It's being a while since the last time I write a videogame review, mostly because I have really little free time now and usually I can't play games long enough to write a proper review. That happened with The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V, but maybe I'll write something related to those games later if I'm in the mood.
But now I managed to get and play Fallout 4 on the release date and I feel I've played enough to review it, so let's begin.
For those who doesn't know Fallout 4 is an RPG with a lot of shooter elements placed in an post-apocaliptic world. The series itself is quite old, I remember playing the original Fallout as a kid in the 90's. The it was resurrected by Bethesda as a Shooter/openworld-RPG.
The plot of the new Fallout is simple and easy to follow, something almost needed as you are doing tons of things between missions. The main idea is that there is a nuclear war and you play as the only survivor of an underground shelter 200 years after the apocalypse. The story then revolves around two main things your search of your lost son who was kidnapped and the fighting against a not so secret organization that are building lots of robots and androids.
I haven't finished the main story as this would probably would take me a lot of time, but I think I've played enough of it and several side mission. And I could say that there is a lot to see in the game, you find interesting characters and places every one with their own stories. This makes the game quite good and entertaining all the time. Probably the only problem is that there is so much to do that sometimes you can easily lost track of what you where doing. In this I found that I randomly failed some side quest I'm still don't know if this is was a bug or that some quests have a time limit. If the latter was the case it can be a problem as it can take a lot of time doing things and the time limit is not clearly shown.
As I mentioned Fallout 4 is a mix between a shooter and a RPG, usually you use some king of gun to defend yourself but there also other kinds of weapons like explosives (granades and mines) and melee weapons (knives, swords, hammers etc.). The guns themselves quite diverse, there are pistols, rifles, machine guns and a lot of exotic weapons like one gun that shoots all kind of junk you find in the world. In this way it works almost as any other shooter.
From the RPG side you can customize your character, armor and weapons improving your abilities and getting some new ones as you level up. Also there is something called V.A.T.S, witch is a remaining element from the first game. Basically this allows you to stop time (well almost) and target a specific part of the body of an enemy and shoot it.
The main difference with the previous Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas is that some RPG elements have been simplified. I personally think this is for the better, now let me explain. In previous games your proficiency in combat was heavily determined by your stats, if you have really low stats for example in using pistols you will miss an enemy even at point blank range and do negligible damage. This limited your choices when making a character and was also frustrating for those only seeking an enjoyable shooter. Also this made using the V.A.T.S system almost a must and some of the shooter fun was lost by restricting your choice in weapons and the constantly stopping of time.
Now in this new game, on the other hand weapons behave as in any other shooter if you have an enemy in your sights and shoot him you will hit him. The chance of hitting and damage is no longer tied so strongly to your stats, now most abilities only improve the damage so you can specialize in your preferred weapons. Other abilities alter things not so tied to the combat or they improve the V.A.T.S system. This now is not so obligatory and is limited mostly to those times when you want to hit multiple fast and small enemies or when you want to exploit an specific weak point in more difficult enemies. This as a whole makes the game feel more like a shooter and makes it much more fun to play.
Finally there is the power armor, this is basically your own iron man suit. You get in and you get enhanced defenses, damage and latter in the game lots of other cool stuff like night vision, jet packs, invisibility and other things. Now for this armor doesn't become overpowered it actually runs on batteries which deplete as time passes when your inside the armor. This is good so you don't use the armor all the time and just in special cases, actually there a lot of places around the world where you can safely store and upgrade your power armor. This way most of the time you'll explore the world normally and when you find a place or an enemy to hard to handle you can just go back to you base prepare your self for the battle and crush your enemies. Then you simply return to your base and leave your armor until the next time it is needed. Also even if the batteries are rare they last a while and there are some abilities that improve their efficiency, I don't know if you can buy them, but I think is possible to make a character that specializes in the use of the power armor.
Now beside this main issues there are tons of other gameplay elements that I will only touch lightly as it will take me an eternity to go into details of each one.
There is a new crafting system for the armor and weapons, this allows you to improve your armor and weapons so you can use the ones you like it the most. This is specially fun with weapons as you can change their behavior, change the iron sights of your rifle for a scope to get an sniper rifle. Change the magazine to get an automatic, semi-automatic or single shot weapon. There are tons of upgrades and changes you can make so your weapons adjust to your play-style.
