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Adam Ghiggino
20 Oct, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas Review

360 Review | At least it's not Rock Vegas.
Last time we talked about the Fallout series, we talked a lot about immersion. Fallout 3 put you into your character's shoes literally from the moment they were born, right through to their final decision. The world was expansive, immaculately detailed, and at times seemed as though it was ready to come apart at the seams, as the technology lagged behind the ideals. Now, along comes Fallout: New Vegas, which is neither sequel, nor expansion pack. Developed by Obisidian Entertainment, whose staffers include alumni of the early Fallout games, New Vegas takes the technology, gameplay and style created by Fallout 3 and changes the location to the opposite side of the USA. But is it worthy of your hard-earned caps?

If you're familiar with Fallout 3 then you may be initially disappointed with New Vegas. The immersion factor from its predecessor seems mishandled. After Ron Perlman gives you the lowdown on the Mojave Wasteland, you're deposited into the world as a courier who is cornered by a gang of well-dressed thugs, who steal your freight and put a bullet in your brain pan. You wake up in the shack of a kindly doctor, who asks you a series of questions and shows you a series of Rorschach tests to ascertain your stats, which doesn't really work as well as the introductory sequence of Fallout 3, as at any time you can correct the game's deductions about how you want to play (which was frequently wrong). Soon after, you're let loose outside the shack for your first glimpse at the Mojave Wasteland... which is a run down farming town. You'll run around for quite a while at the start of the game, looking for a Megaton, or something else that's as visually arresting, but you won't have much luck. The game gets off to a bit of a slow start.

Invisible shopping trolley.

Invisible shopping trolley.
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For us, the explicit story wasn't exactly that compelling either. As a courier who's had his package stolen, your only impetus in venturing forth into the wasteland is to retrieve said package and find out who shot you. Are you out for revenge? That's up to you, we suppose. Retrieving a parcel, whose value is unknown, is not the best way to string you along throughout the game (although the story does pick up pace as you get deeper in), but luckily that's not where the game's storytelling strength lies. It's in the world you explore. Obsidian obviously know how to make interesting side stories, and you can be sure that in every minor location that you visit, there'll be something to learn, some horrible sight to see, or something really cool to do. The world itself is immersive and begs to be explored, even if the main narrative doesn't. The number of quests on offer is impressive, as is the quality of their storytelling. As an example, tiring of the main quest, you may wander into a broken down museum for a strange company and take a tour from one of its barely-functioning robots. However, you'll soon find yourself really engaged in learning the history of the facility as you see its connections to other locations, and what exactly they're hiding on the higher floors...

The gameplay experience that Fallout: New Vegas provides is much the same to Fallout 3 as well. It's a role playing game, with a first person shooter twist. You can gallivant around the Wasteland shooting the stuffing out of everything you encounter, using standard shooter controls or entering 'VATS' and freezing time to target specific body parts. Or, you may have a silver tongue and can convince both friend and foe to agree to you without a fight. There's a thousand different ways you can set up your character, but there are times these choices aren't as important as they could be. You'll find magazines that can temporarily boost your stats to tackle certain problems. And you can guarantee that if you run into a situation that requires a high repair or science skill, there'll be another way around it that requires finding an object, or talking to someone. This means there's a great deal of flexibility in how you play the game, and allows you to see and do more on your first play-through, rather than relying on subsequent games and character set-ups (as the game does not allow you to continue playing past the ending).

Compensation much?

Compensation much?
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In terms of new gameplay features, there's nothing that necessarily sets the world on fire. Mini-games based around gambling, such as 'Caravan' are interesting, but hardly vital to playing the game. The ability to mix flowers and herbs to create tonics, or create ammo or recycle parts at various 'workbenches' around the Wasteland is also a nice addition, but probably not something you're going to be thinking about until you actually come across a workbench. The new companion wheel allows you to more easily communicate with followers, as well as directly healing them - which is a Godsend considering that the AI has not improved since Fallout 3 either, and companions will lag behind, get stuck and find new and exciting ways to kill themselves as often as they can. New Vegas will last you around 20-30 hours if you're just interested in the main quest, and up to 100 or more if you want to explore everything.

The Mojave Wasteland itself has a bit of a 'Wild West' feel. You'll be encountering sarsaparilla by the crate load, running into several saloons, meeting robots with the personality of cowboys, etc. The area is controlled by several factions, the largest ones being the New California Republic (who aim to keep the peace but have a habit of occupying towns by force) and Caesar's Legion (slavers and diction-nazis who produce 'Caesar' in its proper Latin form), as well as several gangs and factions within New Vegas. Your actions with one faction will endear you to them, and antagonise you to others, and the best part about the game is, there is no right answer. The NCR may seem good, but they're far from a perfect 'good' force. The Powder Gangers are thugs and escaped criminals, but were they rightfully imprisoned in the first place? There's a lot of ambiguity in the game that we think is fantastic, and was sorely missing from Fallout 3, and you actually feel as though your decisions have a real impact on the world around you. Often you'll side with one faction on a mission, only to later find you've failed a series of others due to your actions. You can also gain respect in the various towns you visit, and become anywhere from feared to idolised for how you treat them.

