Reviews: Fallout New Vegas

A Worthy Successor to Fallout

You might remember the original Fallout and its sequel, a pair of RPGs that take place in a post-apocalyptic California and feature a robust character creation system, a wide variety of memorable locales and difficult questions with no easy answers. Many years later, Fallout New Vegas has taken up the mantle of the series and serves as a worthy successor to those games in terms of design and spirit

The plot of the game involves you, a courier, being shot in your head and having your package stolen, so you set out to find it and learn why you were given the job. There's a good sense of mystery involved in learning the truth behind your mission, but at the same time, you also learn more about the struggle raging in New Vegas, helping inform you when you decide who you will help to take control of it. There are few obvious right or wrong answers, and all of your choices have consequences, which makes them meaningful without being cliched.

Like in other Fallout games, you can allocate your points in various statistics, choose traits that have pros and cons, acquire perks every other level, and gain skill points every level. You have to choose wisely, since skill points and perks are rarer than 3, (although you get more perks than either of the first two games) but it's possible to use a variety of different playstyles.

One especially good part is that skills not only have utility in combat, but can also be used to pass dialogue checks- you might use your Science skill to hack into a computer or make an informed remark in a discussion about technology. These skill checks are a good way of making sure that even the less useful non-combat skills are relevant in some way, offering you alternative solutions or opportunities for more experience.

The Action Points system returns as the VATS system (which, admittedly, debuted in 3), and is used quite well here, in which a gradually regnerating pool of AP allows you to aim at enemies' body parts, adding a nice mix between FPS action and the aiming mechanic in the first two games.

There's a great deal of quests to do in addition to the main storyline, many of which have multiple solutions. There are also many places to explore in the Mojave, from populated settlements and large vaults to small caves and abandoned buildings. Unfortunately, you might end up fruitlessly wandering around the wasteland without finding much- or perhaps finding dangerous creatures- so I find it convenient to have the Explorer perk so I can see where everything is.

All in all, I highly recommend Fallout: New Vegas to those who enjoyed the first two Fallout games, as I did. I'd recommend this game if you had to choose between it and 3, but found both enjoyable.

Old World Blues: the storyline ruins everything

Old World Blues is a DLC that has lots of good content that would be perfectly fine on its own, but ends up being strangled to death by an atrociously stupid storyline that makes no sense and feels simply unsatisfying.

First off, the DLC suffers from what I consider to be an Audience-Alienating Premise: you enter the new location added by the DLC, and the very first thing that happens is that you get knocked unconscious and someone removes your brain from your body. This by itself was enough of a reason for me to decide that after the DLC is over, I am going to load a save from before the story starts and pretend it never happened. It's an unbelievable violation of what I am willing to accept as happening to my character, and I can't see how the creators could have ever assumed that people would just run with it.

Second, there isn't really much to the storyline. Spend half an hour listening to the introductory monologue (another big problem: everyone in these DLCs talks WAY TOO FREAKING MUCH), then go on a fetch quest all over the Big Mountain, then go have a small boss battle and confront Dr. Mobius, then confront the Think Tank, end of story. It was simply unsatisfying and lazy.

But probably the worst part is that the whole DLC is built around an inherently stupid concept that hints at the writers having absolutely no idea how their own body works: the fact that somehow, when your brainless body that is STILL CONNECTED TO ITS BRAIN (via a remote connection) finally finds its own brain, this brain proves to be an independent entity with independent thoughts and personality. Just... what? During conversation, the brain can somehow be smarter than you and be horrified by a suggestion that first must have been formed INSIDE OF IT in order to be said at all. This is something you'd see in a CARTOON, not in an RPG with a world I'm supposed to BELIEVE IN.

Thing is, if they threw away the storyline entirely and just turned the location into an abandoned place with Story Bread Crumbs scattered around, with an aura of mystery around it all, it would have been perfectly fine. The place is interesting to explore and has lots of intriguing locations and neat items to be discovered.

But alas, they instead decided to go with an extremely flawed premise that drags the entire DLC down with it. Shame.


Thanks to playing Alpha Protocol and KOTOR 2, I was rather looking forward to New Vegas, so I'll get the good out of the way, writing for companions has improved, with Cass definitely being my fav, aiming has improved thanks to being able to look down the sights, and it has a better (if rushed) ending, alongside better dialogue choices (albeit also rushed at times).

Then. Bugs. Dumb AI. EVERYWHERE.

While it's true F3 had these things, New Vegas is worse, since they seem to happen every single 5 minutes, things frequently pop in from nowhere, enemies randomly stop shooting and stand still, textures fail to load, enemies turn invisible and crash your game if you try the V.A.T.S on them, NPC's start floating in mid air, your allies randomly start killing people, your arm keeps moving so you can't see your Pipboy, and buttons randomly stop working, especially when in combat.

