Fallout 4 Review

xandermartin98 FALLOUT 4 REVIEW

Honestly, I'm not quite quite how to feel about Fallout 4; on the bright side, it's my very first PROPER introduction to its franchise, since my dad never bothered with Xbox consoles or gaming PCs, leaving me with only the PS3 port of Fallout 3, and...well, long story short, let's not EVER talk about Fallout 3's PS3 port, thank you very much.

However, I can't help but feel incredibly disappointed BY this game at the same time, even though it's easily one of the crowning achievements of both its developer AND its entire subgenre as a whole...why, you may ask? The answer is simple: as ridiculously overhyped (and in many ways, overrated) as Fallout 3 was and still is to this very day, THAT game at least had its own identity, not to mention an ACTUALLY definite end to its side-quest and fetch-quest shenanigans. More importantly, that game had infinitely more depth and wasn't a stupid overpriced (in terms of both real-life money AND in-game currency, no less) town-building simulator.

That being said, though, it's a great game, just not quite the New Year's resolution I was speccing for. Speaking of which, let's immediately get straight to talking about the absolute LEAST important aspect in determining this game's overall quality, shall we?

GRAPHICS: Since this is my first time covering a hyper-realistic modern-day shooter as opposed to your typical heavily-stylized classic Nintendo and Nintendo-lite fare, looks like I'm going to have to be incredibly cringy here and critically analyze how fancy, glittery and high-end the game's specs are. Meaning, of course, that Breath Of The Wild is automatically a bad game just because it has a cel-shaded, pastel-colored art style and runs at 30 frames per second (if you can't already sense my sarcasm, do it NOW).

Truthfully, Breath Of The Wild is a much, MUCH better game than this, even without taking insanely biased Nintendo fanboyism into account...but honestly, Fallout 4 looks only marginally better than BOTW does, and only about 50% better than Fallout 3 (which is REALLY not saying much, believe me). If we were to graphically compare this to the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, on the other hand...well, to quote the Joker, it would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic...oh, what the heck, I'll laugh anyway! AHHHAHAHAHAHAA!!

Anyway, getting back on topic, this game, in typical Bethesda fashion, really is only a marginal visual improvement upon its predecessor, despite being released over half of an entire DECADE after said predecessor and about half a decade after said predecessor's even better spinoff sequel New Vegas.

The textures are inconsistent, the framerate is unreliable, the color palette is oversaturated beyond belief (honestly, I almost would've taken Fallout 3's generic brown-and-grey filter over THIS absurdity), there is still quite a bit of pop-in going on, the VATS system is positively rife with camera glitches and extremely un-necessary jump cuts, characters STILL have a major tendency to glitch into walls and just generally be remarkably poorly animated, the game has ragdoll physics out the wazoo...yeah, nothing's really changed. Heck, even the same notorious "stone-faced" thing that Bethesda games are legendarily notorious for making their characters (including your own as well, regardless of how ridiculously you've customized him/her) do during conversations is still more-than-mildly present.

At the absolute most basic level, this is a quite GOOD-looking game as far as graphical realism is concerned, but calling it full-on "next-gen" when it's on the Zero Dawn console is just unspeakably ludicrous.

The post-apocalyptic 1950s America setting is still admittedly pretty awesome, though.

STORY: Basically, what I know so far is that (insert your name here) was just an average father from an average 1950s Boston family that no one understood, until one day, at the very height of America's uranium fever (again, take note of that), he was forced by local federal government law to flee his house and bring his wife and baby son with him into the local fallout shelter (yeah, I know, it was way better when Fallout 3 made it about growing up IN the local fallout shelter).

However, one unfortunate day, while (IYNH) and Mr. Freeze's his wife Nora are busy sleeping eternally in their cryogenic stasis chambers straight out of Futurama's pilot episode, an incredibly archetypal bald-headed and scarfaced mercenary terrorist named Kellogg (seriously, WHY is he named after a cereal brand? Please don't tell me it's a pun on the fact that he's a licensed SERIAL killer) walks into (IYNH)'s precious cryogenic chamber and cold-bloodedly guns his wife down right in front of him, stealing his son afterwards (don't worry, he actually DOES take good care of him).

Shortly thereafter (perhaps a few minutes or a few years; sorry, I can't really remember very clearly at the moment), (IYNH) finally breaks free of his cryogenic prison, makes his grand escape from the fallout shelter and embarks on a stalwart quest through the postapocalyptic Boston wasteland (that is rather noticeably less dark and edgy than Washington DC's was in the previous game, might I add, for better or for worse) in hopes of exacting his revenge.

From there, the game then immediately proceeds to take (INYH) through a ridiculously convoluted series of faction alliances, starting with the local minutemen and hopefully ending with this game's logical evolution of Fallout 3's Brotherhood Outcasts, which eventually leads him to brutally murder Kellogg, put the cybernetic hippocampus portion of Kellogg's cereal brain into a machine straight out of the Frankenstein movies and travel straight into his mind Psychonauts-style (only nowhere near as interesting)...

all before finally waging war against an entire army of post-apocalyptic 1950s Terminators.

