Review by EnmaDaio2588

Reviewed: 11/16/11

Explore the Wild Post-Nuclear West

Fallout: New Vegas improves upon Fallout 3 in many ways but also takes several steps backward in some awkward ways. While many fans say it's more true to the original PC games than Fallout 3 was, it struck me as trying to be more like a western. Not just in terms of character and setting but there are many armors, weapons and, perks that just scream spaghetti western. When the game was first being touted I expected an online only sort of full downloadable game since New Vegas seemed to run off of the same engine as Fallout 3 and luckily I was mistaken on that front.

Since this is a review of the Collector's Edition, let's start with what you get out of the box. The box itself is similar to a shoe box within a flimsy slider that many DVDs have.Lifting the lid off of the box, you see everything you just spent your (now) $35-$50 depending on where you got the box. The graphic novel is short though the quality is far higher than the similar one released with the Marvel vs Capcom special edition, being a hard-covered book. The making-of DVD doesn't want to stay in the little nook cut out for it in the felt-lined interior but works well enough when I try to view it.They probably could have done better than the plastic sleeve. The deck of cards are all beautifully designed and housed within their own somewhat plain box. The poker chips stay put in their own little nook but it's difficult to tell which casinos some of them are meant to represent.The platinum chip, which plays a big role in the game itself, is larger and more cumbersome than the game lets on. For example, it would take a large hand to flip this heavy coin successfully. The game itself is in the default case which is a bit of a letdown especially having seen that the Skyrim case is different if you buy the special edition.

I should warn you now that there will likely be spoilers from here on out. I'll try keeping them minimal and, minor. Now onto the game itself. Fallout New Vegas begins with a first-person, fully rendered video of your character being shot in the face. The next scene being of a new type of robot digging ineffectually with a single claw in what can be assumed is your own shallow grave. The game itself kicks in moments later as your character awakens in a doctor's home. Character creation starts with a series of questions and, stat distribution is done through a vig-o-matic, which looks a lot like the love tester machine in Moe's Bar from The Simpsons. Designing how your character looks is also done in the doctor's home but there are no significant changes other than possibly more facial hair options. You can also change your age which wasn't an option in Fallout 3 where you are forever an 18 year old.

Tutorials are done through a townie named Sunny Smiles who is the same cookie-cutter, bad-ass female character we've seen done a million times before. This time however, she's cosplaying Mad Max, wearing his leather outfit and accompanied by a dog companion. After the tutorial is another tutorial of a sort in which you chose to either help the town, help the gang about to attack the town or just leave. Leaving does absolutely nothing that I've seen unless you make it all the way to the end-game without going back but the initial decision is clearly black and white on terms of which is morally correct. The Town is the good choice the gang is the bad choice. Luckily some of the other faction choices are a bit more vague but not by too much.

Once you're out of town, you're free to explore the Mojave Wasteland, a place far more oppressive than The Capital Wasteland. If you try leaving Goodsprings by going north the new enemies, Cazadors (think a mix of bees, and Mothra) will attack your low-level character and murder you in seconds. If you go out onto the main road (I-15) and try taking the quickest route to New Vegas you'll find that almost as soon as you pass through the settlement of Sloan the road is populated by Deathclaws, the most powerful creatures in Fallout 3 who, like the Cazadors, will quickly take out a low-level player characer. So while the world is technically open and, quite large, you can easily take a wrong path and end up as a monster's chew-toy. Another new addition since Fallout 3 would be invisible walls. If you were an avid explorer in Oblivion or, Fallout 3 than you know it's common to be able to hop up steep inclines. Well, Bethesda 'fixed' that in Fallout New Vegas, ensuring that the player characters will go along the path set up by the writers and game designers.

Going along a set path is all well and good. A game without direction could easily get messy but the thing is, New Vegas is already a bit of a mess right out of the gate. In the opening video, your character is killed because they're carrying around the Platinum Chip and it is assumed by every NPC in the wastes that you're after the men who shot you and left you for dead. The thing is, no other sane courier would actively seek out someone, let alone a gang of some people, who tried to straight-up murder them. Speaking of misplaced motivation, why would any doctor of any age decide to try operating on someone with a gunshot wound in the forehead? Any successful procedure on that type of victim would be miraculous, making the operating doctor more famous than any given deity. Yet in New Vegas your savior of a doctor is cast as a low-level NPC, only there to build up your new play-thing.

