Fallout 3 was a gigantic game back in 2008. It had great combat, fantastic writing, and an enthralling overall presentation. It was rather revolutionary at the time. Now in 2010, we get the follow-up to the 2008 hit with Fallout: New Vegas. Set four years after Fallout 3, you play as a courier in the New Vegas wasteland. The game begins with you being shot in the head and left for dead. Only thing is, you’re not dead. You wake up in a small town hell-bent on revenge, if you want to play the game that way, of course.
The formula from Fallout 3 remains intact for the most part. You can freeze time using the VATS system and choose a body part to attack. Doing this can increase how accurate your attacks are and possibly cripple your enemy’s body parts. Of course, you can always fire guns, throw grenades, and melee in real-time, but it won’t be as accurate. Luckily, this has improved some with the inclusion of being able to look down the iron sights of your weapons.
Crafting and weapon modifications play a large part in New Vegas. You can get items to create special bullets that can damage certain things better whether it is against armor or non-armored enemies. You can also modify your weapons with scopes, silencers, and larger magazines. You can also scavenge the wilderness for plants and herbs to create healing items and stat boosters. The weapon creation makes a return to New Vegas as well.
The game is enormous. I’d go as far as to say the story and physical area itself is larger than Fallout 3. The story makes its twists and turns to the point where you’ll be balancing ten different quests at a time all the while trying to keep all the factions happy. Faction loyalty plays a major role in New Vegas. Companies, tribes, towns, organizations, and private military groups make up most of the factions around the Mojave Wasteland. Getting into their good graces can benefit you in many different ways. You may gain a companion, get offered discounts at stores, and open up new areas for you to explore and gain XP.
The game really picks up once you make it into the heart of New Vegas: The New Vegas Strip. Here, is where you will find the casinos and clubs and all the back dealing and murder that go along with them. At times, you’ll be looking at your quest list thinking, “How in the world am I supposed to do all this stuff?” the game is that epic.
The game features the classic perk system that accompanies all Fallout titles. There are a ton of perks to choose from that range from simply better strength, to perks that have special requirements to activate. The stat tracking and skills learning is complex, but are explained very nicely. Much like in the previous games, as you level up, you can add points to your stats. Lock picking, guns, sneaking, speech, and many others make up your stats. Each of these alters how well you will do in certain types of situations. I found myself constantly adding points to speech and lock picking due to the fact that if you want to progress through the game at a reasonable pace, you’re going need to be able to speak to people and lock pick some doors. Of course, that is just how I played the game. It seemed to me that if you can’t talk your way out of a situation, you could either kill your way through or do a ton of side missions for the person before they warm up to you. Like I said, that’s how I played the game. If you love doing side missions, then New Vegas has a lot for you.
The story itself is actually really solid. I would say that it has better potential than Fallout 3. The faction interactions in the game are what really engross you into the story. You can join up with a gang that may hate the NCR military. That means the NCR will hate you, but if you do some double dealing for the NCR you may have both factions liking you. It’s well thought out and very complex.
The game offers companions to go along with you in the game. They can help you out in combat and they never die. They will, however go unconscious if they’re health falls below zero, but they get right back up as soon as the combat ends. They can also give you special perks as long as you have them in your party.
Many older weapons make their comeback to New Vegas, but the amount of new weapons in the game is vast. All kinds of different types offer each player a different way to play the game. You want to specialize in small guns, mainly use pistols. Love energy weapons? Use a Plasma Rifle. It seems I found a more significant amount of special unique weapons throughout New Vegas than I did in Fallout 3. Some have unique stats and altering abilities. It’s a really nice touch to the combat.
The visuals of the game remain the same as they did in Fallout 3 for the most part. Of course, there is the new setting and the Mojave Desert looks fantastic at times. Still the Oblivion engine is starting to show its age. The character animations are just a little off, and they still have that “Oblivion shuffle” I have always talked about where you will see an NPC go from walking speed, to full on running, and then back to walking speed, all because you showed up a little too early for the scene.
I still do not like the waypoint system that makes its return from Fallout 3. It seems like it wants you to go one way just to go out a door that would take you to the same place you were going. It almost feels like it’s making you take the long way around an area. I had some times where the point on my compass wanted me to go through a door and then want me to go back through the door again. I also wish they could differentiate whether the point in above me or below me.
One of the biggest problems I had with the game is the karma system. It makes a return in New Vegas, but I really don’t think your karma matters. It got a little annoying to me because if you steal from enemies, you still get bad karma for it. It makes no sense to me. Still, like I said, karma never really plays a part into the game play. The faction loyalty is what really matters.
