Fallout: New Vegas Official Review
by Gauss


Basic Information:
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
North American Release Date: 10/19/2010
European Release Date: 10/22/2010
Trophies: 1 | 1 | 13 | 36


Overview
Fallout: New Vegas is essentially a sequel to Fallout 3, while not following in those same footsteps storywise. New Vegas takes place in the post-apocalyptic Las Vegas of the Fallout universe and the player takes on the role of "the Courier." Hired to carry an unknown package to a casino, an attempt is made on your life en route. You are saved by a mysterious robot and the goal of the game is to find out who took your package and why they made an attempt on your life.

Gameplay
The gameplay is an aspect of Fallout New Vegas that is largely identical to Fallout 3. At its core its an FPS that borrows RPG elements. There are no real classes, rather the main character starts off as a blank slate and through leveling up puts points into various skills, such as speech, lock-picking, or energy weapons, and attains perks that compliments those skills. The end result is that the player tailors their character to their desired play style whether they want to be a gun-toting explosives expert or the stealthy assassin that can hack in or talk their way out of anything. It works very well and definitely gives the sense of uniqueness and individuality to your character.

The player advances by completely quests, which is the primary focus of the game. Most quest are relatively simple in nature and involve completing pre-defined objectives much like any RPG.


VATS makes a triumphant return

The other key RPG element brought in is the "leveling" of the playing field in regards to skill. This is accomplished through the VATS system. In a typical FPS the player's capability is the only thing differentiating success from doom in the gaming environment. Things like reflexes, reaction time, shot placement, etc all play critical roles in how well the player does. In a typical RPG though the playing field is leveled out by combat systems that use numbers and experience only. The VATS system melds these two very nicely, the character has a bar with a certain amount of AP. This AP can be used to enter the VATS system where shots are allowed to be placed at a specific location automatically, the AP then recharges over time.

This does a great job of making the game playable regardless of the players interest or capability with FPS-style games and puts alot of incentive and benefit on properly leveling up characters and using weapons that compliment your skill set as opposed to the biggest, baddest gun out there.

The weapon system is expansive as well, not only are there dozens upon dozens of weapons, but each can be upgraded with various weapon upgrades found throughout New Vegas. These can range from damage bonuses to enhancements like a weapon scope. It adds some needed depth to a game like this, which risks being a bit too "standard FPS fare" when it comes to weapons.

While this gameplay system works great, nothing has really been innovated or improved over Fallout 3. The end result is a game that for better and for worse plays exactly like its predecessor.

Singleplayer
The singleplayer campaign for New Vegas is the one aspect of the game that differs from Fallout 3, and actually ends up shining brighter than the original because of it. Unlike the last one where the main quest was largely glossed over and ultimately somewhat pointless, New Vegas makes it the primary focus of your character. It starts of very personally, you are being shot in the face by a gangster who is stealing a package you are delivering. Don't worry though a doctor makes you all better.

From that point on in the game most of the quests revolve around you discovering who did this to you, why they did it, and ultimately the purpose of the package you were delivering. Its one big, focused plot involving several different parties and most of the side content involves doing this to gain those parties favor so that in the final confrontation they will provide you some assistance. There is other side content of course, but unlike the last game its not comprised of several unconnected B plots with an A plot that involves little story on points of the map that are incredibly far away. There still are unconnected B plots, but most of the side content ends up feeding back into the main plot in some way.


Lots of cool new weapons to use

The first part of the game involves actually getting into New Vegas and along the way you will meet several of the factions important to the end of the game. There is the NCR, which are somewhat the typical "good guy," they are trying to bring order and stability to the region. Ceasar's Legion can be viewed as more of the typical "bad guy," they are a group seeking to control New Vegas through domination. The other two groups are the shades-of-gray, Mr. House is trying to control New Vegas, but in a different way. He wants New Vegas to become its own power rather than relying on another group to do it, and he wants to stabilize the region in a manner that allows him to maintain control economically and socially. The final group is the "Yes Man" path, which is effectively to create an anarchy in New Vegas so the player will assume ultimate control.

These four are diametrically opposed, and once the player makes it to New Vegas to uncover the secret of who his attempted murderer, the remainder of the game focuses on the package and getting help for the final confrontation that will decide who assumes control of New Vegas.

Its a very effective method of story telling and results in a much more satisfying game, characters are much more developed and you get a much greater sense of their motivations. This trickles out to the companions as well, all of them have developed back-stories and side quests associated with them.

The quests themselves are much more interesting as well, much more emphasis is put on choice and the choice is much more than a binary set of choices. Reputation matters much more in this game and choices you make in one quest change how each faction may look at you and what aid they will provide.

Technical
Fallout New Vegas is by in large identical to Fallout 3 in every aspect, to those that have not played Fallout 3 it can be summed up in one phrase: "Beautiful, but flawed."

The looks of Fallout New Vegas are great, the world feels alive and vibrant and there really is a sense that people are eeking out survival in the middle of a barren desert. This backdrop serves as a great way to heighten New Vegas and the outlying areas where civilization exists. The set-pieces of the game look great too and feel much more epic than the previous title: Fallout 3. Destroying the HELIOS solar plant or witnessing the bombing of the Hoover Dam truly feel powerful. The game that feels like it takes place after an apocalyptic event, guns have repair issues and almost all of them look like they are being held together with duct tape or make-shift parts. Most NPCs clearly have patch-work clothing and everything looks somewhat beaten down, even in the casinos in New Vegas.


Some of the set pieces are very cool

All of this though is still put up against a backdrop of typical Bethesda issues: This game is buggy. Its not uncommon for this game to freeze or for NPCs to get stuck in the environment or for you to fail missions because some scripted sequence doesn't happen correctly. In one play-through of this game I had to restart/reload 4 save points for this very reason. Movement in the universe doesn't feel right either, while not everything suffers from this problem its not uncommon for NPCs that don't get stuck on rocks, stairs, and ramps to traverse them awkwardly. As if they are walking on a flat surface and being slowly teleported up the slope.

Trophies
The trophies for New Vegas are by in large the same as Fallout 3, its a pretty easy platinum although not a particularly quick platinum. Beating the game on Hardcore is the only trophy that will really present an interesting challenge because Hardcore mode adds much more of a survival aspect to New Vegas.

Closing Thoughts
Fallout New Vegas is a strange game. While it ultimately ends up surpassing Fallout 3, it does not do enough to differentiate itself for it to bring in anything more than someone who is already a fan of Fallout 3 to experience the same game in a new setting. At the end of the day, you already know whether or not this game will interest you based on your experience with Fallout 3. If, by chance, you haven't played Fallout 3... New Vegas is the better of the two.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
- New Vegas might as well be Fallout 3 in this department. Apart from some new perks/skills, nothing is really different. Weapon upgrades are a welcome addition.

Singleplayer: 8.5/10
- A good premise and great execution result in a single player campaign worth playing, and superior to the original.

Technical: 7/10
- Beautiful, but flawed. The graphics and game is very pretty, but bugs rear their ugly head all over the place.

Overall: 8/10 Superb