Adding to this is the fact that many of the quests are boring, usually involving you going to different places to talk to people, mostly since they are dragged out far longer than they need to be, a good example being where you have to find three singers for The Tops, since not only are they all over the map, whenever you find one, you have to go back to The Tops in order to find out where the next two are, since the location markers for them are taken off, doubling what's already a rather unremarkable quest.

And finally, the level design and enemy placement is rather poor, since you're often thrown into a completely open area with little cover, surrounded by enemies who wish to keeeel you, resulting in The Many Deaths Of You, exacerbating this is the fact that absurdly strong enemies appear all over as opposed to when you're at a level to fight them, which killed any ambitions I had to explore since whenever I tried to step away from the plot I was killed before I could get a shot off.

New Vegas is frustrating, all it's improvements are nullified by glitches, poor A.I, lousy enemy balancing, dull quests, and naff level design, say what you want about F3's story, but gameplay wise it beats this.

Also whoever decided to limit you to one humanoid companion deserves a kick in the head

ALSO, blatant invisible walls = ALL OF MY HATE

Based on my old Steam review

War. War never changes. Except for the occasional crash and bugs, but that's typical of a game with little development cycle.

New Vegas is an action RPG, like Fallout 3 but with added features: crafting, the companion wheel, and weapon modifications. Developed by Obsidian, it's set in the Mojave, closer to the original games' setting. Your characterís a courier, left for dead by a man named Benny. Following on your trail, you find the major factions in the region—The New California Republic, Caesarís Legion, and Mr. House—want to control the Mojave wasteland. Itís up to you whether or not any of the three, or yourself, would take over Hoover Dam.

The NCR is a lot like the US, both the good and the bad. Most of the time, they mean well. After the first battle of Hoover Dam, they spread out a lot, using up quite a bit of their resources to cover their new land in the process, putting them at a disadvantage against the Legion. Caesar's Legion, in theory, is the Roman Empire. But it's filled with misogyny, homophobia, and slavery. There's Mr. House, an Expy of Howard Hughes. While he wants to improve humanity in his own way, he's extremely ruthless in his dealings. There's the Wild Card path, where you set the Mojave down a path of independence and anarchy, which alienates the main factions.

In addition, there are four major DL Cs (Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Bluesł and Lonesome Road), each having its own story, and two additional DL Cs (Courierís Stash—pre-order bonuses—and Gun Runnersí Arsenalómore weapons).

I enjoyed the game largely due to the writing, along with a lot of replayability. However, I feel that there was a lack of real motivation deciding which faction to assist in taking over Hoover Dam, and I felt that your character lacked a bit of personality compared to other RPG characters. Even the Lone Wanderer had plenty of personality.

There were a lot of game-breaking bugs, especially at launch. But mods and patches had gotten rid of them, but a few of them are still there, so keep that in mind.

Because of the small development cycle, there are things that are removed, like the Legion territories and continuing the game after the ending. I recommend buying the Ultimite Edition, since it has all the DL Cs. But take a look at the Nexus; they have mods that'll enhance the game.

Fallout New Vegas vs Fallout 3

Believe it or not I like both games about equally, if not for the same reasons. My review relates to the PC versions of both games.

Fallout 3 was ambitious in my view. Leaping from 2D to 3D is never easy for a videogame series, and Bethesda put in a good effort. It's not perfect. The main story is very short for an RPG, the morality is too black and white, the writing is questionable in certain places... oh, and without fan made mods and patches, the game is more unstable then a drunk person attempting to ride a unicycle. If it isn't the crashes, it's the physics bugs, or getting stuck, or shooting invisible walls caused by object hitboxes being way too big.

Still, it's a game I still play because I like the mix of FPS and RPG elements. And it's rather easy to mod which helps to get more enjoyment out of it.

As for New Vegas, it trades ambition for refinement. 90% of the graphics are recycled from Fallout 3. It's literally to the point where I could nab a screenshot of the overworld, or a building, from both games, and even an expert on both games would have difficulty figuring out which is which. Sometimes while playing NV I think for a moment that I'm playing Fallout 3, and vice versa. However blatant graphics recycling aside, New Vegas has a different tone, a much better thought out story, and a few of the gameplay mechanics have been changed. More importantly a lot of the bugs in Fallout 3 have either been dealt with, or minimized. Oh it still likes to crash without mods to optimize cell loading, but the physics engine doesn't spaz out as much, I haven't gotten stuck, the invisible walls are less of a problem, and the radio works right. On the flip side there are countless minor bugs, some amusing, some funny, and some annoying. New Vegas also has a larger map, a better companion system, a well thought out faction system, and multiple, well thought out endings.

Overall it and Fallout 3 are worth playing even today, but you had better get familiar with installing mods and be prepared for the game to crash to desktop at the drop of a hat.

