Review – Fallout: New Vegas
You bet your life.
Fallout: New Vegas is the sequel to the highly celebrated Fallout 3. To say I was excited about this is a bit like saying that evangelical Christians are looking forward to the Rapture. New Vegas sees Obsidian taking over from Bethesda, which I only mention because Obsidian has more than a few of the developers from the classics Fallout 1 & 2.
Lets do the due diligence part first, New Vegas is an RPG set in a post apocalyptic radioactive wasteland which is both brutal and deadly. The tone of Fallout often shifts around sometimes its a bleak setting where some poor sod has tried to carve out a living for himself in a cave or abandoned warehouse only to end up a bleached skeleton in the sun. Sometimes it’s a Mad Max style shoot-out with bandits who’ve been driven crazy by the drugs they’ve been used to survive the inhospitable wasteland. Occasionally its like Cabela’s Wasteland Hunter with you stalking the games heavily irradiated/mutated creatures and killing them for sport or ingredients for the overhauled crafting system.
The amount, variety and quality of the content in New Vegas is by far the reason that you should play this game. When you meet one of the many characters and they ask you to do a task you’ll know exactly why this needs done. So many RPG’s have lazy quests where it boils down to â€œoh can you go kill ten rats for no reasonâ€ but Fallout gives a reason for each request and it usually goes some way to changing the world. Missions like clearing a road so traders can get through thus giving you access to better gear in the local shops.
Have I said enough nice things now, I think it’s time that you hear some severe technical criticisms. On release the game is all kinds of busted, these range from amusing to infuriating and include something that I personally think is the worst sin of all: save file corruption. If you’ve heard someone mention New Vegas post-launch it’s a safe bet it was to complain about the bugs. My mileage seemed pretty standard. I had enemies clip through the floor and walls then get stuck so you have a enemy trapped inside a wall with his arms and legs sticking out. I had a save file corrupt on me once and considering I played the game for almost 40 hours although there where plenty saves that i made and never tried to reload. My play style involves making a lot of saves for experimentation so in practice i only lost about 20 mins of progress, but if i had been walking around the outdoors area for a while that could have been a hour or more.
Quite the laundry list of faults but the fact that I still played 38 hours of this should speak to the quality of the title (and hopefully not single me our as some kind of masochist). It’s an impressive title and there’s is so much to see and do in New Vegas that very few people will exhaust its content before the inevitable DLC. Obsidian have outdone themselves when it comes to content. New Vegas throws custom guns and missions at the player like penny sweeties it easily has more base gun types than Fallout 3 before you start adding in the special named guns or factor in gun mods.
The combat its self is very much the same as Fallout 3’s VATS included although i found myself using iron sights for long range combat as the percentage to hit at long ranges with VATS seems lower to encourage it. The missions are expertly designed – many of them have their own location designed to be interesting when explored both in and out of context – adding to the feeling that every location in the game has a purpose.
As much as I loved Fallout 3, there just wasn’t the same sense of spectacle in the early stages of New Vegas. The obligatory Ron Perlman voiceover was overlong and rambling and the game engine is starting to show its age. Not to mention the overall lack of polish compared to Fallout 3 with too many instances of glitching character models and poorly placed scenery forcing you to reload when you get stuck or the game just loses its shit and crashes. Thankfully once you do manage to break out of the main story and just explore you’ll quickly find yourself falling back into the Fallout grove with all the derelict vaults, reradiated ruins and raider camps you could want to blast your way through.
On the whole the new additions to the formula Obsidian have added work, with the companions being a highlight even if they are a little too prone to attacking every monster they see even if you know it’s going to eat your face, and the new weapon mods make sticking with low level equipment worth your while but it must be said the ammo crafting to too fiddly and never rewards you enough to go to all the trouble of finding all the ingredients and slaving over a workbench that the game demands.
It’s not the stone cold 10/10 instant classic that Fallout 3 was but as sequels go in a market filled with disappointments like Dead Rising 2 it’s easily worth your shekels although it you’re not already a fan of the series wait around for the inevitable game of the year edition with all the DLC included.
Secondary Score: 9/10
The game also features a new Hardcore mode which doesn’t do anything to the base difficulty (there are still settings for Easy, Medium and Hard) but does mean that limbs are harder to heal, requiring a trip to the doctor or a handy doctors bag item, and that your companions can die. The companion death is significant with hardcore mode disabled they just become unconscious and will eventually wake up at the end of combat but with hardcore mode you not only lose a ally/packmule but also the companion specific quest. Hardcore mode also requires you to eat sleep and drink at regular intervals but doesn’t really add much as you next meal is just a wildlife kill away and there water in every toilet.
The revamped Karma and reinstated reputation systems from previous games make a return in New Vegas. You can get negative karma for stealing from someone who just tried to rob you and leave you for dead and the moral absolutism gets a little annoying after a while. Eventually I started stealing from whoever I thought had wronged me rather than who the game said it was okay to steal from. The reputation system means that towns and settlements recognise the help or hindrance you’ve been to the locals and rewards you appropriately by lowering costs in the areas shops or leaving a box with spare supplies that refills every few days. I was playing as a helpful character but I believe evil choices will have assassins sent after you and possibly other punitive measures.
A recommendation for or against Fallout: New Vegas is really based on two things: ‘did you enjoy Fallout 3?’ as New Vegas is very much its father’s son and ‘are you willing to forgive the numerous bugs to enjoy one of the most dense and interesting games of this generation?’
Keeping in mind that the game in its current state acts like airborne Viagra to entomologists but that judicious use of saving and the eventual patches you can finish one of the best games of 2010 without too much hassle. My only hope for the future is they spend some more time testing the game before it comes out because just a few more corrupted game saves and the tone of this piece would have been completely different.