Fallout 4 (2015) Video Game Review

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Godspeed fellas…Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

Well, this was long awaited…and for good reason.  I’ve played Fallout 3 before, so this is like visiting an old friend in a way.  So…Fallout 4.

Set in 2287 in an area around Massachusetts and New England (and includes Boston), our hero (that’s you), wakes up 210 years in the future, after being frozen in suspended animation in Vault 111, shortly after the war began.  During your freezing process, you briefly wake up to see your husband/wife being killed, and Shaun, your baby, being taken by some men in white coats, and witnessing a balding, scarred mercenary calling you “the back-up”.  You then wake up a few years later to find Vault 111 more or less abandoned, and you begin both a search for your son, and a new adventure as a widow/er.

I’ve put days into this game…and by days, I mean days of 100% gameplay.  “I’ve played Fallout 4 for just over 5 days” doesn’t sound like much – until you reveal your definition of playing for over 120 hours.  To make up that kind of number, I would have to play some Japanese RPGs 2 or 3 times (I like getting my money’s worth).

Now to talk building blocks and Junk:

Overall the voice acting is very good (Even if the lip sync doesn’t always click), with many of the actors being known for their additional voiceover roles in many films, shows and games.  Some names stand out, and some performances stand out.  Names that stand out are Lynda Carter (who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s) playing the character Magnolia, the singer in The Third Rail (in Goodneighbour), Ron Perlman as the Anchorman in the prologue, and Tim Russ (Tulak in Star Trek: Voyager) as Lancer Captain Kells.  Performances that stand out?  Courtney Ford’s performance as Piper Wright sticks out for me, as she clearly put a lot of effort into making this character very bright and spunky.  The voices for the main characters (both male and female) are also great – and I like how you can effectively choose your personality while you play – you can be really nice, really mean, really indifferent, or really sarcastic…good stuff.

The graphics in Fallout 4 are an improvement from Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but it’s not the best looking current-gen game out at the moment…although, as far as the sheer scale of the game itself , along with the amount of NPCs and the improved ability to create the appearance of your main character, I honestly can’t complain.  Also, the environments look great, with a wonderful use of realistic lighting.  Are there bugs?  darn-tootin’ there are bugs!  You won’t get through this whole game without finding at least 1, whether it be cadavers having epileptic fits, missing limbs appearing as phantom limbs (quite literally), flashing textures underneath intended textures, 2 Headed cows stuck on the roof of a house in Sanctuary Hills, and of course, Civilians in settlements gathering around like scavenger ants into a 15 foot square area of land, rather than sitting down on the chairs I provide them or playing with whatever toys I give them to make them happy ( Still waiting for them to play pool).

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See?  Phantom Limb

The Art Design continues with the series’ main theme – that this is how people may have envisioned a post-apocalyptic world during the Baby boomer years.  The appearances of the characters are as diverse as the mid 20th Century in general (Ranging from well-tailored suits and dresses, to cowboy outfits to greasers to Mad Max inspired road warriors, to easy riders to simple flannel shirt with jeans, to those of the Star Trek variety), and the artwork is clearly inspired by the fashion choices, home decor, advertising, and dreams of the future from those days (Think Star Trek; The Original Series).

So, what’s the story?  Well, the main objective is to find your son, Shaun, but this game is much more than that – and there are literally many tens to hundreds of short stories packed in.  For instance, there are 4 main factions in this game – The Minutemen, The Railroad, The Brotherhood Of Steel, and the Institute.  The Minutemen are basically like the Neighbourhood Watch, and are simply looking to help and rescue people from their problems, and try to look past differences (They only attack Synths, Ghouls and Mutants if they’re hostile, but they know they’re not all bad).  The Brotherhood Of Steel are like extreme-right, with emphasis on conserving and keeping humanity alive by force and eliminating anything unfamiliar (Synths, Mutants and Ghouls, regardless of whether they’re hostile or not).  The Railroad are like the extreme-left, with emphasis on protecting Synths in an animals rights fashion, but when it comes to the value of Human life, they’re not as driven in defending it as much as the other 2.  Lastly, The Institute, known as “The Boogeyman Of The Commonwealth”, is very different to the other 3 groups, and are basically the main antagonists of the game.  Where do they stand?  You’ll have to find out for yourself.  Each group have their good and bad sides, and gameplay-wise this is basically an expansion on the civil war storyline archetype that Skyrim used, by having 4 groups instead of just 2.  Fallout 4 has 4 different endings, depending on who you side with, so there’s plenty of re-playability there.  On top of these 4 factions, is the fact that nearly every town has something for you to do or change – So I look forward to exploring Diamond City a bit more next time, rather than just progressing the main story and using it for trade.

The Characters, especially those who become your companions, are really well done, with some being a lot more likeable and interesting than others.  Do I have any favourites?  Yes: Piper (The Freelance Reporter in Diamond City with a mouth like a machine gun), Cait (The unladylike Irish cage fighter who possesses many of the stereotypes, but is oddly adorable), Nick Valentine (The Synth with a Hard-boiled Film-Noir Detective personality, vocabulary and speech pattern), Curie (The French-Accented Miss Nanny Robot scientist who can become “Human”) and John Hancock (The Mayor of Goodneighbour and a Ghoul who models himself after John Hancock, the influential Merchant from the American Revolution).  Is it possible to find love after the end of your marriage?  Well according to Fallout 4;  Yes, and it also provides benefits to your health and experience when it happens….Also prepare to meet a realistic version of Buzz Lightyear…you might even say he likes to ‘Danse’.