An overview

Here's what I especially like about the vanilla game:
  • The companions, with special mentions for Arcade and Veronica. Makes me feel a bit bad about Hardcore mode, although I had all but Boone survive while in it.
  • And speaking of hardcore mode... to me it does give a bit of incentive to plan my movements. Not highly difficult to me though, but it's a start.
  • Wild Wasteland
  • The independence ending. Enough said.
  • Modability, especially since I got some, including the Dummied Out content, Project Nevada and the jsawyer mod which would make hardcore mode... more so.

My thoughts of the DLCs:
  • Dead Money is a pretty interesting take, and I could get behind its premise, but it actually turned out to be rather annoying and frustrating. At least I got the Holorifle out of that (and a few bricks of gold), and that's a plus.
  • Honest Hearts has nice scenery and one of the best characters in the whole game (Joshua Graham), but there's nothing really much to it beyond that.
  • Old World Blues, particularly with its comedic approach, is the best of the three, although such approach can wear out its welcome eventually, so I'm kind of worried about that. On the plus side, the additional perks there are rather sweet.
  • And Lonesome Road is a nice, but still rather linear, conclusion to the saga continued from the past three DLCs. I like the solitude and the particularly powerfully-done character in Ulysses. I dread Tunnelers though; At least I can take on Deathclaws, but for these buggers, my strategy has to involve two steps: use a flaregun and run.

And now for a few (minor) gripes:
  • Since getting the four DLCs, I did discover that it is still easy to max out experience, especially considering some experience-related perks may be a tad OP. Oh well, all the more incentive to have additional playthroughs to touch bases on wherever I hadn't explored/interacted yet.
  • It sometimes still does have a chance of crashing, though not too frequently so.
  • I'm finding it damn difficult to access Raul's companion quest (never got to it). I did see that it's been bugged, as the game still does have bugs (just not as much as from release IIRC).
  • Invisible walls at some points.

Overall, I really like this game. Given the word limit, I'll perhaps give additional points in the comments.

The game Fallout 3 should have been.

Fallout 3 was a popular game. It was most gamers' first exposure to the Fallout series. Fallout 1 and 2? What are those? What? You don't have a first-person POV? It's like a baby's toy!

Yeah. Anyway, I've been a Fallout fan since Interplay released the originals in the 90's. I was excited for Fallout 3. Then disappointed. It certainly had atmosphere, but not Fallout atmosphere. It was just a post-apocalyptic RPG with a slightly 50's vibe and zero personality. For all it had to do with Fallout 1 and 2, it may as well have been a reboot.

Then, when the sequel was announced, I was skeptical. Obsidian's reputation is split between the side that values their attention to detail and unmatched writing skill and their propensity for releasing buggy games (because Bethesda has NEVER done that). I was on the fence until I played the game, and what a difference it makes! This is the world after the Master, after the end of the Enclave. The NCR is a thriving frontier government threatened by the Legion, with neutral New Vegas a key spot on the map. Your character's personal story gets you drawn into the conflict in the region- and it's actually a familiar region. The Mojave, unlike DC, doesn't look like it was just bombed. It actually looks pretty accurate to the real Mojave desert.

If some people that got on board with 3 have issues with things like the neo-Western theme or a gang of Elvis impersonators, I think it's because Bethesda did a poor job of translating the spirit of Fallout to Fallout 3. It is essentially a completely unrelated game to New Vegas, which for all intents and purposes continues the story of the NCR's expansion begun in the original game- and maybe their downfall, too.

But what makes New Vegas shine are its flavor and its characters. Caesar is an absolutely compelling villain (and unlike Fallout 3, you can side with the bad guy). The faction leaders come in all shades of gray. And your companions all have personalities and a backstory, most of which comes up in sidequests.

Finally, the skill system is overhauled. You can no longer be an unstoppable jack of all trades. You actually have to choose what kind of character you're going to play instead of just becoming a typical Bethesda godlike hero.

Vault 11: Yes I am reviewing a single sidequest in a 40+hour game

Five voices on an audio log

 'Are we really gonna do this? It's open. We could just leave.' 
 'I couldn't. Not after that.' 

As you're wandering through the wasteland, you come across an old vault, a nuclear shelter to protect small colonies of people in isolation whilst the war to end all wars rages itself out. Vault 11. The door is open and inside the entrance are four corpses, a gun and an audio log. What happened here? You could walk back out the door and never know. Or you could go further in...

 'A shining example. That's what it called us.' 

Vault 11 is one of the most perfect examples of environmental storytelling and videogame narrative. It deserves to be looked at and praised as a beacon of creative imagination. A short story in videogame form. There is one questline that would have you explore the vault, but otherwise it's a piece by itself, to be enjoyed entirely in it's own context.

As you explore the vault you begin to notice these curious election posters pasted all over the walls. 'I hate Nate' 'Don't Vote Glover, His Family Needs Him' There are no NPCs, no conversations and only a scattering of audio logs. But through the rooms and the last remnants of the vault's survivors, you piece together a story of a women with incredible courage, intelligence and heroism. And a grim warning about power, mob mentality and the dangers of tradition. Treachery, control, politics.

