"Saints Row London" "and" "Boston Simulator 2015."

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MooseyMcMan

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As you may have guessed, I went with a jokey blog title this time, as there is no game called "Saints Row London." If you didn't guess that, and thought Saints Row London was a real game, then I offer my sincerest apologies. I don't know if there is actually a game called Boston Simulator 2015, but I thought that was a good jokey name too, because Boston is basically an apocalyptic hellhole infested with robots pretending to be people. Well, one of those is true, at least. Mostly.

Anyway, enough beating around the bush, let's beat this bush and get to the point!

Assassin's Creed Syndicate.

For better or worse, this floating kid was the only comical glitch I saw playing this game.
For better or worse, this floating kid was the only comical glitch I saw playing this game.

One of the things I heard about this game around the time it came out was that one of the higher ups on this game was also one of the higher ups on Saints Row the Third, which was certainly an interesting piece of information. I'm glad I knew that going into Syndicate, because otherwise I probably would have thought that they were just blatantly ripping off a fair amount of Saints Row's open world design. Not that anything the Saints Row games do with their open worlds is so specific or unique to them that no other games can, or have done anything like it. But there are aspects of Syndicate that feel like they were ripped straight out of Saints Row. In a good way.

The premise of Syndicate is that the Frye twins, Evie and Jacob, have decided to go to London to thwart the plans of the evil Templars. Evie wants to do this by finding yet another Ancient Aliens® Artifact, and Jacob wants to do this by starting a gang. A gang he decided to call "The Rooks," because Jacob is bad at naming things. Speaking of, I'm glad the game makes it clear that this is from chess, because I honestly probably wouldn't have made that connection on my own. I always called them castles in chess.

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London, meanwhile, is under control of the Templar Starrick, who you know is evil because of his mustache. I'm not kidding, while it's not quite Snidely Whiplash levels of evil mustache, it's about as close as you can get without getting into actual parody territory. And like any good villain in an open world game, he controls every district in London, and you have to go and clear out those districts, one open world activity at a time. Luckily his gang (The Blighters) is color coded in red, so you can pick them out from your color coded gang (green).

And speaking of your gang, as you roam the streets, you do encounter members of your gang, which you can recruit to follow you around. There's a whole gang upgrade system that unlocks higher level thugs, and different variants that are equipped with different weapons, are stronger, etc. You can even unlock the ability to whistle and summon a carriage full of Rooks to roll with. I didn't find myself using them all that often, but the ability to summon a carriage was certainly useful a few times.

If you haven't actually played any of the Saints Row games (something I find hard to believe if you're reading this blog on Giant Bomb, but anything is possible), just know that this is all very similar to that sort of stuff. Taking over districts is a generic enough thing on its own, but the way you can get members of your gang off the street to follow you is 100% Saints Row. Again, I don't know if that was the first series to have that, but you get the point.

And, thankfully, this stuff works well enough in this game that I don't mind it more or less copying this stuff from Saints Row. I would definitely rather a Brotherhood style system than this gang, but rolling with a gang is still cool. Even if it's not as cool as hitting a button and then having an assassin jump seemingly out of the sky and kill whoever you are looking at. I'm actually really surprised that mechanic hasn't been in these games since Revelations. Granted, I didn't play either of last year's Assassin's Creed games, but I don't think they had that.

Back to the district clearing stuff, one thing that kind of surprised me was that the stuff is pretty seamless. By which I mean you just happen across a spot where a Templar is holed up with some cronies, you go in, kill them, and then you've cleared that part of that district. Granted, the fact that there wasn't any sort of load screens, or mission start points for that stuff probably shouldn't surprise me, because at this point in the year 2015 that stuff should be seamless, but still. I liked it. And it's not just assassinations, there's other things, like clearing gang strongholds, liberating children from factories (which also involves killing the foreman of the factory), and kidnapping criminals.

Which brings me to my first complaint with the game, and definitely the thing I like least about it. I think kidnapping in Syndicate is just straight up bad. You get behind someone, hit a button, and then you grab them by the arm and are in kidnapping mode. By default, every ten seconds or so (I never actually timed it) the person will try to escape, at which point you press a button to stop them. There is an upgrade (more on the upgrades later) that prevents that, but that isn't my biggest issue with the system.

