Review: Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas is an ambitious title, preceded by Fallout 3 that provides plenty of entertainment value, and has plenty of bang-for-buck. However, it’s not without its flaws. Read on to see what I mean.
In New Vegas, you are a Courier (read: clean slate), delivering packages between towns in the desolate, apocalyptic wasteland of Nevada. On a routine delivery, you end up on the wrong end of gun carrying an unlucky package. You take the hit and live, however, and end up on a mission to find your attempted murderers.
At least, that’s the beginning premise. Things are basically up to you from there, and you have the entirety of the wasteland to explore once you leave the house of the doctor that tends to your wounds. Or you can just plow through the main quest. It’s your choice and one of many choices prevalent during your New Vegas travels. The main quest is interesting for the most part. You are essentially funneled from town to town looking for your assaulters for the first few hours. Once you find him, a few plot bombshells are dropped, and you are given a series of sub quests that determine the outcome of the ending, and whether the New California Republic, an attempt to create a new government, or Caesar’s Legion, a ruthless, militaristic group, gains the upper hand, and, In turn, Nevada. It’s all engaging to a degree, but in all honesty, I found the side quests to be significantly more interesting than the main quest.
And there are a lot of side quests. There are so many things to do in New Vegas its overwhelming at times. Completing the main quest will in and of itself take hours to complete, and attempting to do all the game has to offer will take you to the 100 hour mark. If there is one thing this game does well, it’s variety. Every major side quest ark is unique in its own right, and all are held together and kept interesting by top-notch writing and voice acting.
Even though the quests require you to hoof it for long distances at times, I had no problem with doing so: This game is pretty, and I didn’t mind stopping and staring at things along the way. Because Nevada survived the blast mostly unscathed, you get a lot more green to look at, compared to Fallout 3. The flora and fauna of the game world is attractive, and entering sunlight after plunging through the dank, dusty, dark depths of an abandoned building never ceases to be refreshing. Animals also look great, whether you’re looking or shooting at them. The same can’t be said of the humans, unfortunately. While acceptable from afar, they sometimes take one too many dips into the uncanny valley then I would like them to when viewed up close.
As you traverse through the wastelands, you’ll be accompanied by the sounds of nothing but your footsteps, the wind, and your radio. The sound effects are all great, and help immerse you into the game, to the point where I would sometimes jump at the sound of my own gun being fired. The radio, while novel at first, runs out of material about two hours into being played. I would not recommend leaving it on your entire playing experience: It’ll drive you nuts by the end, I’m sure.
But enough about how it looks and sounds: How does it play? Well I’m happy to report that, for the most part, this game is a good time. Exploring is fun, and never boring, as you constantly wonder what is around the corner, and what you’ll stumble upon next. Exploration’s most frustrating aspect though, is when you actually pick a direction. The waypoint and marker system can be incredibly unwieldy, and the local map is simply a bunch of black and smudged squares that were a nightmare to navigate. Many a time I’d be at a complete loss as to where to go next during a quest, only to drop it and move on to something else. Thankfully, the issue is negligible in the long run, and you’ll enjoy yourself moving about the world, lost or not.
The RPG aspects are also standard fare, letting you pick your stats and upgrade them as you see fit. It’s very cool as you go from wimpy Courier to master of whatever trade you pick. Also, because you’re confined to a few skills, you are encouraged to replay with different attributes, changing how you play. Though I passed a speech check in one play through, freeing a group of hostages, I took out all of the baddies with laser weapons in another. The addition of perks, added after each level up, also helps customization and replay value even further.
Gunplay is mostly satisfying; especially with the Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System (VATS) which lets you pause the action and aim at specific body parts of your enemies. However, when out of VATS, fights can sometimes be clumsy. This is fixed somewhat by the ability to aim down the sights, which makes fights more exciting, allow precision, and make combat more similar to an FPS. Personally, I enjoyed conversations and exploring more than fighting, however.
Fallout: New Vegas is a great game, and provides hours of playtime for the gamer that wants a lengthy adventure for a lower price. Though it could be more polished in terms of combat and direction, it remains a strong addition to the Fallout series.
Do you agree with the score? Why or why not?