Review by reg190
"Fun despite its shortcomings"
Everyone has been anticipating Fallout New Vegas' release, and for good reason. Fallout 3 was a breakout success for developer Bethesda, and garnered more attention to the already well-established Fallout franchise.
After careful review, having played well over 50 hours' worth of time in the New Vegas universe, I'm both pleased and disappointed. To get them out of the way, I'll explain what I am most disappointed with.
For starters, the game is glitchy. Glitchy glitchy glitchy. In fact, I have never in my life played a video game that freezes to the point where I need to manually restart my PS3 console, one that "chugs" along as if I were receiving lag, or hell, even just locking up on a loading screen. I've had enemies firing bullets at me even though they had their backs to me, animals fly into the air and sink into the ground, and I've had moments where pressing the VATS button didn't work at all. And that's just glazing over the many problems users have reported while playing.
Other glitches I've experienced were quest glitches that prevented me from removing items from my character, glitches that prevented me from performing a quest, or in the case of a specific glitch I encountered when I met the Brotherhood of Steel, I completed the quest but it just plain old didn't give me credit.
This leads me, as well as so many other people to wonder where all the beta testing went? I personally understand that to test this game in its entirety, we'd probably have had to wait another year or so, but there are glaring errors that even a casual player just popping the game in for the first time can notice.
To be fair, I know that this game is gigantic. It offers so much customization, player choice, and freedom that there are many bugs that probably were overlooked during testing. I've heard some people say, "Well I've played Grand Theft Auto IV, that game is huge and doesn't glitch at all!" To that, I shake my head. GTA, while being large and having a sandbox style gameplay, is not the same as Fallout or Elder Scrolls type of games. No matter what you do, your GTA character is always the same. He has no customization, aside from choosing petty and unimportant things like hair styles and clothing, and even though there's a bunch to do, you don't have the option of First Person or Third Person on the fly play, or have nearly as much choices, dialogue options, etc.
To compare sandbox games to Fallout is a little short-sighted to me. I'd compare Fallout more to MMOs like World of Warcraft, and even then you have more dialogue options in Fallout.
Despite my defense for Fallout, there still is no excuse for the lack of support for these bugs. Hell, even Fallout 3 hasn't received proper bug testing, and the game's been out for two years now. The GOTY edition isn't even worth your time because of how many bugs are in it.
But see, these negatives can be fixed. And that's where we move on to what is so great about New Vegas.
New Vegas' map is better. It's bigger. It's more expansive. Yes, you heard me right. It's bigger. If you try to side by side compare Fallout 3 with New Vegas, you'll immediately go and say, "Whoa wait a minute 3's is bigger!" Well, the map itself is bigger. But if you've played 3, you'll know that incredibly huge portions of the map are blocked off by wreckage, rubble, and other rubbish. You spend at least half the game metro/subway crawling, whereas in New Vegas, the whole map is open. You can go whereever you choose, provided that you can tackle the enemies in that area.
And the map is better. There is more diversity of places to visit, and the places of note are more entertaining to be in. On the flip side, there are also a ton of "locations" that do not deserve fast travel markings. I can think of a specific example where there is nothing more than a few radioactive drum barrels. That's it. No ammo, no loot, nothing. I personally think that perhaps Obsidian did that to make fast traveling from place to place easier so you wouldn't have to walk as much, but in certain instances the locations are pretty silly.
Fallout New Vegas has much better dialogue and story this time around. You're a courier who was delivering an important package when you were intercepted by some bad guys and shot for dead. Lucky for you a robot finds you, digs you out of your wasteland grave, and takes you to a doctor to patch you up. Now you have to find out who shot you, and why. I think Obsidian had more of a feel for the Fallout universe than Bethesda did for Fallout 3. The characters seem more "alive" in the Fallout world, and can be quite hilarious at times. Fallout humor is at its best if you choose the "wild wasteland" perk at the beginning of the game.
On top of this, Obsidian took the best parts of Fallout 3, and made them better. No longer do you get perks every level, which means you aren't going to plow through the game as if it were permanently stuck on easy mode. Your perk choices matter much more now, and I feel like fighting is much more balanced. Guns now have iron sights, making FPS real-time play a little more desirable than before (even though I personally choose VATS any time).
The level cap is now set at 30, which extends the life of an already long game. As I stated earlier, I'm roughly 50 hours into the game, and I still have about 1/4 the map left to explore, not to mention a slew of quests to do.
The companions in this game are now actually worthwhile having, and diverse. And to make having them around even better, the companion wheel has been introduced. Instead of painfully having to go through dialogue with your companion, you just click on them and a nice wheel pops up, and you can tell them to wait/follow, move close to you/stay back, be aggressive/passive, or just use them as a pack mule by giving them things to keep in their inventory.
Adding to the storyline, and making you feel like your companions are meaningful, each of them has their own quests, which are triggered by events that occur and people you talk to while traveling with them. Your companions also give you perks while you have them around, making keeping them alive instead of using them as meatshields much more advantageous.
In addition, the karma system has been given a makeover. While karma still exists, faction reputation means much more. You won't immediately get hostiled by any good guys just for having a bad reputation with another faction, and the more things you do for a specific group, the more they'll like you. And what happens if you'd like to do quests for a faction that hates you? Or what if you want to sneakily infiltrate their camps? You can just throw on some of their gear. Any gear with a faction's name on it (main armor) will make that faction think you're one of them, and you can walk around their camps without any problem. Just watch out for their security guards. They always can tell the difference.
If you haven't gotten the picture yet, Obsidian as added an insane amount of customization with these features, and only builds upon this ideology with reloading benches and workstations. You can now create your own bullets, weapons, and other supplies by visiting one of these bad boys, enabling you to make use of all those junk items you pick up out in the wastleand. Following suit is the ability to visit any campfire in the game and make food with it. This isn't so important, but in "Hardcore" mode it's quite useful.
So what is this "Hardcore" mode? It adds a little bit of realism to the game. In this mode your character will require food, water, and sleep every so often. Water is most important and drains the fastest, followed by food, and then sleep. Furthermore, stimpacks won't heal immediately, but rather over time. And what happens if you cripple a limb? Well, you can't sleep that one off anymore, or wrap a stimpack around it and be good. In Hardcore mode you'll have to tough it out until you find a doctor or a doctor's bag (and later on you'll find the awesome Hydra item that acts as a doctor's bag). In this mode your companions are much more fragile, and tend to die a lot.
I feel like I'm leaving some things out, and I'm sure I've forgotten some things, but overall I'd say this game is a huge improvement, gameplay wise, to Fallout New Vegas. My main concern is the nasty bugs that plague this game. However, the sheer amount of things you can do in New Vegas, and the amount of fun I have is enough to keep me playing, despite these incredible flaws.
I really really hope that Bethesda and Obsidian get their butts in gear and spend as much time as possible fixing these bugs, and then spending a little more time fixing Fallout 3's bugs. If these flaws can be remedied, my score of 8/10 will easily jump to a 9.5/10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/29/10
Game Release: Fallout: New Vegas (US, 10/19/10)
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