As much as I'm raving about this game up until now, it greatly disappoints me to write the next part of this review. One severe problem hampers this game's abundant merits: poor bug-testing. The original Fallout came virtually bug-free. The sequel was riddled with problems. Fallout Tactics chooses to follow the path of the latter. I've encountered crash bugs, game logic bugs, and gameplay bugs all over the place. Following the game's release by at least two weeks was the first patch which fixed a rare inventory issue - This patch was over 80 MB to install and barely fixed anything! The second patch, following over a week later, corrected (estimated from my memory) over 100 bugs and gameplay issues. Thankfully, the patch addressed a lot of crash bugs that were stopping me from playing the game frequently. I could only imagine how frustrating it would be for those players who were playing the game using "Tough Guy" (which doubles your experience earnings but only allows you to save at BOS bunkers)…
Some of the bugs this patch fixed, however, were only fixed as a preventative measure. For instance, some traits, such as Swift Learner, were not adding the proper amount of skill points on levels up, but instead just adding 1. The fix was made, but no retroactive character modifications were made, meaning that all my characters who had gained Swift Learner at level 3 and were now at level 10 had missed out on potentially 40 or 50 skill points each! Other perks didn't even show up in the perk list at all until this patch was released. Didn't anyone ever test to see if the perk *worked*? I wouldn't be altogether sure that it did after this patch came out.
Another bug I encountered frequently in the Macomb mission is probably restricted to gameplay in the Squad Turn-Based mode. After giving a character the command to walk or perform some action that would slowly drain his AP, I would then manually select another character to start issuing orders. As soon as character #1 completes his turn, however, the game immediately makes active the next available character. So if I've directed Party Member #1 to move 9 spaces and then Party Member #6 is selected, once #1 completes his move, the game will automatically add #2 to the command list, meaning I'm now issuing orders to #2 and #6. This wouldn't have been *nearly* so annoying if it weren't for the fact that it caused me to trip a few mines I was carefully sidestepping because another character assumed it was his turn.
Furthermore, this game bug also caused me to frequently select a character that was driving a vehicle. I'd not notice, and issue move orders. The driver, who is on the other side of the map right now, does her very best to plow right through a building to reach the destination, but fails. This wouldn't have ordinarily been a problem, but I didn't find out until two gameplay hours later (Not counting crash bugs, mind you!) that the vehicle was now stuck in a wall. It wasn't "in" the wall, per se, but just stuck in front of it, refusing to move. Compounding the situation is that this vehicle is a mission-critical objective, so I can't just leave it there. Needless to say, I was fuming over this one. And this bug was *not* fixed by the patch.
What's Barney's Bowlarama doing in Macomb? I thought it was supposed to be in Springfield!
I would report issues like these to the staff at Interplay and Micro Forte, but after visiting the support messageboards and seeing the vast amount of problems other people were having, it pretty much seemed like my report would be drowned in cries of woe. Furthermore, the messageboard was incredibly clumsy and fussy, so I even had a hard time reading what other people wrote. Reading these responses after the first major bugfixes were released, it seems that many other people still have problems that should have been ironed out in standard quality assurance practices. For instance, lots of people reported not being able to barter with a particular individual in a special encounter that was intended for bartering. Didn't anyone in the testing group try to see if it worked? I've always been of the mindset that while a game may be very complex, it shouldn't take two or three individuals very long to verify the game's features and at least certify that the game is winnable. One of my favorite games I've ever played on the PC was non-winnable in its released state. While this doesn't detract the image of the gameplay in my mind, it severely tarnishes that company's reputation in my mind.