NMA: ATOM RPG Trudograd Review

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Proletären, Jan 2, 2022.

  1. Proletären

    Proletären Vault Senior Citizen
    Staff Member Admin

    Mar 15, 2012
    I really liked ATOM RPG and when I started playing Trudograd I immediately found that it was good. Since I knew I would play it more than once I figured that I might as well put down my thoughts in a review. Below is my review of Trudograd which is also my first attempt at a game review. I hope it's worth reading. Give me your thoughts in the comments and blame the author for any faults.

    There are some spoilers to the main quest as well as some spoilers for other quests. If you are sensitive to that then I advice you to read the review after you have played the game. The spoilers shouldn't have been in but this is my first review and I somehow missed the number 1 rule.

    --------------------------------------

    Atom RPG: Trudograd Review

    A part of the world map

    ATOM RPG Trudograd (from here on just Trudograd) is a stand-alone expansion that builds on ATOM RPG and continues it’s story. It’s big enough to be called a proper sequel rather than just an expansion as it was first conceived.

    To me the game is a tribute to our beloved Fallout. Someone less impressed might call it “inspired” or just a clone. System-wise the only significant difference between the two games is that Trudograd lacks a karma system and reputation.

    While the original ATOM RPG let you freely roam the post-nuclear Soviet wastes Trudograd takes you to a city in the east that went untouched by the bombs. My go-to comparison would be Baldur's Gate 1 and 2. Where the first game is more free-roaming and the second is mainly focused on one big city. Trudograd is also a much more refined experience compared to the original, in the same ways as BG2 is compared to BG1. Just like in BG2 you continue the story of your character from the first game which also means Trudograd is not a low-level adventure. Just like BG2 you don’t need to have played the first game before going into Trudograd. However since ATOM RPG is a flawed masterpiece by my standards I would highly recommend that you play that one first. Then you would also appreciate the various improvements over ATOM RPG that Trudograd comes with.

    All players of Fallout 1,2 or ATOM RPG will feel familiar right from the start. Trudograd is a game for you!

    General Story/World

    Trudograd gate

    The events of Trudograd takes place in the year 2007, which is two years after the end of ATOM RPG, and continues the story from the cliffhanger ending of that game. It also continues your story as you are once again sent by the ATOM organization on a difficult mission. This time the task at hand takes you to the eastern city of Trudograd. Trudograd means the City of Labor and is a city made out of your typical commieblocks. The city is surrounded by a thick wall and with a big beautiful gate in it so that people can enter the city legally (or just shoot yourself in). To separate themselves from the streets and their lowly life some residents have built their dwellings on top of the rooftops and created a level called the Second Tier. As Trudograd is located somewhere in the east the docks are naturally run by Chinese merchants called the Gwon-Jo. They bring drugs and crime into the city and are also involved in protection rackets and extortion. By the inclusion of the Chinese the world of ATOM expands with new lore, it’s not only Russia anymore. With highrises used as supporting pillars the city bigwigs have let built a big snow globe like structure for themselves called the Seventh Heaven. Seventh Heaven is a well defended and secluded area and to finally enter it will be an important part of the main quest…

    The game opens up with a really cool live-action sequence, it's nicely done and it helps set the tone. Then you have the general narrated introduction, a Fallout 2 type of thing, as expected, and then you find yourself sitting opposite a veiled stranger at a campfire. In this short sequence you are asked a few questions dating back to the events of the first game. The purpose is to help figure out what choices your character made so that they can be carried over to Trudograd. You could also import your character from the original, using the end game save, and continue from where you left off. A new character starts at level 15 whereas an old character continues at whatever level you had in the original, probably level 20+. I wouldn’t recommend continuing the adventure with the same character as it would be too much of a cakewalk for a game that is already on the easy side. The game is better balanced for a character that starts at 15.

    If ATOM RPG was something more akin to Fallout 2 then the setup in Trudograd is more like Fallout: New Vegas in it’s setup. There’s a big pre-war city unhurt by the war, there’s a hydroelectric dam that supplies its power. There’s an army of northern barbarians that threatens the city and when the invasion eventually comes it begins with a battle at the dam. The city is run by corrupt officials and the go to comparison is to the NCR and Caesar's Legion of New Vegas.