You're going to hate fighting these guys.

You're going to hate fighting these guys.
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Unfortunately, New Vegas is still running on the same engine as Fallout 3 was two years ago, and the game feels every bit of its age. While the Wasteland is expansive and about as large as the Capitol Wasteland of Fallout 3, it's plagued with bugs. It's not uncommon to see enemies frozen in place or bushes and grass floating in mid-air. Characters' faces remain emotionless, even if the voice acting is quite decent. On the 360, we encountered several freezes, so the rule of thumb remains - save early, save often. Despite all this, and despite unimpressive early locations, there are some visually interesting places you will encounter such as a solar power facility, the decayed rollercoaster of Primm and of course, New Vegas itself.

Is Fallout: New Vegas a good game? Unquestionably. Is it better than Fallout 3? That's a little harder to answer. Fallout 3 was a bit of a revolution for its time, providing immersion par excellence, and a world that was actively changed by your decisions (see: Megaton). New Vegas builds upon all of this, providing a deeper world with harsher repercussions for your actions, but somehow missing the immersion of its predecessor. And unfortunately, it inherits all of the problems of its forefather as well. Two years is a long time in the video game industry, and at times New Vegas' technical limitations hold back the experience. If you liked Fallout 3, you will like this game. If you liked Fallout 1 or 2, you might find more to attract you with this title as it re-introduces some of the deeper aspects of the role playing genre. If you like great RPG games, you will like this game. Just prepare to stick with it for the long haul, and explore everything you can. In New Vegas, it's worth it.
The Score
Fallout: New Vegas gets off to a slow start, and the engine is showing its age. Nonetheless, it's extremely addictive and immensely rewarding for those willing to put in the time to see all the Mojave Wasteland has to offer.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Fallout: New Vegas Content

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21 Apr, 2009 New RPG coming to PC, 360 and PS3.
Fallout: New Vegas 'Old World Blues' trailer
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A trailer for Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts
12 May, 2011 Sgt. Player and the Lonely Hearts Club.
54 Comments
3 years ago
Seeing reviews for this game reminds me that I'm still yet to play Fallout 3. I might actually get around to it once my holidays start, but I've already got a bit of a backlog.
3 years ago
Excellent review. I think I should be able to get past the older graphics and lower immersion to still enjoy the game. Looking forward to picking it up at some point.

PALGN wrote
the game does not allow you to continue playing past the ending
I wonder why they did this after F3 remedied their mistake. I guess they want another guaranteed selling piece of DLC to extend the finale.
3 years ago
grim-one wrote
I wonder why they did this after F3 remedied their mistake. I guess they want another guaranteed selling piece of DLC to extend the finale.
According to Obsidian the nature of the plot and the ending made more of an impact with the freedom to 'end' the story, due to the way you deal with the various factions and how they develop. They probably didnt feel that they could have players continue exploring the wasteland with significant changes occuring.
3 years ago
What point in the game is the point of no return?

Like where the game won't let you do any more side quests for the sake of the main story.
3 years ago
element465 wrote
What point in the game is the point of no return?

Like where the game won't let you do any more side quests for the sake of the main story.
Obsidian said that the they made the point of no return very, very obvious and pretty much impossible to miss. You should be able to tell when you're at that point.

They also said that the game will save before you actually go past this point, and upon finishing the story prompt you to load the save to continue the adventure.
3 years ago
Awesome, thanks Jarrod.

Exactly what I wanted to hear.
3 years ago
Just a comment, how was Fallout 3 revolutionary? I can see the examples you've given, but they don't make a lick of sense to me.

I'm sold on the "if you like Fallout 1 and 2" comment though, it has been far too long since a DEEP western RPG has been released.
3 years ago
I hate when reviewers say deep. No offense Adam but deep has gone the way of the dodo bird.

Anyway looking forward to this and can't wait till tomorrow.
3 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
Just a comment, how was Fallout 3 revolutionary? I can see the examples you've given, but they don't make a lick of sense to me.
I might come off as a bit of an F3 fanboy, but it's the only game I've ever given a 9 to on this site, and the revolutionary factor for me was the immersion which I keep bringing up. I can certainly understand if others don't feel this way, but to me the quality of Fallout 3 set a pretty high bar for other RPGs that followed.

Or you can chalk it up to me saying baseless and unfounded things in my reviews. I have a habit of doing that.
3 years ago
Been playing it since the US launch, just as fun as Fallout 3 was. One thing I like is that you're just a regular joe, it's not like you're some fabled hero or one of the elite vault citizens or anything. And the world is a bit less forgiving than Fallout 3 too, so the atmosphere feels really... real, and you're coping to survive in it sort of thing.

Ran into a couple of problems, like some guys just standing around letting me free the hostages they had taken... "shouldn't you guys be shooting at me?!". But for the most part it all works pretty well.

