Wasteland 2 review: It's not often you get to ponder a 'Toaster Repair' ability

£29.99; PC, Mac; inExile Entertainment

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The Independent Tech

Many gamers don't realise just how lucky they are - the current trend of annual sequels means many get a shiny new installment of their favourite series every Autumn. However, fans of Wasteland have been waiting patiently in their nuclear bunkers since 1988, wondering when it was safe to surface and see how the gaming landscape has changed.

Demand was obviously high as a successful Kickstarter campaign saw inExile Entertainment exceed targets with ease, and the resulting game has been lovingly crafted to invoke the essence of the original.

Those who have played Wasteland's spiritual cousin, the Fallout series, will be familiar with the premise. Players explore post-apocalyptic terrain, using of anything they can find to survive in the face of mutated animals, hostile humans and other irradiated irritants.

As with most RPGs, players start by picking a character and customising their abilities to suit a particular style of play, choosing from a sometimes amusing set of skills - it's not often you have to ponder a 'Toaster Repair' ability among your character progression. In addition to your own Desert Ranger, your party has three auxilliary personnel to assist in your quest, so choosing complementary companions wisely at the outset can smooth your passage.

The quest begins solemnly at a sparse Arizona graveyard, with your character tasked with investigating the death of a comrade. Thankfully, the dialogue is frequently humorous, dark chuckles in desperate times leavening the atmosphere as in the original. NPCs are well-stocked with conversational options, so it's well worth making thorough enquiries in order to discover hints of hidden items or locations. Soon you find yourself making sure to keep well-stocked with fresh water as you navigate the desert, frequently running into hostile parties.

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Combat is handled in a turn-based manner reminiscent of XCOM, to choose a recent example. Using your action points tactically to move and attack, there's an immense feeling of satisfaction when you pull off a hard-fought victory. Brute force alone rarely prospers, so you need to be cunning as well as strong to survive.

Although perhaps a little rough around the edges graphically, Wasteland 2 manages to transcend the long wait and provides a challenge with admirable scope. Those who sunk countless hours into the first game will thank inExile for staying true to the blueprint rather than losing the feel of the game in an attempt to capitalise on the latest trends.

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