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Fallout: New Vegas Review

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On 11/06/2010 at 08:22 PM by Stanton Daries

It's Fallout 3 with a better story.

For anyone who enjoyed Fallout 3.

I guess Ron Perlman wasn’t joking when he said, “War never changes.” At the very least it seems to stay pretty consistent in Fallout: New Vegas, the sequel to Fallout 3 the 2008 video game of the year. Rather than developing the game in-house, as they did with 3, Bethesda Studios turned over the production of the game to Obsidian Entertainment, the spiritual successor to the original creators of the Fallout franchise.

Choosing to move on from America’s destroyed capitol, Obsidian brings us closer to the stomping grounds of the original Fallout games and drop us out west, specifically the Mojave wasteland and New Vegas. Rather than playing one of the vault dwellers, people who grew up inside one of the numerous nuclear bomb shelters scattered around the land, our hero is actually someone who has been out in the world already, a courier. We start the game with a short cut scene as our aforementioned hero is shot in head by a man in a checkered suit looking for the package he or she was supposed to deliver. Waking in a small town we are treated to the games clever interpretation of character creation as the doctor checks to see if we healed right (character looks), managed to keep our faculties (statistics) and personality (skills).

After some basic tutorial inspired missions in the town we are left with an essential goal of finding the man who left you for dead in the vast and dusty desert. From a gameplay perspective New Vegas is identical to Fallout 3, including the good and bad that come with it, wrist Pip-Boy and all. Obviously Obsidian didn’t want to mess with the engine of a Game of the Year contender, but they seem to have overlooked a large number of the bugs that the engine brought along. Things like floating characters, clipping issues, odd V.A.T.S. combat results and game freezing all are still around and can be encountered pretty regularly. As a side note, I find it odd that the bigger a game is in scope the more forgiven it is for the bugs that exist in it. Even after the first patch made my game unplayable to the point that I had to uninstall the patch, move to a new city, save, and then reinstall the patch I was still willing to continue on in anticipation of what I would see next. Just make sure you save often and make multiple copies.

One item of gameplay that has yet to be fixed is the almost suicidal zeal with which any AI person will charge you with a melee weapon, regardless of what threat you represent. I’m sorry, but if I have a switchblade and you are wearing power armor and carry a flamethrower, I’ll respect your personal space.

Due to lack of overhaul of the engine you won’t really find too many visual surprises in the game. Instead of the dark gray urban decay of Washington DC, or even the deep green of Oblivion, another game from Bethesda with the same system, you are surrounded by a sandy and open expanse. One immediate benefit to this is that even though the world is bigger you don’t have as much traveling to do in your explorations as you can just simply choose a direction and go, not being bogged down by figuring which subway track you need to take.

Despite the gameplay and graphical similarities the story and immersion of New Vegas is a remarkable improvement. Obsidian expanded on a large amount of the previously covered content in the original Fallout series and added their own designs and twists. The little tributes and individuals you come across in the game are great reminders to faithful followers of the game’s lineage, adding their own reward to the experience. Nothing is forced on you, so even if you have never played a game in the series, you can still learn a decent amount of the world previous legends have traveled. Conversations are given back that special blend of quirky dark humor that Fallout was known for and even basic side quests are given with enough detail and multiple ways of finishing that you won’t run out of content for days, even if you choose to ignore the primary quest. On the other hand this can almost leave a player feeling overwhelmed as they spend several hours in just one small quadrant of the map and come to realize there is just so much left to see and do.

Obsidian did change certain core aspects of the game for the better. With an expanded crafting system, you can make anything from differing ammo types, to food, to drugs, in order to take your career farther. Certain outfits mark you as affiliated with various factions, who will respond with appropriate attitudes. Even just being yourself has an effect on the various towns and groups, as you can be a hero to one and a bitter enemy to the other. An interesting addition to the game is a hardcore mode where the player is forced to regularly eat, drink, and sleep, or risk disability and/or death.

There are multiple endings to experience in the game and your actions can affect your companions in unique ways, but Obsidian apparently failed to learn from one of Bethesda’s biggest blunders in 3 and decided to not allow you to continue playing after finishing the game. Maybe they will fix it with another DLC, but it is something that should have never happened based on the fallout, pun intended, last time.

After everything, I find I was split in my feelings on this game. While it was ultimately more enjoyable than Fallout 3 due to the story elements tying it to the beginning of the series, I was also left frustrated at the failure to improve the inadequacies of the last game. Ultimately, Fallout: New Vegas feels more like a long continuation than a stand-alone game.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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