Now comes the part of the review where I explain why I gave this game the score that I did. Fallout: New Vegas is possibly one of the buggiest games I have ever played. There are times where the game will freeze up for no apparent reason. Twice during my play time with the game, I had the whole game fully lock up on me to the point where I had to turn off my console manually and in turn lose about an hour’s worth of play.
The NPCs in the game will sometimes just run off as if they’re scared of something that isn’t there. Companions you can have with you can be helpful, but a burden at the same time. They will shoot others without warning and in the process ruin your good standing with a certain faction. They also will disappear at times and you have to go look for them after fast traveling. Several times while playing through, I had friendly NPCs start attacking me for no reason and without warning.
NPCs have to walk to destinations. They can not fast travel like you can. So you end up having to wait on them to arrive at a place after you have fast traveled. One time I did this, and the NPC never showed up. I walked to the location on my map where they were supposed to be and found out they were running full speed into a wall not going anywhere. I then had to reload from my last checkpoint which was at the beginning of the quest.
The game has a hardcore mode. In this mode, not only do you have to worry about keeping your health up, but you also have to manage thirst levels, sleep deprivation levels, and hunger levels. If these drop to zero, you die. Plus, when you have a limb crippled, you must use a doctor’s bag or see a doctor to heal it. It’s there for the Fallout fans who want a real challenge. It’s a nice addition, but I wouldn’t recommend it to casual or new players.
I found throughout my 30 hours playthrough, that the game gets slower the more you play it. The loading takes a lot longer even if you have the game installed on your hard drive on the 360. The inputs for your commands become laggy. Let’s say I’m in a gun fight. I’m running low on health, so I hit the B button to bring up my Pip-boy to go into the menu to heal up. I hit B and nothing happens. Finally, after about a three second delay, the menu pops up. The problem with this is that during that three second delay, you’re getting shot up by enemies. So now you have to heal even more. Sometimes, if you don’t allow yourself enough time for the lag to end, you could end up dying before the menu pops up. It’s a horrible mechanic that really makes the combat frustrating at times.
There is also lag in the activation of VATS as well. Once again, you have to wait around three seconds to pull out you gun, and finally freeze time, all the while getting shot up by your enemies. This is by far the most frustrating part of the game for me, because unlike the freezing issues and NPC animation glitches, this happens almost every time you enter combat.
The strange thing about it is that in the beginning of the game, it runs perfectly smooth. For some reason, unknown to me, the game just gets slower the father along in the game you get. Maybe there’s just too much going on for the game to keep up.
The biggest glitch I have found in the game is one that is possibly game breaking. So, I had been playing for about 20 hours. I had reached the New Vegas Strip and done pretty much all of the quests I could do in the area. I wanted to return to the strip to talk to someone, when I was greeted by a locked door prompt when trying to open the gate to the strip. I don’t have a key to it, but I never did need a key. I now have no way of getting into the strip to talk to a NPC and finish a main story quest. I checked online for any type of help. Come to find out, it’s a common glitch that has been happening to players. The only way I can get in is if I attack and kill one of the security bots guarding the door. If I do this, the other bots will attack and possibly kill me. So, I have almost no options on how to progress.
Its things like the list of bugs that I mentioned above that really let me down while playing New Vegas. I still think there is a really really great game to the played, but the hindrances of the countless glitches and bugs are what make this game not shine. I think the story and gameplay (when it works) are phenomenal. It really is sad to see such a great game be bogged down by so many technical issues.
All in all Fallout: New Vegas is a great Fallout game and a great RPG. I would still have to recommend it to the Fallout fans, but just be prepared to have some problems. To casual RPG players, I hate to say this, but I think you may have a difficult time getting to the game due to the technical issues. It saddens me to say it, but the game can become half-way broken at times. Still, there is so much good to be had in the game. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t have fun playing the game. I had a blast, but there were times where I wanted to rage quit and never pick it back up again.
I’m really torn on what to say about Fallout: New Vegas. I think that if you read this review and hear what I had to say about the game, and you still wanted to play it, go right ahead. There is a lot of fun to be had. I just want to convey all that I had experienced with the game. It’s left up to you to decide if you want to drop the money on it. So, in closing, if you were to ask me personally if I could look past the bad things with the game and still enjoy it, I would say yes, but very reluctantly.
Review copy provided by publisher.