Fallout 4: 10/10
The wait is finally over for fans of nuclear wastelands and trying to survive them. Fallout 4 is finally out, after being in development since right after Fallout 3’srelease in 2009. That’s six years worth of constructing a game, betting heavily on fan loyalty and next-gen console capability.
And holy shit, did they deliver.
The Fallout series is not like Elder Scrolls.People don’t walk out of the vault and into the wasteland and marvel at the beauty of the landscape. Though there is a beauty to it, it’s a sad beauty. It’s a jarring ‘what if’ for Americans. With nuclear stockpiles numbering in the obscene being a thing for so long, this irradiated wasteland feels more like a frightening actual possibility.
Unlike last entries, your character has a personality. Dialogue is spoken, you are no longer the stoic, silent wanderer of the wasteland. You can make friends and enemies, and cultivate those relationships. Other than your lack of silence, playing and making your character is like slipping on a comfy robe; it’s familiar and it fits.
The graphics are, needless to say, insane. Creatures that were scary back in Fallout 3 and New Vegas have taken on an entirely new level of terrifying. The environment feels more real than it ever has, and it’s just begging you to explore every inch of post-apocalyptic Boston. You can even walk the famous Boston Freedom Trail, and see famous American landmarks that, though crumbling, still (mostly) stand.
The V.A.T.S. system has been vastly improved, depending on who you ask. In the past, V.A.T.S., which separates enemies’ body parts and gives you the percentage likelihood of you hitting them, and would freeze all activity as you aimed. The new V.A.T.S. system just slows down time, making you have to actually react and not rely on the convenience Fallout used to give you.
The game runs smoothly, though it is Bethesda, so you will occasionally get some hilarious glitches, but nothing game breaking. Definitely hilarious though.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider: 10/10
Lara Croft has been a longstanding staple of pop culture, often in a really gross way. In the early days of PC gaming, many an internet creeper got their rocks off to the polygonal angular Lara Croft of old. In 2013, Crystal Dynamics decided to reboot the franchise, as each new installment failed worse than the last. But Tomb Raider (2013) gave us a Lara Croft that felt like a real, fleshed out woman. One with a life that extended beyond the game’s story.
With Rise Of The Tomb Raider, we catch up with Ms. Croft a year after the events of the first game. She’s suffering from minor PTSD, but her spirit of adventure is unbridled. With the first game, you were limited to one island. In Rise, you travel the globe, hunting down an artifact before another corporate team of archaeologists get to it.
Along the way, there are a multitude of things for Lara to do. Caves to explore, hidden tombs to unearth and find the treasures within, ancient relics buried all over the place; there is no end to what you can unearth (well, there is, but it would take you weeks). As with the 2013 entry, Rise takes a lot of it’s combat and exploration cues from the Uncharted series and refines it for Lara herself, making exploration and tomb raiding easier than it’s ever been. The puzzles are also significantly more challenging than they were last time, and the tombs far more numerous.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider is a phenomenally beautiful game. The technical work on things as simple as Lara trudging through the snow, or light sandstorms… It all just builds a true, palpable universe that you are dying to be a part of.
With all of this, Rise Of The Tomb Raiderkeeps the best part of the first entry. Namely, Lara Croft feels real. She has a personality, and you care about her. In fact, if you’ve played the first game, it feels like you’re back with an old friend. She’s changed, for sure. She’s no longer scared of the danger she has to face, no longer afraid to take on insurmountable odds. She’s finally become Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Rise is by far the best entry in the franchise.