My issue is that as you kidnap the person, there is a circle around you. The faster you move, the bigger the circle, and if an enemy steps into that circle, they realize you are kidnapping someone, and attack. Now, what I didn't realize was that there's more "depth" to how it works than I originally thought. I thought that the circle was at its smallest when standing still, went to a certain radius the second you starting walking, and went much bigger if you hold R2 to run. What I did not realize until the very last story mission, where the walking radius was too big to get through the area I needed to, was that holding lightly on the stick, and thus walking even more slowly made the radius a lot smaller.

But even if I had known that sooner, I still think that walking slowly with someone like this is not a great mechanic. Thankfully you don't actually have to do it too many times in the story, and even in those district clearing bits, you can actually just kill the person, that only means you lose the bonus money and XP. You still have to lug their corpse all the way to the same spot anyway, so it's still a bit of a hassle.

Scenic London, on one of the clearer days.
Scenic London, on one of the clearer days.

And speaking of XP, you level up in this game. That might have been a thing in Unity, but this is certainly new in the Assassin's Creed games that I've played. But it doesn't work the same way as most leveling systems do. Here, every thousand XP you get nets you a point that can be spent on skills, but only the first row (or so, I don't remember) of them requires one point, after that they require more (up to six). You don't level up every time you get a point, instead you level up after spending set numbers of points, meaning the highest level (10) isn't attained until you've unlocked every skill. Enemies have levels too, and weapons, outfits, gauntlets, etc are locked by level. Thankfully all the XP, money, etc is shared between Evie and Jacob.

The outfits and other gear are a bit different too. Instead of just being a flat defense rating like in the old games, here the outfits provide various bonuses. Some defense related, but others increase the amount of bullets/knives/bombs you can carry, or increase your stealth stat. Which, yeah, there's a stealth stat. Still not exactly sure how that relates to the sneaking in this game, but hey, at least this game has manual crouching, which is more than I can say for the past games that I've played.

And this also brings me to the differences between Evie and Jacob, slim though they may be. At least in terms of game play. Each of them have a few unique skills, but even with them unlocked, they don't create that much of a difference. They basically amount to Jacob doing more damage and having higher defense, while Evie's throwing knives doing more damage and can turn invisible by crouching and not moving. Or, at least mostly invisible, because the game does say that she can still be seen if enemies get right up on her.

I'm not really sure how I feel about the two protagonists thing. On the one hand, it does help alleviate the "one person doing all of this crazy stuff" thing that so many games suffer from, and it does sort of allow for different sorts of missions that fit more for one of them than the other. But also not really, because there's not enough differences in how they play to build missions that would be impossible for one to get through, and it kind of just felt like the game was forcing me to play as Jacob when really I just wanted to be Evie the whole time. Both because her skills are better (the game isn't nearly hard enough to need that extra defense or damage), but also because she's a much more interesting character. Not that Jacob is bad, or unbearable, but he's kind of boring and generic. And also an idiot, so, never mind, he is kind of bad.

It's also kind of a bummer because there's only three times in the entire game when you actually switch between them during a mission, one of which was during the tutorial (and might have actually counted as two separate missions, I don't remember), one of which was in the console exclusive "Dreadful Crimes" missions (more on those later), and the third is literally in the very last story mission. I'm not saying this game had to be GTA V, and have a whole bunch of intricate missions where you're switching between characters a whole bunch. But having missions where you play the first half as Jacob, going in loud to distract most of the guards, and then finish it with Evie as she sneaks in to make the kill would have been really cool. That's a super simple and not terribly original idea for that, but it's also something that I came up with off the top of my head. There's plenty of other ways that being able to switch between two characters could have led to great mission design, but instead they opted to have the two mostly go their own way through the game.

And, on top of that, the game focuses more on Jacob than it does on Evie, especially toward the end of the game. There's even an entire "Sequence" of missions that is solely for Jacob. But even through the rest of the game, Jacob is the one performing most of the big assassinations, while Evie is left to clean up the messes he leaves behind. There's one point in the game where Jacob almost causes the entire economy of Great Britain to collapse, and then Evie has to come to the rescue. It's a bummer that this aspect of the game, and really the story in general are not great.

Don't care what you say: I liked these missions.
Don't care what you say: I liked these missions.

