The Fallout series is one that dates all the way back to 1997, and is known simply as a post apocalyptic simulator. In 2008 Bethesda rebooted the series with their release of Fallout 3, which impressed so many that it was deemed ‘Game of The Year’ by multiple publications. Now Bethesda has brought on Obsidian to develop this follow up dubbed Fallout New Vegas; which is simply everything we loved about Fallout 3 but with great enhancements on story and scenery.
Many might be put off after noticing just how similar Fallout: New Vegas is to Fallout 3 upon playing for the first time. Even I was expecting that new feel when I first gained control of my character. Instead I felt right at home, as if I was continuing where I left off in Fallout 3. One of the biggest criticisms is that Fallout: New Vegas feels like Fallout 3 DLC. Which is a reasonable statement due to the fact the engine still contains everything good and bad about Fallout 3. Despite there being a mandatory install (I am playing the PS3 version), there are a surprising amount of hiccups in the games performance. The frame rate often freezes up, the A.I can be annoying and sometimes the game crashes completely. These are indeed serious flaws that take away from the game; however it does not stop Fallout: New Vegas from being a masterpiece.
Once you get over the initial revelation of just how similar the gameplay is to Fallout 3, you will begin to appreciate just how much developer Obsidian has done to give us a new and wonderful experience in other areas of the game. After all, it wasn’t Obsidian’s job to give Bethesda’s engine a complete overhaul; they are here to give us a new experience. Fallout: New Vegas does just that. The main storyline is in no way the main attraction of this game. There are hundreds of side missions, and many of them tell tales that engage you way more than the main story. Fallout enthusiasts all know that there are book loads of dialog in all the Fallout games, but Obsidian’s dialog is so well written that I often find myself reacting out loud. There are many hidden sexual innuendos, jokes and double meanings when speaking to the mass array of different characters in the New Vegas world. It’s hard to imagine ever being bored by this game, as it is so engaging that it almost puts Fallout 3 to shame.
The short summary of the main plot (without spoilers), is that you are a courier given the job of transporting a very important package across the Mojave Wasteland. However you are intercepted by a group known as the Great Khans and a guy in a checkered suit. This guy in his flashy New Vegas wear puts a bullet in you and leaves you for dead in a freshly dug grave. However thanks to a robot and the local doctor you are completely revived and this is where the game begins. Upon being revived the doctor will run various tests on you, which initiates the sequence of defining your character.
As with Fallout 3 you are given a broad amount of variables which help you choose the best character to represent how you wish to play the game. First you must designate some points to what is called S.P.E.C.I.A.L, which stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. You are given five points which you must spend on any of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L categories. These categories govern how well your character performs at certain tasks. For example, putting more points into Charisma will mean that your character is better suited at swaying people in conversations.
During the initial character development stage you will also get to set what are called “Traits”. This is similar to the “Perks” that you can assign when leveling up. The difference is that whichever trait you assign, it will affect you throughout your whole play-through. Speaking of Perks, they work slightly different this time around. Instead of choosing your perk every time you level up, you now get to choose every two level ups. This is a nice addition because sometimes you may level up way to quickly due to high scoring missions. This was a problem in Fallout 3 because you would level up before you could fully reap the benefits of the Perk you had assigned.
The Karma system no longer plays as much a role as it did in Fallout 3, instead this time it’s your position with the different factions that can alter how your ventures in the Mojave Wasteland turn out. During the many quests you will come across different factions, some of them good and some of them evil. Getting on a factions bad side will make you infamous or even hated amongst that group. If you continue to rub them the wrong way, then they will shoot you on sight or in some cases even hunt you down. On the flip side; being idolized by a certain faction will give you better prices when bartering, free items and in some cases companions to call on. Factions play a big role in the main story, as the NCR (New California Republic) and the Legion are fighting for control of Hoover Dam which gives power and clean water to the whole area. It’s up to you to decide who you want to side with.
Although A.I is still an issue in Fallout: New Vegas, exploring the wastelands with a companion is a lot less facepalm worthy in Fallout: New Vegas. This is mostly due to the addition of the companion wheel, which lets you easily interact with your companion. Using the companion wheel you can trade weapons, issue ‘stimpaks’, or instruct you companion on how to deal with an altercation.
There is no doubt that the biggest attraction of Fallout: New Vegas, is New Vegas itself. The game does a great job building up the suspense of when you first get to hit the glamorous New Vegas Strip. If you play the game realistically, completing quests and leveling up, then it should take you a good few hours before you get the pleasure of seeing the strip in all its glory. Once you get there you will truly appreciate the attention to detail that Obsidian put into the games design. The strip is not limited on things to do either, as you may begin to find yourself addicted to gambling. Not everyone is into Blackjack or Russian Roulettes, but the desire for earning some easy caps (Fallout currency) will eventually make you an addict. Obsidian has even offered up their own card game for you to play (not in casinos) named Caravan. If you bought the collector’s edition of the game then you are given your very own special deck of cards for use in this game.
There is so much presence in Fallout: New Vegas that it is so easy to give away hours of your life. It seems like there is always something to do, something to see and something to kill. The world feels so much alive that you will even notice when you are being followed (not by a companion). Letting a few rounds go from your firearm sounds so legit that you may get trigger happy. You will subconsciously begin to care for the characters well being to the point it drives you to end the related quests. You will be consumed by gambling and winning extra money to the point you may forget that you have some mutants to kills. To put it simply, Fallout: New Vegas is an overwhelmingly engrossing experience that you may not be able to put down any time soon.
Of course the Fallout series isn’t for everyone. It’s over realistic approach on character maintenance puts a lot of gamers off. Speaking of over realistic, those who appreciate the role-playing aspect of Fallout may wish to try out Hardcore mode. Hardcore mode is perfect for any masochistic gamer who wants the true survival experience. In this mode players will have to eat, sleep, and drink water every day. In addition, ammo has weight, companions can die, Stimpaks heal over time, and damaged limbs can only be healed with a Doctor’s Bag. This mode would be complete agony to the average gamer, but completing the game start to finish in this mode will earn you a special reward, as well as an achievement/trophy.
There is so much that I haven’t even touched on as far as Fallout: New Vegas; such as being able to craft your own meds and weapon mods. I feel like there is so much more to say, but this is just my assessment of the game, and eventually you should make your own. I urge everyone out there to at least try out Fallout: New Vegas. Again I understand that it is not for everyone, but those who decide to put the time into the experience will uncover an extremely enjoyable game. The experience is only held back by the same performance issues that plagued Fallout 3, as well as some loading times. If it wasn’t for those issues then I just might be calling Fallout: New Vegas one of the best games on the shelves period.