 'Anybody would've done what we did' 

 'You ask me, that's exactly the problem.' 

The worst and best thing is, it's entirely believable from the starting outburst to the final tragedy. People are good, but if they're left unchecked and conditions are just so, the status quo can betray them into doing things they'd never dreamed of. The creation of their situation was the one point of fantasy, but that comes from the dark humour and mythos of Fallout.

 'Wait. Wait. People should know what happened. They could learn from it.' 

Play the game, explore the vault and when you've completed it, walk back to the entrance and listen to that audio log again

 'If there's anyone out there at all, I hope they never have to find out. Ready, Harry?' 

Four gunshots. A sigh. A sound of a pistol dropping to the floor.

Why New Vegas is better than 3

New Vegas easily a great game, and better than 3. Now, let's get into why.

Firstly, the story is almost 200% better. The game is much longer, for one thing, with the main quest stretching 12 hours at the least. Secondly, the third very much railroaded you- you only have two options to finish the main quest, and there were only two endings for the main quest. New Vegas has a much better main storyline- I'm assuming you know it, but it is much, much more interesting. 3 reused the same factions from 1 and 2. New Vegas uses the NCR, but it makes sense, unlike the Enclave and Brotherhood in 3.

On top of this, the writing is much better, with plot holes being very few and far between. The game can be finished in 4 main ways, with tons of variation on top of the main 4. For example, what you do with the Fiends does effect the ending outside of their specific ending.

Though New Vegas's story is so, so much better than the third, there are a couple problems.

Well, not problems, but deficiencies, I would call them. For one, the engine is still as poor as it was in 3. Some improvements were made- you get stuck in objects much less often. I was resetting Three almost every hour because of getting stuck. As well, I believe the AI is better, though not much.

Beyond this, 3 seemed more stunning to me, visually. I played both on a 15 year old, crappy, non HD TV, and that does affect it- I've played New Vegas on a 40 inch HD plasma, and almost came my pants. But besides that, the Capitol Wasteland, however obnoxious it was to explore the inner city, seemed much more stunning to me. The color tint that gets bashed so much actually really helped for me. I won't lie- The Strip and the Grand Canyon were incredible for me, but nothing compared to walking onto the Mall for the first time, or looking out of the Washington Monument. The atmosphere of Three is really the only thing in it better than New Vegas.

Outside of those two deficiencies, New Vegas is one of the greatest games, story wise, I have ever played. I've only played the naked version of New Vegas, and if the DLCS are as good as Three's, I cant wait to play them. The engine does leave something to be desired, but hopefully the next game will be in the engine Bethesda used for Rage and Skyrim. If so, it'll top every game I've ever played, if the story is as good as Vegas.

Shortest Review Ever

The game overall: better written. Main quest entangles itself in the whole game world, and side missions feel more compelling. That said, the magic in Fallout 3 was not doing quests. It was walking somewhere, finding something, and finding out it's story. Pretty much everywhere had an interesting story. (Or a depressing one. "There Will Come Soft Rains" anybody?)

Such is not the case in New Vegas.

That said, this game plays better with all of it's various engine improvements, and the massive bugs (most of them don't crash the game anymore!) provide some Narm Charm. This is a Lighterand Softer experience than Fallout 3. I recommend both whole-heartedly, but which one you'll enjoy more is entirely a matter of opinion. For what it's worth, I find Fallout 3 darker, more interesting, more heart-rending, and more satisfying.

DLC #4: Lonesome Road (SPOILERS)

After having an impressive build-up over the course of the game, Lonesome Road finally allows the player to embark on a quest to confront the enigmatic Ulysses, the man responsible for your 'kick in the head'. But the problem with hyping up a future 'battle of couriers' is that the story needs to deliever everything it promised. And does it?

The setting of the Divide is a fascinating battleground to fight in. Not since FO 3 could you see such utter devastation of a city, filled with listing skyscrapers and crumbling highways. It's stunning to look at, which does make kinda disappointing that you really can't explore it. True, the DLC is called Lonesome Road, but FNV is all about fun exploration.

The enemies is where the DLC really starts to disappoint. Sure, deathclaws are terrifying, but we've seen them before, and dumping a bunch of them around just creates Fake Difficulty rather than an actual challenge. The Marked Men have an interesting origin, but are otherwise generic fighters. The Tunnelers, though, are visually interesting and tough with just enough of a weakness to make them challenging. It does feel like they were a bit forgotten though, because despite Ulysses's warnings about them, they're not mentioned again.

