Video Game Review: Fallout 4

It hardly seems possible that Fallout 3 was released seven years ago. The reboot of the hardcore PC franchise, Fallout, that brought post-apocalyptic exploration to consoles was 2008’s game-of-the-year almost across the board. Now, in 2015; Fallout 4 arrives with less fresh ideas, and instead tries to refine the gameplay that made its predecessor a success.

Fallout 4 drops you in the middle of a post-apocalyptic environment and asks you to survive and explore. While there is a story, it’s not very compelling this time around, and you’ll be too distracted by the places to go and see that it won’t bother you. If anything, the story elements merely get in the way of the interesting side quests that populate Fallout’s open world.wikipedia

While it’s understandable that a title with the sheer scope of Fallout 4 will inevitably run into some bugs, it’s shocking just how many technical glitches there seem to be in this alleged “AAA” release. While reviewers and gamers have been merely sweeping concerns under the rug, many of these glitches are not small bugs, but rather, massive, radioactive, wasteland-sized bugs. Expect to have the game crash multiple times while you’re making the long trek between points of interest.

Which brings me to another frustration: the checkpoint system is downright broken. The game autosaves at seemingly random times–that is, random, but not often. Essentially, this leads to completing long monotonous tasks and re-traversing expansive areas over and over again. While this may be a realistic depiction of a morning commute through Boston’s downtown core, it certainly doesn’t make for a compelling experience.

These bugs, poor animations, disparity between the quality of character models and just downright brutal AI (at times) worked to consistently break the immersion of the experience. Yet, somehow, as angry as I may be, the game is still probably worth its price tag of $79.99 CAD.

In a day and age in which so many console games force you to walk down a highly graphically pleasing corridor for a five-hour run time, Fallout 4 packs in a massive amount of content. I’m not the type of reviewer who’ll simply say that shortcomings and technical issues become “nit-picks” if the game packs in enough content, but in comparison, these blemishes will only inhibit your enjoyment of the game incrementally.

One of my favourite aspects of Fallout 4 is the base building functionality. You can craft walls, floors, stairs, furniture and electric defence mechanisms to build a settlement that will house you, your partners and a growing group of survivors. While Fallout is more of an adventure RPG than a survival title, it adds another element to help flesh out the game world. The building may not match that of Rust on the PC, but it definitely provides a fun distraction, and the surprising depth means there are quite a few interesting creations you’ll likely be able to craft.

In a game as large as Fallout 4, there’s a lot to criticize, but there’s also a lot to fall in love with. If you look on your console’s friends list, or your Steam list, I guarantee anyone online will be playing Fallout 4, even in this crowded release season. It’s by far the most anticipated game this year, and its success, despite its shortcomings, is well-deserved. It may not be as innovative as its predecessor, but it certainly will give you the same adrenaline rush when you’re exploring the wasteland.

-Steve Nadon

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