So here I am - heading back home on a bus from school, early 1989. The only real thing on my mind? Firing up the Commodore 64 and rejoining the bunch of Desert Rangers that have just escaped from their first encounter with the Scorpitron. Clips of various calibres were burnt through, LAW rockets fired, two mortally injured - but the team survived. Just.
How had this game got to captivate me so much? To this day, Wasteland ranks as my No.1 game of all time. Not a maybe, not a floating possibility amongst five other great games - but the clear front runner and sole contender. One that I doubt will ever be usurped in the immediate and all-consuming effect that wandering into the radioactive barrens of the American mid-West had on me.
Wasteland is a top-down RPG that follows the 'good guys' of Desert Rangers - attempting to put right the wrongs and work out what strange events are happening in post-nuclear desert around Las Vegas. Fully customisable characters are still fun today, but in late 1988, this was unheard of. Brawlers, pistoleros, ranged specialists to hi-tech geeks were all here - including murderous cyborgs, dodgy gamblers, bar owners and lethal, radioactive vermin. Wasteland introduced the options of restraint, or over-kill - depending on your mood and temperament. Do you carefully take a single shot at your target? Or burst fire of a trio of bullets? Or to hell with accuracy and lead count and simply rip through a magazine? Your ammo, your choice.
A newcomer to Wasteland in 2014 will be woefully unimpressed. What's all the fuss about? It looks archaic has virtually no sound and the main storyline can be completed in a very short time span. But a quarter of a century ago, this game shattered the adventure genre apart and set a whole new level of benchmark. The highly influenced offspring of the Fallout games show plenty of direct lineage back to the original game. But none enthrall in quite the same way that Wasteland did.
Even Steam refers to Wasteland 1 as 'The Original Classic'. For those lucky enough to have been around on its first release - that phrase sums it up perfectly.
10 out of 10.