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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

Fallout: New Vegas announced
21 Apr, 2009 New RPG coming to PC, 360 and PS3.
Fallout: New Vegas 'Old World Blues' trailer
13 Jul, 2011 Define...bizarre?
A trailer for Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts
12 May, 2011 Sgt. Player and the Lonely Hearts Club.
54 Comments
3 years ago
Woah, that's insane. Not sure what happened there, I typed it in the quick reply box using IE8. All my other posts seem fine.....
3 years ago
Jarrod wrote
You shouldn't be basing the Fallout franchise on Fallout 3.
I figured that, which is why I'm questioning this one?
3 years ago
Benza wrote
I figured that, which is why I'm questioning this one?
If you didn't like Falllout 3, I doubt you'll like this one. It's basically "the same game" (same UI, same-ish enemies, same gameplay, but set in a different place.

Personally I love it for that- I was utterly addicted to F3, and I've got the same addiction for NV (much to the detriment of my uni studies). It basically feels like you're living in the same world as F3, just as a different character.
3 years ago
Cheers Waffle, that's pretty much what I wanted to know icon_biggrin.gif
3 years ago
Do yourself a favour, go and grab Fallout 2 from GoG and give that a go - it is far and above the best Fallout experience. Much similar to Arcanum, if you ever played that (same dev and all), but better. If you don't get into that, then Fallout definately isn't for you (and you'll only have lost $5-10 finding out).
3 years ago
Karai Pantsu wrote
Do yourself a favour, go and grab Fallout 2 from GoG and give that a go - it is far and above the best Fallout experience. Much similar to Arcanum, if you ever played that (same dev and all), but better. If you don't get into that, then Fallout definately isn't for you (and you'll only have lost $5-10 finding out).
And if you do love it then spend another $10 on Planescape and don't even worry about New Vegas.
3 years ago
Karai Pantsu wrote
Do yourself a favour, go and grab Fallout 2 from GoG and give that a go - it is far and above the best Fallout experience. Much similar to Arcanum, if you ever played that (same dev and all), but better. If you don't get into that, then Fallout definately isn't for you (and you'll only have lost $5-10 finding out).
Cheers I'll give it a shot, just got prof layton though so probbably not till I'm done with that.
3 years ago
I should warn you Benza, Fallout 2 does throw you in the deep end... the start of the game is unforgiving. Save often.

I have been advised due to game crashing bugs, the same advice should for now apply to New Vegas as well for the time being. But so far I'm loving it.
3 years ago
Yeah FO2 doesn't hold your hand... at all. Just don't stray far from towns and if you run into something in the wasteland you don't think you can kill, chances are you can't.

That said my mate did manage to make a break for San Francisco and then proceeded to steal some awesome gear and was an absolute tank for the start of the game.
3 years ago
Yeah, there are a few ways to get some very good stuff early on if you're clever/sneaky enough. Plenty of ways to wander straight into unmerciful death, too. That's one of the things I really love about it - it actually seems like a proper landscape, not just a series of ever increasing challenges.

<3
3 years ago
Cyph wrote
Woah, that's insane. Not sure what happened there, I typed it in the quick reply box using IE8. All my other posts seem fine.....
start using IE9 - its just that much better !
3 years ago
That was one of my favorite things about 3. When you first get out if you go off in the wrong direction your dead. Of course by level 5 it's impossible to die so...
3 years ago
Karai Pantsu wrote
Yeah, there are a few ways to get some very good stuff early on if you're clever/sneaky enough. Plenty of ways to wander straight into unmerciful death, too. That's one of the things I really love about it - it actually seems like a proper landscape, not just a series of ever increasing challenges.

<3
Yes.. a true sandbox experience.. they don't hold back on the deadly stuff just because it's at the start of the game and at the same time they don't prevent you from accessing the deadly stuff just because it is the start of the game and so on.

In some ways, I wish that FO2 was never done and that it was FO3 that did all the same things FO2 did but in 3D. FO2 has ruined the series because nothing short of a miracle is going to trump FO2.
3 years ago
The way it plays out so far reminds me a lot of risen....

i am surprised the first 2 games haven't shown up on xbla/psn yet
3 years ago
Fetidchimp wrote
i am surprised the first 2 games haven't shown up on xbla/psn yet
Fallout 1 and 2 on consoles? That'd just be... weird
3 years ago
Indeed... weird.. I think if they did F02 and "HD-ified" it.. it would sell like hotcakes though icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
grim-one wrote
Fetidchimp wrote
i am surprised the first 2 games haven't shown up on xbla/psn yet
Fallout 1 and 2 on consoles? That'd just be... weird
icon_rolleyes.gif

i am sorry sir we can't release this game, gamers claim it would be weird....oh better shut it down....
Think of the children and how they would be confused about it, their heads would explode, the sun wouldn't rise again, up would become down, mario would appear in sonic games.....oh the humanity....
3 years ago
Fetidchimp wrote
grim-one wrote
Fetidchimp wrote
i am surprised the first 2 games haven't shown up on xbla/psn yet
Fallout 1 and 2 on consoles? That'd just be... weird
icon_rolleyes.gif

i am sorry sir we can't release this game, gamers claim it would be weird....oh better shut it down....
Think of the children and how they would be confused about it, their heads would explode, the sun wouldn't rise again, up would become down, mario would appear in sonic games.....oh the humanity....
I was thinking more how the control scheme would work. It's very much point and click. Would you want to control the cursor with your thumbstick or what?

Not to mention the ungodly low resolution
3 years ago
didn't really affect doom the bad res, people were worried as to how to get plants vs zombies on there, they managed it, i am not saying it should happen, i am just surprised they haven't....especially after fallout 3 success.
Secret of monkey island one and two also....

and sorry about that, i thought you were going to give me some what happens on pc should stay on pc thing
3 years ago
What's that? Combat in Fallout 1 and 2 are turn based? It's sounding like less and less an issue the more you think about it.
3 years ago
Fetidchimp wrote
didn't really affect doom the bad res, people were worried as to how to get plants vs zombies on there, they managed it, i am not saying it should happen, i am just surprised they haven't....especially after fallout 3 success.
Secret of monkey island one and two also....
Good points. I've not played any of them on a console. Were they good? Did PvZ and MI implement cursor controls or make it better somehow?

Fetidchimp wrote
and sorry about that, i thought you were going to give me some what happens on pc should stay on pc thing
Well yeah, there is that too icon_wink.gif
3 years ago
grim-one wrote
I was thinking more how the control scheme would work. It's very much point and click. Would you want to control the cursor with your thumbstick or what?

Not to mention the ungodly low resolution
I remember trying to play SimCity (original) on the Wii.. man that was annoying.. it forced you to play with the classic controller, rather than the WiiMote..
3 years ago
grim-one wrote
Well yeah, there is that too icon_wink.gif


now go away, or i shall taunt you for a second time
3 years ago
Even though I own Fallout 2 in a box, and from GoG I would STILL pay to get it on XBLA. That is how awesome the game is.

Any game where you can sleep with a mob boss' daughter and wife in order to topple his empire is freaking genius (naturally if either finds out you're going to be in for a World of hurt).
3 years ago
Nietzsche wrote
That was one of my favorite things about 3. When you first get out if you go off in the wrong direction your dead. Of course by level 5 it's impossible to die so...
We were talking about 2, 3 is quite easy by comparison although I am sure that you have never run into a mob of Super Mutant Overlords at a level 10 on hard mode. I know I had to run after wasting pretty much all my ammo with a rifle, laser canon & shotgun (left all my cool stuff in Megaton as it was weighing me down)
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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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