There is a "settlement" system, which basically allows you in specific parts of the map to build and rebuild buildings as you want. The system is entirely optional to the game and basically you destroy things for metal, wood and other materials which you use to build your own towns. Then you can add people to live in there, you can add electricity to power lights, defenses and tons of other things.
Also there are companions, this are characters that can join you in your adventures helping you in combat and other things. As you advance and explore the world along they will like you more and new abilities will unlock. Gladly it seems that they improved their AI and make them immortal this time so they only can get incapacitated in combat and not permanently killed which is good because something really frustrating of previous games was companions that killed themselves.
Finally as you explore you will get across minigames "tapes", that allow you to play some minigames similar to old videogames. Until now I have only find two of these, one similar to the first Donkey Kong game and another like Missile Command. I'm pretty sure there must be more of these minigames waiting to be found.
Graphics, sound and design.
Probably one of the most talked things about the game prior it's release was it's graphics and a lot of people criticized them for being bad. If you measure how a game looks by the resolution of the textures in rocks you can have a point. But the reality is game looks amazing, obviously some texture and the characters aren't going to look as awesome as in other games but this is obligatory as you need to find a balance between how much processing power you use for the graphics and how much for the game itself. Because the game is so huge with tons of object to interact with their own physics and the ability to modified and create buildings and structures. You can't have all these and excellent graphics at the same time, the best example is the newest Halo that doesn't have split-screen playing because with the top graphics it has there isn't enough processing power for it.
Now that we take that issue out of the way, the game is actually quite impressive. The lack of good textures is balanced with an excellent art design and a great attention to detail. There are two things that I believe are really good. First the weather effects, much they have improved from Skyrim no longer we have only some changes in lighting and in the look of the sky, or the occasional rain. The changes in lighting and shadows during dawn and dusk are quite good, but what is really awesome is the mist and other similar particle effects. Sometimes at dawn you will get some low mist in the ground that looks great but sometimes it can turn into a dense fog bank limiting your sight. This have really good light effects as you can see light rays on the mist and it moves very realistic. Also I have witnessed similar effects done with dust in wind and sandstorms. But probably the most impressive off all (for what I've seen so far) is the radiation storm, this is a yellowish-green dust storm with a lot of wind that really limits your sight and yellow lightning falling in the distance. Then as lightnings strikes you can see flashes of light around you and you get damage from the radiation of the storm. Probably the best weather effect that has some relation to the gameplay as you can barely see or fight and you only see your health bar slowly draining because of the radiation.
The other thing I really loved is that enemies look really cool and most, if not all of them react dynamically to the damaged you inflict on them. Most robots will lose metal as you shoot at them they will lose they armor, a limb will break and they can even explode. Androids will lose their artificial skin showing the mechanical components underneath. Ghouls are particular creative because if the lose an arm the will keep attacking, if they lose a leg they will fall and then crawl or even fake their deaths only to attack you as soon as you get close. Other enemies will burrow themselves in the ground to avoid more damage or so the can attack you from behind. There are just so much cool things in how the enemies look and behave.
The sound track is worth mentioning as the game is almost silent, the music is really good but also is very soft and quite and you almost don't notice it. Gladly it doesn't get boring and there are soft changes in tone as you change locations or when enemies are near. Even if you get tired of the soundtrack you can alway tune some of the radio stations playing across the wastelands. These have good variety and they fit really well with the game.
Now finally to conclude this review as you can imagine I really liked this game, I will recomend it? yes, of course, you must buy it right now. The game is huge and filled with content, probably hundreds of hours of playing. The combat is fun and entertaining, the story even if a bit simple is quite engaging.
There are problems, yes, as I mentioned I had a problem with a quest and I'm still not sure what happened. Also the game can start really slow, the tutorial missions are quite long because all the things there are in the game. This can be a problem because as far as I've seen there is no clear way to check again the information given in the tutorials just in case you miss or forget something. Also is probable that some RPG fans will find the RPG elements too simplified for an RPG and probably the FPS fans will find them too complex for a shooter. But I think that as a whole the game is excellent and is worth playing.
Finally a small advice if you begin to play there are things that can seem like a problem but as I say is part of the slow beginning and they are fixed as you advance. For example at first you want guns and when you find a good one ammo seems too scarce, the same with materials for upgrades and armor. But as you advance you find new enemies, locations, merchants and other ways to get them.
Now I say goodbye because there is a Deathclaw that killed me some hours ago and I need to get some revenge.