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Review – Fallout: New Vegas | Level Up News

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Review – Fallout: New Vegas

 

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Games for Windows
Genre: Role Playing Game / First Person Shooter
Rating: Mature
ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood & Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

The Scoop: Bethesda takes another shot at Fallout series glory with their second installment since buying the series from Interplay with the new series spinoff, Fallout: New Vegas. This time however they turn over the development reigns to Obsidian Entertainment, which is made up of many of the former development staff from Fallout and Fallout 2. Obsidian hasn’t had much luck so far as a developer however; so now the question is, can they hold up a return to their roots, or will we be treated to another lackluster and bug-ridden travesty that seems to be synonymous with the developer.

The Setup: Location wise, Fallout 3 was a huge step away from the previous Fallout titles, which were mostly set in the American west around Nevada and California (the exception being Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, which was set in the Chicago area. New Vegas, as the name would suggest, moves things back to the west, more specifically to the Mojave Wasteland surrounding the semi-restored city of New Vegas. This area largely avoided the nuclear attacks from China as it bore little significance as a target, so unlike Washington DC which was largely irradiated the Mojave has very few irradiated areas. Clean food and pure water are also a lot more common, including many lakes that are full of non-irradiated water.

This game continues the story of the New California Republic, which was founded during the events of the original game and continued in the second installment, making this more of a sequel than Fallout 3 was. The NCR is just one of many factions scheming for the control of the restored Hoover Dam, which provides power to the Mojave as well as California. The NCR currently has control of the Dam and uses their influence for a largely humanitarian cause of bringing freedom and hope to the wasteland. The mysterious leader of New Vegas, Mr. House also has designs on the Dam to make his grip on the Mojave independent and absolute. Another mysterious power is rising in the city of New Vegas that wants to spread independence and keep the spirit of Vegas alive while removing the NCR from the picture. The final and most fearful of the factions is simply called The Legion, run by a man who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Julius Cesar. They are a major fighting force that used to control the Dam, and wish to rule the wasteland through fear and slavery.

In the middle of this is a man known only as The Courier. He was delivering a rare platinum casino chip from the Lucky 38 Casino to the city of New Vegas when he was intercepted by a man named Benny who shot him in the head and had him buried still alive. The player takes on the role of The Courier who is saved by a robot named Victor and brought to the doctor of a small town for medical treatment. Your journey starts out as a simple quest for revenge against the mysterious Benny, but before long you get thrown into the middle of the great conflict between the factions of the Mojave.

What’s Hot: Players who enjoyed Fallout 3 will be right at home in New Vegas as very little of the gameplay has changed. The game is still played from a first person perspective, though a third person perspective is optional. You still walk and jump around in a large open area, and you still have the ability to fast travel to places you have been before. The Oblivion with guns formula was fantastic before and it is just as good as ever. On top of that the graphics are severely improved and the world seems much livelier (even though it is a little more simplistic in its design).

Celebrity voice work is also broadened, while it lacks the bigger names of Fallout 3 (Liam Neeson and Malcolm McDowell) it does have some solid work by James Mardsen (Cyclops from X-Men), Felicia Day (Codex from The Guild), Danny Trejo (Badass Mexican from everything), Wayne Newton (ask your parents), Matthew Perry (The douchebag from Friends), that guy who plays Chuck (Chuck from Chuck) and many more. There is also the return of some series veterans like Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek TNG) and of course the narration is still a solid reading by Ron Pearlman (more recently Clay from Sons of Anarchy, but everyone will just know him as Hellboy. It is seriously like you are doing a series of quests inside the walk of fame at San Diego Comicom, only Marsden is a badass and Matthew Perry is somewhat likable. Did I mention that character creation is handled by Michael Hogan… COLONEL SAUL TIGH HELPS YOU MAKE YOUR CHARACTER!!!! (BSG Fanboy, sorry)

VATS makes a return, with some new tweaking to not only add more challenge to the game, but to also add more variety to the melee and unarmed combat (does anyone even use those?). Among other new advancements is an NPC wheel which makes controlling your NPC partners (you can get up to three now, and a fourth can be added at certain areas) much easier than in Fallout 3, which required you to do all NPC settings through a dialogue option. Instead of just giving you a slight close-up and a smaller targeting reticle, holding the left trigger (L2 on PS3) now give you iron sights on all ranged weapons; this makes combat outside of VATS considerably easier and adds more action to the game.

