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Fallout: New Vegas (PC) artwork

Fallout: New Vegas (PC) review

"There you have it - New Vegas, pretty as a diamond flush."

Fallout: New Vegas (PC) image

Post-apocalyptic America is not pretty.

If you could summit the highest mountain or structure near the former Las Vegas, you wouldn't catch a breathtaking view of snowy plains or vibrant jungles. Instead, Fallout: New Vegas might offer a glimpse of earthy tones, desolation and decaying buildings as far as the eye can see, with somber music playing to accentuate the environment's bleak qualities.

I say you "might" see such sights because you can't even successfully climb hills in this installment of the franchise. As you leap up the sides of the craggy vistas, you bump into invisible borders that prevent you from taking "shortcuts" through mountain ranges. Instead, you either need to fast travel wisely, or hoof it to get around them, which is not something you should need to do in a truly open world title. This inconvenience is especially irritating when you encounter infrequent crashes that result from faulty auto-saves. Thankfully, you can mostly remedy this bug by turning off auto-saving during fast travel.

New Vegas doesn't differ much from its immediate predecessor, Fallout 3. Combat still operates mostly like it would in a standard first-person shooter, except you can deal damage to individual body parts to cause injuries. Headshots, for instance, do more than simply speed up the killing process; they often lead to concussions that hamper an enemy's fighting capabilities. You don't need to be a shooting ace to vanquish the opposition, either, because various stats determine your accuracy. Best of all, this installment also features the franchise's trademark "VATS" system, which allows you to conveniently target specific body parts until such time as you run out of action points.

Fallout: New Vegas (PC) image

As you scurry along the vast emptiness, expect to run into a lot of the same content seen in previous adventures. You never know when you're going to cross a hilly region of the Mojave Desert and find a giant scorpion waiting for you, or enter a ghost town and battle bandits, or exit an old military fort and deal with one of the many antagonistic factions. You might enter a rundown building in the middle of nowhere and score some sweet loot, or pick a lock to a hotel room to find it infested with giant ants. You'll hack computers to disable turrets or unlock sealed doors, knowing that you'll either find lockers full of guns and ammo or killer robots. Yeah, there's a lot of sweet "Fallout-ness" in store for you here. All you need to do is stave off the heavy heart you might feel as you advance through the campaign.

You aren't some great hero in New Vegas. You're a courier who had the misfortune of completing a rotten delivery, which led to your execution. As luck would have it, you didn't die. A small town nursed you back to health and sent you on your way. You learn early on that you cannot survive without either some kind of steady work or a means to quickly procure resources. Journeying through the wastes will tax your supply of ammo and healing items, as well as armor and weapons (both of which break with repeated use). Sometimes, your payday hinges on how ruthless you're willing to be. You could help the initial town for a small reward, or betray them and reap substantial benefits. If you're strong enough, you could even wipe them all out, then loot their homes and their bodies. Of course, folks in other towns might regard you with contempt as a result...

As you advance, you'll earn numerous chances to impress or piss off various factions, which could influence your chances of surviving. For instance, if you double-cross the New California Republic (NCR) early on, members might send death squads after you. However, NCR rewards cooperation pretty handsomely, even though their rather authoritarian society, toxic citizenry and underhanded, secretive tactics might not seem like the kind of gig you'd want to back. Thankfully, if you level up more than combat-related skills, you can find non-violent ways to solve their issues and not feel like such a jerk. However, you might still feel the familiar tugs of temptation as you up your speech level to manipulate NPCs or boost your science stat to take advantage of a benevolent robot. Remember, you need to survive, and sometimes that means breaking into footlockers or picking pockets of "good guys" to accomplish that end. You just need to be willing to stomp on some toes.

Fallout: New Vegas (PC) image

Most open world games find strength in the amount of content they offer, and New Vegas is no slouch there. Everywhere you travel, you'll acquire boatloads of side quests, tasks and locations to explore. Where New Vegas succeeds, though, is in the tough, politically-charged choices it forces you to make.

When you arrive at Vegas proper, you find multiple factions vying for power. The aforementioned NCR and Legion battle for control of the Hoover Dam, which ultimately determines Vegas' fate as a free town. Smaller groups, such as White Glove Society, Omertas and Great Khans also influence the battle from afar, providing either side with some form of resource. However, within Vegas, you discover that two other entities wish to keep the town safe from the outsiders: House and Yes Man. The former can provide security and ensure stability, but only through a seemingly despotic rule. The latter wishes to create a more anarchic society, but may not be able to provide much stability without heavy casualties.

As you advance each faction's quest lines, you begin to see the benefits of each of them, as well as their drawbacks. You sometimes question your own motives, wondering if maybe NCR's nature will lead society back to the nonsense that started nuclear wars in the first place, or if trading freedom for the security House wishes to offer is ultimately wise. As you reach the conclusion, you find that nothing you do prevents war from breaking out at Hoover. The endings you receive aren't bright, shining Hollywood spectacles. You get some positive closure, but a fair amount of heartache as well. I can't lie, though, when I say I found these quest lines and the missions attached to them compelling and thoroughly exciting.

Fallout: New Vegas (PC) image

That's how Fallout: New Vegas rolls. Even if you think you're on the right path, you'll soon find that the route you're taking is more nuanced than you realized. I remember one quest where an arms dealer wanted me to bring a certain person to her. I found this NPC, got to know her, completed a few tasks for her and convinced her to join me. I ended up digging her strong will, stubbornness and unbreakable spirit, and hoped to keep her around for a while. I took her to the weapon shop to meet my employer, and one my boss' cohorts reduced her to a puddle of goo.

I realized, after some examination, that I couldn't complete this mission without killing at least one of the characters involved, and I didn't want either to perish. Granted, I could just forgo the experience all together, but I'd have to live with the nagging sensation that I was leaving something incomplete. However, I changed my tune after I received my paycheck and looted my partner's liquefied remains. New Vegas will either bring out the bastard in you or make you work hard to be a Good Samaritan, and leave you feeling ambivalent either way. But dammit if it isn't a frickin' great RPG regardless...

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (November 29, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Zydrate posted December 02, 2018:

Christ it hasn't aged well on an aesthetic basis. Probably the best one in the franchise so far, and I'm including my much loved FO4. (I seemed to have enjoyed 4 more than the consensus, it seems).
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JoeTheDestroyer posted December 04, 2018:

Eh, I'm still giving FO4 a try. I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

New Vegas' visuals didn't age very well, but at least they look more bland than outright gross. Games like the first few Gothic titles and some of non-cartoony PS2/Xbox games look positively dreadful these days.

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