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Fallout 4 Review

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Graphics:

 

8.6

Gameplay:

 

9.3

Sound:

 

8.8

Control:

 

8.9

Replay Value:

 

9.5

Overall Rating:       9.0

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Bethesda Softworks

Developer:

Bethesda Game Studios

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/RPG

Release Date:

November 10, 2015

The wasteland has stories. If you’re well-equipped and determined, you might just manage to survive long enough to learn about those stories. The nuclear apocalypse has come and gone and humans struggle to forge their way in a very new landscape, riddled with desolation and desperation. But buried beneath the filth and detritus, lurking just below the surface of some humans that have become animalistic, lies a glimmer of hope. This hope sits at the core of Fallout 4’s narrative and despite its slow start, occasional plodding pacing, and some small logistical issues, this is an adventure that will resonate long after completion. A dark world filled with mystery and promise, and you play a crucial role in the fate of humanity…hard to get more poignant.

Boston after nuclear fallout isn’t exactly a welcoming place. But that’s the point, is it not? The developers go to great lengths to present the player with an authentic and forbidding atmosphere, one that both stimulates your survival instinct and fills you with restrained wonder. And it’s only restrained because no matter where you turn, you’re forced to remember the way things must’ve been; i.e., what we’ve lost as opposed to what we might gain in the long run. In such landscapes, heroes are made and the weak are quickly eliminated. Setting aside the technical merits and drawbacks for a moment, this is a world capable of drawing you in and making you feel.

Strictly from a technical standpoint, it’s not the best-looking game you’ll ever see. I imagine franchise fans are okay with that because Fallout has never challenged for graphical superiority. Character models during cut-scenes appear old-fashioned and certain textures are just plain poor. And you can’t get away from a few small slowdown issues, especially when rooting around inside one of those burned-out buildings. Even so, where the game excels is in the construction of its vast environment. If you just stand and look toward the horizon, the sight is indeed impressive. This is how Fallout 4 grabs you with its scope and design; it’s not in the minute intricacies of visual presentation. And while we can’t ignore the shortcomings, we also should acknowledge the accomplishment.

The audio can – and often is – a big highlight, even if I believe the score could’ve played a bigger role when simply wandering (remember, you’ll be doing a lot of that, and a gently haunting and shifting soundtrack would’ve added some flavor). The voice performances are solid without being special, although a few characters really shine. The effects definitely take center-stage during the majority of the game, and these stellar special effects serve to amplify the aforementioned atmosphere. One’s immersion always increases when the mind actually believes what it sees and hears, and we often forget that our lives are filled with ambient and background sounds we typically dismiss. But these effects, which are abundant yet subtle in the game, help to solidify any virtual reality.

It’s a quaint 1950s alternate reality, in which you have a wife and a newborn son. The “alternate” part becomes immediately apparent when you meet your robot house assistant, and you get a whiff of uncertainty when a salesman shows up and offers you a space in a fallout shelter. If door-to-door salesmen can make a living selling such a thing, the possibility of a horrifying disaster seems oddly real. And before you really have time to think about it, it happens: There’s a nuclear panic and everybody who has a secure spot in an underground shelter is rushed to safety. The last thing you see before the elevator plunges below the surface is a massive explosion that will undoubtedly scorch the entire landscape. Life as you know it is over.

Worse yet, you won’t be spending your time underground trying to live a normal life. As some sort of government experiment, the survivors are frozen in a cryogenic state and at one point, you awake long enough to see two men open your wife’s cryo chamber, shoot her, and rip your infant son from her arms. Then you go back to sleep and wake up in the year 2277, where mutant cockroaches have infested a mysteriously empty facility. It’s time to begin. When you return to the surface, confused and shielding your eyes against the glare, you can’t believe what has happened. You spot an impossible creature off in the distance and everything in sight is destroyed. You can go just about anywhere but beware because exploring too far off the beaten path can be extremely dangerous.

