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Friday, August 21, 2015

Fallout Shelter: Game Review

Considering I haven't played EVE in a fornight, I might as well post something.  So here goes. 

If you're like me, you consider Fallout a masterpiece of gaming entertainment.  What's not to love about roving around a huge post-apocalyptic open-world?  The franchise is one of the greatest - at least in my opinion.  

Bathesda's announcement of Fallout 3's November 2015 release has put the fans in a frenzy.  The upgrades in technology have made the anticipation of their upcoming release somewhat fever-pitched.  Knowing this, it is no surprise that Bathesda wanted to capitalize on this and so they released a game (for IOS and now Android) named, "Fallout Shelter".  A management-type strategy game (with resource gathering/management) where you become the Overseer of your very own Vault.  You decide what is going to be constructed and who works in what room.  You can also be the little cherub that puts two people together in a room and waits for the "magic" to happen or you can even send a person out into the wasteland to gather outfits, weapons and caps (the currency of the Fallout franchise). 

Now, being somewhat of a fanboy, I drooled myself silly waiting for Fallout Shelter to come onto Android.  I kept checking for updates on the release and the instant it was released on Google Play I couldn't hit download fast enough.

The first few hours of playing, I lost control of my shelter and my inhabitants started to melt from radiation sickness.  To be literal, they didn't melt, but their rad level got very high and if a Radroach looked at them funny, they would die.  You can revive your dwellers, sure, at the cost of caps, but I found caps didn't really come fast enough to revive all my ill-fated dwellers.  Being me, I decided to start another vault.  I fared much better early on, but the God's were not on my side.  Raiders killed a good lot of people and I didn't have the caps to revive them all.  I refused to spend RL money, so I once again started over.  I did even worse and had to start over once again.  I had an issue with the save system as I could only save 3 vaults and there is no delete option.  There is also no cloud storage, so if you have to reinstall the game, you are out of luck.  

I might get crucified for this, but what I found, and pretty quickly I might add, is that the game is so shallow in scope.  Bathesda's Fallout Universe is so grand in breath, that I found it surprising that the game they made has very little to offer.  Getting the first 12-16 dwellers is pretty much a guarantee as the game is meant to give you the foundation to build a successful vault, but all too soon you realize that there isn't anything new to achieve.  Once you have lured (or birthed) a bunch of dwellers and arm and equip them, you've pretty much done all you can do. 

You get the occasional infestation or raider assault, but that's about it.  I found the game somewhat punishing and a bit tough.  If you are a fan of the franchise, give it a try.  If not, I wouldn't even bother.  

The graphics and artwork are very well done and the overall mechanics and controls aren't too bad.  To be honest, it is a great idea, but just not enough meat and potatoes to fill you up.

I mentioned the controls aren't too bad.  It does have one massively annoying foible: selecting and trying to drag a dweller is god-awful.   You tap and then hold to 'pick up' your dweller like you were some omnipotent demigod.  The problem is, that you have to be spot-on in order to pick up the dweller.  I admit, I have some sausage-like digits, but even at full zoom, you have to be a surgeon to grab them.  If there is nothing going on, it's bearable.  If you are under attack, it's infuriating.  

So how do I break it down?

Design: 4/5
As mentioned, the artwork is really great.  It captures the the theme of the Fallout Universe perfectly.  The room details are very good as well.  

Mechanics: 3/5
Overall, the mechanics are good (other than the damn dragging of dwellers).  The game can be punishingly difficult, but everything is smooth and polished.  I haven't had any glitches or crashes.  The SPECIAL abilities mechanic is pretty good, but the execution of it isn't very good.  You should be able to sort your dwellers in a list by SPECIAL.  

Storyline: 2/5
The game assumes you know the backstory of Fallout and doesn't really go into depth about it other than a few introductory slides.  There could be more.  There should be more.

Replayability: 1/5
Sadly, there just isn't enough to the game or enough to explore for there to be any replayability or even a reason to play very long.  Those with short attention spans or those looking for more immersion would be better off finding something else. 

Verdict: 2/5

Unfortunately, I find Fallout Shelter to be a dud.  The amount of downloads completely contradict my conclusion, but maybe I'm just not as big of a fanboy as I thought.

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