    It’s a bit unclear why Trudograd went unhurt but there’s a rumor that the Americans only sent five nukes towards it and that they all got shot down before they reached their target destination. However the same guy also thinks Trudograd of such importance that the Americans should have sent 5000 missiles towards it…


    The poor man has lost his herd of goats

    Already in the starting location, the city outskirts, there’s a lot of rumors going around about the looming Northerners, led by Syoma Voronok, and their coming invasion of Trudograd. When you enter the city you will encounter lynch mobs who, unprovoked, attack resident northerners on the streets. In the beginning it’s difficult to judge if the Northern invasion is just a rumor or if it’s an actual thing. One merchant tells you that the lower classes are just attacking the northerners living in Trudograd out of frustration with their own situation and one of the city guards actually dismisses the whole invasion thing as a false rumor. There are also some that are very much convinced of the evil intentions of the northerners as is put forth in the Plots of the Northern Elders by Aqil Pugachev. However he is eventually very let down when it turns out his Northerner neighbor is not involved in a Northern conspiracy and is just a caring son trying to help his sick mother in hospital by getting money from selling drugs. By the end of the game however it gets much more apparent that the Northern invasion is not just a rumor but an actual threat and when the pillaging barbarians eventually attack you can even join them if you like.


    The OR-1 Railgun

    The main quest has you tasked with finding a pre-war railgun said to be found in a factory, the Invertor Factory, located in the city of Trudograd. The railgun is the only weapon deemed capable at destroying the threat discovered in the end scenes of ATOM RPG. The main quest does it’s job as it sends you all over Trudograd doing side quests and it even sheds some uncertainty on what you really need that railgun for. However the job is easier said than done and when you find out that the factory has been torn down and moved your next task is to enter the previously mentioned Seventh Heaven to get some much needed answers. The main quest is now split into two, mutually exclusive paths, you can either side with the city police or with the underground revolutionaries. The goal is to get your hands on official documents that will let you enter Seventh Heaven. You could also play as the Outlaw type of character if you want and carve your own path. You can either bribe yourself into Seventh heaven, or maybe shoot yourself inside, however you will miss a lot of side quests going this route.

    A sad thing is that Seventh Heaven feels very underwhelming when you finally get there. It looks so cool from the outside and you hear a lot about it on the streets but when you enter it’s mostly empty and no rich people reside there, there’s only a few government officials.


    A burning tank during the Northern invasion

    As mentioned, by the end of the game you also get the option to help the Northerners as they invade the city. These different paths to complete the main quest adds replayability for sure and most other quests can be solved in different ways as well. Dialogues and quest resolutions can also be influenced in different ways depending on your character build. Strong characters can most often threaten their way through conversations whereas charismatic characters can use Speechcraft to get their way and so on… There’s no sense of urgency to the main quest and you can go off on little adventures like visiting a pirate island if you like.


    Hexogen speaking his mind

    There are fewer companions in Trudograd than in ATOM RPG but that doesn’t matter much. Depending on which path you choose in the main quest you get different companions, either the young police lieutenant Razin or Blaze of the revolutionaries. Both start as pistol builds. There are no companion quests, however they often interject during dialogues and they might even leave your company if you go against their morals. Razin wouldn’t let me help the Northerners during their invasion for example. Razin is taunted a lot by other characters and old Hexogen seems to prefer Blaze. That’s right! Your former comrade Hexogen makes his glorious return as he seems to be one of the game writer's favorites. I like him as well of course! His stubbornly held worldview, which often conflicts with reality, makes his interjections into dialogues to most often be off point in a funny way. As a companion Hexogen is very versatile and you can go with either weapon skill you want with him, however he is most skilled in unarmed and rifles when you first rendezvous.


    Where have I heard that before?

    The game features a lot of humor that is put into the dialogues. It comes in different forms and I appreciate it very much, however if it’s not your type of humor then you would be less amused. In the margins there’s an unspoken conflict of taste between those who prefer beets and those who prefer turnips. There’s a rich guy getting pleasure from moving mannequins around at night to spook his neighbors and to drive them crazy. There’s also some scenes in the game that are so absurd that you can do nothing but laugh. For example there’s one man who killed almost an entire village. When the few children who survived have grown into adulthood and gone through a lot of perils on their journey to seek vengeance on their parents' killer, you can stop them right in their glorious moment of vigilante justice, free the man, and then collect the 100 rubles from him that he owes a local pimp. The absurdity of it all made me laugh out loud. When high on joints you can even meet one of the writers of Trudograds (or does he really exist?). Sometimes things just end badly for the character involved in some form of black humor. There’s also a lot of references, obvious ones like for example a former chemistry teacher turned pharmacist and producer of illegal drugs and some more obscure ones. And there’s also some Fallout references of course. Never forget! Personally I loved the references in Fallout 2, they brought a lot of humor and to me it’s a big part of the charm. I can only cherish the fact that ATOM Team continues in this vein.


