across the vast wastelands looking for this damn waterchip and encountering all sorts of strange people – I keep meaning to go back and play ‘Fallout’ as I’m sure there was a lot of the game that went over my 12yr old head. The random events made me laugh, particularly when I encountered a mysterious blue police box and the crashed alien spaceship that had a photograph of Elvis buried in the rubble!
Everything about this game was pure genius, the controls I loved as at that time I wasn’t into the FPS genre (in my head they existed on consoles and I was rubbish with the controller) and it was full of quirky humour. I remember joining the Brotherhood of Steel because their power armor was amazing to look at, I think I then got bored and started to massacre the members – the fact that I could choose how to interact with the game made it stand out from the other ones I was playing at the time. ‘Ripper’ or ‘Descent II’ didn’t allow me to choose evil, nor did any of my Star Trek games.
Likely based on my love for ‘Fallout’ my uncle bought me ‘Civilisation II Deluxe Edition’ for Christmas (by deluxe it meant you got a HUUUGE guide to the game, a separate disk of scenarios including another guide and a giant wall poster with the technology strands on it). I then got immersed into RTS games and ‘Fallout’ went a bit forgotten for awhile but it was still there, part of my life and influencing the types of games I looked for when I had money to spend in ‘GAME’ (and when it had large PC gaming sections).
As I didn’t subscribe to any PC gaming mags I was completely unaware of the existence of ‘Fallout 2’ until I encountered it in a shop whilst out with my mum. We were planning on buying some games and I immediately went to it but after reading the back and discovering that you could marry and pimp your wife out my mum said that she didn’t want me to play it as I was too young. Disappointed I picked out ‘Sim City 2000’ and my brother picked out a playstation game (can’t remember what it was).
Amazingly it wasn’t until 2004 that I finally picked up a copy of ‘Fallout 2’ and the wait was worth it. I was flung back into the wasteland, this time hunting for a G.E.C.K (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) and the world I encountered was a little darker and little more twisted than the first, it was just as good and everything about the game I loved was still there. I loved how my decisions influenced my progression in the game, joining the slavers prevented you for being able to do some of the missions later on (the family wanted nothing to do with you) and people reacted to your karma (they likely did this in the first game but I was unaware of it). The random encounters weren’t as inventive as the first game, but I was quite happy with the dogmeat descendent encounter but disappointed you couldn’t recruit him.
I reverted back to my childhood and once again found myself sitting up late exploring the wasteland and getting into all sorts of trouble. Later with the help or the ‘Fallout 2 Character Editor‘ (ie I cheated) I went back into the game and did some serious bad-ass stuff (I slaughtered entire villages, all the slavers and the main MAFIA-esque family in New Reno) just to see how it would affect the game. I was amused to see the various people I met running screaming from me with their arms waving in the air.
The ability to play the game how you want marks ‘Fallout’ and ‘Fallout 2’ as games that everyone should play at least once in their lifetime and now with them being available cheaply on GOG or as part of the 3 for £10 range in your local shop – THERE IS NO EXCUSE! ‘Fallout 3’ is released after almost a ten year wait on Friday (at least in the UK) and I am going to extreme lengths to be able to play it – I’m buying a console. Whether the game will be just as important to me played in first person and as a console port I won’t really know until I get my hands on it, from what the folks of the PC Gamer UK podcast were saying about the console version graphics I may even have to buy a decent HD TV.