Fallout: New Vegas (PC) review
"Fans of the Fallout series should not even read this, since they already have the Collector' s edition of the game, signed by the development team itself, with a complimentary brahmin figure sagely looking at them."
New Vegas had some pretty big shoes to fill. After the monumental success of Fallout 3, that sold million of copies, not to mention the critical acclaim it had reached, be it online, in a magazine, or from that odd man on the bus station that smells like broken dreams, it was no wonder that the fans would be anything but lenient with the new chapter in this, depressing, story. One of the most important questions on everyone's mind was, whether New Vegas would be able to capture the rhythm, charm, and the, often morbid, sense of humour that the early games possessed.
As an answer to that question, Bethesda gave the reins over to Obsidian Entertainment, a company made out of many former workers of Black Isle Studios, the company largely responsible for bringing us the first two games in the Fallout series set in the post - apocalyptic America.
The first thing that the veterans of Fallout will notice is that the protagonist of this story does not begin his life within a Vault, an underground bunker separated for generations from the outside world, with it's own sources of water and food, as it was in the previous games.
Instead, you take the role of a Courier, a delivery man who was given a mysterious package to deliver into New Vegas. Life within the Mojave Desert, the place where the plot takes place is harsh, considering the amount of criminals that would sell their own mother for just one more pipe of Jet¸ or because they didn't have anything better planned for the day. To add, there is also a large variety of natural creatures, mutated beyond recognition from the radiation that attack anything in sight. Is it odd, then that our "hero" begins his story with a bullet between his eyes? Just another day in the Fallout universe.
Of course, this would be a very short, and somewhat tragic, game, if this was the end of the story, so, of course, the Courier survives his "accident" and awakens at the house of a village doctor, who found him half - dead. Somewhere around here will be the last time that you don't have control over the fate of your character, so everything you do from this moment onward will reflect on the world around you.
After the pleasant chat with the doc, who tells you, roughly, what happened to you, that being that some hoodlums mugged you and threw you in a shallow grave, you'll be asked a few questions which will serve as the introduction to the "character creation " part of the game, because, through conversation you'll demonstrate the fields you're good at, and the fields you are terrible at, which will serve as a basis over which you' ll build your character.
Perhaps you see the Courier as a cold hearted sniper, that never allows himself to be seen by his victi... I mean, opponents? Your skill in handling any type of weapons is legendary, your perception so high that you could spot a mosquito a mile away. But, because of that, you're simply not strong, or perhaps you grow ill quickly, a flaw that can become rather lethal to you. Perhaps you're not the warrior type, a rarity, in the Mojave Desert, where a scorpion the size of a small car will be more then happy to feast upon your entrails, and still be one of the less dangerous creatures lurking there. Still, you hold the belief that the paper is mightier then the sword. You'll maximise your intelligence, social skills and, of course, luck. Perhaps you are not trained in killing a man with your pinky finger in countless ways, but you posses a golden tongue. Why dirty your hands when there are so many others that could do that for you?
That is the "magic" that will keep you playing on and on, constantly seeking new ways how to solve the next problem. The freedom of choice is here, because each and every one of your decisions will bear different reactions from your surroundings. For instance, in the very first city, through talking, you can find out that the city is under siege from the local bandits that constantly come seeking for trouble, steal, and murder. Since the city is largely composed out of poor peasants and they aren't skilled enough to fight that sort of violence head on, you can aid them with your own knowledge about the art of war.
Let' s say, you know how to strategically place explosives all around the city that will blow the criminals sky high before they even know what happened. Perhaps you are SUCH a magnificent warrior that Rambo, John McClane, and the "totally not tired of this joke", Chuck Norris wet their pants at the mere mention of your name. Your reward, once you finish wiping criminal brain matter from your boots will be eternal gratitude, reputation of an idol and perhaps even a discount here and there.
Of course, this is only if you WANT to help them.
On the other hand, perhaps you're just a merciless son of a bitch who'll contact said criminals. After all, their payment for your loyalty is certainly a lot better then what a few dozen peasants could afford, whether it is drugs, money, or guns. The few merchants in the town won't mind much when you take their merchandise away from their cold, stiff, hands. The options how you' ll do it, again depend on your own profile. Perhaps you'll just rush in town, guns blazing, slaughtering everything in sight until the only sound heard will be the sound of an empty chamber, that satisfying click. Or, you will be a sleazy bastard that will come to the city's mayor, tell him that everything is fine, that these criminals are just misunderstood, and that you are ready to negotiate. After this, when all the citizens relax, without a gun nearby, you can being your merry slaughter.
Whatever option you choose, something will happen that will influence further development. Not only of your character which will gain experience, progressing with his own skills, in the vein of any rpg that is worth considering, but you' ll also influence the world around you. If you saved the city, perhaps you'll meet a distant relative of the person from that town on the other side of the world, that will recognise you, and offer you his services at a discount. If not, perhaps he won't allow you to buy from him, but one way or the other, sooner or later, you'll have to leave that first village, and step into the rest of the world, to find out what exactly happened to you, why were you shot, and what is your role in all of this.
