Wednesday, December 5

Fallout New Vegas Review

I played on: PS3, PC
 paid: £7.99 (PC, Steam), £2.50 (PS3, CEX)
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Notes: I play this game mostly on PS3 because I’m a PS fangirl, keeping that in mind my playtime on steam alone is 186 hours and combining both my PS3 and PC playtime I’ve put nearly a solid month of my life into this game…

After Fallout 2 Interplay started plans for Fallout 3, however during early development the company entered bankruptcy. They were forced to sell off their properties with Fallout going to Bethesda. This would lead to the Fallout 3 we ended up with being developed by Bethesda for better or for worse. New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment which was founded by ex-members of Black Isle Studios which itself used to be a smaller studio under Interplay. While at Black Isle this team had worked on the masterpiece that is Fallout 2. I wanted to make sure everyone reading this is aware of the basic history here. New Vegas in a lot of ways is a hybrid between both classic and modern Fallout. It has a lot of the creative team from the classic Interplay days building on top of the modern game engine built by Bethesda. Because of this, we get this wonderful mixture with the accessibility of Bethesda’s Fallout with the open do anything gameplay of the classic Interplay days.

The basic gameplay has you in first or third person using dialogue, combat and a bunch of skills you can improve via levelling up. The intro sees your character getting shot in the head but not dying and then being buried alive. A friendly robot finds you and drags you back to the towns doctor. After a brief introduction where you build your character assigning skill points, one off perks and key skills you’re let loose. From this point, it’s really up to you what you do next. You have the vague notion to track down your would be killer but nothing’s stopping you just wondering off in the opposite direction. The world and landscape of New Vegas will subtly change depending on what actions you take. Unlike Fallout 3 and 4 what you do actually matters and feels like it’s affecting more lives than just your own. This along with the first person perspective makes roleplaying very enjoyable as you are able to take many paths to the end of the game. The same events will still somewhat occur such as the president of NCR coming to visit the troops or Mr House trying to pull you into his scheme. How these events go and what they effect however is not fixed and there is a surprisingly large number of possible outcomes. Early on within the first 2 hours of gameplay, you find a gang looking for someone. You can help them find and kill this man and then leave. You can talk to the local town, persuading them into arming up and helping the man by killing the gang. This may lead to innocent townsfolk dying, however. You can persuade the gang into attacking and taking control of the town. This is the first real situation you find yourself in and even this early quest has many options and paths for you to take. While the freedom is not quite as vast as Fallout 1 and 2 it’s still impressive. This is even more admirable when you take into account that all the characters are now voiced and animated in 3D. I can’t think of a modern RPG that has this much freedom.

Fallout 3 was infamous because of the terrible first-person shooting. New Vegas does make some improvements such as iron sights for most weapons. You also now have multiple types of ammo and can add mods to weapons but despite all these improvements, the shooting is still not great. The biggest problem for me is how little people react when they’ve been shot. Unless you manage to cripple a body part they will not react or stagger. This makes your guns feel far weaker than they should. Why can an NCR Ranger take several shots to the head even without a helmet? This is more visible when you fight the Legion. Their armour doesn’t cover their heads and yet they can take bullet after bullet to the face while still charging towards you. Like I say this is much better than Fallout 3 but although I enjoy the combat with sniping, ammo management, stealth and VATs it’s still not a confident FPS.

I also like that the morality here is not just black and white. For example, if you gain Vegas it’s independence towns like Primm become more profitable and comfortable. However, they also become more violent and crime-ridden. If you install the NCR Government then they gain much more protection and safety but lose out on funds due to heavy taxes. These are only two of the possible 9 endings for this one town and already it’s not so clear to see which is the overall best option. Compare this with Megaton in Fallout 3 where the options are detonating the nuclear bomb at the centre of the town or disarming it. You can go all the way to the extreme or not and when put next to New Vegas it’s just embarrassing. New Vegas offers you the chance to do what you think is right. You don’t just choose to be a “good guy” or “bad guy” because New Vegas knows that good is very much about your perspective.

As this is set on the East coast same as Fallout 1 and 2 many familiar faces from these earlier games will be making an appearance. It’s great to see these familiar factions and groups such as the NCR, the Great Khans and the Followers of the Apocalypse. I love talking to people involved with each of them and learning about what had happened in the 40 years between Fallout 2 and New Vegas. Seeing how the new groups such as Ceasers Legion interact with these familiar factions was also great. The themes of the new melding with the old are seen here with groups from modern Fallout clashing with the older more refined factions of classic Fallout.

Of course, while making your way across the Nevada wasteland you will be gaining experience and levelling up. Each level will allow you to assign skill points to any of the possible skills. Every other level, however, you will also be able to pick a perk which is a one-off bonus allowing you to perform extra actions or skills. Getting a perk every other level instead of each level makes the direction you take your character more important. This is unlike Fallout 3 and 4 where it’s very easy to have 1 character become a master of every trade. Skills are also used for more than just their initial purpose in New Vegas. They are able to be applied during quests. This allows the player more than one or two ways to solve problems. For an example, early on in the game, you find Ed-E, a damaged Eyebot and potential companion. Unlucky for him he has been shot, the player can use a high science skill and average repair skill to fix him with no parts. Other than this you could use the parts which are expensive and hard to scavenge. If you have a high repair skill you’re able to get him up and running with no parts or science knowledge. Both Fallout 3 and 4 fail to use their skills in this way and as such you only have one or two simple ways to complete quests. Bethesda uses skills as a chance to gain extra money, ammo or other resources but not as a tool useful to the story. The reason for this is probably that they are worried players with low skills will miss out on plot content. This fear causes their Fallout games to suffer in terms of world-building and roleplaying potential.

The single biggest problem with New Vegas, however, is that its buggy and glitchy. It’s not uncommon for NPC’s to become trapped within terrain or items dropped on the floor to become invisible. These are minor and not that much of an issue but the game crashing outright is. During my 16 and half hour PC run, I had the game crash 3 times. It’s simple and fast enough to load it back up and continue on your way but it’s still a pain. This is helped by the frequency of autosaving with the game-saving when you pass through load zones, sleep, wait and so on. I did find it was more stable on the PS3 version so this may be mostly an issue with my laptop.

To summarise Fallout New Vegas is one of my personal favourite games of all time and I can not recommend it enough.

Recommendation Rating: 10 out of 10.

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