FALLOUT 4 [Staff Review]: Sweet Caroline!

Fallout 4 is, arguably, the most anticipated video game sequel of all time. Bethesda’s bombshell from E3 2015 surely has a lot to live up to, as your abilities, crafting and open-world adventures are near endless — not to mention, the game is set not too fah from your very own Monsignor and Templar’s backyard. What more can we ask for?

How about a Fatal 4-Father-way review. While each of us were handed early press copies of this game, it’s going to take us more than a week to get our minds out of the Wasteland. What we can do, for now, is label these are early impressions. Bible scores can still change, and I suppose we’ll all see how it all plays up in our follow-up Green Monster Roundtable Podcast in 2-weeks. Bookmark this link, and keep it locked with ya “wicked awesome” clergy of cool.

(We even added a little something for your ears to enjoy before rounding your review-reading bases. Enjoy!)



Travis "Monsignor" Moody @TravMoody
Travis “Monsignor” Moody
@TravMoody

“Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline
I believe they never could”

Those lyrics from Neil Diamond ring as true as the anticipation for a game that was so rumored, and yet so, so very far away. Then came that enchanting afternoon of June 15, 2015 when Bethesda’s Game Director and Executive Producer, Todd Howard, delivered the goods at the publisher/developer’s very first E3 press conference, announcing that Fallout 4 was indeed…a thing. Funny, having never played the franchise myself, I jumped right into the dawn of this post-apocalyptic Duck Tour blind, immediately purchasing a Vault Boy t-shirt and pre-ordering every vinyl Fallout figure I could find.

Well, friends, I’m happy to tell you that those POP! dolls were $55 well spent: Fallout 4 is a wicked pissa. It’s everything imagined and more, easily the most addicting game you will play all year. Technically it’s both an astonishment and disappointment; though I promise that if you Bang a U-ie past those Dunkies, the game’s absolute rich and dense art direction — fuckin’ possibilities! — more than make up for any hindrances. But before I go on and Boston Cream my pants, allow me to briefly bitch about FO4‘s unfortunate character design/animation. Surely, some of that early strange collision detection/lock-ups and framerate hiccups can be forgiven, since a game of this magnitude will likely come with its share of post-launch patches. I just don’t like the way people look (or lip sync), and sometimes how your companion acts (except for those moments when they actually have a mind of their own and take out enemies for you, or sit down on furniture and work terminals).

Here's lookin' at you, kid.
Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

Thankfully, this Boston Herald is glad to report that the Creation engine used for Elder Scrolls Online that makes everyone look mutated can be easily subsided for Bethesda’s keen attention to detail. Hell, the best I could make my “Moody” was a rotten teeth combo between Chris Evans and Julian Edelman, and thankfully, you can change your cosmetology to any extreme at town barbershops; and your protag can slip out of his Vault garb into anything from a mob tuxedo and trenchcoat to camouflage fatigues. Modified/Legendary weapons in 1st-person view look amazingly specific (mind you that every item you find, even ballpoint pens and wastebaskets, can be used to craft something), as reflected light and angled shadow make every piece of armor and article of clothing in the 3rd-person look just as great. The Pip-Boy interface is a classic throwback gem to technology of yesteryear, superfun to use. Glowing Gouls, Radscorpions and other mutated uglies are impressive, original, and downright scary. Although I’m arguably as familiar with these streets as any other video game critic, this is the Route 93 and 95 I’m glad I never had to experience.

Fallout 4 captures everything you love or hate (damn Yankees!) about Titletown. Of course there’s an overwhelming amount of sports easter eggs, as a city whose chief claim to fame is the 36 championships its 4 major professional teams have hoisted since 1901. Your Vault 111 survivor will find plenty of balls, bats (that can be modified with barbed wire/knives and renamed “Papi”), gloves, and unis, which even deliver achievements labeled Homeruns/Touchdown in and around the aptly named Diamond City — “the hub” of The Hub, with cartoonish marketplaces, doctors, hairdressers, etc. Yes. It’s Copley Square and Fanuel Hall plunged into a Post-Nuke Fenway Park. “The Fens” might be the most colorful, majestic-looking town area I’ve seen since Bioshock Infinite.