Finally, the story, where this DLC ultimately fails. The whole reason why the courier walks the road is to find out why Ulysses set them up. FNV has been very skilled thus far in telling the player a story about past events in ways that are still poignant and meaningful despite it happenings centuries before. But here, the entire story is dictated to the courier by Ulysses. You have to take his word for it about what the Divide was, what happened to it, and why Ulysses hates you. There is not a single scrap of real evidence about this community that the courier apparently destroyed - no rotted bones, no holotapes, no terminal entries. Without any real links to those people, to what Ulysses lost, his anger and pettiness seem meaningless, a mere excuse for a boss fight instead of a story. And considering how FNV has done so well in humanizing their villains and creating tearjerkers from terminal logs, this is deeply disappointing. The battle between couriers was only 'epic' because of nukes that were targeting places you actually had reasons to care about.

In the end, a real disappointment.

Honest Hearts; a great add on for a great game

Honest Hearts is the second DLC for New Vegas, and the first I played.

The main plot focuses on the conflict between several tribes that have taken up residence in Zion National Park; the savage White Legs, the peaceful Sorrows, and the helpful Dead Horses. This conflict however, is ancillary to the characters that you meet during it. Joshua Graham is the highlight; the soft-spoken ex-Legate helps keep your main quest in mind throughout the entire adventure, while being an interesting character in his own right. Your other companions also have very defined personalities and engaging back-stories despite the short time you spend with them, and Daniel's conflicted leadership of the Sorrows made me sympathize with him a lot.

The plot isn't anything to write home about, but the characters drive it, and they do it wonderfully, with the same level of writing and voice acting present in the main game. The only thing I'd complain about is the White Legs; an Always Chaotic Evil faction doesn't sit right in a world with Grey And Gray Morality, and the inability to side with them doesn't make sense since you can side with the Legion otherwise. I don't play evil paths, however, so this hardly bothered me.

Gameplay-wise, it's more of the same, perhaps slightly harder since you can't bring much equipment with you, and because of the slightly higher enemy density. It adds a bunch of crafting recipes that make the system more valuable, which ties into the whole wilderness survival feel quite well. And one of the parts of the main game that I loved was exploring and scavenging, and this add-on doesn't disappoint in that regard.

SUMMARY: this is a great addition to the game, adding more great writing to experience while lacking the difficulty barrier of the first add-on. If you enjoy Fallout because of the characters, or the feeling of exploration while digging through abandoned buildings, this is worth the ten bucks.

DLC #1: Dead Money, or, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (no, not that one)

Dead Money is an unusual blend of Survival Horror and The Caper. At the start of the pack, you are knocked out by the villain du jour, who steals your inventory, slaps an explosive collar on you, and forces you and several others (a nightkin with a split personality, an egomaniac ghoul lounge singer, and a mute Brotherhood of Steel assassin chasing the villain that brought you all here) to take part in breaking into a casino full of ghosts and laser-shooting holograms. You lose all your weapons and gear at the start, and are forced to make do with an (admitted quite good) energy rifle with limited ammo and whatever you can scrounge from the inhabitants. Despite the usual initial irritation of any Warring Without Weapons level, I rather liked being forced out of my self-inflicted rut of using nothing but energy weapons. Because of limited ammo, melee and unarmed weapons become a much more useful option than usual, and there are unique variants of both to be found in the DLC. In addition, the area is full of invincible enemies (the aforementioned holograms) and speakers broadcasting a frequency that can set off your collar, so stealth becomes vital for much of the quest. All three companions are engaging, well-written, and sympathetic, even though at least one is also a bastard.

Perhaps the biggest flaw is a constant in this sort of DLC: after it's over, you're left with a Game Breaker to take into the main story. In this case, it is the vending machines scattered throughout the area. These machines use a System Shock-esque Hand Wave of "nanomachines" or some such in order to allow the casino's chips to be converted into useful items, like chems, weapon mods, or ammo. After the DLC is over, you receive 100 chips every three days, or 1100 chips every three days if you broke the bank at the casino while there (surprisingly easy to do). A stimpack costs 25 chips, while .357 magnum ammo costs 2 chips per round. Add in the thousands of chips you will likely find during the DLC itself, and the 10,000 chips won before you are banned from the casino, and supplies are never a problem again.

Even with this flaw, the DLC itself is quite engaging, the levels are fun, and I can never get enough of The Caper in any medium anyway. I recommend this DLC to experience the story, levels, and characters.

Not as Good as Fallout 3

From the perspective of someone who absolutely fell in love exploring the world Bethesda created in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas comes across as a hard pill to swallow. Though by no means a bad game, it truly is a lesser one. There's much less to see and do and what is available is a whole heck of a lot less interesting.

For me, one of the things that made F.O.3 so amazing was the care put into making the Capital Wasteland feel like a living breathing place. Whether it was encountering a band of Brotherhood of Steel outcasts on some lonely deserted road for the first time, following mysterious radio transmissions to the remains of a downed alien saucer, or chancing upon some unfortunate wastelander captive of the super mutants, the D.C. ruins were an explorer's paradise. Every location was memorable in at least some small way, even if it was only to help add to the overall mood of the environment. By contrast, Vegas feels gutted and empty. While this may seemingly be justified by the fact the Mojave Wasteland is located in a desert, and not a big east coast city, it still doesn't excuse the relative lack of creativity that permeates the game. See a cluster of buildings out there in the distance? Don't get too excited, they're most likely boarded up. Get used to that. The Mojave has no room for little gems like Andale (remember those quirky cannibals?)