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Preston:  1 of the nicest guys in the whole game.

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Piper: I want that coat…and seriously, why do I like the crazy 1s the best?

The Controls take some time to get used to, and unlike Fallout 3 and New Vegas, this 1 places a bit more emphasis on being a 1st person shooter, more so than an RPG-hybrid.  But the RPG aspects are still very much in play.  With each level up comes an opportunity to make the game a little easier, and for more doors to open (quite literally).  Also, don’t worry if you hate 1st person games, because the 3rd person option has returned as well (All is well, yay!).

One the main features of the game, which was originally introduced (Loosely) in another Bethesda game known as Skyrim, is the ability to build your own home (or homes), and even your own neighbourhood.  It was something I ended up putting many hours into, as building stuff provides experience without needing to go into combat (and therefore levelling up without dying before saving).  How do you build stuff?  By collecting junk around the Commonwealth and scraping anything that’s within the ‘sandbox’ you’re provided.  It makes junk collecting have meaning when you go into the wasteland, as it’s no longer just something to sell and earn caps from (caps being the in-game currency…they’re the caps from glass coke bottles).  The palette can be expanded with DLC, but it’s still good fun on it’s own.  It’s not as precise as Minecraft, but it’s definitely a lot softer on the eyes.

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Nice touch…but did it make the settlements any happier?

The music’s combination is…fantastic, with some songs from Fallout 3 even making a return (Some are too good not to be included).  Sometimes it depends on the mood you’re looking for when you play.  When your radio isn’t turned on, the default music is mostly horror-themed, to put you on edge, or the sound of Epic Adventure mixed with the awe of the wasteland.  This music is particularly sinister early on in the game when you’re “getting to know the ropes”, as it’s very easy to die without good quality armour and weapons (Your maximum health doesn’t matter if your resistance to damage and quality of shot aren’t good enough.), and when you accidentally walk on a landmine, walk into a trap, confront that Deathclaw you weren’t expecting, confront an army of Ghouls or Super Mutants with mini nukes or mini guns, accidentally piss off the Brotherhood Of Steel, or have a terrible shot at those giant mosquitoes and ‘Bloatflies’, it becomes a whole different story.  However, if you’re not looking for tension and dread about the next corner – you can always switch over to a radio station, with the 3 primary 1s being Diamond City Radio (For your Blues, R&B, Doo-Wop, Jazz, Country and Rock n Roll from 1934 to 1962), Classical Radio (For classical music) and Radio Freedom (The Minutemen’s radio signal, which is often a folk violin tune with the occasional call to action.  It appears after you reclaim the Minutemen’s headquarters).  Other radio stations (Which work, depending on where you are and the quests you’ve completed) include Radio transmissions from Raiders and Mutants, trapped people needing help, and of course, Silver Shroud Radio (Which features radio story re-runs about the in-game pre-war comic book hero “The Silver Shroud”).  Is there anything I love about this soundtrack?  In a way, yes – It’s the song list from Diamond City Radio, which features plenty of tunes with meaningful and playful lyrics that are metaphors to Love, Life, Violence, Relationships and Sex (With titles such as Sixty-Minute Man, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On, Butcher Pete, It’s a Man, and Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall) – The key word to it all being ‘subtlety’, and the fact that these are the songs your grandparents probably didn’t tell you about, in concern of contamination of innocence when you weren’t a teenager yet.

As far as the game’s lifespan is concerned, there’s more to do here than at least 10 other games put together.  I would recommend the occasional break, and even start the game again to try something different, but from the looks of things, the DLC will make this game even more insane.

Would I recommend Fallout 4?  Well, I would recommend it in the same way I would recommend a pizza with a garlic marinara sauce, a bag of Chilli Doritos and every film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, which are all a definite yes!  Even if you paid £100 for this game brand new and on its own, you would still be getting your money’s worth.  It’s big, epic, fun, interesting, absorbent, and literally an adventurous life away from life itself.  Do I have any advice for beginners?  Yes – Choose to have 10 for Charisma (Allows you to get your way with others about 99% of the time), start building Sanctuary Hills early, so you can get a few levels and then start to gain strength before heading out into the big, bad wasteland.  And do customise your weapons, armour and power armour – Because you won’t get far from home without at least 1 of them.  Lastly, do make the trip to Diamond City as soon as possible – as you’ll eventually have a pile of stuff you’ll want to sell.

Now to get the DLC and start a new game with new attributes, new alliances, new decisions, a new ending, and to switch from being Mr Nice to Mr French (Using only sarcastic dialogue).

Voice Acting: ****1/2

Graphics: ****

Art/Design: *****

Story: ****1/4

Controls: ****3/4

Features: ****3/4

Music: *****

Life-Span: *****

Overall: ****3/4

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