Review: Fallout: New Vegas

WELCOME TO VEGAS – NEW VEGAS

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Genre: Role Playing
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Compatability (PS3): 1000MB Mininum Space | Player 1-4 | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 480p / 720p | Network Players 2-32
Compatability (Xbox 360): 500KB Mininum Space | Player 1-4 | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p
Rating: 8.8

RPG fans behold; the sequel to the 2008 Game of the Year and arguably one of the best titles of this generation has arrived. Near-endless exploration, jazzy 50s tunes and slow-mo head explosions – it’s all here, and while at a glance it may look like a rehashed Fallout 3, Obsidian have taken the baton from Bethesda and added their own spice to the formula in the glitz and glam of the new setting: Las Vegas. The developer’s trademark technical issues may be a blow to some, but the latest Fallout title still holds its own as an expansive and fun, even if a little familiar, role-playing game.

New Vegas wastes no time in throwing the player straight into the deep end, as after a brief opening cutscene you are shown what appears to be your own untimely demise before your adventure has even begun – being shot in the head by a cocky sharp-dressed man and dumped in an open grave. It’s not as intimate as Fallout 3’s introduction of growing up and escaping from the safe confines of a Vault, but it does aptly describe the most important thing about the Wasteland: it’s a nasty, unforgiving place, and this in particular will make fans of the first two games of the series feel right at home. From there, you are revived at local ranch-town Goodsprings, given your primary customisations, and are then free to explore the vast Mojave Desert before you. I won’t lie, this experience wasn’t nearly as deep as stepping into the light, seeing the sun for the first time above a ruined Washington D.C, but what the game lacks in set pieces, it makes up for in exploration space. Make no mistake, the Mojave is huge. I’d estimate it is an extra 1/5th bigger than the Capital Wasteland, which was already big enough to find new places after a hundred hours of play, and Obsidian have also gone out of their way to fill it to the brim with locations – town ruins to loot, caves to scavenge in, and of course the glaring lights of Sin City itself. The main storyline will eventually drive the player towards the city, to find the man who tried to kill you and uncover the much greater and darker truth behind his plan. The events that are to come will also decide the fate of another battle that is soon to come, between the democratic New Californian Republic and Caesar’s Legion, a collection of tribes dedicated to enslaving the weak and reinstating Roman values of discipline and obedience. You have full power to choose which factions to support, and how you act towards each will affect your Reputation with them, a system used in the earlier titles. This, combined with the usual Karma status will help define in great deal what kind of character you play as, and while the main plot didn’t always have me gripped, the dynamic of two huge armies on the verge of war always did.

Where is everyone?

As far as mechanics go, the game makes sure not to detract from what worked so well in its predecessor, and the brilliantly unique and cinematic VATS combat system is as good as ever. However, many new features have been added that help create an even more believable wasteland experience. For example, as well as the great multitude of new weapons, many guns can now be modified by strapping and bolting on attachments such as scopes, clip extensions and improved chambers. Giving a lot of skill points to formerly semi-useful skills such as Science, Repair and Medicine is now rewarded much more, and they can now also be used to forge ammunition and makeshift explosives out of scavenged parts, a component that comes in particularly handy when a certain ammo type is scarce. It is the small things such as these that become invaluable when playing the all-new Hardcore mode, a new difficulty made to test all the dedicated wastelanders out there. This isn’t just a matter of making enemies tougher; you’ll also be required to monitor your hydration, hunger and sleep deprivation levels, as well as a much wiser use of stimpaks and doctor’s services. It’s brutal at first (I found myself having no choice but to run from mere critters when I had just started), but in full swing it is an amazing new way to approach the game, even if it may only suit a certain audience.

Unfortunately, after releasing an unfinished ‘Knights of the Old Republic II’ and a horribly designed ‘Alpha Protocol’, Obsidian make New Vegas no exception to the rule as far as technical problems go. Simply put, this game is dying for another month in development, and it can’t take much play-testing to see this game has some serious bugs that need to be taken care of. Animations going horribly wrong, horrendous framerate drops at the sight of a mere ten or so NPCs onscreen, load screens of up to two minutes – these are issues I got on a good day. Not only have I totally lost some items which inexplicably disappeared from my inventory, but worst of all I lost over two hours of play because of a crash corrupting my game save. In such a vast game with so much data to be processed, I excuse the odd blip, but some of the problems can get so bad that I think maybe Obsidian should have gone the extra mile in testing to iron out the most irritating of them.

Don't let the framerate issues stop you from playing Fallout: New Vegas, especially if you're an RPG fan.

The other main criticism I make of the game is its general atmosphere. Something about Fallout 3 was always quirky and mysterious, I always wanted to go and explore the wastes to find anything I might not have seen before, and there was always a tongue-in-cheek view taken on the American Dream, of people trying to live out their suburban middle-class lives despite the apocalypse. Although Obsidian keep the same standard of dedication and detail in those little things you might find rummaging through the most obscure parts of the map, I found it hard to have much of a drive to find out more about my surroundings. With the map being fairly rigidly divided by factions, there aren’t so many separate communities with their own attitudes and values, and there’s very little feeling of desperation and human persistence due to the rapid rebuilding of the land. It’s nothing that affects gameplay, and to some this will be nothing at all, but to me it was surprising when I found myself wanting to start my second playthrough before I’d even finished exploring the whole map and completing all the quests.

When it comes down to it, Fallout New Vegas is going to please two types of people: those who wanted better combat and general mechanics, and those who wanted a Fallout that went back to its roots more. To me, the world I had totally immersed myself in, which parodied the human condition and the 50s Cold War attitude was gone, but in its place was a worthy sequel and one that could easily allow for as many gameplay hours as the previous game.

Reviewed by failboatskipper – November 13, 2010

Graphics
The game’s engine is becoming a little dated, and while the Wasteland still looks convincing and facial animations are good in conversation, plenty of weapons have bland, untextured designs.
 
Sound
The soundtrack won’t please fans as much as those of previous games, as the 50s feel is replaced with a more western touch. However, environmental sounds are great and many guns (especially a 12-gauge) have greatly improved sound effects.
 
Fun
Sure it may bug from time to time, but when you allow yourself into the game’s world, you’re going to be stuck in it for a long time.
 
Final Score

 

Responses

  1. Hot damn! This is the best review I’ve ever read for Fallout! Werk!

    I agree with the sound. Even though the music wasn’t memorable, the sounds effects really pumped up my adrenaline. Gotta love surround sound and some epic FPS gameplay! The game tended to turn a little monotonous for me after a while though. I ended up playing in small increments throughout the day to compensate for that. Heh.

  2. I can’t lie and tell anyone that I had a great time with this game. The overall gameplay was really good, but the story was weaker than Fallout 3, and the technical glitches are enough to drive even a monk insane. Great review!


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