Oh, and before I forget, let me mention that console exclusive DLC. You know how that stuff is usually pretty bad? This one is actually, kind of really good? Or at the very least, it's interesting, and I liked it a lot. In some ways it has that, somewhat chintzy (for lack of a better word) level of quality that I've come to expect from this sort of DLC. Things like lots of reused stock animations (often involving NPCs comically over-animating when interrogated), and not too much in the way of unique dialog from Evie or Jacob (assuming you played any of them with Jacob, I did literally all of the side content in the game as Evie). What I'm trying to say is that you can very easily see where the corners were cut when making this content.

On the other hand, they're also pretty well done little murder mysteries. I suppose I should have explained what the missions are. The premise is that a fellow who writes penny dreadfuls (cheap books) and his boy companion have asked you to help the police investigate a series of "dreadful crimes" around the city. That way the crimes get solved, and the fellow gets material to write. And you solve these crimes by walking around Investigation Zones looking for clues and interrogating suspects. Sometimes clues will unlock new things to ask about, and sometimes clues/suspects will lead to new zones being opened to investigate.

Probably the coolest part is that when you activate Eagle Vision, it displays text about the clues and information from the suspects floating in the environment. Some of it is pretty simple, but some of it is pretty clever, like a case where the person fell a good distance, and the text, "FALLING" appeared vertically in the path he descended. And there was another case where there were multiple gunshots fired at roughly the same time, and your objective is to figure out which one actually hit the victim. In this case, the trajectories of each bullet appear in the air, and I think it's pretty cool (even if this isn't the first game to ever do that, I know).

This is more impressive given that, so far as I can remember, there's only one time in the game when it does anything at all like this in the main story, and it's nowhere near the extent that these crimes do it. On top of that, some of these cases are pretty clever, and head scratchers when it comes to figuring out who did it. There's even one that gins up a reason to be on a moving train during the investigation, like a good old fashioned train mystery. And once you get to the very last of the dreadful crimes, it wraps everything up in an interesting way that I was sort of expecting, but was still good enough to hold my attention. Really, aside from wishing there was a little more effort put into stuff like those goofy animations, my only complaint is that some of the distances between the investigation zones are too big. There's one with a literal kilometer between two of them.

But yeah, so far as this sort of ostensibly throwaway DLC goes, this is the best one I've seen in a game in years. Again, just talking about the stuff you get from codes that come in the box with games; not comparing this to any DLC you pay for, or anything like that. And it's certainly much better than the "Limited Edition" "Darwin and Dickens Conspiracy" DLC. That's some hot garbage right there. And misleading garbage too, because the two Charles are barely in it, and the only thing in there resembling a conspiracy is stupid and bad.

Back to the main game, and specifically the main story missions. For the most part, the story missions are fine. Not really too much special in there, and not too much that's outright bad. But, there still are some missions where you have to tail someone without being seen. Only a couple, and for the most part, they're fine. Mostly. There is one, however, that is quite honestly the most frustrating thing I can remember ever experiencing in an Assassin's Creed game. Granted, I tend to be more forgiving of these games than a lot of people are, but I dare anyone to play this mission and enjoy it.

It involves following a carriage on a foggy night without being seen. Now, I did my best to stick to the rooftops, but even then, the only way I managed to get through it was by memorizing the path of the carriage after repeated failed attempts, and then trying to get ahead of it. It was also kind of a buggy mission, because there was one point where after loading back in after failing, it loaded me in with the mission instantly failed, and went back to another loading screen. I was worried that I'd have to start the whole thing over (this was a mid mission checkpoint), but luckily it was just that one time. I still have no idea how that happened.

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But there's also some really good missions in the game too. Specifically, the main assassination missions are, for the most part, really good. These involve sneaking around, or through some larger areas, and have things like opportunities for unique kills, like pretending to be a corpse wheeled in for a phrenologist to cut open. I shan't spoil the other ones (that was the first one), but take my word for it, there's some cool stuff in there. I think my favorite was one involving a theater, which felt a lot to me like a Hitman game. Not quite, because it didn't have the cornucopia of murder options that those games tend to have, but I really like what they did with the assassinations in Syndicate. It helps make these missions feel big and like more of a challenge than the district clearing ones. In those you can just climb on a roof and throw knives at the target, here you have to actually examine the area and think things through. Unless you just want to blindly fight through to the target, which certainly would work, but I wouldn't recommend it.

I hope they expand this stuff in future games. One unique kill per target is fine, but I would love it if they did go full Hitman on this and had a whole bunch of unique kills for each. I understand that doing that would certainly be a lot more time and cost intensive to make, and make it good, but at least for me, I think it'd make the game a better end product. Would that translate into better sales? I have no idea, but I'd wager a guess and say probably not.