The world and story is considerably deeper than before. With the ability to choose between four major factions and a reputation system for well over a dozen different groups you can really change the world this time around. By doing nearly everything there was to do in the third game my ending was only about four or five minutes long, but in one basic playthrough of New Vegas my ending was around ten minutes, providing me with an outcome for pretty much every group I interacted with through the game, once I complete my more in depth playthrough I am expecting to add another five more minutes to the ending. On top of how much you can change the world there is a ton of content, more so than Fallout 3 and all of its expansions combined. And since you can’t do everything in one playthrough I am not exaggerating when I say that you can get 100-150 hours of original content out of the game, well worth the sixty dollar price tag.

Hardcore mode is a Fallout veteran’s wet dream. By making stimpacks heal over time, requiring doctor’s bags and rest to heal limbs, making sleeping in someone else’s bed pretty much useless, requiring players to eat, drink and sleep regularly and allowing NPCs to die permanently they have truly made a severe challenge for people that think the core game is too easy (see below). This mode is pretty tough though so be forewarned, patience is key, take the game slow. I made the difficulty as low as I could on hardcore and haven’t finished it yet.

Not that the development probably had much to do with this but I used 2D-3D upscaling on my TV and it makes VATS look amazing. Even though it isn’t true stereoscopic like Black Ops or Killzone 3 will be it still looks pretty solid in 3D, but word to the wise, you will lose hours playing this game, and more than three hours of 3D viewing without a rest can be pretty hard on a person, so don’t leave it on.

What’s Not: This game has more bugs than a New York tenement building. Let’s be honest, Bethesda games are often very glitchy, Obsidian games are always very glitchy, Gamebryo is just a glitchy engine; when you put them together you can imagine you would get a rather unplayable mess. While the game can’t really be defined as unplayable, since I played the absolute hell out of it (seriously 40 hours in about 4 days, and another 25 over the following week), there are some seriously ridiculous bugs, many of which can corrupt save files and make progression in missions completely impossible. Just to name a few; I had to kill a character outright because I couldn’t tamper with his Jet and fake a drug overdose which soiled my reputation with one of the minor factions. I couldn’t grab a major quest item off a corpse because the body fell into the ground and disappeared. I entered a casino which took all my weapons only to not return them upon my exit or any following exits. A whole section of floor inside one of the train tunnels you use to avoid the artillery fire from Nellis AFB is just missing, meaning you can fall through the “floor” just like in Simon’s Quest on the NES (I even threw items just to see where I could walk). My NPCs will randomly attack friendly targets while I walk around towns, causing me to have to reload from my last quicksave. I’ve lost many rifles by equipping them on Boone and having them magically turn into extra copies of his default rifle. The list goes on and on, I won’t even mention constant freezing and an area I can step on in Freeside that causes the game to drop to about 2 frames per second. There are also many glitches that will help you out, like a computer terminal in one of the vaults that can take you from level 5-30 in about twenty-five seconds, or a mistake in the Vicki and Vance Casino where they buy chips back from you for more than they sell (This has since been fixed). I don’t recommend using these glitches because you will ruin the experience, but they are still glitches that need to be addressed. I could go on all day about the bugs that I discovered alone, but none of them truly ruined the game for me as it is just that good. But seriously, I have some friends who need jobs, you need some more QA up in here, I think we can make this work.

These last couples of things are just nitpicking, but the challenge is a little inconsistent. The game starts out pretty tough, only a few crappy guns at your disposal, very little ammo, and there are Deathclaws and Giant Radscorpions literally two or three minutes walking distance from the opening town, so if you go the wrong way you will die horribly. But about six or ten rough hours in you will meet Boone, and you never have to worry about anyone hurting you ever again. The man is a beast, he can drop most combatants in one hit; Give him a hunting rifle and he will drop Super Mutants in one hit, give him a Gauss and he will drop Deathclaws like they’re nothing. As far as I have seen none of the other NPCs come close to matching Boone, and I think he may make the regular game a bit too easy.

Also I am not very impressed with the city of New Vegas itself. It is very small, you spend very little of the game inside of it, and it is broken up into three (five if you count Freeside, which I do) tiny loading sections. It isn’t really all that detailed, especially when compared to the downtown DC ruins of Fallout 3. I know you guys can do better than that, 90% of the game has no loading, then that one little city is just full of it. It actually gets kind of boring and makes me try to avoid it as best as I can.

Final Verdict: I could go on about this game all day, and may even come back and add more praise to the review later (without changing the score, don’t worry). It is one of the finest RPG experiences you will ever have, and if you can overlook the smorgasbord of glitches you will find no problem losing well over a hundred hours in the Mojave wasteland. Fallout is one of my all-time favorite series, as a matter of fact I will say that it is my favorite, and this may just be the best one (close running with Fallout 2), and so I can only hope to see more of these Obsidian/Bethesda team-ups in the future. Definite buy, so go get to it.

Review – Fallout: New Vegas, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
 

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