Through your travels, you'll find out that after all, you' re just a single person, an individual, and that there are much bigger forces at work that are fighting each other for supremacy, and that maybe you' ll be that small cog that will make the difference. You'll meet, and/or fight various organisations like the military, or perhaps the organisation known as Legion, composed out of unsavory figures, the mysterious Mr. House, that nobody had seen for centuries now, even though he' s still the ruler of New Vegas, city of dice, corruption and fun, with a horde of robots that listen to his every command.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do within this universe, and it' s time to mention how it all looks, sounds, and most importantly, feels.
Fallout: New Vegas uses the same engine as Fallout 3, Gamebryo, and of course that makes it look pretty decent... well, as decent as something can look in a Fallout game. You won' t see a lot of colours within this world where grey, brown and the combination of the two dominate everything else which completely reflects just how depressing this environment really is, for everyone who still needs to live within it, after it was blanketed with nuclear bombs serving us this Mad Max habitat.
Cities are mainly in ruins, and what functions in them was built with improvisation being key, just so it could work. For instance, in a lot of towns, you'll find "houses" which are basically abandoned train wagons, that now serve as homes.
A lot of "hiccups" from the third installment were worked upon. There were critiques at how "wooden" the main character was, that he moved as if someone performed colonoscopy on him with a broom handle. Fluidity of movement was, more or less, corrected in this installment, so now, when the courier jumps, it actually looks as if he had jumped, and not as if his legs somehow gained momentum and left the surface of the ground with no physical exertion what so ever.
V.A.T.S(Vault Tec Targeting System) was also improved, since many people said that it made the game too easy. V.A.T.S was practically a slow motion combat system in which you could aim at specific parts of your opponent' s bodies, doing a lot more damage if you aimed at some critical parts of the enemy. The time slowed so much, that in Fallout 3 the enemies were usually dead before they even got near you. In New Vegas, while still important, time flows much faster then before, so that you need to pay extra caution to your surroundings, because V.A.T.S won't necessarily save you.
Also making his return is Pip - Boy, a hand held computer which has all of your statistics, inventory, missions that you finished so far, or need to finish, map of the world, and the always present, radio.
Definitively, one of the best improvements compared to it' s predecessor was the ability to have "companions", partners that will follow you, aid you and give their own input at how they would progress further. While the option existed in Fallout 3 to have someone like that by your side, in New Vegas it's much more polished, because every follower has his own personality, a mission that is specific to him, special skills that he can use, and one very specific trait that he has that you can use when
he' s travelling with you.
As an example, one of the first partner's you can meet is Boone, a ranger well versed in long range battles, a first rate sniper, so if you manage to persuade him to join you, you'll get the ability to see your enemies from vast distances, with a red aura around them for easier recognition. Naturally, he too has his own personality, so if he notices you killing rangers, or making deals with criminals, he could rebel, leave you, or even attack you.
Of course, not everything is perfect.
One of the drawbacks of Fallout 3 is evident in New Vegas as well, and that is the sound. While the atmospheric sound, the ambience music, sounds that weapons make and so on, are not bad at all, the choice of music that you have is very small, and tends to repeat itself constantly. On the radio, you'll find a few frequencies that play music from the golden age of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and other greats which is fantastic in itself, until you realise that through your long trek through the Mojave desert, you' ll hear nothing else. The same song from Frank Sinatra, the same song from Dean Martin, the same western tribute song. So, while the quality of the songs offered is unquestionable, after some time you'll probably rather play in silence, turning off your radio never to be heard again, just so you don't hear Johnny "I hate this song so much" Guitar, again.
One of the things that need to be mentioned in this title, and unfortunately, this is a trend in Bethesda's games is the amount of bugs within it. There'll be plenty of times that you won't find some character in the game, no matter where you look for him, even if the game itself says he should be exactly there. Or even better, to see some creature flying in the air, even if he doesn't have wings, not to mention the amount of times the game might crash, or a save point might get corrupted, or just simply that you get stuck in a wall and need to reload.
Of course, Bethesda released patches, a lot of them, that fixed a lot of these problems, but the fact is, that a lot of those bugs could have and should have been fixed before the game was released.
Still, if you are willing to see past a few of the minor problems this game has, expect an exciting journey that you should not miss. Fans of the Fallout series should not even read this, since they already have the Collector' s edition of the game, signed by the development team itself, with a complimentary brahmin figure sagely looking at them.
Everyone else, what are you waiting for? Step into the shoes of a simple delivery man from the Mojave desert and change the flow of history. Also, remember one universal truth:
War.... War never changes
Community review by darketernal (December 29, 2011)
Occasional reviewer of random stuff.
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