    Vigilantes stopped in the act

    There’s also some occult Lovecraft stuff and you even get to kill some fish people.

    All in all Trudograd expands on the world building of its predecessor and in a good way. The Soviet wasteland and it’s lore is far from generic however it fails to keep me as intrigued as Fallout did back in the day. It might be because I was in my early teens when I first played Fallout and thus being more impressionable. However it’s world with the vaults, FEV, retro futurism and more still has that special lure that I believe is hard to recreate. I’m not sure why but most things in Fallout 1 just have a special attraction, it’s still stimulating for me to think of Fallout and it’s universe, and the ATOM games have yet to create the same feeling. But is that even necessary though? With Trudograd I believe ATOM Team has managed to grow their universe in a positive way.

    There are also some less original ideas like for example the ATOM organization itself, the remnant of a pre-war science and military organization, that you are a member of, which is in my mind just yet another version of the Desert Rangers, the Brotherhood of Steel and others. So nothing new there. I wouldn’t call this a particularly big issue though, and Trudograd, just as ATOM RPG, manages to create both memorable locations and characters. They are interesting on their own, something that I believe is sorely missing from some other recent RPG:s. With the addition of Trudograd the lore of ATOM is without question much more interesting than that of the recent Wasteland games, which is the go-to comparison. Who could even get into Wasteland lore after the recent additions?

    ATOM Team has a huge advantage in being a non-western developer. They can tell stories that are now taboo in the west, but still enjoyed. And they don't have to fill their game with current day western liberal left-wing politics either.

    Gameplay

    Combat grid

    As mentioned above Trudograd features more or less the same gameplay as Fallout 2, with some minor improvements here and there of course.

    The combat system is the same which is great for any purist or nostalgic. Sure, the tactical combat of Wasteland 2 where you have full party control, a cover system and with destroyable covers, is much fun but this trustworthy old servant of Fallout style combat still does the job. Each character takes turns according to their sequence score and the available actions are dictated by your action points. You can use different modes of fire, for example single or burst, as well as aimed shots. Your companions act independently but by holding down the left mouse button you can give them orders like show target and hold ground. You fight criminals, street mobs, animals and mutants. The main problem with combat is that there are so few difficult or challenging encounters. My first character, a melee build, only had two difficult fights during the entire game. My second character, a weakling of a crossbow shooter, had a more challenging start but if you’re supported by a companion wielding an AK47 it’s still far too easy.


    Fending off the Northerners at the Dam. Notice the bear.

    The human enemies are most often badly equipped and in a city like Trudograd I believe that it’s an accurate portrayal to be primarily assaulted by low level banditry. Lore-wise I wouldn’t buy it if your assailants used top of the line equipment like power armors and the best machine guns. There is one squad of highly armed militants that you can encounter during night time but that’s one of the rare. Another thing that makes combat easy is that the enemy AI doesn’t use any tactics to speak of. They don't attack from different directions and they most often don't use throwables. However in a game with so much dialogue it would be a nice change of pace to have some challenging battles in between all that reading. The lack of difficult and stimulating combat encounters is the biggest flaw of the game. And that’s not a minor thing!


    A random encounter

    It’s also far too easy to avoid battles, even when playing on Expert. With either one of the skills Survival, Speechcraft or Stealth you can avoid most random encounters to gain some experience. An odd thing with random encounters is that you don’t end up in battle immediately and most often you have to go around the map to look for your assailants. To me that’s a bit ridiculous since the reason you had to stop was because they attacked you. So if you are attacked, then you can in most cases just avoid the fight and leave the map. If it’s a pack of dogs for example they will not give you that much XP for killing them and there will be no lootable items except meat so why waste the ammo? In that case you would most often just leave the random encounter without having fought the damned dogs.


    I studied the blade... Perk selection.

