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Fallout New Vegas review


  • Fallout New Vegas review

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Name:	2010-02-04-fallout_new_vegas.jpg
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ID:	602202 In November 1997 the original Fallout was released and the world learned just how awesome an isometric view post-apocalyptic roleplaying game with turn-based combat set in the western United States could be. In case you were wondering the answer is WAY awesome.

    It featured prominently in GOTY honours from numerous publications and in the 13 years since it has been a staple on the "best games of all time" lists that gaming websites love to bang out a few times a year. Barely over 12 months later Fallout 2 was released to similar critical acclaim.

    Interplay, the publisher, knew they were on to a good thing and so Fallout 3 was promised but unfortunately it descended - as many a great title has - into development hell. Amidst Interplay running into financial trouble and the departure of three key developers who were the masterminds of the brilliant Fallout universe the much anticipated sequel stalled and was ultimately shelved.

    And then... silence... Apart from a spinoff called Fallout Tactics in 2001 (more of a squad-based, tactical 'cousin' than a successor) it seemed the franchise was dead. That all changed when it was announced in 2004 that Bethesda Softworks had obtained the rights to develop Fallout 3, but even then it would be another four years before it was finished. Finally, in October 2008, Fallout 3 was released and was an immediate critical and commercial success rivalling that of the first game all those years ago. With the franchise restarted and performing well, Bethesda announced that the next game in the series was on its way and it would be called Fallout: New Vegas.

    "The game world is enormous, and when you're outdoors the scale really hits home."
    Fallout New Vegas does some things well and some things not so well. The game world is enormous, and when you're outdoors the scale really hits home. The world has an authentic unevenness and organic feel to it. Hills, mountains and valleys all seem natural. Cracked highways criss-cross the landscape. The day/night cycle in the game presents a beautiful variety of colourful hues particularly at dawn and twilight. Gazing out over the vista the world looks photo realistic. Oftentimes after cresting a hill you'll catch a glimpse of some kind of building in the distance and just be gripped by this intrepid urge to strike off towards it and see what's there.

    Get up close and it's a bit of a different story. While character models look good for a game of this generation, and the UI and weapon models are nice and crisp in other places it seems as if there was almost too much for the modellers and artist to get done so they phoned a few things in. On a few occasions as I was walking around various locations I would notice a model for some incidental piece of clutter - a rusting shopping trolley, or a discarded wheelbarrow and it would jump out at me just how slapped together the model was. Like something you'd produce in your first Maya tutorial. These are the exceptions and not the rule, but it's shame it had to happen.

    For interiors the developers built a library of pre-fabricated blocks and assembled them into levels like Lego pieces. Lots of games do that, but Fallout New Vegas has around 400 separate locations and maybe only 7 or 8 different "sets" of these blocks that they have to use over and over. And there's only so many kinds of desks, lockers, bookshelves and so on. After a while a lot of places start to look the same and not only does that nag at you in the back of your mind (kind of a "breaking the fourth wall" sensation) but the inherent sameness of many locations actually fatigues you, like a rat that's been run through the same maze over and over.

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ID:	602205The game delivers on the audio front, though. The effects for everything from guns to lasers and rocket launchers to flamethrowers are great. Ambient sounds like crickets chirping or the murky, hollow hum of an abandoned underground vault set the scene. And of course there's the ever present radio stations - a holdover from Fallout 3 (which was perhaps in itself a nod to GTA) - that play some really good old country western songs interspersed with amusing remarks from different announcers help you keep up a tempo while you're going about scouring the wastelands.

    Fallout New Vegas follows the same style of gameplay Bethesda established in Fallout 3. You play through a sequence at the beginning which both serves as an introduction providing the first few threads of the plot and lets you set your character's initial stats. After that you're bundled out the door and you're on your own in the wasteland.

    Interaction with NPCs is essential. It's how you advance the plot, get quests and learn about new locations. As previously mentioned, Fallout New Vegas has some 400+ different locations around the game world and their whereabouts is usually revealed through conversations with NPCs. Asking an NPC in your starting town about nearby locations will add two or three new markers to your map. All newly discovered locations have to be travelled to manually (i.e. you have to walk there following your compass) but once you've arrived in a new place for the first time you are then able to fast travel (jump straight from one visited location to another) from then on. These strolls through the wasteland are by no means boring, though. In addition to the beautiful landscape you have to contend with mutated creatures and raiders. You'll also occasionally stumble across a wandering merchant or an entirely new location like an abandoned factory or dark cave to explore.

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ID:	602204The world map, your quests and your inventory are all tracked through your wrist-mounted computer called the PIP Boy. As you earn experience from completing quests and killing enemies you level up and are given skill points to allocate to your long list of abilities.

    Great freedom is given to the player as to how they want to play and one of the strengths of the game is that there's no "correct" way to play it. You can develop a character with a strong emphasis on combat and a shoot first ask questions later style, or you can create a physically weaker character who is an articulate speaker and is able to get what he wants from NPCs without it necessarily having to take it from their cold, dead hands. The game also has a strong reputation system ensuring that even if the good guys hate you, you'll always be welcome with the bad guys.

    VATS is back for combat and is still one of the main (and most fun!) features of the game. When engaged in combat you activate VATS with the press of a key and action is immediately paused. You can then scroll from opponent to opponent and target specific body parts. Your character has Action Points which you can allocate to shooting at different enemies (and different body parts if you want). The number of APs you have is dependent on a few factors, but mostly on your character's Agility rating. When you've allocated all your APs you resume the game and watch the attacks carried out in slow-motion from a groovy 3rd person action camera perspective.

    You also have the option of shooting it out in real time and a look-down-the-sights feature is new in Fallout New Vegas to better facilitate this.

    Fallout New Vegas is a good game. I think though if the developers had shaved off, say, 25% of the locations, non-essential quests and minor characters and instead invested that development time into polishing the remaining quests and artwork they'd have a great game on their hands.
    Despite my criticisms of the graphics and the rare glitched quest or confusing story branch, overall the game is very satisfying. I think it's with a firm awareness of my own fanboy-ness for the franchise that I can still objectively say (without feeling like I'm making excuses for them) that in a game with the scope and complexity of Fallout New Vegas I'd be amazed if they didn't miss a few things. After all, one of the attractive aspects of the game is its non-linear sandbox gameplay and that exposes it to more potential flaws than a tightly scripted game.

    If you're a fan of the series and you've been contemplating New Vegas I think you, like me, will still just enjoy spending more time in the Fallout universe and as such won't be particularly bothered by the niggling issues. I do however strongly urge you to be selective about where you purchase this game. The price gouge for this title (particularly on Steam) is, to put it bluntly, fucking outrageous. Don't reward them for kicking you in the balls with your consumer dollar if you can find it cheaper elsewhere.

    If you've never played a Fallout game before but you'd like to do dip your toe in, I strongly suggest you pick up Fallout 3 instead. In most regards it's the better game, too. Since it's "smaller" (about 200 fewer locations and 60 fewer quests) it's a lot tighter and more polished than New Vegas with most of the cuts meaning you won't experience so many of the copy-paste locations or superfluous side-quests.
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      mr2_mike commented
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      i absolutely love the game! and honestly haven't had many problems like everyone else has been saying.
      Last edited by rec; 06-11-10, 12:15 PM.

    • rec
      rec commented
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      Home made Fallout laser rifle:

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      Cayle commented
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      In awe of that answer! Ralely cool!
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