I wonda how much a Fenway Frank cost?
I wonda how much a Fenway Frank cost?

The overall landscape of the Commonwealth just feels like cold and dreary New England, as woodlands are sprayed with seasonal burnt orange hues and inner-city brick and cobble is sprayed with the sweat of inner-city sunshine. And you’d think Boston was bigger than the five boroughs, judging by the scope of the Boston Pubic Library, the (sometimes suicide bomb-strapped) Super Mutant plagued Copley Station and CIT (a.k.a. MIT), College (Ha-vid) Square, and the more famous historic landmarks like the Boston Harbor (complete with USS Constitution), Paul Revere (@Old North Church), Bunker Hill, and the Raider-smothered Cambridge (look for Monsignor Plaza). For all you Supergeeks out there your Survivah will come across a vast array of Silver Age funnypages (providing perks of their own upon collection) and highly decorative pre-war propaganda, and enjoyable Atari-style Holotapes to play on your Pip.

Just wait till you scream “Oh Fahk!” at the aerial arrival of the Brotherhood of Steel.

While my fellow clergynerds will further expand on Fallout 4‘s gameplay, I’d compare it best to “what if The Walking Dead took place in and around Boston, with a touch of 1850s-steampunk-meets-post-War-1950s — complete with an underlying Terminator-inspired antagonist?” Yeah, it all plays out as amazing as it sounds, as body-blistering shootouts between you and your not-so-streamlined companion (oftentimes human; sometimes your Baseball Batman’s robot “Alfred”, Codsworth; indomitable cutesie German Shepherd, Dogmeat; or my personal favorite, the synthetic version of The Spirit, Nicky Valentine) turn into Rick & Darryl/Michonne against much more difficult Wolves/Terminus Raiders. To help your Soul Survivor’s search for the truth, justice and the American way, you can join differing sociopolitical factions, such as the aforementioned War Machinesque police unit, the B.O.S., and/or the aptly named Minutemen, making completely personalized and consequential (naive/sarcastic/pissed off/boldy heroic) choices along the way — and that’s an element in Fallout 4 that is deeply appreciated.

Inside Newbury Comics.
Inside Newbury Comics.

And all of the RPG’s heavy exploration and looting will sound good too — especially if you enjoy hearing some ironically jovial Bing Crosby/Nat King Cole-inspired “barbershop” tunes about Nuclear War, or intense — often Jedi-inspired — classical music that fits the mood just as well. I also enjoy the convenience of quicksaving in the middle of harsh battles, and the fact that, other than a few minor misc. missions (i.e. facial reconstruction, investigating Salem Witchcraft), main quests and side quests are not labeled. There’s no linear route in this radiated Wasteland, and ammunition is scarce, expensive and far more cherished.

While I’ve only got roughly 30-hours under my belt in a seemingly 100-200-hour plus adventure, I’m thrilled to announce that Fallout 4 has made it to the 2015 video game World Series. Only a bottom of the 9th in a 7th game’s time of bug and glitch fixes will tell whether Bethesda can beat CD Projekt RED’s Wild Hunt.

4.75 (out of 5) Cups of Clam Chowduh.
4.75 (out of 5) Cups of Clam Chowduh.

 

 

 

 

 




"Templar" Mark Majndle
“Templar” Mark Majndle

The enemies in Fallout 4 are numerous, strange and highly dangerous. They are also extremely smart, able to adapt to situations and take advantage of the environment. I can’t tell you how many times I have taken cover and gone into stealth, just to have enemies throw a mass of grenades into the cover I was hiding behind — resulting in my limbs flying off in a gory mess (until I got my power armor at least). Enemies take full advantage of the environment as well, utilizing cover and working together to try and take me down. Unfortunately, the A.I. of my companions sucked. It sucked so bad that they would often reveal my position when I am trying to be stealthy, or just disappear during a combat situation, leaving me behind to fight all by myself. Maybe they just aren’t as tough as Tom Brady (my character’s name, because fuck you, Patriot haters!).