    A major improvement is the new way of grouping perks (called Abilities in the game). Instead of the not so satisfying perk-tree of ATOM RPG where you had to sometimes choose perks you didn’t like in order to progress on that particular branch you now have perks grouped after which skill they are associated with. They are graded after how good they are and the bottom ones cost one point to learn, the next level of perks cost three, then five and then seven. There are also more perks to choose from the more they cost. In the original ATOM RPG the cost of perks would increase by one for every perk you choose. The new way to group perks after skills in Trudograd and how they are now ordered after how much they cost makes it much easier to overview.

    The maximum number of skill points in Trudograd is increased from 200 to 300. Just like Fallout 2 compared to Fallout 1. The reason for this is probably to allow for characters to reach level 30 and beyond without having every skill maxed by the end. However even if you start with a level 15 character you can still max at least one skill already from the get-go and also get to take most of the corresponding perks. This is another issue that helps make combat so easy, you basically start with a maxed out weapon skill and all the perks to boost it.

    It’s a bit unclear what skills and perks are actually useful when you level your companions. Weapon skills, First Aid and Lockpick are safe choices in regards to their skills. Speechcraft and others are out of the question though. It’s not entirely clear if you should invest in perks that boost aimed shots. I would like to see some alternate descriptions of skills and perks in regards to companions and maybe perks without purpose for them should be removed altogether so that you don’t choose a redundant one by mistake.


    This cheese vendor isn't nearly as obnoxious as the one in D:OS. A missed opportunity... Could it be fixed by modders?

    Characteristics (from here on stats) are still maxed out at 10 although you could surpass that with equip-able items. In fact you can boost your stats and skills with items and easily available consumables. For one of my characters I had a Strength score of 9 and Personality of 7. I made sure to always have some coffee in my blood to raise that strength to 10. A lot of strength checks are followed by a personality check. In some instances you first need to pass Strength 10 and then Personality 10. So drink some coffee for Strength +1 and then spray two bottles of cologne for Personality +2 and then smoke a joint for that last point, you would then have 10 and 10 and you can pass both checks. Cologne was a very common loot item during my time with the game so you could use it without much thought. Joints however come with drawbacks like reduced attention so use them with some caution. To mitigate this maybe cologne and other consumables shouldn’t stack? And logically speaking would another bottle of cologne really do that much for you? Only in Russia I guess…

    Some very rare quest rewards will give you some strange syringes and when you inject their contents into your veins you are given stat-points. I believe there are two of them so it’s nothing game breaking.

    Consumables giving benefits without negatives wasn’t a particular issue in Fallout and it’s only the power armor that gives you additional stats (Strength) and some items like lockpicks, first aid kit and doctor’s bag would raise skills. However Bethesda opened the door to this with their failed attempt at Fallout 3 where clothing and other apparel can give benefits like raised stats or skills. Although it’s very convenient to be able to raise stats and skills this way to pass checks it also helps make the game easy. I would rather have funny things happen upon failure so that a failed check wouldn’t mean the end of the world. Disco Elysium is supposed to be that way right?


    It's cold at night

    Radiation is rare in Trudograd however you still need to eat and now you also have to stay warm, it’s the freezing cold of the Russian winter after all. However food items come in plenty and warm burning barrels are all around. This means that you hardly ever need to think about heat or eat. With such an abundance of easily available food items the game even turns you into a travelling food merchant of sorts. When the game features survival mechanics it’s a bit of a shame that they never come to much use! I think I would actually enjoy the game more if there was a struggle for food and warmth. If that would be the case then you could actually consider the option to raise the survival skill to 250, which makes the effects of consuming food last twice as long, right now it’s just a big fat waste of skill points. There’s also a distinction (trait in Fallout) you can choose called Bloodthirsty Ogre which gives you 30 extra skill points in survival and also lets you harvest three food items from every human that you kill. It’s basically a cannibal trait! But why would you choose that when there’s no struggle for survival? If food was really scarce then Bloodthirsty Ogre might actually be a good distinction for you to choose upon character creation. There’s also food items like cheese and onions that lowers personality when consumed and currently there’s no need to eat such things. There are better sources of nutrition. But if food was scarce then not being in the mood for cheese would be an excuse with more holes in it than a slice of fine gorgombert, and you would probably just munch on that wheel of the good stuff. Or eat a raw onion as Mel Gibson does in Lethal Weapon 3!


    Mmm turnips!

