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Fallout: New Vegas Review

December 02 2010

Fallout: New Vegas Review
by Lodur

Game: Fallout: New Vegas
Genre: RPG
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox360, PC


War. War never changes. That line delivered by Ron Pearlman has become an iconic statement to the Fallout series. The truth is though, war does change; just very little. The latest installment of the Fallout series is titled Fallout: New Vegas. It boasts a plethora of quests and a new story line that all take place in the area surrounding, as the title suggests, New Las Vegas.

The story opens with you being shot in the head by a character named House, styled after Joe Pesci from Casino. We’ll get to why he’s named himself that in a little bit. After being shot in the head, you are pushed into a shallow grave and left for dead. You wake up in the house of a doctor, having been patched together. Apparently a cowboy robot saw what happened to you, dug you up and brought you to the doctor. It’s almost a cliché opening sequence. Almost.

After you take the next several minutes to organize your face, skin, eyes, hair and other appearance options, as well as your stat items, the game sets you into a small town complete with saloon and run down gas station.

A friendly local, named Sunny, will be more than happy to not only provide you with your first gun, but to teach you how to use it. This comes in handy because this affords you all the skills you need for the upcoming boss battle. It seems one of the townsfolk has gotten himself into a bit of a problem with the leader of the local powder gang. You are tasked with asking for help and supplies from the townsfolk in defending him and the town. You can choose to ignore his pleas for help and just run off, but then where’s the fun in that?

After the mini event, you can go about your business. You’re probably wondering who shot you in the head and why. The townsfolk give you little tidbits to go on, and you can even talk to the robot who saved you before you head out on your way.

It’s a very classic opening, and nothing out of the ordinary. Veterans to the genre may find themselves skipping the town to progress into the meat of the story. Through questing you find out that you were a simple courier in troubled times, and were tasked with delivering a package to the New Vegas strip. Something happened and instead of a simple delivery, you were meant to sleep with the giant mutant lizards. The person who had you shot, House, is the big name of New Vegas. He has taken the name House after learning about life through old 50’s gangster movies and the saying “the house always wins”.

From there the story provides some notable events and a few necessary minor twists to keep things interesting. The problem is that it’s predictable just the same. There are three possible endings to the main quest that you can unlock based on who you sided with and who you kill. Similar to Fallout 3 at launch, once you’ve complete a play-through of the main game, you won’t be able to continue your travels unless you re-load an old save. This is a bit of a letdown. It was one of the major gripes about Fallout 3 that Bethesda later fixed through DLC, and it almost seems silly to have that same limitation.

Environment and the World

As you ente the desert, you get exactly what you expect to see in a post apocalyptic future. The only problem is that because you are in the desert, it can sometimes be hard to tell it’s actually a post apocalyptic world. Unlike the blasted urban sprawls of Fallout 3, there is a lot here that seems perfectly placed even before the great cataclysm of the world. The biggest change to note though, is that there is actual vegetation for you to investigate. While the plants may sometimes be dried up, players can find and harvest fresh fruit, seeds, and herbs, which you can then use to whip up various mixtures like healing powder or stimpaks. Buildings, clothing and the towns all leading up to New Vegas all have an appropriate rustic feel, and there are rusted out husks of vehicles, trailers and metal buildings just about everywhere you can think of. The surrounding areas blend well into the towns and quest hubs and really give it that old-west feel.  Gang territory is predictably marked and easy to spot as you travel from place to place. Each faction has its own unique flavoring and style, and each fits really well with the gang’s name and focus. The environment built for this game does a good job of blending both civilization and wasteland for an immersive world.

Graphics and Gamepay

Visually, the game feels a little bit dated. The game uses the same engine found in Fallout 3, the Gamebryo engine. Faces feel almost plastic and the clothing can sometimes look stiff, but otherwise the game looks good. Environments are pretty well detailed and the engine excels in the area of lighting and shadow.

Gameplay wise, if you’ve played Fallout 3 you will already be familiar with the controls. The VAT system has been modified a little bit, and it is a change I can support. In Fallout 3, mastery of the VAT, or Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting , was akin to being a god. It made you almost unbeatable with a long ranged weapon as you could neatly put anything down with a well placed shot at their point of weakness. In Fallout New Vegas though, using the VAT system does not always mean an instant kill, and sometimes the targeting system will give you incorrect data about armor spots on a target. Personally I like this part of the game. It gives it a more realistic feel. I mean, we’ve survived a nuclear war; there’s no way the technology works 100% of the time if you’re spending time in a radiation filled environment.

The game plays as a first or third person shooter with RPG elements in choosing gear and interacting with NPCs while leveling your stats. You can interact with the environment and make all sorts of choices. You can steal and kill which will result in lowering of your karma, or you can be a virtuous soul and lead a clean wasteland existence.

Each faction you encounter through the game will give you choices in how you interact with them. At first glance it would seem that the factions operate in a grey area. The New California Republic is bloated and ineffective at protecting its people, but the tight ship the Legion runs with slave labor is off-putting and leaves you feeling unclean. It seems like a much needed departure from the black and white morality that most games have. The problem is at one point you realize that you gain Karma for murdering Legion members and lose Karma for killing NCR troops. Sadly it looks like that grey area wasn’t really grey after all. Honestly there isn’t a whole lot of new or groundbreaking game play here.

Time Investment

If you focus on nothing except the main story, you can complete the game in about 10 hours. The game does offer a very large amount of side quests. This is really where the game excels. The quests range from the stereo-typical gather x of y, to straight up assassination. Side quests are also incredibly important for garnering the trust of the various NPC factions in the game. Questing for them counts for as much as how you interact with them when you talk to them. The better their opinion of you, the less likely they are to shoot you full of holes. If you choose to do every quest in the game, expect to spend the better part of 100 hours in the game.

Final Thoughts

The game is not without its faults, but there are hardly any games out there that could be considered perfectly polished. My main problem with the game are the various glitches that keep you from progressing in the game. For example, I am a completionist. As a result I want to do every quest in this game, including the beginning mission to assist with the town’s little game problem. The issue I ran into is that at the crescendo of the event, the boss spawned but did not engage you. When I cautiously moved up to their spawn point, I found I could not shoot them or interact with them either. It was almost as if they stopped mid spawn.

This issue and other spawning quirks were unique to the Steam version of the game, and have since been patched. The game is entertaining, but still buggy in many areas. It plays much more like an expansion to Fallout 3 rather than a standalone game. If you are a fan of the Fallout series, I would suggest picking it up, but not at full price. With all the bugs I would wait until it goes on sale. It is worth the time to play through the story, and it offers some decent twists and turns, but it may not be at the top of your play list when there are other more polished games to play.

2010-03-09-fallout_new_vegas1 fallout-new-vegas-first-screens-001 fallout-new-vegas-header fallout-new-vegas-12

Filed under: NewsReviewsPCPS3Xbox 360RPG

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