Lets talk more about the factions. New Vegas is populated not only by monsters, scavengers and, kindly miracle doctors but many factions. The New California Republic (NCR) has a big presence in and around New Vegas and around the game world, California being found in the western area of the map. By and large, I think the NCR are meant to be the good faction out of the two biggest factions. I say this because the other large faction, Caesar's Legion, are so cartoonishly evil they would make Skeletor blush. You first meet up with The Legion in a town whose name I can't remember. I can't remember the name mainly because The Legion just finished setting it on fire and, crucifying all but one of it's denizen. Speaking of crucifixion, if you're unsure if you're in a Legion town, just check to see if any innocent people are hung out on crosses or not. If so, you're in a Legion town.

There are a lot of lesser factions to chose from too. The gang plaguing Goodspring for example, is The Powder Gang which you can chose to help out. Other gangs include The Kings, The Great Khans, The Followers of the Apocalypse, The Brotherhood of Steel, Mr. House and the Securitrons, The Omertas, The White Glove Society, The Chairmen, The Crimson Caravan and, The Van-Graffe Family (I think...they run The Silver Rush). This is the only Fallout game I've encountered where The Brotherhood of Steel are put into a lesser role, this is mainly because they're in hiding after having lost a long, bloody campaign against the NCR. The other groups have motives and philosophies that are quite varied and many shades other than black and white. The Kings for example, run Freeside, which is a district outside of New Vegas proper and who are dedicated to helping the citizens of Freeside. The second in command however, is a total dick but The Kings are definitely higher on the moral scale than the people-eating White Glove society .

Overall, I could easily throw all of the above factions into two buckets marked 'good' and, 'bad' but there is enough ambiguity to set it apart from other RPGs in which the factions are almost literally painted holy blue and, Hell-fire red. As for NPCs on the whole, most will spurt out the same line or two such as NCR patrolmen who mention "patrolling the Mojave waste almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter" and, the many denizen of The New Vegas Strip who talk about someone entering the casino The Lucky 38 many hours after watching you leave the place. The ones who will talk directly too you will look directly into your face as the world freezes around the two of you, just like almost every other Bethesda RPG since Morrowind. It's a bit disturbing talking to some NPC's, especially in dark areas where their eyes seem to light up.

Fallout New Vegas features three radio stations, all playing the same 6 or so songs on continuous loops broken up by the Disc Jockey. Black Mountain Radio is the one that you can't hear everywhere but it was my favorite station since it was run by insane Super Mutants. In between songs Tabitha would give descriptions of New Utobitha (this is what she refers to as the Black Mountain area) and descriptions of the different types of Super Mutants. Sadly, she's also the one who you can permanently oust during a quest. Wayne Newton takes on the role of Mr. New Vegas on his own radio station. Unlike Three Dog, you never actually meet Mr. New Vegas but he is the one who tells the news of your latest exploits in New Vegas.

Unlike Fallout 3, New Vegas features a Hardcore Mode. What this adds to the game is the need to eat, sleep and, drink water. In Fallout 3, you had to manage your radiation level (which was relatively easy). Hardcore mode is basically just more of that only now instead of becoming irradiated, your character gets hungry, thirsty and tired over time. It adds more to people who like to role-play but honestly, I never paid this mode much attention after my second playthrough. It isn't a bad mode it just isn't for me personally. I love how soda dehydrates you, just like my gym teachers would always say. The only thing missed was the need to urinate and defecate like your characters need to do in The Sims.

New Vegas also has an emphasis on character companions. You could gain a dog follower in Fallout 3 but New Vegas has a multitude of characters who will join you and even turn on you depending on which factions you chose to help. This boils down to most of them trying to kill you if you get too friendly with Caesar's Legion but it's still progress. Also, unlike Fallout 3, your dog companion in New Vegas is a robot dog given to you by the leader of The Kings which automatically makes it better. The only drawback is, you can't nickname your companions or, rename your new robo-dog.

Overall, I love this game but it isn't perfect. As of November 16th, 2011 (the day this is being written) it is still possible to cheat the game and get a new character up to the highest level through not one but up to three glitched characters. Stats are also a bit different than Fallout 3, big weapons and explosives merging into one skill set and, perks being distributed every even level (2, 4, 6, etc). There are more weapons and a greater variety of weapons from dynamite and lever-action shotguns to, grenade launchers and, Plasma Casters. The addition of iron-sight and, true aiming makes gun-play a lot more rewarding than it was in Fallout 3. The scenery gets somewhat samey but not nearly as tunnel-oriented as Fallout 3 and, the music gets downright dull. Luckily, the action is always fun and visceral even if you do end up as a monster's chew-toy.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Fallout: New Vegas (Collector's Edition) (US, 10/19/10)

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