I should warn people though- MAKE REAL SAVES. Don't trust the quicksave, every time I boot the game, it resets my auto and quicksave to one that happened about 40 minutes into the game, not the 8 hours or so I'm at now. Maybe it's because I'm playing in offline mode (since the game isn't out yet...) but yeah. Quicksave/load works fine during gameplay, but I have to remember to make a real one when I quit.
3 years ago
Okie Dokey, I can accept that, personally FO3 was a massive disappointment for me but I know I'm in a minority.
3 years ago
Can't wait for the GOTY ed next year!

by that time I should have finished Fallout 3 (I hope)
3 years ago
Already got this waiting for me on Steam.

And all I have to say about that is F*ck You Atari! First you charge me $40 more then the US version then you make me wait 2 days longer.
3 years ago
why nothing about the hardcore mode in the review? That I'm interested to hear about.
3 years ago
^I have to admit, I didn't try it as the game was long enough/tough enough already for me to play through and form an opinion about it.

It doesn't seem like something I'd enjoy, although I guess if you're really looking for something super challenging then go full steam ahead.
3 years ago
I hope I can play hardcore in conjunction with an easier difficulty. I'd like the extra immersion without the butt hurt!
3 years ago
moonhead wrote
Already got this waiting for me on Steam.

And all I have to say about that is F*ck You Atari! First you charge me $40 more then the US version then you make me wait 2 days longer.
Steam version was US$50 when it first went up for preorder, I think I preordered it like August? Only in the last month or two it went up to US$90.
3 years ago
Mr Waffle wrote
I should warn people though- MAKE REAL SAVES. Don't trust the quicksave, every time I boot the game, it resets my auto and quicksave to one that happened about 40 minutes into the game, not the 8 hours or so I'm at now. Maybe it's because I'm playing in offline mode (since the game isn't out yet...) but yeah.
Strange, I heard the solution was to play in offline mode because it is a Steamcloud related problem. Eh, it is Obsidian, always going to be a few bugs.
3 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
Okie Dokey, I can accept that, personally FO3 was a massive disappointment for me but I know I'm in a minority.
Yer.. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a "massive" disappointment but I played it through once, tried to replay as an evil character and quickly got bored. It just didn't feel like any of my choices were making much of a difference other than the first "big" difference you make right at the beginning.. seemed I was set to do the same missions as the first but for a different master etc.

The game just didn't capture that "play it however you want and suffer the consequences" feeling from the original. I played Fallout 2 multiple times from multiple angles and enjoyed each playthrough because it resulted in many different outcomes.

Can anyone say that Vegas is able to be played from multiple angles?
3 years ago
el_rezzo wrote
Strange, I heard the solution was to play in offline mode because it is a Steamcloud related problem. Eh, it is Obsidian, always going to be a few bugs.
Yeah, I laughed when I read that advice- I already was playing in Offline!

But anyway, the game is "released" in Australia now, so I've gone back online. Was greeted by a 205mb patch that didn't fix the save issue. Missed out on some steam achievements but eh, they don't mean anything to me (compared to my addiction for Live ones, anyway).



light487 wrote
Can anyone say that Vegas is able to be played from multiple angles?
I'd say definitely, yes. About 12 hours in and I'm playing as the "good guys" at the moment and hence the "bad guys" hate me, so I can't go to their camps, do their quests etc. I imagine it's the same way around if I sided with the bad guys. You get the chance to do it very early in the game, and lots of them since.

There was an interesting dialogue where I was asked my allegiance, and I had all sorts of options- "I do what the NCR needs to be done", "I do it for myself", "I do it to keep the peace", etc. I could really feel the choices I made would come up later on in the game.
3 years ago
wondering, fallout 3 was my first real fallout experience and I didn't really dig it. Is this the kind of game that would change my mind or should I just lump Fallout into the "I don't see the big deal" pile with MGS?
3 years ago
Benza wrote
wondering, fallout 3 was my first real fallout experience and I didn't really dig it. Is this the kind of game that would change my mind or should I just lump Fallout into the "I don't see the big deal" pile with MGS?
You shouldn't be basing the Fallout franchise on Fallout 3.
3 years ago
I found Fallout 3 boring and stagnant; it never managed to pull me in or excite me. Also, it lacked that flare found in Fallout 1 & 2. From everything I've read about Vegas, it's more like the originals, which suits me just fine.

Is the Gamebryo engine dated? Yes, remarkably so. Was it dated in Fallout 3. Yes. So should Vegas by penalised because of it, any more so than what Fallout 3 was? No. Enjoy the game for what it is (but by all means still complain that the tech behind it hasn't gone anywhere since Oblivion).

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Obsidian's Alpha Protocol, which is one of my personal GotY contenders, so I'm eagerly looking forward to some old blood working back with the Fallout franchise.
3 years ago
Cyph wrote
I’ve read about Vegas, it’s
Eh? what IME are you using to input? icon_smile.gif

A trademarked apostrophe that doesn't even look like an apostrophe icon_smile.gif
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  21/10/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Namco Bandai Partners (Atari)
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  1

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