The armament and weaponry is standard fare for most Fallout games. I enjoy and appreciate the wide range of pistols and small arms used by the game, as well as some of the more imaginative weaponry. For instance, there's a chainsaw-like hand-knife called "The Ripper", and also squirt guns which can be filled with acid. Just as in the previous games, weapons fall into five classes: Small Guns, Large Guns, Energy Weapons, Melee Weapons, and Throwing Weapons.
Managing a squad of soldiers requires a lot of money, of course. Thankfully, I managed to clear up plenty of loot in each battle. In several battles, I found myself bringing home an armful of guns, ranging from 25 SAW automatic gunpods to 46 AK-47s. Of course, ammunition can sometimes be in short supply. I never really had a problem running out of rounds for weapons like the hunting rifle, but with some of my more powerful guns, like the M1-Garand rifle, I always hovered on the low end of ammunition. No other rifle I've encountered before uses their .303 rounds, and I've always bought as many as I could find at the BOS command bunkers. Still, with the sheer variety in weaponry I had recovered and what I had available, I just switched arms to the MK-14 and kept plodding along.
Meet the brat pack of the future.
One of the neatest aspects of Fallout Tactics is the use of perks and skill points. Characters are allotted a specific amount of skill points when they reach each new level of experience, which can be allocated as the captain sees fit. This allows you a great deal of customization of your party members. The only problem with the system is that I found myself torn between building my current party and just trading up members. The concept of the recruits is nice, because if you don't already have someone to fit a particular role in battle, you can just swap out party members and go find a BOS warrior that fits your needs. Due to the work I had put into my brat pack, though, I found myself hesitant to swap out any of my characters. You'll probably notice this in the screenshots - Only twice did I ever use anyone other than the party I started with. Once, I was using some Deathclaws as brute strength to carry loot; the other time I needed someone with excellent Repair skills to keep my Armored Personnel Carrier in working order. This brings us to another nifty new aspect of Fallout Tactics.
In this game, the Brotherhood of Steel allows you to commandeer or salvage vehicles and then use them during your missions. A variety of different vehicles is available, from a Hummer to a tank to the earlier-mentioned APC. A nice convenience is to be able to use these vehicles on the world map, greatly speeding travel from one location to another. Furthermore, some of the vehicles can even have weapons mounted onto them. I didn't really see too much of a need for this, though, since I usually had my party members just shoot through the windows. (They can fire in any direction without worrying about where they're sitting.)
New perks have been added to the mix as well. Perks are earned at a fixed rate as characters level up. Ghouls, for example, earn a perk every four levels. The new perks in particular are primarily designed for the new races which are playable, such as "Way of the Fruit" for Ghouls and "Deathsense" for Deathclaws. Other perks new to the series include "Lead Foot" and "Gunner", both of which are vehicle-oriented, and "Bend the Rules" and "Break the Rules", both of which allow you to…well…cheat. Another perk, "Brown Noser", gives you an immediate promotion of rank, though this seemed worthless. The game doesn't do a very good job of highlighting the importance of rank. From what I could tell, rank determines what characters are available for recruiting, and maybe affects prices of wares purchased from the Quarter Master in BOS bunkers. Also, only my team leader gained any serious rank. Four of my teammates gained one promotion or two, but Stitch never got any promotion at all, even though he was always fighting with everyone else.
The retooled PIP-Boy now offers reconnaissance data and mapping for your missions
This brings me to another point. I really appreciated the wide variety of characters available for recruiting for the Brotherhood, and also the way the plotline introduces new species to recruit. The only drawback to the recruits system is that the same recruits are always used. It was fun being able to discuss my situations with a friend and talk about what characters he used and how he used them. However, the game's replayability could have been enhanced quite a bit if a larger character pool was available, and the game randomly selected which ones would be made available in a game. Also, maybe it was just my play style, but I seemed to always stick with my original recruits because the new ones just didn't give me enough reason to trade out. They would have a really desirable characteristic or two, but then one which would totally turn me off from them. Also, practically every single one of the recruits had either the Unarmed or Melee skill tagged, which I found to be a waste since I only use ranged weapons.
The gameplay was very addictive. I especially enjoyed playing a battle where most of my party members are long-range snipers that can take out the enemy without getting hit once. The only exception I would ever have was with Stitch. Stitch has a low Perception stat, which affects his accuracy with ranged weapons. To counteract this, I kept Stitch equipped with shotguns. All I ever had to do was point him in the right direction! I hardly ever had to use him as a doctor since he was so useful as a killing machine!