Yeah, that certainly is a cool story and all, but what about the water-purifying part, HMM?

SOUND: Well, to put it simply, I have both good news and bad news regarding this particular aspect of Fallout 4. The good news is that both of the old fan-favorite radio stations are back with a vengeance, with Classical Radio being easily just as good as it was in 3 while Diamond City Radio is still funny and entertaining as always but is just kind of a letdown compared to 3's Galaxy News Radio.

The bad news, however, is that the sound design is questionable at best. Rather than determining the volume levels of local sound effects (especially voice utterances) by how close the things and characters making them actually are TO you, the game simply determines individual sound volume based on whatever it happens to FEEL like at whatever given moment. Also, when speaking to the Radiant-Quest-giving characters (more on that later), the game will often skip the first line of their quest-giving dialogues for literally NO apparent reason. The actual sound effects themselves are mostly quite realistic, though, so I can't really complain on that front.

And now for the "just okay" news, which would undeniably have to be the voice acting. Even when taking the hilariously stilted speaking animations of Fallout 3 and Skyrim characters into account, the voice acting in both of those games was generally pretty bad even at its relative best. Here, however, it's...passable. Definitely not great (especially when you select the "Sarcastic" option in conversations and your character starts doing a cringeworthy wannabe impersonation of Nathan Drake), but at the very least serviceable. Needs more actual Nolan North though.

GAMEPLAY: Now, the graphics and sound design being only mildly improved (and the plot actually being considerably DOWNGRADED) from the previous game was at least somewhat understandable coming from a developer like Bethesda if you ask me, but the gameplay is another story entirely. Personally, I enjoy it...at least, when it isn't COMPLETELY screwing me over, that is.

Yes, that's right; Fallout 4, much like Call Of Duty 4, was basically THAT ONE GAME where the developers of its franchise sat down at a boardroom meeting table and said "You KNOW what die-hard, everlasting hardcore fans of this series LIKE? NEEDLESSLY CASUALIZING EVERYTHING!"

Let's start with the combat here, shall we? I mean, yeah, don't get me wrong, the real-time aiming controls technically ARE improved compared to vanilla Fallout 3's, but REALLY not by much. The VATS system is still almost just as big of a requirement for combat as it was before, which is made extremely unfair by the fact that literally ALL of the major gun-wielding enemies, in addition to being nonsensically MASSIVE damage sponges, have infinite-use aimbots that invariably have a 100% chance of hitting with literally EVERY single bullet that they fire at you, and just to add even MORE insult to injury, they literally ALWAYS fire at you at the exact MILLISECOND you even DARE to poke one of your sodding fingernails out of cover.

Long story short, the combat is still just as fake and grindy as ever. Now for the loot-collecting and stat-managing parts...

Still exactly the same (and just as wildly unrealistic and insane) as ever, but somehow worse in almost every conceivable way. For one thing, Fallout 4 blatantly forces its players to stash overwhelmingly heavy loads of random useless junk in their inventories so that they can use it to fuel the game's ridiculously resource-overpriced town-building system that also requires quite a bit of specialized perk meddling (using a skill tree system that, just like mostly everything else about FO4, is heavily dumbed down and sterilized compared to what it was in FO3) before it'll actually give players full access to it as well.

Irritatingly enough, the armor-and-weapon-upgrading and chemical-mixing stations work in the exact same way and are easily just as bad as the town-building, with the only remarkably major difference being the fact that these stations don't have a ridiculously annoying and literally ENDLESS settlement-defending sidequest line attached to them.

Speaking of which, one of many EXTREMELY important things about this game that it NEVER even bothers to properly inform you of is its rather notorious "Radiant Questing" feature, in which your character embarks on at least one agonizingly, painfully, very seriously endless series of procedurally generated "kill all the dudes" quests for each faction. At first, I was actually enjoying it quite a bit, but then when I really sat down and started to think about it, I immediately thought out loud to myself that "at least Borderlands knew when to stop with this".

More importantly, however, nearly ALL of the depth from Fallout 3's core gameplay has been more-or-less completely removed altogether in Fallout 4, and boy does it show. No more weapon-condition meters, no more PROPER radiation-poisoning meter (replaced by gradual health-bar shrinkage), no more PROPER karma system, no more skill tree perks that PROPERLY tie in with the combat to enhance the player's overall experience with it, no more penalty for letting your computer-controlled allies take too much damage, no more ACTUAL consequences for saying the wrong things during conversations...yeah, it's more than a little disappointing.

In short, while it's definitely not the Fallout 3 killer that everyone was hoping for, Fallout 4 is still a more-than-adequate time killer as well as an interesting (albeit annoyingly Denser And Wackier than before) case study on what would have eventually happened to real-life America if it had never grown up from its uranium-harvesting and fully nuclear-power-relying days.

8.75/10 (REALLY wish it could have been the 10/10 it was hyped up to be, but oh well)