I don't know anything about how well this series has been doing financially, but I can say that after taking a year off by not playing Unity, I had a lot of fun playing Syndicate. It's not anything fantastic, or amazing, but it's a fun time. Definitely room for improvement, and with any luck next year's game will be even better. But, I suspect that this trend of one year having a good game, the next a not so good one will probably continue. I'm hopeful, though!

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I am glad that I proofread these blogs before posting them now, because I realized, days later, that I wrote about this game without even mentioning that there's a grappling hook. I don't have a ton to say about it, but yes, I like the grappling hook, and I hope future games have it as well. It's pretty handy.

Fallout 4.

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Remember in the last blog where I said I probably wasn't going to discuss the story aspect of Fallout 4 much? Well, now that I have finished the story, I feel an obligation to, because of how poorly written and just not good that it is. Which means, yes, I will be going into SPOILERS for the game, but I'll mark them, white them out, etc. But before I get to that, I have plenty to say about the game part of the game, and non-spoiler-y things to say about the writing/story too.

I played Fallout 4 for around 90 hours (according to the game, I'm still not sure if the game counts pause screens in with that). During those 90 hours, I found myself both absolutely loving this game, and being super disappointed in it. I loved it because, at the end of the day, it's more Fallout, and I still really like the core loop of these games. Go into some bombed out post apocalyptic place, kill enemies in comically gruesome explosions of blood and gibs (thank you, Bloody Mess perk), often whilst listening to music that at once doesn't fit the situation at all, but also fits it perfectly because it just highlights how goofy the whole thing is, and emerge with a bunch of junk that I mostly won't use.

And that, maybe, is the crux of why I think this game ends up being so disappointing in terms of the story stuff. This game is at its best when it's being goofy and weird, but the game tries way too hard, and way too often to be something serious and meaningful. There's nothing wrong with that on paper, but the problem is that this game doesn't have the writing or the story to make any of that stuff worthwhile. It also, in some cases, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I'll get to that in a minute, but I have a related thing to discuss first.

Namely, that despite being a game ostensibly about player choice, there really isn't a whole lot of that going on in the game. Even right from the very beginning, you're forced into something that I know for a fact that quite a few people weren't happy with at all: A hetero marriage. For me personally, my (lady) character being married to a dude didn't bother me, especially since (slight opening of the game SPOILERS) your spouse dies before you even get access to the open world. But that's beside the point, the problem is that I didn't even have the choice. Where's the option to be gay? Where's the option to be single? Having played the game to completion, I get why the going after your son thing is there, and I get why that's a thing, but there's absolutely zero reason why the game couldn't have an option for a same sex marriage at the start. Or just get rid of all of that and have you be a single parent or something, I don't know.

But even without that stuff, the intro is still bad anyway, because being forced into a smaller environment without much to do beyond wait for the game to say I've spent enough time sitting around for the story to continue, its attempts to make me feel anything at all for the spouse, or the baby are just, bad. Five minutes stuck in a tiny house with wooden dialog and a couple of button prompts are nowhere near enough to make me feel anything for any of these characters. Besides, a small environment without much to interact with is the opposite of what the Bethesda style of game is all about. Plus, as you gathered, it's a bit slow and boring.

The best part of it was when it asked me to put in my name, and then the robot called me, "Miss Furiosa." That was rad. Conversely, the game doesn't tell you what names the robot will actually say, or give any indication at all that the robot will say certain names. If you want to know what names he'll say, you have to look that up online. And while the people at Bethesda thought it was hilarious to include joke names like, "Boob," "Boobie," and "Boobies," (yes, all separate entries), there are a ton of regular, actual names that aren't in there. My real name wasn't, and neither was my usual go to of, "MOOSE." Not that it really matters because the robot butler is the only character in the game that will actually say your name.

Truly a wasteland if this is how people put the roll.
Truly a wasteland if this is how people put the roll.

Then, after the intro, you get out of the Vault, and it becomes a Fallout game. Or, at the very least, a Bethesda Fallout game. I've not played the pre-Fallout 3 games, to be clear. I doubt I would enjoy them given what I know about how they are played. After that bad intro, it ended up taking me a few hours before I really started getting into the game. Wasn't until I got some better weapons and leveled up a few times that the game clicked with me.