    As you have probably figured out by now, Trudograd is a very easy game. It’s easy because you can boost checks by eating much too common consumables and by equipping stat inducing apparel. It’s easy because combat encounters are not balanced to challenge you, it’s mostly just street trash that you can kill with a yawn. It’s easy because the survival mechanics don't matter much. Even though the game comes with several difficulty levels it doesn’t matter much when Expert feels like Easy. I can’t even imagine what a cakewalk Easy or Normal difficulty level would be like when Expert hardly gives you any challenge. There's also a difficulty mode called Survival which comes with permadeath, which is very cool, but since dying isn't that common it feels somewhat redundant.

    You can now modify your weapons with attachments like bigger clips or better sights. Each weapon has a certain number of slots for modifications and attaching them is governed by the Tinkering skill, which makes that skill somewhat more important. Attachments come as loot or can be purchased in shops and there’s no reason to not attach them to your weapon(s). The crafting system is also governed by the Tinkering skill. I didn’t use it as crafting in games is for degenerates but I guess it’s a way to make use of all the lootable junk. If the game would be more difficult and useful items more scarce then crafting might actually be a good option to consider. Making your own equipment and selling some of your handicraft could be a good way to make money. However for me to even consider a playstyle like that then booth money and items would need to be made very scarce. I think that the use of crafting should be considered if ATOM Team ever re-calibrates the difficulty.


    Power armors

    In Trudograd the soviet Power Armor makes its first appearance in the ATOM series. For 45k it can become yours, or cheaper if you’re a good haggler. The power armor comes in the form of a mechanized, diesel fuelled suit of clunky armor and it is definitely not for pussies, like that green one in Duke Nukem Forever. The feel of this massive suit is just right, you feel very powerful in it and it makes a lot of noise when you walk around. Wearing the suit you feel like a big daddy in Bioshock or something. The power armor can be upgraded twice, first for 10 grand and then again if you complete a special dungeon proving ground. The suit can also be modified with additional parts making it even stronger. Since it runs on diesel you need to pour it some fuel every once in a while. Most of the gadgets you attach makes the suit thirstier, if you activate them, so make sure to carry a lot of diesel. After a while though you get a bit tired of the clunky noise of the armor and it’s slower animations for when you do things like open containers. However this is how power armor should be and feel in a game and any future entries in the Fallout series should take note. Maybe the project Van Buren by @Hardboiled Wanderer could take some inspiration?


    In Soviet Russia Bombagun plays you

    Remember the game Caravan in Fallout: New Vegas? Forget about it because in Trudograd there’s a game called Bombagun! I can’t remember much about KoTOR's Pazaak or Caravan in Fallout New Vegas but I know I enjoyed every round of Bombagun. The game is first introduced as a game of strategic dilemmas as opposed to primitive games of chance. However in the next sentence chance is called a key factor or even the sole factor of Bombagun… Whatever role chance plays, it's the most fun in-game game that I’ve played. In Bombagun there are resource cards and attack cards and the goal is to deplete your opponents health before he can deplete yours. The cards are drawn from a shuffled deck so that's where chance comes in. I have nothing against chance, to me it adds to the excitement of each round.

    In the city of Trudograd there are four so-called “grand-masters” of Bombagun who are spread throughout the game world and if you beat them all you will become the ultimate Bombagun champion. The game is fairly easy to win, only the last grandmaster gives some challenge. It would be a hard grind to farm Bombagun for money though. You can at most bet 20 rubles on a game. If you have your gambling skill maxed then the winnings would triple but it would still take a lot of work to get rich from it. Later you are asked to help the creator of Bombagun escape a high security prison where he sits for treason. After the rescue you have the chance to speak to the man who turns out to be not such a great person.

    There’s no voice acting in Trudograd, thank God, however some NPC:s will speak a line in Russian when you initiate dialogue with them. I loved that in Baldur’s Gate and for me it gave that game so much personality by just having the NPC:s say some random line whenever you click them. Since they all speak Russian I don’t know if they actually say what’s written or if it’s incongruous like in Baldur’s Gate. Voice acting has become a standard for RPG:s nowadays but I and a lot of other players don't care for it. You can read much faster than the voice actor is touting the line and in the end it just gets frustrating to have VA. Fallout was perfect in the way that it used VA for important characters only and that those characters also had a talking head for extra immersion. That did very much for the atmosphere. Trudograd doesn’t have talking heads or VA and that’s not an issue.