Well, in point of fact, there is no “beaten path” and everything you do, especially at the start, can be extremely hazardous to your health. Some might even complain due to the steep difficulty of the first ten hours or so, because death is always right around the corner. It doesn’t help that humanity appears to have splintered into a series of safe havens and other, more unstable, makeshift towns. The situation really does seem almost hopeless but with every level gained, you feel just a little stronger, and with each new piece of equipment, you feel just a little safer when wandering about. There’s a hugely robust character advancement system that role-playing enthusiasts will love; you’ll spend a lot of time pondering the allotment of your hard-earned points.

I like that you have to earn your way to the top, and the depth of the character system holds your attention and rewards the diligent and thoughtful. Furthermore, your decisions have such a huge impact on the storyline that you actually start to think about those, too. In most games, there’s a well-defined line between “good” and “bad” but Fallout 4 takes another step into the realm of uncertainty. Morals take on a very different tinge when humanity is on the brink and you’ll soon find that sacrifice is inevitable. You just can’t have it all, so you have to make some tough choices. This, combined with the inherent challenge of building your character, is by far the most appealing aspect of the game, in my estimation.

Plus, the V.A.T.S. system is back and better than ever, which is another huge highlight for those who love their RPGs. When this mode is enabled, you can pinpoint specific body parts on your opponents; percentages will pop up, telling you how likely you are to land a hit, and how much damage you’ll inflict. With better Perception, these numbers are more accurate, and the mechanic lets you be quite meticulous. The one big difference – which admittedly, I don’t like – is that previously, V.A.T.S. stopped time completely; in Fallout 4, it merely slows time. Well, of course. Stopping for any reason in any video game these days is considered ridiculous and yes, I do place part of the blame at the feet of a populace with perhaps the lowest attention span in the history of the human race.

But V.A.T.S. still works exceedingly well and lends a cognitive twist to the standard run ‘n gun we find in most games with a first-person viewpoint (by the way, you can switch to third-person if you choose but I wouldn’t recommend it). On top of which, the system gives you an opportunity to evaluate your chances, which becomes all the more critical if you’re suffering from radiation poisoning or something like that. Perhaps more so than any other game I’ve played recently, Fallout 4 imparts a constant sense of urgency and impending doom. So, even when you feel pretty confident in your equipment and abilities, you’re always considering the distinct possibility of death. In this way, the game actually feels more like survival/horror at times than a typical action/RPG.

Between the stats that make you S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck) and the perks you earn, there’s a lot to think about in regards to your character. Toss in those tough decisions you have to make and believe it or not, you’ll spend a ton of time in this game sitting back and just thinking. It’s not something you commonly do these days with video games, you know? Me, I’ve always been a specialist; I want to heavily invest in combat style that suits me, and this works out much better than the jack-of-all-trades approach. I’d say this is also true with Fallout 4 but the freedom and experimentation is so enticing that chances are, you’ll fiddle a bit. Undeniably, there is a massive amount of freedom throughout, from character progression to the far-reaching world.

Then there’s crafting, which can basically own your life if you get sucked into the process. If that doesn’t get to you, maybe the building element will and God help you if you can’t get enough of everything this game has to offer; you may as well quit school or your job. But there are issues and they don’t have anything to do with my personal distaste for the game (which you don’t really see here, do you?): First is your companion, Dogmeat. He’s a great friend to have in the wasteland but giving him – or any of the companions you recruit – commands can be cumbersome and irksome. It clashes with the generally streamlined nature of the rest of the experience. On top of which, the map functionality isn’t anything special; the world map has its limitations and the smaller maps for populated areas are even less helpful.

And while I’m certainly not one to say graphics lessened my enjoyment of any game, there’s no doubt that the lack of polish here is too evident. Throw in some glitches and mediocre non-interactive sequences, and there are times when you feel taken out of an otherwise compelling experience. Lastly, the pacing can be way off, even more so than in most open-world games that put a premium on exploration and discovery. There’s a plodding, methodical nature to certain parts of the adventure that really weigh heavily, and admittedly didn’t help my mood. I love subtlety and well-scripted downtimes in games but when you’re only wandering and trying to level up your character, there’s a decided MMO feel that I just can’t abide.

