Developer(s) – Interplay Entertainment
Publisher(s) – Electronic Arts
Director – Brian Fargo
Producer – David Albert
Rating – N/A (Discretion is advised)
Making use of the GURPS system (Generic Universal RolePlaying System), a tabletop role-playing system developed by author Steve Jackson back in 1986, Wasteland was released two years later back in 1988, and remains one of the most influential western RPGs in gaming history, with director Brian Fargo going on to pioneer the Fallout series as a result. In comparison to the original Fallout, I believe this game to be the superior out of the two by some distance, and in every single respect.
Graphics – 8/10
From a technical standpoint, the game is no more advanced than an average NES game, making use of 8-bit visuals, albeit with a much more varied color palette than Nintendo’s first home console. However, from a conceptual standpoint, the visuals were exceptional for the time, as a post-apocalyptic setting had virtually been unheard of in gaming at the time, and the game also has an exceptionally diverse enemy roster for the time in addition
Gameplay – 7/10
In addition, the gameplay follows many of the same tropes featured in classic PC RPGs at the time, but as stated, makes use of the GURPS system, playing out much more like a tabletop RPGs, which were exceptionally popular at the time, and have continued to remain prominent at expos and comic cons all over the world ever since. I was pleasantly surprised to find how short a time it took for me to get into this game in this respect, as since the entire concept was new to me, I didn’t think I’d have the slightest idea of where to begin; like Fallout 4 to a certain extent. I wasn’t disappointed however and ended up having a lot of fun with it.
Controls – 8/10
The biggest gripe I have about Wasteland is the fact that its control scheme and basic mechanics can take a little bit of time to grow accustomed to; especially if players may be new to this style of play. Old-school PC games relied heavily on similar mechanics, which were largely text-based, and therefore nothing like the games of today. But with perseverance, they can be grown accustomed to, and it is worth it to play through this game in my opinion.
Lifespan – 10/10
RPGs since the late 90s were established as being capable of lasting at least 50 to 60 hours; 80 hours plus at a stretch. Although Wasteland only lasts around 12 hours, this was exceptionally long for any game to last at that time, with only games like the original Final Fantasy having the same level of replay value as this. The game, like the original Final Fantasy, was also designed to be played multiple times, giving it, even more, replay value, and therefore, making it even more enjoyable and varied.
Storyline – 7.5/10
The game’s story revolves around a group known as the Desert Raiders looking to bring order to a post-apocalyptic world following a global nuclear war in 1998. Whilst the story may sound very basic, like the original Fallout game, for the time, it was much better than the average and typical story of the hero saving the damsel in distress, which had become synonymous with a lot of games at that time; Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda to name but a few.
Originality – 9/10
Released in a time when Japanese developers such as Squaresoft and Enix were the dominant forces in the RPG genre, and whilst they still remain so to this day, this game eventually went on to establish the western world as a prominent developer of RPGs with not only Fallout but with The Elder Scrolls and Warcraft in addition. While it may be easy for younger gamers to simply write this off as a complicated mess of a game, the fact of the matter is that it is one of the most influential games in history, and paved the way for the better games to have come over the years.
Overall, Wasteland, despite the fact that it may not have aged particularly well, still largely holds up in terms of gameplay in my opinion. It’s a fun RPG exceptionally long for the time and will provide many hours of entertainment, as well as extensive replay value.