Story-wise New Vegas is a lot less linear than its predecessor. That might sound like a good thing but, unfortunately, with no firm hand to keep it under control the plot ends up getting away from the developers. F.O.3 knew how to create and sustain momentum by parceling out its many great setpieces. The linear path guided the player to such highlights like an insane battle against a mutant juggernaut at Three Dog's and the horrors of a 1950s-style VR nightmare. But why bother with such things in a game like New Vegas where you can simply go up to any faction leader and blow their brains out, thereby bypassing a lot of quests?

To sum up my feelings with a useful example: (MINOR SPOILERS) A quest has you investigating reports about (among other promisingly cool things) mutant legionaries attacking an outpost. But when you arrive there you are simply told no such things exist. The obvious question then: BUT WHY THE HELL DON'T THEY, OBSIDIAN?!

Return of the Real Fallout

Fallout New Vegas is Obsidian's follow-up to Bethesda's Fallout 3. This time, the action takes place in the city of Las Vegas, which has managed to stay independent and mostly intact from the war over 200 years ago.

Many of the original team from Black Isle return to the Fallout Universe, and it really shows. Many organizations from the original Fallout games make their return in the glory of the Oblivion engine, catching people up with the West Coast while integrating some aspects of Fallout 3's contributions to the lore.

The complexity of the Fallout Franchise returns as well. No longer are you stuck with a forced story and primitive good/bad karma system, but you have a reputation system with repercussions for having bad rep with different folks.

The story and characters are vastly improved, with time spent getting to know the people around you. Follower sidequests are a highlight.

The free flowing format of the games non-linear storytelling will be daunting for new gamers who are used to being told what they have to do, but this is an old-school RPG in newer clothes. The game challenges you to think for yourself and make less-clear decisions more often, and shouldn't be treated as a first-person shooter above being a true RPG.

The strength of New Vegas is allowing you to really explore the game as a true sandbox. If you don't like the three main factions you can ally yourself with, you have the option of taking control yourself and steering the flow of gameplay.

Mechanically, the game is almost identical to Fallout 3 (which is a good thing). Controls are familiar, but you have a much wider array of customization like weapon mods. Ammo is scarce, so shoot wisely. The Follower mechanic is improved with the Companion Wheel, easing management.

Hardcore mode returns some of the difficulty of old-school games by making you manage sleep, food, and water, as well as giving ammo weight and making your followers mortal.

If there are any low points to New Vegas, the big one is the bugs. There's a lot of bugs and glitches. I can only tell you to save often. The other low point is the aesthetics. Despite being 'new' - the Oblivion graphics are dated, and I'm just not a fan of the character animations.

Bottom line: New Vegas is the real Fallout 3 we should have gotten.

Fallout New Vegas....

...Should be buried in a desert. Never before has an intro cutscene summed up what playing New Vegas feels like: like getting shot in the head.

I played fallout 3 before I played this game, and absolutely loved it. But when I put in New Vegas, expecting the same controls and systems of Fallout 3, what I got was tons of pointless bullshit, and a serious hit in quality.

The new reloading bench system is cumbersome and unnecessary, filling your inventory with tons of random bullet bits. It's confusing because there are just so many different components and so many to combine into one bullet. I don't want to go scrounging for powder, casings, primer, and scrap metal to convert into lead. And the system is rendered pointless by the fact you can just buy ammo from vendors, and loot the corpses of your enemies. The ability to turn random plants into potions and chemicals is a welcome addition, it's just hamstrung by the fact you have to be around a campfire to do it, and the campfires are small, hard to find when surveying the landscape from a high place, and not marked on your map.

Guns however, got cooler. Though, I may have found a gamebreaker in the form of the Recharger Rifle, which is deadly accurate, has no skill requirment, has infinite ammo, and is one stealthboy or 75 caps away.

Story wise it just isn't compelling. You're not a naive newcomer fresh from the Vault, it's implied you know your way around town. There's none of the lawless anarchy that made Fallout 3 interesting, society is mostly rebuilt, so it's now boring. .NPC dialogue took a turn for the worse, with lines unenthusiastically delivered by people who sound like they have better things to do than voice this game. A particularly egregious example is the young lady who gives you a combat tutorial and sounds like someone they pulled off the street.

They game glitches out constantly, often freezing up right in the middle of battle with no warning.

And then there's the damage mechanic; clothing has damage resistance and damage threshold, weapons have DPS and regular damage an on a whole is pointless, unnecessary, confusing and some other mean words.