All in all, though, Fallout 4 is a masterful production that features a wildly ambitious and nigh-on unparalleled scope. There’s just so much to do that it often feels overwhelming, but this isn’t going to stop the franchise faithful. In fact, I’m sure they’ll welcome the deluge of options, content, and endless exploration. The choices you’re forced to make, how you build and equip your character, the crafting and building, and the largely oppressive yet intriguing atmosphere; all of this makes the game special. There are drawbacks, on both the technical and artistic sides of the production, which is why I don’t believe the game deserves anything more than a flat 9. At the same time, however, I had difficulty in considering a high 8 because really, when compared to the competition…yeah, it’s a 9.

The Good: Huge, wonderfully compelling world, filled with stories and sights. Great sound effects and decent voice performances. Solid control throughout. V.A.T.S. gives you that cerebral complement to combat. Character progression, crafting and building are insanely robust. Tough, thought-provoking player decisions.

The Bad: Minor technical hitches, like clipping and choreography issues. Pacing can take a serious hit. Clunky companion mechanic.

The Ugly: “Oh, there’s lots of ‘ugly’ in the wasteland but if you can see the humanity beneath it…”

11/11/2015 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System


Legacy Comment System (35 posts)


frylock25
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 @ 11:55:20 PM
Reply

that was a great review. i have to say this game is a lot of fun. i have been enjoying the building part of the game and have started working with that to see what i can make. a solid 9 is a score i agree with. i so cant wait to get more play time in on this.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 12:02:30 AM
Reply

Finally got to it tonight. I am as happy as a pig in sh*t. I think I haven't been this happy since I was 8 and I woke up on Christmas morning to see the room was flooded with presents and games and a system and big red snow sleds and little plastic dudes.

Granted I've only had 3 hours with it but I haven't seen any trouble. Shes gorgeous, she's Fallout, its back and better than ever, bigger than ever, sexier than ever and if I had to review it on my tiny 3 hours (which I wouldn't) I'd give it a 9.5 due to some obvious sputtering in the graphics and slightly wonky gameplay without using fine tuning.

This is just it man. I gotta work straight through to friday night but the weekend is all Fallout, all day and all night. I don't need a woman anymore, I don't need a life anymore, I just need some food, a catheter, cola, and vapor.

Cuz I'm a wanderer, yeah I'm a wanderer, I go around around around around....

Agree with this comment 7 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 12:22:25 AM

"I think I haven't been this happy since I was 8 and I woke up on Christmas morning to see the room was flooded with presents and games and a system and big red snow sleds and little plastic dudes"

This is me every time a new Metal Gear or Zelda is released. ;)

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Temjin001
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 1:08:41 AM

Jawknee, was 'for the first time ever' stacking 3 Links together to form a totem-pole really all that exciting this year?

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FM23
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 1:36:12 AM

I spent all veterans day playing this damn thing. Expectations met and some!!! Enjoy it this weekend man!

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Jawknee
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 1:51:35 AM

I actually haven't bought that one yet. I never cared for Four Swords and this newest one on 3DS looks very similar. I'll likely pick it up around Xmas.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 9:02:50 AM

FM23 good to hear it.

I feel kinda happy every time theres a new Zelda 64 and kinda sad every time there's a new Majora's Mask. Even with a time mode hack I couldn't beat the clock on that thing.

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Temjin001
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 12:59:27 AM
Reply

Neato-bandido.

I'm just happy to get to actually play all of the GotY contenders this year...
Bloodborne
Witcher 3
MGSV
Fallout 4
what's it gonna be?

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FM23
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 1:36:35 AM

Great yr for gaming!

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FAREEZ
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 1:48:37 AM

Witcher 3 is game of the year...