    A voice acted dream sequence

    The stranger at the campsite who is mentioned above has his dialogue narrated and the same narrator also does the narration of a few CYOA segments throughout the game. Apart from the fact that you can read faster than the narrator speaks, the main problem with this is that the narration is done by an American. An American?! In a game about the Soviet wasteland I would much prefer English with a heavy Russian accent. That would have helped with immersion big time. The intro and outro have such a guy doing VA with a slight Russian accent but I would have preferred that throughout. Look at STALKER, Red Alert 3 or Peter Stormare in Armageddon for inspiration!

    The English translation is great and I only saw one floating text in Russian. There were some smaller translation issues that got fixed by a patch during my time writing this review so they exist now only in my memory.

    There’s some nice reactions to your actions. Sometime after you have solved a quest you can come back and see how things went for the characters. Like Fred in the Den in Fallout 2. However there are also cases where I would like to have seen some reactions and where there are none. Like if you stop Kai Ozersky from killing Shcherba then you should be able to tell Vasmer and Trubachyov who Potap Verbalsky really was. Things like that. It’s there for some quests but not all.

    ATOM RPG had its fair share of fetch quests. Going into Trudograd I expected the same thing and carried a lot of trash in case someone would need it. I was a bit surprised to find that there was only one actual fetch quest in the entire game. So on my second playthrough I could safely let the trash items be.

    It can be a bit tiresome to wait while your party traverses the map and sometimes you have to wait for NPC:s to slowly walk across the map to progress a quest. Although your characters run when not encumbered, it would actually have been nice to be able to accelerate the gamespeed, as you can do in Pillars of Eternity and others. That would also help speed up the very long sex scenes that you can’t skip…

    In another matter of convenience it would be very handy to be able to name your saves. Currently it’s a bit difficult to remember what a particular save is.

    Graphics


    ATOM RPG Trudograd looks beautiful!

    The graphics are a huge improvement over ATOM RPG. Trudograd looks visually stunning, especially the outdoor areas outside of the city. The snowy ground, the wintery trees and the snow clad roofs just look so beautiful. But nothing looks as good as the ice cold nights with harsch winds making you freeze to the very bone. It has been a long time since I last gaped at graphics. It’s interesting to compare Trudograd to the recent Wasteland 3 which runs on the same engine and also features a post-apoc winter landscape. Even though the small indie developer ATOM Team worked on a shoestring budget compared to InXiles (3m$+ raised on Fig and later infused by additional Microsoft funds) Trudograd simply looks better.


    Every game should have an isometric mode!

    Trudograd, like its predecessor ATOM RPG, has a toggleable isometric mode. It locks the camera in an angle that gives you that lovely isometric view. I know Fallout had a trimetric perspective but isometric is good enough. The isometric mode still allows you to rotate the camera but it can only snap to four directions when you release the mouse. Sometimes I wish the camera wouldn’t snap and that you could have whichever rotation you wanted. This is primarily an issue of visibility in compact spaces. Here the game could take some much needed inspiration from Fallout and have a circle of visibility/transparency around the character that allows you to see through walls and other things that block your immediate view. There’s also the usual 3D camera to be had if you are bothered with walls blocking your sight.

    It’s somewhat impressive that this small team, on a shoe-string budget, manages to get better camera settings than InXile, who with a much bigger budget, and while also using Unity, managed to screw things up with the camera in Wasteland 2 (2.9m$ on Kickstarter). To this date Wasteland 2 and 3 doesn’t even have isometric mode and the camera in WL3 can’t be zoomed out enough. Such a shame.

    Music/Sound
    The music stays in the background as a soothing ambient. The only bits I can really conjure in my mind before I go to sleep is the catchy music to the minigame Bombagun as well as the tune put forth by the man playing the accordion at the docks. Compare that to Fallout 1&2 from where I can hear most of the music at will. During the end battles against the attacking Northerners the music played during combat ramps up to an intense pulsing beat stressing the fact that the city is under siege. There’s no music by The Ink Spots but just like in ATOM RPG there’s some old song playing on the main menu, setting the mode. I’m not that into music so it’s difficult for me to speak on these matters, but I have heard others praise the music of Trudograd as an improvement to the first game, and I guess I have to agree. Sometimes while playing I can suddenly become aware of it and then I hear it’s good.

