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*This review may contain spoilers to Fallout 4, read at your own risk.*
The Bethesda universe strikes again with another installment to the Fallout series; Fallout 4, like its predecessors follows the alternate world where nuclear technology propelled people into the future unlike our fossil fueled planet of today. In this world however, we still have similar cultural styles, hence the 1950's era way of life that the Fallout games are well known for.
In Fallout 4 we are introduced to an ex solider from a war that preceded the events of the game. Now that he/she has a family of their own with a wife/husband and infant child, they are ready to settle down in a white picketed fence neighborhood. The game starts with a sudden visit from an annoyingly cheerful representative of Vault Tech (and if you remember anything about these scumbags, you have an idea of what happens next).
When the world is attacked without warning, Vault Tech calmly ushers you and your family into the infamous Vault 111 where you are told that everyone and everything will be fine (Seriously? The world is literally mushroom-clouding above ground and you all are suspiciously calm?!). You and the other above ground citizens that came down with you into the vault are continuously reassured of your safety and well being as you are led into cryogenic chambers by men in white coats and none of your numerous questions are answered with truth because of the heightened sense of panic permeating around the chamber.
Fast forward a number of years and you begin your quest through the post-apocalyptic Commonwealth.
1. Graphics and Aesthetics
One of my favorite things about the Bethesda company is their dedication to bigger and better graphics. Fallout 3 was another fantastic game, as was Fallout: New Vegas, but from those games I had the opportunity to watch the progression of the graphics to an awe-inspiring hyper-realism. If it weren't for the bugs (Oh God the BUGS), I would really enjoy just roaming around the cities doing small side missions and collecting items.
I also like that the designers always keep the main two themes consistent: 1950s objects, homes, and furnishings and the fallout rusted metal, broken buildings and radioactive terrain. There is something almost weirdly relaxing about the mutated plants and animals and the man-salvaged-and-made structures.
Maybe it's just the familiarity.
2. Music and SFX
Yes and yes! I'm a huge fan of 1950s music and Fallout 4 stays true to the series with a range of 1950s nuclear times inspired music. There are also stations that play soothing instrumentals in certain areas with 1700s colonial strings. And I can't get enough of the theme song; a gorgeous piano piece that strums the D keys of the soul.
It's a good kind of game to leave idle while doing chores or just relaxing.
3. Storyline and Plot
Fallout 4's storyline is one of twists and turns that you don't always expect. I personally like this sort of justice seeking in a time where people are in constant fear of large factions that have different motives and will do almost anything to reach their objective. The main factions that you become introduced to have their own unique opinions about how this new world should be run and how it has to sustain itself, including who should and should not be eradicated from this world for the betterment of everyone.
You are given plenty of options in this game, like in others, but you still have the potential to become the holiest savior or the biggest villain. The bottom line is that you can't save everyone, so you must decide how you wish to proceed through this place where everything seems to want to murder you.
The side missions were every bit as enjoyable as the main mission. They really retain their autonomy but still fall within the same universe. Some have almost nothing to do with the main plot but are actually really cool. You could potentially waste hours working through side missions and still be thoroughly entertained.
There are multiple different endings of this game depending on the choices you make throughout your play. You may also save a number of times and play different run-throughs and see how your actions affect the outcome. I would recommend you play through more than once to experience the variations.
4. Game Mechanics
This game is an open world RPG and Bethesda does a pretty decent job of this. Fallout 4 also allows for different difficulties that adjust the hardness from easy to survival skill that deletes your saves if your character dies. My husband likes his more difficult playthroughs but gets frustrated at the survival mode. The game controls are pretty simple and can be customized, you can collect items and scrap them to create parts and upgrade weapons which s a pretty sweet feature because you can get ridiculous with it and ridiculous is kind of my thing.
You can also have companions in this game that you make friends with and you can romance them as well (though I always thought that was more hilarious than useful but maybe people go in for the perks)
Speaking of perks, this game has many. When your character gains a level they can select one of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L (Speed, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) attributes for your character which also comes with perks relevant to specific attributes. You can basically use these upgrades to bestow your character with everything from anti-drug addiction to the randomly helpful Mysterious Stranger.
Fallout 4 is definitely a favorite in my house and I really enjoy the fact that you can be so many different people and have wildly different game plays. If you've already played, play again and try out another loyalty, find the vaults and the crazy that's buried within them. I know the story artists really put some elbow grease into those missions, we tried hard to find and play them all.
Just fix your bugs Bethesda!