Agree with this comment 3 up, 4 down Disagree with this comment

Broady
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 3:56:44 AM

I haven't had the time to play any! Keep saying that I will do at some point, but when I still have Arkham City in its wrapping don't know how true that's going to be.

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MRSUCCESS
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 7:53:44 AM

We all know no other game ran or played better than MGS5. It didn't have the best story but it was definitely the best.

I will agree with Ben and say that I enjoyed The Witcher 3 more than MGS5 but I don't think it will grab too many GOTY awards due to the bug problems.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 9:04:37 AM

Witcher 3 is so tired and 8th grade mass produceds BS, I'd go with Fallout or Broodborne. In that order.

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wambo
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 11:43:09 AM

In my eyes bloodborne should be game of the year buts thats just my preferance, it will probably be the witcher 3 or mgsv.

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xenris
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 12:12:22 PM

Bloodborne I would give it too for how tightly designed everything was.

For open world games Witcher 3 hands down, its world was alive, MGS5 and Fallout and Batman can't compete with that game as far as content goes.

If you don't like its combat or RPG mechanics thats fine but its world and quests and side quests and hunts and gwent and crafting just blow the others away. I haven't played Fallout 4 yet I will be getting it soon, but from what I have seen it is close but doesn't quite beat Witcher 3.

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Temjin001
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 3:25:07 PM

I'm pretty sure Ben already stated earlier in the year that Witcher 3 had no chance at GotY for its many issues. Thousands actually.

While Bloodborne made the biggest impression on me by far this year, I think apart of that has something to with me being both a stranger to horror games and Souls games alike. The experience felt like a first to me in many ways. It's easily my GotY unless FO4 is off the hook awesome for me.

MGSV though I think has the best "objectively" minded shot at it. It's loaded with stuff do. It's technically executed 50x better than other open world games, and at 60fps. It's the best stealth gameplay out there by a lot, from an under represented genre. It has strong value in both single and multiplayer modes. Yes it fails to totally cover the bases for fans of the series in story but for a game on its own right it's the most balanced offering this year imo.

Witcher 3 had a strong shot at GotY for its ambition for the genre. It has likely made its competitors take RPG cues from its lead. I think a lot rests on how a game's stability affects the year's most prestigious award.... its just so ironic that something like AC Unity could be mutilated last year in reviews for bugs, yet here's Syndicate, much cleaner and smoother and half the audience still rips it. Then here's Witcher 3 a new all time low in stability, serving up several massive patches to fix nests of bugs, and it scores 9's and 10's.


Last edited by Temjin001 on 11/12/2015 3:27:47 PM

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FM23
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 9:17:13 PM

Witcher 3 was a great game. But the gameplay was pretty boring in my book. The story made that game for me as exploration wasn't really that great to me. MGSV had the best gameplay this year. Fallout 4 is just something completely different and I actually like the graphics.

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FM23
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 1:42:48 AM
Reply

This my GOTY. I love the setting and the unique sense of a personalized adventure. Too bad the animations are still "Bethesda-esque", but the gameplay is definitely up to snuff.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 9:05:19 AM

The vats moving to slow mo instead of stop mo has me batty

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TrueAssassin86x
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 6:37:26 AM
Reply

Fallout 4 and Assassins Creed Syndicate get the same review score hahahaha.....

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FAREEZ
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 8:31:35 AM

Fallout 4 score higher than Assassins Creed syndicate on metacritic hahahaha...

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Godslim
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 10:10:35 AM

Boy you sure do love assassins creed....maybe a little too much.

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slow and smart
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 6:50:35 AM
Reply

My precious ....GOTY

man..bigger world/improved shooting/building your own house/building settlements/radiation storms/crafting all kinds of weapons/armor...
400 hours of gameplay and who knows how many hours of building your house[and maybe settlements],the dlc and later mods man oh man,will i ever play another game?

Last edited by slow and smart on 11/12/2015 7:10:58 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 9:05:54 AM

Pretty much this ^

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Aerifale
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 10:44:40 AM
Reply

How's everyone handling the house building?