For the most part, I like the changes made to how you level up in this game. Rather than putting individual points into skills that range from 1 to 100, instead you get points to either put into the SPECIAL skills, or into perks, many of which can be leveled multiple times. I like this more for a couple of reasons. One is that I have never been a huge fan of games where you are raising stats by individual points. The concept of, "I need to put one more point into Science to get from 74 Science to 75 Science to get access to better hacking" just doesn't appeal to me. It's the sort of thing where putting one single point into anything doesn't actually matter, so really you just end up spending points ten at a time, or whatever. I don't actually remember how many points you got in Fallout 3 or New Vegas when you leveled, or at what thresholds skills actually improved via the points. What I do know is that Fallout 4's leveling is a lot more streamlined, and I think the game is better off for it. Mostly.

The good is that individual points usually lead to substantial, noticeable changes. I would much rather spend a point to get an extra 20% damage from rifles than to put some points into Small Guns and not really be sure how that was going to actually improve my usage of Small Guns (though it's been so long since I played 3 or New Vegas that it's possible those games were clearer about how that worked, and I have simply forgotten). The downsides to the new system are that sometimes the progression of what perks you get access to based on your SPECIAL stats seems a bit, not quite random, but like it's lacking logic. For the most part it's fine, but some things like needing Charisma for the perk that enables you to drink as alcohol much as you want without suffering from addiction are just a bit weird.

The other issue, and this is something I've seen others explain better (and be more upset about) is that SPECIAL stats all default to 1, rather than 5. When I played, this just seemed weird, and didn't bother me too much. But then I watched a video online (there's some spoilers in there, so don't watch unless you've gotten most of the way through the game (assuming I remembered to link to it)) and the person explained how in the older games you would have to take points out of some stuff to boost others, as a trade off sort of thing. But instead here, 1 becomes the default, so instead of 1 being the point where your character is comically bad at something, that's the default. In my case that meant I could do stuff like start with a 1 in Strength and not really suffer at all for doing so. Especially when I could just add points to Strength later when leveling up.

Other improvements have been made to the game part of the game too. The combat is now perfectly competent. It's not great or anything, but it's also not a complete chore or pain like it was in 3 and New Vegas. The real time combat, I mean, as VATS always worked fine in those. Here VATS no longer stops time, it only slows it down. That, combined with the real time combat being enjoyable led to me not using VATS a whole lot. Which is good, because a real time game shouldn't have to rely on a system like that to make combat enjoyable. Conversely, if you spec your character in the right way (put all the points into Luck (no, really)) VATS can be super over powered (like many things in the game), so it's still viable if you want to go that route.

There's a new modding system for the weapons that I really like. You can swap out just about every part of every weapon to affect all sorts of stats like damage, range, weight, or to add specific things like a scope, or bayonet. You can even change the receiver in a lot of weapons to alter what type of ammo the gun uses. In addition to regular weapons, and unique, named weapons, there's now Legendary weapons, which are denoted with a little star. These weapons all have a special attribute, like causing bleeding damage (which is VERY powerful), doing bonus damage to a specific type of enemy, firing two shots instead of one (but still only consuming one bullet per shot, somehow), etc.

The best part of these weapons is that, through video game logic, this Legendary attribute isn't attached to any specific part of those weapons. You can literally swap out every piece of that gun, and still get that special attribute. For example, I found a .45 rifle that did radiation damage on top of the regular damage, but ended up swapping out everything in the gun, even the receiver so it could shoot more powerful .308 rounds. It's the sort of thing that doesn't make any sense at all, but I appreciate because it makes the game a bit easier to manage.

Armor works in much the same way, though with fewer slots to change per piece of armor. Speaking of, new to the armor in this game is limb specific armor. If your character is wearing something thin enough (like the default Vault Suit, or some of the stuff you find elsewhere), you can wear leg, arm, and chest armor on top of that. I think this is great, because mixing and matching random pieces of limb armor can go a long way to make your character look like a Mad Max style weirdo. But it's also a bit disappointing because so much of the armor in the game doesn't allow for that stuff to be put on top of it. If armor was purely a defense thing, and the other stuff had higher enough defense that wouldn't be a big issue, but there are plenty of Legendary armor pieces too, and they tend to have bonuses that are better than a few more points of defense. I'll take an extra point of Perception and Agility over five more defense any day (especially since you can get armor mods for the regular armor that can get the defense up over a hundred, in addition to all the limb stuff on top of it).

