- Category: Comicology
- Created on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 13:05
- Written by Mark Navarro
- Hits: 1421
How many of you remember hearing about a great new mobile game and then giving it a try after a few months of hype only to find yourself neglecting the app after a few weeks of grinding? That was my experience with Tiny Tower, a business simulation game released by Zynga in 2011 that was more of an exercise in tedium and your ability to check your phone every 10 minutes rather than a game. Fallout Shelter is the newest game announced and simultaneously released by Bethesda in E3 2015 for iOS and while it looks like another Tiny Tower clone at a glance, it adds a few mechanics that make it a pretty decent game, even if you take off the Fallout skin.
You are a Vault Overseer in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Your task is to grow your vault and ensure that your citizens are happy and productive members of your little economy. They will work, procreate, explore the wasteland from time to time, and fend off everyday dangers in the Fallout universe like Radroaches, raiders, and putting out fires. Tapping and dragging is the name of the game, just like its Tiny Tower predecessor; however, Fallout Shelter improves the formula without shaking up the core experience so much. Here are the three most outstanding improvements in my opinion.
1. Spatial Exploration
First of all, there’s the addition of horizontal design and exploration. Spatial exploration is what makes games fun. Heck, it’s at the very center of how people play and master the world ever since we were tykes learning how to walk. In Tiny Tower, you felt you were improving when you could build a new level vertically and that was pretty much the only joyous feeling that the game ever gave. Fallout Shelter still has vertical expansion, but it also allows you to plan your vault horizontally within each floor. Room production is increased when the same types of rooms are adjacent to each other and resource-producing rooms like your power generator or your water treatment room are more productive when placed near resource lines. You can also reconfigure rooms that are not sandwiched yet which allows you to correct your mistakes to some extent. So planning is of utmost importance.
In addition, your Vault Dwellers can be equipped with armor and weapons from the Fallout universe and go out to hunt for more items, resources, and caps. Their adventures are detailed in great detail on a live feed which enhances the Fallout flavor so well, especially if you’ve played the console games. It kind of makes you want to go back and play Fallout 3 and experience those adventures for yourself.
In a nutshell, your sandbox is so fixed in your vault-looking tiny tower, but the depth of what you could do or discover is much more than just building a new floor and then saving enough money to build the next one. It’s not perfect, but it makes for better spatial exploration.
2. Resource Management and Choice
In Tiny Tower, resource management was one-dimensional and didn’t offer any freedom at all. It can be argued that you had the choice of where to place your citizens, but the stat system was flat. It was obvious what each NPC was destined to do because the stats didn’t offer you much freedom to choose. A typical NPC would be drastically better in one type of work compared to everything else, this narrowed down the player’s viable decisions, eliminating any real challenge to resource management. The fun in resource management is getting the right mix of production between several types to make a profitable “engine”. That’s the risk and reward system for these types of games.
Fallout Shelter uses the SPECIAL ruleset that governs all Fallout games as the attributes for your citizens. As your citizens level up, it isn’t so cut and dry what their best job will be so it allows you to reconfigure your citizens’ work to make the best “engine”. Production rooms can also be rushed to produce more, at the risk of catching fire. To cap (heh) it all off, there’s a vault happiness rating which is a feedback system telling you how well you’re managing resources. It’s all streamlined and you can tell if you’re doing well or not without having to check your device constantly.
3. Modern Feel
In Tiny Tower, you could go up and down with a vertical swipe of your finger. That was it. Just swipe and tap and do your chores like an inundated slave. Fallout Shelter looks so much better with the classic Pip Boy art style oozing everywhere. The design juxtaposed with the 3D-like zoomed view for rooms and zooming out to see a thriving ant colony makes for one of the sweetest looking mobile games on the App Store. The sensitivity could use some work, but for the most part the game is responsive.
Equipping your citizens with items from the Fallout universe also increases their stats and combat abilities so it’s not a purely cosmetic design choice.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable upgrade from a failed formula. That being said, it’s still a failed formula. The Fallout skin will make me stick around for a few more weeks to a month but I can imagine it lasting longer on other players’ devices. It’s still an exercise in repetition at the end of the day, but with objectives and a daily reward system, the tedium may just be worthwhile. Get it if you want a small taste of Fallout and you can’t wait until November for Fallout 4.