Here we have the latest installment of the critically acclaimed Fallout series. With the creators of the first couple of Fallout games back behind the developing helm, and the Fallout 3 creators publishing the game, this one brings the storyline back out west to the desert wasteland of New Vegas! With the combination of the Bethesda gameplay mechanics and the established storyline and creativity of Obsidian, can this game live up to the formula that made the Fallout series so popular? We shall see. Gather your equipment, call any companions, and watch your back as we delve into the illuminated wastelands of Fallout: New Vegas!
Title: Fallout: New Vegas
Publisher: Obsidian Entertainment
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: FPS/TPS RPG
Systems: 360, PS3, PC
After a couple years out from the massively successful Fallout 3 release (and subsequent DLC), we have the next installment of the Fallout series with Fallout: New Vegas. With the original developers back behind the helm, and the ones behind Fallout 3 publishing the game, New Vegas initially looks to be another fantastic installment in this well-known series.
After the installments on the east coast of the former United States, this game takes place back in the west in, as the name implies, the equivalent of Las Vegas in the Fallout Universe. Vegas appears to have been relatively untouched after the nuclear war that decimated humanity in this continuity, and unlike Fallout 3, there are still quite a few buildings and natural landmarks still quite intact. The Vegas Strip itself is still lit up in the night sky thanks to the Hoover Dam still churning out power, as well as a somewhat fully functional Solar Power Plant. All of these, of course, end up being rather big plot points throughout the series. Many old faces from older Fallout games make reappearances as well. The New California Republic is a main force once again as the events of Fallout 1 and 2 seems to allow the NCR to expand. The Brotherhood of Steel and Caesar’s Legion also make their presence known in New Vegas in a variety of ways, and of course, there are plenty of new factions found in the game. Each town the player comes across now has an alignment system within themselves, so essentially, every settlement in the game could be considered its own faction.
The game itself takes place some time after the Battle of the Hoover Dam, after the NCR barely held off the advances of the Legion and has gained control of the Dam and the power output thereof. The player takes control of a character known as “The Courier”, a delivery man or woman, depending upon the gender choice at the start, who was pretty much brought back from the dead after getting shot in the head by one of the kingpins (or chairmen) from New Vegas, and your parcel was stolen. The task; obtain what was once yours, get revenge upon the ones responsible, and complete your delivery task. As per usual in the Fallout universe, what the player does during the meantime is somewhat open-ended. Certain actions will affect how the game world perceives the Courier, as well as the available quests found as the game progresses.
The control system is pretty much the same from Fallout 3, and the enjoyable VATS system makes a full return to New Vegas, as well as the ability to switch between first and third person viewpoints while travelling. This allows those who prefer the run-and-gun style of a FPS and TPS to get full enjoyment from the game, as well as those who prefer more of a turn-based battle system to still have a chance at survival in the harsh desert wasteland of the Mojave. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat system and perks also make a full return with almost all of the perks from 3 making reappearances, along with a plethora of new ones being introduced. SPECIAL stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, & Luck. The player selects which stats they want their character to have in the starting quest of the game, as well as which skills they want to focus on, and the initial traits for the character. Once again, the quest is done in a rather creative way, as the one who brought you back to the world of the living had to “prod around upstairs” to make sure everything was in order.
As per usual in the Fallout series, there are plenty of weapons and armor to choose from throughout the adventure. Like in the previous game, the weapons and armor all suffer from degradation, and it is up to the player to keep them in repair. So, the choice of either utilizing the weapon for scraps or cash (caps) rears its head once again. The weapons are in plentiful supply, and there are tons of people who are willing to buy and sell all of the equipment and objects one could find. Workbenches appear once again to allow for the creation of various weapons and equipment, and now there is the addition of a “Reloading Bench”, which allows the player to change ammo from one type to another with little loss between them. This can allow the player who may specialize in one type of weapon to constantly be loaded with the appropriate ammunition regardless of what is found in the Wasteland. The player is also introduced to the crafting of foods, where the player can pick up seeds of plants and meats and hides of animals, and utilize a campfire to create higher quality food and items to either consume or sell for a better result.
Now, while much of the game is just a recreation from Fallout 3, there are quite a few new elements found within New Vegas. Aside from the introduction of some new perks and weapons, there is the introduction of a new minigame. Being that it is Vegas, it would seem natural that card games would be a staple amongst the populace. In the working casinos, the player is able to partake in games such as Blackjack and Slots, but the new game introduced would be a card game known as Caravan. Like in the Final Fantasy series, the player collects various cards (though in this case, cards from a conventional 52 card deck) and is able to construct their own customized deck. The rules of the game are rather intricate, and perhaps an analysis will be done later on, but for now, let’s leave it at that. After constructing a deck, the player can challenge various people throughout New Vegas to a game, and there is a good possibility of making quite a sum of money via betting. So, overall it is a nice little addition there. The new perks in the game allow for a number of playing styles to become more viable in the game. There are a few new perks available which allow the player to become more melee oriented, as well as perhaps going more along the lines of an energy weapons fighter. Companions also make reappearances, though in New Vegas, the companions have additional effects upon the player in the form of companion perks. Some companions give the player a boost to certain stats, while others can give an additional effect while fighting or trading, etc. There is also the possibility of having up to 5 companions depending on the companion type (one humanoid, one robot/dog, and various numbers of summoned companions given certain prerequisites are completed), so that’s a nice addition there compared to the previous games as having an entire posse of helpers can make the game much easier. There is also the addition of a Hardcore mode for New Vegas which offers a number of additional requirements the player must keep an eye on. The main things about this mode have the player needing to keep themselves fed and hydrated. That’s right, there is a need to actually drink water and eat food aside from HP restoration. Failing to eat and drink can result in many negative effects to take place, such as slower movement, less weapon accuracy, as well as some major stat reductions. Overall, for those looking for an additional challenge, Hardcore Mode should sate that thirst for a while.