I'm starting to realise I may not be as creative as I first thought. Then again I may not have spent enough time at it yet. I can certainly see it gobbling up a lot of my time.

Can't wait to build up my own personal Nuke-town with high walls surrounding the perimeter lined with mines and other defenses. All citizens will be issued their own set of power armour and a fat man courtesy of their bad-ass mayor ;) Even the super mutants will be like, "Nah man I ain't messin with that sh*t, I hear the guy who runs that place is out of his puny human mind!"

Did I mention that I love this game yet? Great review Ben, as always.

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Aerifale
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 10:48:42 AM
Reply

By the way Ben, on an unrelated note, have you considered starting up a PSXextreme community on the ol Playstation? I think a lot of us might be up for that :)

Last edited by Aerifale on 11/12/2015 10:48:58 AM

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maxpontiac
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 1:46:13 PM
Reply

Nice review Ben, thanks.

This game is so good that I am thinking about playing instead of working and this doesn't happen often!

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Crabba
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 5:45:59 PM
Reply

Am I the only one who thinks it's weird that Ben gives this game a 9 while saying it's intensely boring or feels indifferent about it?!

Objectivity is one thing but IMO a 9 is a near perfect game that should mean it's one of the best games there is, not something you should feel forced to continue playing...

I can definitely relate to the other article about not liking or even hating a game (or movie) that's objectively not bad, and I'd say it's fair to give it a few points for production values or what have you, but giving something a GREAT and near perfect score for something you don't even like, that's something completely different.

Also, what didn't you like about it Ben, why didn't you write anything about that? That's what I would find interesting to read anyway.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 5:48:16 PM

"Objectivity is one thing but IMO a 9 is a near perfect game that should mean it's one of the best games there is"

It is one of the best games out there. Doesn't matter whether I like it or not.

And I did say in the review what I didn't like about it.

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Crabba
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 6:53:24 PM

"One of the best games" shouldn't be boring to play, if you think it's that boring and indifferent about it, you clearly don't think it's one of the best games out there.

You mentioned a few minor flaws, graphics not being excellent & glitches and stuff like that, but you didn't really get into what made YOU dislike the game so much? If for example you think the story or lack of is boring that should be a very objective flaw and should deduct points from the game like any other flaw.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 8:06:01 PM

opinion and review are two different words dude

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Crabba
Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 8:56:47 PM

yes, they're two different words, what's your point?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, November 13, 2015 @ 10:58:36 AM

You don't seem to understand. "Best" refers to something's quality. Hence, that word cannot be affected by my opinion. I'm sure lots of people were "bored" reading "War and Peace," but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best books in history. And you're not allowed to say it isn't just because you were bored.

There are lots of amazing games that bore me or I'm indifferent to. That's the way it is for everyone, because personal opinion is one thing and quality is another. Generally, yes, we tend to like good-quality games but due to the subjectivity involved in all entertainment, it's never 100 percent.

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Crabba
Friday, November 13, 2015 @ 4:16:08 PM

Well all art is subjective to some degree, you can't claim that all your reviews are solely based on objective analysis, and I don't see how that would be preferable in any way either.

Any review is a person's OPINION of the game regardless how you put it. If it wasn't, and all reviews would be based on objective facts all reviews would give every single game the same score, which is not only ridiculous but insanely boring.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, November 13, 2015 @ 9:18:10 PM

It's not all opinion. There are plenty of qualitative aspects of a game, and that includes technical performance, graphical and audio quality, control and basic mechanics, etc.

You can like the graphics of some Barbie game more than the graphics of Bloodborne. Doesn't mean the Barbie game has better graphics.

There is always subjectivity but it's not the lion's share of any professional review, nor should it be. What do I care if somebody "liked" a game or not? That person's preferences could be totally different than mine. I want an expert to tell me what's qualitatively good and bad about the product; I'll handle the rest of the research myself.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 11/13/2015 9:18:20 PM

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