    Final Thoughts

    The Northern invasion

    It was a pure joy to once again visit the Soviet post-apocalypse and to continue the cliff-hanger ending that ATOM RPG left us with. Nothing gets resolved during the events of Trudograd but by having secured the railgun things are looking good for ATOM 2 and from what I’ve heard the railgun will come to good use in that game. Then we will finally get some much needed answers on the true nature of its intended target.

    The diesel fuelled power armor is a very welcome addition to the series and I like that you can upgrade it in several steps and install different gadgets to boost its functions. The vast and increasing number of different power armor models in Bethesda's Fallouts just give me a headache, one model is enough. As Lenin once said though, communism is Soviet power + electrification. So how about adding an electric engine as an optional upgrade for the PA? That way the armor would make less noise and maybe you could even sneak in it? The power source doesn't even need to be microfusion as far as I’m concerned.

    Since the main quest is structured into mutually exclusive paths I would recommend playing the game twice and with character builds that differ a lot from each other, then you would see most of what’s on offer.


    A nice guy

    The game is mostly ploughing through dialogues and doing quests and there’s also some exploration of the city and its surroundings to be had. The writing is good and the embedded humor keeps you entertained while you are busy running peoples errands. However the lack of difficulty and challenge in regards to both skill checks and combat can make you somewhat bored from time to time. I’m usually a story-fag but this time around I was so starved of decent fights that I got somewhat annoyed everytime I could use my skills in dialoge to avoid them. For example I really looked forward to fighting the Battle Robots in the Invertor Factory and was actually a bit disappointed when I could just bash a computer using my strength and thus disabling the Battle Robots and canceling the fight. And then the endfight came and it didn’t even make a dent, I slaughtered all those power armor wearing guys who came at me. To me that was such an anticlimactic moment when all you had to do was slaughter a bunch of guys and that's it. The end boss fight needs to be more special, it's quite bland in its current state and also too easy. The Master and Frank Horrigan are of course much more memorable boss fights and even the end fight in the original ATOM RPG was more difficult. I at least had to reload a few times before beating it.


    A man and his car

    If I am to replay this again, and I would like to, then ATOM Team must ramp up the difficulty. Seriously, I mean it! Easy should be easy and Expert should be for experts, simple as. Currently, as I see it, the game only has varying degrees of easy. Even though one difficulty level is called “Expert”, it’s hardly anything like that. Make items scarce and battles tough. To ramp up the difficulty of combat encounters I would suggest that you increase the number of assailants and that they also attack you from different directions simultaneously, currently they just come at you as a blob and from the same direction.

    I would also make survival mechanics play a larger role with higher difficulty levels. Either that or have a special “Survival mode” that you can toggle on top of the selected difficulty. In a survival mode all items, except junk, would be so scarce so that the Tinkering, Barter, Gambling and Survival skills become good options for your character build.

    It’s probably hard to make the game difficult for high level players and in Trudograd you start at atleast level 15. As mentioned there’s no problem to max out a weapon skill and it’s supporting perks already from the beginning, even though skills now go to 300 instead of 200. A way to handle this could be to make skills become expensier the more you invest in them so that it takes longer to max them.

    To ramp up the difficulty even more and to add some sense of urgency to the main quest I would suggest that you could also toggle a timer before you start the game. The 150 days time limit of finding the water chip in Fallout really managed to stress the importance of your mission. Time limits are an underused feature I believe and they could be a good, optional, feature. In Trudograd it would be something like securing the railgun within 12 days or even 10 days.

    Overall I would say that ATOM Team have done God's work with Trudograd and it is easily the best game I’ve played since their last one. I had a very good time with it. ATOM Team is still adding to it and there will even be a ModKit, so the future looks bright for Trudograd. I really liked the upgrades Trudograd received like better graphics and better grouping of perks. Something I really wish for is a proper remaster of the original ATOM RPG that brings it to Trudograds levels of polish.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2022
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 12
  2. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Boom Boom Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    I tried to edit this but it threw up another java script message. @Korin Did my permissions get removed here for some reason?

    Great review. Looks like a good game.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2022
  3. Alphons

    Alphons National Beholder

    Aug 9, 2017
    Great review!

    There's also a golden fish that you can catch at the docks if your Luck is high enough. And your stats can get a bit high if you import a character that used both syringes in ATOM, caught a fish in Otradnoye and got a Luck bonus in Roaring Forest.