And yet once you get through all that, New Vegas is actually really good. Just get ready for some silly glitches

Fallout New Vegas

I found this on sale at Steam for a discount and since I had Fallout 3, I ended up getting it for half price. Loaded it up, booted the game and dove right in. I greatly enjoyed the shoutouts to the older Fallout games, helped with immersing myself into the story.

It crashes my computer more than Fallout 3 did - but not so often that I want to ragequit or simply call it a night. I'd advise you to save every so often, so you don't have to wipe out the deathclaws at Quarry Junction five times over like I did. After putting in close to sixty hours of game time, I regret not starting my character with more points in luck, just because the gambling mini-games are loads of fun, especially Blackjack.

I played the same way I played FO2 and FO3 - goodie-goodie, with heavy reliance on Speech, Lockpick and Guns. I'll talk to you first, then I'll pick your locks when you're not looking, and if those two options fail, I'll simply shoot you. It's worked more or less through out the earlier Fallout games, and it seems to serve me well here. Plus, with ED-E and Boone as companions, I don't worry about running smack-dab into trouble that I can't fight my way out of. I only wish you could have more companions at the same time, but it is nice that they'll wait around for you if you need them later.

I like the weapon modification system, so that I was able to take the seemingly useless Varmit Rifle I was given in the first five minutes of gameplay and transform it into an silent sniper rifle, and ammunition for it is plentiful. With approriate picks and a high gun skill (100 now), I can reliably stealth kill numerous critters and pick their corpses for loot without breaking a sweat.

I also like the crafting system - a lot of the junk loot I ended up ignoring in Fallout 3 is now useful in some way. I usually fill ED-E up with junk so I can craft stuff up later on. Kind of odd that a barrel fire can't be used like a campfire, but oh well. The ability to reload ammunition is also nice - although I find it odd that I'd take the time to police up all my brass just to save the cartridge cases...

What I don't like: Quests are sporadic in how they're laid out. Some are very easy to follow, others are difficult to follow - even if the quest itself is easy, it's hard to complete it if it's not clear. Thank goodness for the Fallout wiki.

A Great Game

Fallout: New Vegas is a wonderful game. I've played it constantly since I bought it. However, that's pretty vauge, so I'll explain why it's a good game.

From the beginning, you are thrust into an immersive world. Almost every gameplay aspect from Fallout 3 has been kept and/or improved upon. Normally, it would make the game feel like an expansion pack, but New Vegas distinguishes itself easily. The crafting, the improves dialouge system, the minigames, the companions, all of them appealed to me. The 3 factions the story revolves around, the New California Republic, Caesar's Legion, and Mr. House, are all well characterized and easy to sympathize with. Sometimes I even had to pause to think about the consequences of my actions. Should I kill this delusional but sympathetic character? Should I lie to cover up a murder done for a good reason? It's choices like these that give New Vegas its great story.

Like all things, New Vegas has it's downsides. Things like the bugs, the pacing, the repetition, the voice acting, and the rampant bugs tarnish an otherwise spotless game. The repetition is one of my biggest problems with this game. Everywhere I go, I run into people asking me to do fix this, deliver this, talk to this guy, or kill this. From "Go kill these Geckos" to "Go kill those Deathclaws, to "Go give this guy some components" to "Go give this guys some supplies", the redundancy of it all is redundant. However, these quests make the memorable ones stand out more. The voice acting pool, which is completely different yet still the same size, resulted in the one person insulting himself and another one person fleeing in terror from his own voice. The Mojave Wasteland is a big place, but empty. There are just way too many buildings that are completely boarded up or longs segments deviod of anything for my tastes.

And last of course, are the rampant bugs. And I'm not just talking about the Cazadores. Fro the humorous to the gamebreaking, this game has them all. Everywhere I go, I see enemies stuck halway inside rocks, trapped behind knee-height debris, and falling into a Jello-like mush when knocked down. One particuarly bad bug left my entire save game stuck inside a building until the recent patch. Apart from those things, New Vegas is a wonderful game.