Now, let’s get into the not-so-pleasant issues found in the game. For the PC version, the game requires an active internet connection to the program manager known as Steam. While this can lead to an easier time keeping most hackers at bay, as well as an easier distribution for updates over a wide range of players, it does lead to issues of its own. If Steam goes down, or if one may be without an internet connection, it would prevent one from even being able to play the game at all. The game is also a host of a number of glitches and crashing issues at the current point in time. There have been numerous occasions where the autosave function might not work, as well as times where the game just simply crashes completely. The combination to these things will definitely cause some frustration where one may believe that the latest save was automatically done, but in fact, it wasn’t, and when the game crashes that could lead to hours of playtime lost. So, expect to manually have to save at numerous times throughout the game if one plays on a computer. So, while overall a decently composed game, there are some issues that would drive one insane and potentially ruin the gaming experience.
Overall, the game is done rather well, even though there are numerous elements recycled from Fallout 3. However, most of the recycled elements are the positive elements that made the previous game fun and enjoyable for many people. The VATS system has been improved, the ability to choose between a first or third person perspective allows for people to enjoy the game in their own way, and of course, the good/evil choices allow for a somewhat dynamic style of play giving the player a reason to go through the game multiple times. There are also enough new elements found within the game to give those bored of Fallout 3 a new feel for the series. The new perks allow for different styles of play that weren’t really available in the previous games, and the new world and quests make the game its own entity rather than just being a glorified expansion pack. The addition of a Hardcore mode also adds quite a nice dynamic for players looking for a much greater challenge. In conclusion, Fallout New Vegas is definitely a nice step forward for the series by combining the parts that made the previous games fun, while adding a nice balance of new elements to give the game it’s own identity.
Now for some numbers!
Storyline: 9.25/10 – As with most of the past Fallout games, all of the events that happen in New Vegas take a calling from the other games of the series. While it can definitely be a stand-alone game in terms of immediate story, having a background in playing the other games definitely is a bonus as you can see what ties in with what throughout the timeline. So, while a new player to the series may get a little lost in some of the background presented, there is enough knowledge strewn about in game to give anyone a grasp on the immediate and overarching plot to the Fallout series. However, it does require the player to dig around quite a bit in order to find said nuggets of info.
Graphics: 8.75/10 – While not the prettiest game in the world, anyone can definitely tell that some improvements were made to the game engine in the creation of New Vegas. That being said, the game is basically a somewhat updated form of Fallout 3, which may be a downer to many players of the series. The landscapes are still rather detailed, and the highest graphics settings do bring the game to a very nice level. Being that the setting wasn’t completely bombed out as it was in 3, the natural landscape is definitely more than just a wasteland thanks to the presence of more power sources readily available. The daylight effects are still done pretty well, and looking at a lit up New Vegas is definitely a site to behold.
Controls & Gameplay: 8.5/10 – Overall, it is pretty much a repeat of Fallout 3. There is nothing really new to see here in terms of controls. The developers took what worked in the previous game and continued to run with it. However, what hurts this is the presence of the glitches, and some issues from the previous games (in regards to hit detection) do hurt the gameplay quite a bit when they appear. But, the VATS system does still work well, and those who continually maintain their weapon’s condition are rewarded with some good, dynamic shots.
Sound & Music: 9.75/10 – Once again the creators bring in a fantastic cast of voice actors, and the old music completely heightens the gameplay experience. The style of music ranges from old country western style songs while wandering the Mojave Desert, to the lounge great Frank Sinatra while touring the Las Vegas strip. Pretty much all of the voice actors play their parts extremely well, and the emotions are well conveyed. No complaints here.
Replayability: 10/10 – As with the rest of the Fallout series, there exist an incredible number of paths a player can take as they make their way to the ending. Whether one chooses good or evil, almost all actions have an effect on the world itself in some way shape or form. Each playthrough will result in something a little different, and with the addition of the Hardcore mode, it is definitely worth multiple trips through the world. Save the town in one game, destroy it in the next. Shoot the hostages or rescue them by fighting their way out or bargaining. New Vegas offers numerous Easter Eggs as well, so those who enjoy searching and finding everything the game has to offer will find themselves burning the midnight oil across many a night. There was a lot expected in terms of bonuses, and the devs provided them and then some.
Overall: 46.25/50 = 92.5/100 = A
Recommendation: Definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of the series. For those that have never played the game will also find hours of enjoyment just due to the sheer number of different things that you can do. The game has a fantastic immediate and overarching storyline, the graphics are done well, the sound and music fit the timeline and plot, and there are so many different paths available that you would be doing yourself a disservice by not going through it more than once. If you can get past the occasional glitch, Fallout: New Vegas is definitely a game worthy of an addition in almost all collections.