    You can actually tell Trubachyov about Kai and ask for a reward for saving him. He replies that he was always loyal to Kai and he would never kill him. Then he laughs at you for trying to con him.
    Vasmer has no dialogue though.

    ATOM Team is still adding new dialogue options and even NPCs into the game, so maybe the option was added later?
    The broken quest with the Honest People was only fixed after I finished the game.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 4
  4. Keyboard Gecko

    Keyboard Gecko Fallout: Nevada translation is updated.

    157
    Jan 15, 2018
    Hell yeah, Proletären made a review! About time!
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 6
  5. Proletären

    Proletären Vault Senior Citizen
    Staff Member Admin

    Mar 15, 2012
    Oh I missed the golden fish! So if you import a character then you will almost be god-like? I imported my endgame save just to test it but I didn't feel like playing Trudograd with a level 21 char though.

    Sorry I missed that! I only went to Vasmer and then supposed Trubachyov would be the same. But you should never write something based on assumptions. I know that. I won't edit the review but let it be known that it's flawed.

    I know and that's awesome! That's why it's important to talk about the game while they are still at it. :)


    e: @reev4eg are you reading this? Thank you for yet another great game.

    e2: I'm sorry for all the spoilers! I thought I would give some examples but I now realise that you wouldn't want to know the outcome of specific quests like that. I will do better next time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2022
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 4
  6. Hardboiled Wanderer

    Hardboiled Wanderer I'm just here for the guzzoline...

    145
    Apr 24, 2016
    Well, Van Buren would have been the first Fallout game to offer accurate armor/clothing rendering thanks to Jefferson engine, which alone would have been a huge step forward in terms of immersion in this game genre and I suppose that's just about as far as I would like to push it. I know this level of immersion might not meet today's standards, but that's not a goal anyway, right? I mean, we call these games "old school" for a reason.

    Besides, to be honest, I prefer to concentrate on the design aspect of armors rather then their presentation. Van Buren's game system offers a whole new alchemy with numbers (absent DR, fatigue mechanic, etc.) and I think that in the end, that's where the ultimate feeling of any weapon or armor will come from for most players.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  7. reev4eg

    reev4eg First time out of the vault

    29
    Oct 8, 2015
    Greetings! Yup, we usually read all feedback we can find. Thank you very much for the review and for helping us out in this way. We started our long road to creating our games here, and we're very happy you do not forget us :)
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  8. Korin

    Korin So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs
    Admin

    Aug 6, 2010
    Nope, I haven't touched them... if it was a Javascript error I'd guess it was something else. What was the error?
     
  9. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Boom Boom Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    I don't know it asked me to open the console. If I can't edit posts in the news I am powerless and must be exiled on the Long Walk.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  10. Proletären

    Proletären Vault Senior Citizen
    Staff Member Admin

    Mar 15, 2012
    I understand and respect your choices and they are probably sound in regards to what you are trying to achieve.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that the power armor in Trudograd is an object in the world rather than something that you can carry around with you in your inventory. You can enter and exit it and when you exit it will stand hulking on that same place until you decide to enter it again. That gives the PA a certain materiality which plays a huge part in making it feel special. It's not just something you wear.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 5
  11. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Boom Boom Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    That is pretty cool. TOO BAD THEY STOLE IT FROM BETHESDA!

    :push:
     
  12. Proletären

    Proletären Vault Senior Citizen
    Staff Member Admin

    Mar 15, 2012
    I know... :sad: But let's pretend it's an original idea :smug:
     
  13. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Boom Boom Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    I heard it was in the Van Buren design docs...

    >_>

    Man now I wish I bought these instead of Pathfinder and Gothic.
     
  14. Black Angel

    Black Angel Grand Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus

    Mar 21, 2016
    Which one?
     
  15. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Boom Boom Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
  16. Black Angel

    Black Angel Grand Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus

    Mar 21, 2016
    Holy shit, you haven't played the true OGs of the open-world games?!

    Anyway, what's with them?
     
  17. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Boom Boom Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    Nothing. I just want to play something different right now so I have not booted them yet, plus I am in the middle of my LP so I hate starting a big RPG like that. Plus it feels overwhelming having to play some old favorite that I did not play at launch. I don't want to botch my run by burning out or something.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2022
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1