A lot better than I thought

I recently reviewed this game (see below), but it wasn't really so much a review as just a warning, saying the game was bug filled and couldn't be completed. I bought the 360 version of this game, which ran fine (I'm not sure if the PS 3 version has been patched yet), and now I can give an actual review of this game. First of all, I'd like to say that the game has little to no glitches, In sharp contrast to the PS 3 version. However, the loading times were a real pain in the ass, I was afraid to walk through a door because I'd have to wait 2 minutes for the game to load a small room. Anyway, enough with bugs, onto the actual game. OK, when I began this game, I thought it would be horrible. The beggining was simply abysmal, with boring quests, lame/too expensive weapons, and some of the worst voice acting in video game history (especially on that Sunny Smiles character, the one who walks you through the tutorial). However, after playing through the game for about 5 hours after just fighting Powder Gangers and giant rats with a Varmint Rifle and 9mm pistol, the quests started getting better. The first real good quest I came across was "an Eye for an Eye", dumping those barrels on the camp was really satisfying. I started finding better weapons, and the new gunplay features became more useful and interesting (iron sights and weapon mods were very nice additions to the fallout formula). The voice acting improved, and overall this game had much better production values than Fallout 3. I mean just listen to Legate Lanius, that is badass. Although I wish they had spent some of the three years developing this game on the graphics to pull all these characters out of the uncanny valley. Anyway, after getting to the Vegas Strip, the game really gets good. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the central conflict is very interesting, and unlike Fallout 3 it feels like you can actually influence the final result. One more thing: There are a lot of quests. Like, a LOT. So much that I can almost classify it as a complaint. Almost. Overall, New Vegas is a massively improved version of Fallout 3 in every regard, gunplay (iron sights and many new firearms), quests (seriously, like a LOT of quests) and voice acting (once again, I direct you to Lanius). Definitely pick it up if you are a fan of roleplaying games, BUT ONLY BUG-FREE THE 360 VERSION

Far superior to fallout 3.

When FO:NV was announced as being done on Bethsoft's Gamebryo engine, I was kind of disappointed since I had been hoping for an isometric turn-based shooter ala Fallout 1/2, but whatever disappointment I had appears to be entirely unjustified. It seems that Obsidian spent whatever time they didn't use on coding a new game engine on making an excellent game.

Gameplay wise, skills and stats now have much greater effect compared to FO 3. Most skills and some stats now have conversation options and other uses.

Combat in FO:NV is near identical to that of FO 3, i.e. still real-time with VATS, with the major differences being close combat moves and Damage Threshold in place of Damage Resistance. Proper game balancing also serves to make combat less of a cakewalk.

Crafting is greatly overhauled in FO:NV, it is now possible to manufacture food, ammunition variants and weapons. The addition of weapon mods ensures that any weapon you find can be used throughout a vast majority of the game, allowing players to personalize their own weapons so you don't get stuck with the same old uniques.

Game length is far greater than FO 3. Comparison:
  • FO 3 in short: Bugger around for 100 hours looking for stuff to do (17 side quests), find father, save wasteland, die/don't die. 11 main quests from head to tail. 2 skippable.
  • FO: NV in short: Bugger around for 300 hours looking for stuff to do (75 side quests, ~25 mutually exclusive), find Mc Guffin , use Mc Guffin in one of four choices, conquer/sack/help conquer/defend New Vegas. 7-13 main quests from head to tail. 2 skippable.

In simpler terms: You are expected to fail more quests in New Vegas than you discovered in Fallout 3.

Narrative is the usual Obsidian Entertainment grade excellence, blowing FO 3's voice acting, storyline, setting and character development out of the water like the Bismarck sinking HMS Hood in WW 2. See Kot OR 2, NWN 2: Mask of the Betrayer or Alpha Protocol for examples.

As is to be expected of a Obsidian release though, this game is riddled with more bugs than S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Players are advised to have a finger permanently glued to the quicksave key.

Running out of space, so tl;dr: Fallout: New Vegas is probably the best combination of Obsidian Entertainment and Bethesda Softworks expertise. If pressed, get this over Fallout 3, you're not missing anything.

The Next Best Thing

So, I'm going to come out and say something that won't make me any friends around here. You know those 'stupid trolls', those 'glittering gems of hatred', those people who have the unmitigated gall to be members of No Mutants Allowed and are pretty much universally hated by every single member of the gaming press and every game-related website on the Internet? Yeah, I'm one of those guys.

That said, I really enjoyed this game. I wasn't exactly happy with Fallout 3 for a number of reasons I won't go into here, but it did do a lot of things right, and all of those are carried over into this game, along with a lot of improvements. Most of the things FO 3 did wrong have been fixed here, and enough new features have been added that the game feels like its own product rather than just a standalone expansion pack. This is, in many ways, the real Fallout 3. It's not quite Van Buren, but it's the next best thing - we get to see characters and factions we thought we'd never get to meet again, and some we thought we'd never get to meet at all. The world is sensibly designed, with towns placed based on access to resources, strategic location or important natural features rather than just plopped down at random, and all the factions have understandable and realistic motivations for being where they are and doing what they are doing. The writing is a whole order of magnitude better than Fallout 3, and the story is far more engaging - it's also substantially less linear, with a wide number of potential paths and multiple options at each juncture. There is never a point where you're forced to take a certain action by the game, nor a certain skill you need to take to complete it. Speech is still a good all-around skill to take, but every speech check has an alternative means to complete it using a different skill, perk, or stat - often more than one such alternative.

I'm running out of words here, so in summary, although the game's not perfect and has its fair share of bugs, it's still a fantastic game. It combines all the best parts of Bethesda's entry to the series with quite a few improvements of its own. Whether you're a Bethesda fan, a Fallout fan, or new to the series altogether, there's a lot to love here.