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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Return to the wasteland - A Fallout: New Vegas review

When Fallout: New Vegas was announced and was being made by Obsidian many people were not sure what to think. Bethesda to many had taken a beloved franchise and made some great improvements to it, to some these "improvements" were not the best thing but that's another story. Many people loved what was done with Fallout 3 and to see a new Fallout game not from Bethesda had people not sure what to expect. This new game in the Fallout series was being handled by Obsidian a studio made up of many people who worked at Black Isle Studios, the company that made Fallout 1 and 2. I wasn't sure what to think about this. Yeah they have some of the people who helped make Fallout 1 and 2 which are great games but I haven't really been happy with Obsidian's output in the past. In the end how did I feel about New Vegas? Read on to find out.

Before I get into this review I need to mention my initial thoughts for New Vegas. I wrote a short thing about it when it first came out, about it being unplayable and that was true. At the end of that article I said I would never review New Vegas but that has changed. Here is a link to that article to look at then I'll get into the main review.


New Vegas is a lot like Fallout 3 in it's mechanics. You explore in the 1st or 3rd person perspective. You can go into VATS for combat. VATS is these game's way of making a FPS more like a turned base game like Fallout 1 and 2. When you enter VATS the game freezes and the enemies are highlighted. You can then target various body parts and then let the game take over and handle your combat for you. In New Vegas unlike in Fallout 3 you can aim down sights if you want to. This makes the game play more like a modern FPS game but it's still not the fast paced type of FPS you'd play somewhere else but for me it was really fun playing this without using VATS to much and going with the ADS. Near the end of the game I started using VATS more but I could see playing through this again and never going into VATS. Combat in this game was really fun, and playing like I did I saw VATS for the crutch it is and how it just takes the game away from you sometimes causing negative things to happen but more on that later.

You explore a large world (though not as big as Fallout 3) and just try and make your way through the wastes. With the smaller map size you are given way more to do. New Vegas has over 400 quests for you to do and I didn't come anywhere close to doing them all in the 86 hours I spent playing through it.

Fallout: New Vegas brings the series back to the western part of the United States more specifically right into Nevada on the outskirts of Las Vegas, now know as New Vegas. After the bombs fell Vegas was left mainly intact and is still a thriving area that operates mostly like it did before the war. You are a courier, tasked with delivering a platinum chip to New Vegas. Before you can finish your assignment you are shot in the head and left to die. Some how you survive and you're out to find the person who tried to kill you and get the chip back. While you're searching for the person responsible the fate of the region is being decided as the NCR and The Legion are battling it out for control of Hoover Damn. And that's pretty much the set up, as with any game like this one you get to influence the outcome depending on who you deal with and how. You'll be doing all this adventuring in a world that feels very much like the old west. Some people say Red Dead Redemption was the only western game released in 2010 but I would say they're wrong. At it's core New Vegas feels very much like a western adventure mixed with the 50's vibe. For most of the game I was using the single action revolver and the lever action rifle just like a cowboy would roaming the open fields of the old west.

The story in New Vegas is actually really good and really well written. Where as I thought Fallout 3's main story was a cliched boring mess filled with unlikable characters and an overall feeling of just being an after thought, the story in New Vegas makes you feel like what you do matters. At it's core the story of New Vegas is about the battle between two very different rival factions and the fate of the Mojave Wasteland. As you interject yourself into world you feel as though you're making a real difference. On top of that the writing is very good, you can tell Obsidian put a lot of thought into the story and all the various characters you run into. To go along with top notch writing they have a fantastic set of voice actors who do an amazing job of playing their parts. The one thing that made me continue to play the game was just wanting to know how it would all end, it's draw is that strong and believe me there were problems, some problems that at times made me want to quit the game in frustration but I had to know how it ended.

Even with the praise New Vegas has some issues. If you read my previous thing on Vegas most of that stuff has been fixed in patches. Unpatched you will still see that crap so get the patches. Now fully patched to the latest version Vegas would constantly crash on me. Sometimes I'd get three crashes in 10 minutes, sometimes I could go hours without a crash but it was really hit or miss. I was always quick saving to avoid having to do a ton of retreading stuff I had already seen.

VATS has it's own set of problems. Sometimes when entering VATS my character would just kind of jog around and not attack. This would happen as I watched my companions get killed and I would take damage. It would be completely random and was really a pain to deal with. I would also get this after a Mysterious Stranger visit. He would unload on something then it would just stay in VATS. I can't believe that hasn't been fixed, should of been one of the first things they fixed.

Some of the quests are just straight up broken too. Doing one companion quest sent me to talk to a NPC I had already talked to. Because of this I couldn't complete that step of the quest and I had to look online for a workaround. I had to do this with a few quests because they just glitched and didn't work right. It's a pain when you need to look outside a game to try and finish something but it's worse when it's due to the game being broken.

The game's difficulty seems unbalanced too. I was playing on Hard but some of the enemies just seem way to powerful. Deathclaws especially, I know they're the terrors of the wasteland and all but I had a quest at level 8 or so to kill them in a Quarry. I was level 29 before I could even scrape by doing it. Those Cazadors are brutal too, they remind me of the Cliffriders in Morrowind and if I could take one monster out of the game it would be them.

I played this with the Hardcore mode turned on. Hardcore mode is suppose to add more realism to the game but it goes both ways. You need to eat, drink and sleep or you will die. Ammo has weight so you can't carry as much. Stim packs heal over time not instantly and only a doctors bag or a real doctor can fix broken bones. I liked the idea of this but it didn't really add much. Even with the ammo weight I was able to still able to carry an arsenal with me. You can go so long without eating, sleeping or drinking it's not really a bother as you can just handle them all at once. Travel back to your home sleep then eat and drink you're good to go. But I did notice you had to drink more then the other two but it wasn't a big deal. I've heard about mods that make you need to do these more but I haven't tried it yet. I enjoyed the idea of Hardcore mode but it didn't really make the game harder it just added in some more busy work.

It may seem as though I'm tearing into New Vegas a lot but I really enjoyed playing it once I was able to. Even with it's technical shortcomings this is the game Fallout 3 should of been. It feels like you're in the Fallout universe, it even hints at the old game at times. If you're thinking of getting Fallout 3 or New Vegas, one hundred percent go with Vegas you won't be sorry.

Fallout: New Vegas - 7 out of 10.

With it's technical issues I had to bump this down a few notches. Not being able to play the game the first month it was out was ridiculous. Then all the crashes and VATS stuff. It's hard to say but this is a brilliant game that just needed more QA or something. If it had worked right out of the box it would of easily been a 10 out of 10.

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