Fallout: New Vegas Review
With a big iron on his hip.
The year 2008 was a fantastic year for fans of Fallout. Fallout 3 was released and for the first time Fallout had the full HD, next-gen treatment. The franchise had a new home and fans were confident in Bethesda Softworks, its new caretakers, as they were the kings of the console open-world RPG. Jump ahead to 2010, while still under the umbrella of Bethesda, the reins have been handed to Obsidian Entertainment. Obsidian have created a fantastic game that captures all of the elements that make the Fallout setting great, but ultimately plays it safe in terms of innovation and moving the series forward.
The campaign plays out from the perspective of The Courier, a silent hero who was shot and left for dead in Nevada, and not even given a t-shirt. After awakening in a small town you begin your quest to find out just who the men who shot you are, why they shot you, and just what was so important about the package you were charged with delivering. If you have played Fallout 3, you will be very familiar with the combat, you can still switch between first person and third person, but I think you’ll find the third person view slightly awkward and harder to aim. You will have a wide array of small weapons, rifles, explosives and melee weapons to choose from. The V.A.T.S targetting system makes a return in Fallout: New Vegas and for the un-initiated, this is a mode where you can hit RB and the game pauses, you can then pick out which body parts you want to target on an enemy. This mode makes for some great slow motion animations and a good way to systematically weaken strong foes.
The combat engine has been tweaked from Fallout 3 to allow more true aiming when shooting outside of VATS and Obsidian has also added slow motion critical hits. When you or one of your companions, score a critical hit the camera will focus in for some slow motion dismemberment action. This is a cool addition but can get confusing if you have a companion and they are off fighting someone else then all of a sudden the camera jumps to them smashing someones face. While on your way to the New Vegas Strip, you will encounter some additions to the tried and tested Fallout 3 formula. The first is factions, in the area around New Vegas there are a number of groups vying for control, the New California Republic and Caesar’s Legion will play a large part in the story as they are the two largest armies in conflict. Performing tasks and completing missions for a certain faction will earn you reputation points within that faction and can lead to new missions, cheaper goods from vendors, and other services provided by that faction. You will need to choose carefully as you may lose reputation with Faction A by doing missions for Faction B. You can’t be everyone’s friend. This time around, you can issue orders to your companions via the new “Companion Wheel”, this can be pulled up mid fight or mid stride. Last of the big additions is gambling. The casinos, on the Strip and outside offer, slots, roulette, blackjack and such. Caps are still the major currency but you will find others, all can be exchanged at the casino cages. The area around the New Vegas Strip is generally richer than the D.C wasteland, I found in this game caps were easier to come by, and stores just had generally more to offer. Also, the addition of gambling offers some chances to really make some big piles of caps or lose it all in classic Vegas style.
This is an extremely large and varied game, you will sometimes start what seems like a simple fetch quest to then find yourself two hours deep into a side story. The whole playable area feels slightly smaller than that of Fallout 3, but I left with the feeling there was much more inside the area. There weren’t very many places where you could walk for long without seeing something. Where the game begins to disappoint is the fact that most of the technical issues that plagued Fallout 3 are still present here. I have had my game hard-lock the console, my character fall through the ground, my save file corrupted among the major issues. My biggest complaint is the way the world is chopped up; frequently you will fast travel to a location, face a loading screen, then arrive at the door to said area, only to have to open the door and load again. If I’m fast travelling to a closed and walled in town, load me in the town, not in front of the door.
There is no multiplayer or co-op in Fallout: New Vegas, however there are already DLC expansions planned.
Be prepared for multiple playthroughs, there are a number of ways to end Fallout: New Vegas, and achievements for doing each. This isn’t a bad thing, you will want to choose different paths, it’s part of the fun. Aside from story and mission achievements there are ones that get you to check out each style of weapon, plus some collections. All in all, achievement hunters will spend many hours on this one but not in an annoying manner. The one that really sticks out as a badge of honor is the achievement “Hardcore” this is for finishing the game with the new hardcore mode turned on. In hardcore mode you have to eat, drink and sleep regularly or you suffer debuff effects, if your companions die they’re dead and most importantly ammo now counts toward your weight limit. Say goodbye to your huge arsenal, you simply can’t carry ammo for it all.
If you loved Fallout 3, you will love Fallout: New Vegas. It still follows the themes that make the fallout series great, it still offers a broad and sweeping adventure that will take you 30-40 hours and you will still want to play multiple times. Obsidian’s failure to fix the technical issues make this feel like an unfinished product, which is a shame because of all the shining content you get here. These issues are far from making it an unplayable game, you should still play this game, it’s just that I’m a little embarrassed for them at this point.