Videogame (1988). Interplay Productions. Designed by Alan Pavlish, Michael A Stackpole, Ken St Andre. Platforms: AppleII, C64, DOS.
Wasteland is a Computer Role Playing Game, played in a two-dimensional overhead view and set in the twenty-first-century Nevada desert, many years after an apocalyptic nuclear war. This milieu has a similar flavour to the future shown in the films Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), a hostile wilderness inhabited by dangerous mutants, isolated tribes and bizarre cults, including the Temple of the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud. The player controls a group of paramilitary "Desert Rangers" who patrol the radioactive wilderness, where they will eventually uncover a threat to what remains of human civilization.
The core gameplay of Wasteland strongly resembles that of a combat-oriented pen and paper Role Playing Game. (Two of the designers had previously written such games – Tunnels and Trolls [1975 Flying Buffalo (FB)] designed by Ken St Andre and the related Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes [1983 FB] designed by Michael A Stackpole.) There is considerable flexibility as to how specific goals may be achieved, with characters able to use a wide range of skills and equipment. The game is notable for being one of the first CRPGs in which players' characters were not simply extensions of their will; individuals recruited from the wasteland have their own goals and may refuse to obey the player's orders. The most impressive aspects of Wasteland, however, are its detailed and often brutally humorous Game-World and its highly modular plot (see Interactive Narrative). Constructing a narrative by playing through the game remains a remarkably open, unfettered experience.
Related works: Fountain of Dreams (1990 Electronic Arts, DOS) is a sequel set in a post-nuclear Florida which was created by a different development team. It received generally poor reviews. [NT]
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