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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Fallout 4.

Transcript Edit

Oh look everyone, it's the other game that came out on November 10th, the big fat one that rolls around for ages, selfishly hogging all the attention like the buttocks of a Kardashian and which takes longer to get through than a family-size broccoli cheesecake. Fallout 4... 'lout!

Y'know, I don't think I'll ever understand why people always make such a huge fuss about the release of a new Bethesda RPG. The usual answer I'm given when I ask about it is that they look very impressive and there's lots to explore, but the same is true of- well, the buttocks of a Kardashian, which, just like a Bethesda RPG, only look good from a distance. The moment you get up close, you start to see all the stretch marks and the little pimples that were covered up with the bucket of fake tan and a cement trowel, and you never know when the whole thing's going to do a great big fart in your face.

Bethesda RPGs are always deeply explorative, but never immersive. They make for some great screenshots, but the moment it has to start living and animating, you find it full of blank-eyed computer programs who struggle to navigate a six-lane highway without a carelessly-placed dog turd making their path-finding bugger up, and who have a weird habit of mysteriously vanishing in front of doors, which the doors always find so surprising that they momentarily forget how doors are supposed to work. 

Is Fallout 4 any different? Do lamprey eels give pleasant blowjobs? Oh well! Still, at least it gives us a never-before-seen glimpse of the world before it was bent over a concrete traffic barrier and given a ruddy good nuclear seeing-to. You play as one half of a loving couple in possession of a comically badly-made animatronic doll that you somehow convinced yourself is a baby, who have to hoof it to a vault as the bombs drop. In the world of Fallout, the vaults are a system of underground bunkers designed to preserve the essence of white middle-class America in a world gone mad, except as has been established in previous Fallouts, they were all secretly designed to fuck with the occupants for giggles, which has got to be a shoe-in for the Umbrella Award for Extremely Contrived Corporate Villany. 

So you and your family get cryogenically frozen for two hundred years for the aforementioned giggles, and wake up to find yourself up one blasted hellscape and down one baby. So you set out on an epic quest to track down your animatronic son and naturally get side-tracked within nanoseconds. As the plot unfolds, you find yourself caught up in a big multi-faction conflict centered around artificial humans created by a weird future cult and the moral question of if they deserve rights, which suffers from the fact that we aren't given any clear personal investment in the debate. Granted, we had an animatronic baby, but that looked more like plywood and string than artificial flesh. Perhaps as an effort to force some investment into you, the various factions involved are rather alarmingly quick to trust:

"Wow, you did one mission for us because you happened to be passing and it was on the way to the pisser! You have demonstrated total dedication to our cause and we've decided to make you our king."

This happens, like, three times! And the factions that don't go that fast still aren't much better:

"Obviously one mission isn't going to be enough to make you our king quite yet, so we'll just make you our most trusted warrior and hinge all our future plans around your continued success and assumed loyalty."  

Listen, you dipshits, I'm just trying to fill an XP bar here! Maybe some of the fault is mine 'cause I tried to avoid conversation options that might piss you off, and for that reason I seem to have accidentally taken a thousand-year oath of allegiance, but excessive neediness just isn't attractive. Look at my dog, he doesn't need my approval! Maybe he'll move when I ask him to, maybe he'll stand with tongue hanging out, blocking the doorway to the next objective, staring at me as I scream 'til I'm blue in the tits. 

The dog was something of a selling point as I recall, since you can command him to go and pick things up for you, but this is never as efficient as walking over and getting it yourself. I thought exploration was the whole point, why are you trying to get us to subcontract it? But he's handy to have in battle, I suppose, at least for the first five seconds before he's shot by every responsible gun owner in a six-mile radius, or get hit by a grenade thrown by me because he just ran into a bunch of entrenched enemies and I wasn't going to wait for him to finish nibbling on their bums! Then he has to lie down and wash his bollocks while you sort it out. Lucky for him, I had about ninety Stimpaks by the end of the main plot; I had enough stimulation on me to fuel an entire sweatshop's worth of Chinese spinsters. And this was from only a token amount of side-questing, mind, so I wouldn't come to Fallout 4 for a balanced or challenging RPG experience, which does rather raise the question of what the fuck we are here for! 

Well, it could be for a "how much garbage can we fit in our underpants" competition. See, in previous Bethesda games, you'd know that whatever currency you could get by stealing an office building's worth of rotary phones and waste-paper baskets wouldn't make it worth the bother, but now there's a crafting system so all bets are off, and you need to be dragging sackfuls of typewriters around in case they contain screws, which, if you want to do any weapon and armour upgrading, have the street value of two discarded infants and a back-alley handjob. Don't even get me started on town-building, 'cos that's totally what we want to do in an exploration game, isn't it?

"Behold, stout adventurer, a hundred square miles of adventure and peril!"

"Great, I'll just squat in the top left corner for six hours building a giant light-up wooden statue of Michael Nesmith!"

"Oh give it a rest, Yahtzee, you obnoxious lager belch bubbling through a bucket of cold jizz! You don't have to build a town or craft anything, you can just stick to mercenary adventures, or you can spend all your time hopping up and down on a riverbank with a saxophone down your trousers, it's up to you!"

That's kind of me point, though: why's it up to me to figure out how I'm going to have a good time with this? That's what I paid Bethesda for... lout... four...

See, the problem with Bethesda RPGs is that they always load them up with a whole bunch of shit that's all completely detached from each other, so when I come to review it, how do I know I didn't inadvertently only play the really shitty parts and I'd have found all the good stuff if I'd taken the south road and followed the signs that read "cumdumpster adoption centre"? 

But in general terms, Fallout 4 has bent over backwards for gimmicky ideas of what the kids want these days (i.e. Minecraft) and as cut off some of its own bollocks to do it, or at least shaved them down with an orbital sander. The number of missions that just boil down to "kill everything in this area and loot the place" is almost Borderlands-y, and the conversation system's been really simplified and now it's actually quite difficult to be a complete git. The most you can usually do is agree to solve everyone's problems in a slightly sarcy tone of voice. Yeah, I suppose I could just shoot them the moment they stop flapping their moist jaws like a broken animatronic vagina, but there's no karma system, and there's no fun being reprehensible unless I know I've disappointed someone. That's why I'd always wait for my parents to be around before I started sticking dogshit up my nose!

Addenda Edit

  • I hope we didn't fall out over this: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Hope you enjoyed that 'lager belch bubbling through a bucket of cold jizz' line 'cos it went through quite a few iterations
  • Oh the evenings I've spent pining for a good hard screw
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata

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