I am Iron Man. Sort of. Okay, not really.
I am Iron Man. Sort of. Okay, not really.

Power Armor has been changed up too. Instead of just being regular armor that you wear like anything else, now the Power Armor works more like something from Iron Man. They're suits made up of a frame with limb pieces, a chest piece, and a head piece added on, technically all optionally. Without that stuff, you lose out on the defense (but you still get the removal of fall damage, which is cool). Unlike the regular armor, and weapons in the game, Power Armor has durability (also, I forgot to write about that, but no durability on the regular stuff is maybe the best change in the entire game), and the frame itself needs a Fusion Core to be used (again, not unlike Iron Man style suits). And even beside all that, the Power Armor feels bigger, bulkier, and more powerful than it did in 3 or New Vegas. Changes the HUD too, which in first person mode helps make it feel like you are inside of a suit.

I definitely like the changes made to the Power Armor in Fallout 4. I also used it very rarely because, as is always the case, I worried too much about running out of Fusion Cores and not having Power Armor when I needed it. I ended the game with over 90 Fusion Cores. And 10 Power Armor frames. I literally have a row of them in my town in the game. Just standing there. And a whole bunch of extra random limb pieces in storage that I looted off dead people people. So, I didn't need to be as cautious with it, is what I'm saying.

Well, I think I've covered the mechanical part of the game well enough, so it's time to get to the story part. Some of this will be SPOILERS, some won't. I'm going to write about the end of the game, but I'm also going to write about general quest design stuff that doesn't spoiler specific stuff, but you know.

So, the premise of the game is that you wake up from cryogenic sleep in a Vault, with your goal being to find your son, who was kidnapped from said Vault as a baby. You then leave the Vault and probably spend dozens of hours just exploring and ignoring that kid only to suddenly go back into concerned parent mode when you decided to actually get back to the main story. And for the most part, this quest involves bringing items too and from people, killing enemies, and eventually finding out stuff about the nebulous Institute that everyone is afraid of.

And that brings me to the other side of Fallout 4's story: Synths. Synths are robots, ranging from what are effectively metal skeletons to replicants that are completely indistinguishable from actual humans, perhaps sometimes even to themselves. Of course this brings to mind things like Terminator, and Blade Runner, and the game certainly doesn't shy away from being like either. Probably more Terminator than Blade Runner, really, but those were the two things I thought of, because I like those things (mostly).

Sadly, Fallout 4 takes the interesting premise of the Institute and its Synths and doesn't do anything interesting with them. Instead, the conflict around the Synths eventually just becomes SPOILERS the fact that the Institute treats the Synths as slaves, and another organization, the (I kid you not) Underground Railroad wants to free the Synths. Yes, they literally call themselves the Underground Railroad. Usually just The Railroad for short, but come on. The Brotherhood of Steel is also there, with the goal of destroying The Institute and all the Synths, but the BoS is so fanatical and close minded that I had no desire at all to side with them. Which is a bummer, because they have a rad dirigible and have quests to rebuild Liberty Prime. You know, the giant robot from 3 that would say things about destroying Communists.

Which ending you get depends on which of those three factions you side with. And I guess you could also side with The Minutemen, based on what I read online, but I didn't see anything in the game that made me think you could get an ending through them. It's basically a choice between destroying the Synths, freeing the Synths, or subjugating the Synths. You know, because clearly all these factions could never compromise on anything.

Despite the fact that there's actually no good reason as to why there can't be a peaceful resolution. I get why the BoS wouldn't, they're a bunch of fanatical loonies. But The Railroad and The Institute? Well, you might think they might be opposed, but given the position you have in The Institute by the time you get to the point where you have to make that decision, it doesn't make any sense that you can't at least try to work toward peace.

Which brings me to another SPOILER, and in this case it's for what I think is the only interesting thing in the main story in the game, so you know, stop reading if you aren't there yet.

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Once you get into The Institute, you find out that your long lost son, Shaun, is actually an old man, and the director of The Institute. And as such, he's in a position to grant you access to stuff you probably shouldn't, and send you out on missions that you could very easily sabotage without him noticing (which I did). And then, once you get far enough into the game, he reveals that he is dying, and that he's appointed you as the new director of The Institute. You know, instead of anyone on the Board in The Institute that has been working there for years, and knows way more about how to run the place than you do.