The fighting system of FO4 hasn’t changed since the last installment. In other words, they didn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken. V.A.T.S. (Vault assisted targeting system) is still the key offensive tool in your arsenal, allowing you to pull a Neo and use “bullet time” to target specific points on an enemies body. This enables you to easily take down fast moving targets, as long as they are in range of course. There are so many ways to train your character to fight, and the options for you are almost unlimited. I trained my character as a stealthy beast in power armor.. that ninjas in with a silenced pistol and takes out enemies before they even know what hit them. In the event that Tom Terrific is spotted, he can then kick ass and take tons of damage while laying the deflateth down on his enemies. Just like he does in real life…

Hut.. Hut.. HUTT!!!
Hut.. Hut.. HUTT!!!

All in all, Bethesda doesn’t disappoint, and I have had more fun with Fallout 4 than any other that I have played in a long time (which says a lot, because I play everything). Besides the minute issues that people loooove to bitch about, this game is perfect. In fact, it’s my choice for game of the year. The only thing keeping it from a perfect score are the minor bugs and the fact that the game is more addictive than a vault full of Jet and Psycho. Now leave me alone, I have to go save Gillette Sta.. err.. the Commonwealth.

4.75 Boston Globes.
4.75 (out of 5) Boston Globes.

 

 

 

 

 




"Deacon E" Esko @eskobts
“Deacon E” Esko
@eskobts

Fallout mutha effin 4. Holy damn. Most anticipated game of the century? Easily a yes. I’ve waited for this game since I sold Fable 2 to buy Fallout 3 and had my world change by the most enjoyable RPG since Nintendo 64’s Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. FO3 was perfect to the Deacon E, and with Part IV, they’ve only made it even better. I still havent decided if I’m going to be a hero, or a complete douchebag hell bent on making things as bad as possible for everyone. Both are quite fun. However, I need to chose quick so I can solidify my personality and reputation. The story is already starting to pick up speed.

What a "Skeezuh!"
What a “Skeezuh!”

While I don’t expect to be rushed through the story or have it end after just 2-weeks of playing, (*cough*Fable*cough*) the pace is much faster in both story and physical movement. Wandering through the Wasteland is at a much more natural walking pace. The sluggish, heavy walk in the Power Armor of Fallout 4 feels like what they called a run in Fallout 3. The gunplay and the transportation speed of Fallout 3 made the fun parts mainly come from close-combat indoors. This time around, with the freedom to move quickly and the gunplay of a Wild West cowboy, there’s much more fun to be had with the between mission wandering and random altercations with ruffians and raiders. It’s such a Bombed Boston Blessing to have the ability to actually run and jump. Those two things are incredibly important when dealing with wild creatures.

The creatures have been greatly improved, just like you would expect from a new game on a next gen console; but that’s not what sets it apart from other games. What I love is the shock that comes with finding a new creature. Just when you think you can handle all of what the Wasteland Raiders (much cooler than that “tuck-rule”-victimized Oakland team) have to throw at you. BOOM!! You hear a voice behind you, turn to look, and are immediately charged at by a Deathclaw or a Giant Mutant pissed off and ready to rip you apart. It always scares me at least once, and I love it. Especially since the enemies’ attack animations are far more diverse this time around, and the gunplay seems to have been completely overhauled and rebuilt from the ground up. However, in the event that you feel the need to turn a Raider’s skull into a bloody explosion of brain matter, the free aim system is finally fun from the very start. As the Templar mentioned just above, this is insanely fun–instantly.

"Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkksss!!!"
“Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkksss!!!”

The menus and on-screen dialog options are less intrusive, the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck) upgrade screen is much more pleasing to the eyes, and, so far, the weaponry is really cool. I’m probably the only one, but I didnt even catch on to the strategy of the the previous system at first. Hell, I barely even noticed it at all (that’s what I get for avoiding the manual). This time though, even if I hadn’t grasped the concept at the end of Fallout 3, the presentation is solid and informative. It tells you the power of each rank of each level of each ugrade and displays them all at once in a nice to see easy to read — and geekly fun — animated chart. Combine all of that with the quality storyline that Fallout is know to bring, and what do you have? You have an even better version of the greatest RPG known to man. I approve, I applaud, and I’m addicted to Fallout 4.

5 (out of 5) Boston Baked Bibles.
5 (out of 5) Boston Baked Bibles.

 

 

 

 

 




"Saint" Patrick Obloy @OffTheGeekEnd
“Saint” Patrick Obloy
@OffTheGeekEnd

So does it look pretty? Do the characters move and react in a believable manner? Let’s dive into the world of Fallout 4 and take a look. For this, my basis will be on the PC version running at max settings (all set to Ultra/highest and farthest depth); although I have also seen the Xbox One and PS4 versions in full resolution play and screenshots.

That said, do not expect amazing. If you are on X1 or PS4 it won’t be disappointing, but you can easily find games that look nicer for both systems (Halo 5, Destiny, Last of Us Remastered, Far Cry 4, etc). Sadly, the PC version is lacking quite a bit. The textures suffer from low resolution and sometimes uninspired design, making some areas look bland and items look like they were imported from a 5-year old game. And in some instances I ran into texture glitches where they were found floating above the actual surface, preventing me from seeing the lay of the land. I’m sure those will be fixed, I just wish high resolution textures would be as well.

"I forgot my glasses."
“I forgot my glasses.”

Low poly models don’t help the situation either, with some items seeming more square or hexagonal than circular. And wonky character animation has character eyes looking around in strange directions, arms moving robotically, and people walking like robots. It’s evident that most of the development time for this game was spent on the RPG system, story, and mechanics rather than in the graphics and animation. It also doesn’t help that it was designed for the consoles and then made to work on PC, so it was held back a bit. Although to be fair, this seems to be par for the open world Bethesda games — thankfully third party graphic mods will likely come along to update and enhance the scenery. Oblivion and Skyrim received the same treatment with much success.

Let’s look beyond the textures and polygons. The game is otherwise quite beautiful, as beautiful as a post-nuclear apocalyptic world can look. The landscape sprawls out across a large area, with many valleys, cliffs, and streams to wonder across. In fact this is one part that Bethesda is good at: making a large landscape that doesn’t get boring or repetitive. Once you start running, you’ll run into all sorts of denizens and creatures, various buildings and landmarks that once were, and wildlife flourishing and taking over structures.

You missed a piece of shadow right there. Right over there, man. See it??
You missed a piece of shadow right there. Right over there, man. See it??

Boredom will not happen, and running across the land won’t feel monotonous. So don’t be afraid to go on an adventure, just make sure you are well prepared with weapons, ammo, armor, and of course Stims and Rad-X. And while time may not have been spent on textures and models, there was effort put into the effects on the environment and objects, such as updated lighting render method, better reflection method on objects, dynamic dismemberment, updated shading method, and a weather system where the ground and objects actually looking wet during rain.

Overall I enjoy the game, as the story and gameplay does take the focus away from the negatives. And you know it’s bad (or would that be good?) when the game starts to invade your dreams and normal life; dreaming of Nuka Cola and finding good loot, and thinking of lockpicking at the sight of bobby pins. Hello Fallout my old friend, good bye normal life… at least until Battlefront.

4 (out of 5) Lobstah Rolls.
4 (out of 5) Lobstah Rolls.
Get On Them Socials!