But, immediately after stepping down and making you The Director, he tells you to go and wipe out The Railroad (by this point the BoS is already hostile to you from one of The Institute quests). You can try to reason with him, but even if you succeed at the speech checks (which I did), it doesn't change anything (which is a bigger issue I have with the speech checks in the game: Most of them don't actually do anything). He demands that you go and wipe out The Railroad. And, so far as I could tell, there's no option to use your new position as the Director to effect any sort of actual change, or to attempt to get the people there to treat the Synths any differently.

What I'm trying to say is that given the position of supposed power that you have in The Institute, you should be able to do things that you can't. I should have been able to make them treat the Synths like actual people, and give them the option to leave if they wanted to. If you could do that, then there would be no conflict with the Railroad. You could have a peaceful resolution that would leave everyone (aside from the BoS and their flaming pile of dirigible wreckage) better off. It's not like the Institute is pure evil and should be destroyed, the stuff they were working on would probably help the human race in the long run. Certainly more so than blowing it up would do (which is how the other endings go, or at least how the Railroad one does).

It's a bummer not only because this stuff is poorly written and I very easily thought of ways around the conflicts that the game refused to acknowledge, but because it just helps reinforce that this isn't actually a game about real player choice. Sure, you can choose to blow up the Institute or not, but that's it. Just like how you can choose to play as a lady or a dude, but you'll always be married in a hetero relationship. It's still a "better" ending than Fallout 3, but that's an extremely low bar to meet, so I'm not ending this on a note like that. This game could have, and should have a better story. With the amount of time and money put into a game that makes itself out to be a game about player choice, having this bad of a story, and this little room for actual choice is inexcusable.

The worst part is that there are moments in this game that are actually really good. The best quest line in the game, "The Silver Shroud" is great. In that quest, you're tasked with dressing up like The Silver Shroud, who was the hero in a series of radio dramas (written for the game) that you can hear in the game. And as you do the quest, you're given the names and locations of known criminals to go deal with in the style of The Shroud (shooting with your Silver Submachine gun (or really any gun)), and then leaving a calling card on their bodies. You know, to instill fear in the hearts of criminals. Throughout the quest you even get the option to say things as The Shroud (through the game's lacking and often vague dialog choosing thingy), which just adds a lot of charm and flavor to the quest. And it even has a decent ending that works well with what you'd want out of a pulpy story like that.

Colored lighting!
Colored lighting!

I think that's the core of the problem with the story in Fallout 4. Aside from the lack of choice, the problem is that the main story tries to be a serious thing, that is tackling a serious subject. But it fails on all fronts because it does it in a super ham-fisted way, and ignores better ways to resolve said conflict. But when the game tries to be goofy and weird, it works. It works because the world of Fallout is goofy and weird, and the story of the game should be goofy and weird to match. This is a game where a single bullet to an enemy's head can cause their entire body to explode into tiny pieces, all while goofy olde timey music is playing. The tone of the story should be on par with that.

And the last thing I feel like I should mention is that outside of the faction quests, there aren't really a whole lot of meaningful side quests in the game. There's a few, like The Silver Shroud, but I honestly can't think of many others that I did. I'm not sure how I spent 90 hours playing this game. I mean that in the literal sense of I am not sure how I spent my time playing that game. Because, as negative as I sound about the game, I did enjoy playing it. There's definitely fun to be had if you want a decent but not great shooter in a big world. I don't regret playing the game at all, I just wish it was better.

There's a few other things, like the frame rate that I should at least mention. It's not great on PS4, but the last patch did seem to help it a fair amount. The game crashed on me a handful of times too, but I saved often enough that I never lost more than a few minutes of progress. There's some things in the game that are kind of offensive, but I don't want to get into that. You can go look up that stuff on your own.

Fallout 4: Good, but very flawed.

Anything else?

Well, as stated in past blogs, I have Mad Max to play. I've been enjoying that game more than I expected, which is always good! I mean, when things are better than you think they are. But I'll have more to say about that next time.

I bought Tales from the Borderlands when it was on sale for $3.75 on PSN. I've only got one episode of that left, and I've been enjoying it! Dunno how much I'll have to say about it, given that it's yet another Telltale game, but we'll see.

But that's it! So, see you next time, and as always, thank you for reading!

Mad Max has a built in photo mode, so be prepared!
Mad Max has a built in photo mode, so be prepared!

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glots

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#1  Edited By glots

"If you didn't guess that, and thought Saints Row London was a real game, then I offer my sincerest apologies."

You'd better.

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ArbitraryWater

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I already wrote my piece on it, but the main quest in Fallout 4 continues the trend of main quests in Bethesda games not being the reason you play them, though I think this one is especially bad. Enough so that I put the game down and never really picked it up again after seeing what passed for an ending monologue. It was hardly my only problem, but it was enough to kill any momentum I still had.

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mrpandaman

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@arbitrarywater said:

I already wrote my piece on it, but the main quest in Fallout 4 continues the trend of main quests in Bethesda games not being the reason you play them, though I think this one is especially bad. Enough so that I put the game down and never really picked it up again after seeing what passed for an ending monologue. It was hardly my only problem, but it was enough to kill any momentum I still had.

After reading about the ending and how people felt about it, I quit shortly after I shot Father in the head. It was like dropping the mic moment for me. This is the aftermath of what greeted me as I went back to the teleporter room.

No Caption Provided

Knowing how the story was going to end up was enough for me to call quits. I could not take this story to the end knowing that there was no reasonable choice and I was going to be forced to choose some arbitrary choice that I could not back.

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MooseyMcMan

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#4 MooseyMcMan  Online
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seveword

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I think that the Brotherhood actually has the most coherent storyline, in that they really do just wanna butcher everyone they don't agree with and they sure give you the opportunity to do that. I felt that bringing back Liberty Prime and Dr. Li was really lazy though. I still spent over 100 hours in the game and will probably triple that by the time I'm done, only to put it down (for Fire Emblem most likely) and come back to it again, because I'm a sucker for everything Fallout has to offer. Nice write up.

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mrpandaman

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@mooseymcman: The funny thing is that you can shoot their arms and legs off and they'll be staring at you like the black knight from Monty Python The Holy Grail.

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MooseyMcMan

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#7  Edited By MooseyMcMan  Online

@seveword: Honestly, it had been so long since I played Fallout 3 that I wasn't even sure if Dr. Li was actually a Fallout 3 character, or if they just made that up for this game. The part of the BoS storyline involving Paladin Danse being a Synth was interesting though, even if the conclusion of it (like everything else) was lackluster.

Edit:

@mrpandaman Even better!

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Captain_Insano

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The fact that your Fallout 4 character is already married hadn't occurred to me as a problem as a heterosexual, but I can see why it is an issue. That said though, I can rationalise it by saying that for the story arc of having a family and kids, your character has to have been married in a male-female relationship, not because that's the "normal" way, but because the start of the game is set in a quasi 1950s style society and openly gay relationships would not really have been acceptable in that society.

There's an interesting discussion to be had there somewhere.

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MooseyMcMan

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#9  Edited By MooseyMcMan  Online

@captain_insano: I would counter that argument by saying that the opening of the game is set in 2077 in a fictionalized version of America, and thus there's no reason to expect that there couldn't be a same sex marriage. By that same logic, you could also say that there shouldn't be an option to have an inter-racial marriage because that was also taboo in the 50s, if not literally illegal like same sex marriages. And, if it wasn't obvious, that is something you can do in the game.

Plus, there's no reason why that couple couldn't have adopted, or given the other advances in tech this version of America had, ginned up some tech that would allow a same sex couple to "mix" their DNA to have a biological child, or something. I dunno.

That, and I'm pretty sure that during the intro you can see a same sex couple trying to flee their home as you're running to the Vault. It's the sort of thing that's very easy to miss. At least that's what I read somewhere online after playing through the intro.

Anyway, the point is that it comes off more as Bethesda just doing what is considered the "normal" thing with the relationship because they either didn't care, or didn't have enough people working on the game that realized not everyone would want their character to start in that sort of relationship.

And sorry for inadvertently directing this mini-rant against you, you were just the "lucky" one to bring it up in a comment!

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qrdl

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After reading about the ending and how people felt about it, I quit shortly after I shot Father in the head. It was like dropping the mic moment for me. This is the aftermath of what greeted me as I went back to the teleporter room.

No Caption Provided

At first I thought I was seing that famous shot from Ichi the Killer.

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BulletproofMonk

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They should call the next Saints Row game Saints Row Simulator.

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MooseyMcMan

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#12 MooseyMcMan  Online

They should call the next Saints Row game Saints Row Simulator.

OH MY GOSH, YES!