I blame Bethesda’s Fallout 3 for sucking many hours of my life away, wandering in the Capital Wasteland. While I never finished either of the first two games, I definitely completed the main mission
, many side missions, and all the DLC
s that were produced
for the third game. When I saw the Fallout series would continue with Fallout: New Vegas, I was pretty excited. This time around, Obsidian Entertainment took over to provide a new chapter in the Fallout series.
Fallout: New Vegas takes place in and around the areas of Sin City. The bombs that have devastated the world have missed Las Vegas so you’re going to be traveling through some areas that aren’t falling apart from nuclear war but from decay and neglect. The game takes place about three years after the events of Fallout 3 but no one from that game appears in New Vegas making this game a completely separate entity.
As a courier, your luck turns for the worst as you’re shot in the head and left for dead. Victor, a robot, rescues you and thus begins your adventure in finding out why someone tried to kill you. As with the previous game, you get to design how your character looks and plays out in the beginning. While the left for dead mechanism has been done to death, I did enjoy the story that unfolded as I wandered in and around New Vegas.
So what’s new in New Vegas? While Fallout 3 had a few factions such as the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave, Fallout: New Vegas ups the ante more with 10 factions. Not all of them are major players in the game but you’ll have an opportunity to alter your relationships with them. Some NPCs will act differently if you have a favorable relationship with one faction. It’s a delicate balance on who you want to be friends with and who you want as enemies. You can even be the ultimate loner and piss them all off if you wish. One of the great things about Fallout is the ability for the game to give you a multitude of choices and the faction element brings another one into the game.
Fallout 3 had the workbench to let you craft items. Fallout: New Vegas adds a rolling bench and a campfire to let you craft even more things. One of the things I like is that you can now gather some vegetation in the world and use the campfire to create items. I paid closer attention to the world I wandered around, looking for items I can pick up to use and create some other helpful aids. You’re now also able to craft ammo and make better ammo for your guns. The crafting mechanism has been improved upon in Fallout: New Vegas, which I used a lot more now than I did in Fallout 3.
I am glad that Obsidian added the ability to modify weapons to Fallout: New Vegas, as I always liked the ability to mod the items I have in other games. You can change the way a weapon works with mods, but you’re only allowed one mod per weapon and you can’t take that mod off, which is a little disappointing. The mods do adjust the value of the weapon as well and you can purchase weapons that have already been modded.Combat’s similar to Fallout 3 with the addition of iron sights aiming added in. The addition though still makes it tough to play as a first person shooter and I found myself spending most of my time in VATS unless I was out of action points. It was just too hard to aim and I never felt comfortable playing this way. I just don’t think the engine is conducive to making combat through a first person view any fun. Those kill cams that were only present in VATS in Fallout 3 does appear randomly in Fallout: New Vegas on regular non-VAT kills so you can at least experience the carnage that can happen if you don’t go into VATs. Also, melee weapons get some special moves so this might entice you to use some more melee attacks.
Obsidian decided that one partner wasn’t enough as now you are able to have two companions with you, although there’s a catch. You’re allowed one humanoid and one non-humanoid companion to travel with you. For example, you can pick up Craig Boone, who is an ex-NCR sniper and have an eyebot tag along as well. Where you had to glitch the game to get a few companions in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas gives you this supported although I can see people trying to glitch the game to get multiple humanoid companions.
A cool thing added with companions in Fallout: New Vegas is that companions have their own perks that can enhance your experience. With Boone, he has a perk that will highlight enemies in red when you are aiming so you can pick them out easier. With the eyebot, you’ll be able able to detect enemies are a far range and target those that are cloaked in VATS. So, while companions give you more fire power, they also add other special abilities that will benefit you making the choice of companions to be a little more strategic.
To easier facilitate control over your companions, Obsidian added a companion control wheel which gives you a nicer, more visual approach to giving your companions orders. You can still talk to them and tell them how you want them to follow you or open up their inventory that way, but the wheel makes it quicker. It’s a nice addition to controlling your followers reducing the time needed to perform certain actions with them.
As with the previous game, all the enemies that your companions kill will add to your experience points. Now, leveling up is the same as you can increase your skills and get new perks but there’s been a minor change with New Vegas. You’re now only able to choose a new perk every other level up. With Fallout 3, I thought it was too easy to just build up an uber-character with perks out the wazoo. I like the change in Fallout: New Vegas as you won’t be some super character by the end of the game and it makes you think even more on what perks you want to pick up to define your character. Some are going to hate it, but I like the change myself as I still felt challenged in the later levels of my character because I didn’t have a plethora of perks to help me out. Speaking of perks, there are 80+ in the game with some familiar and some new so there are a few new ones to utilize in New Vegas.
Spread throughout the world are magazines that you can read to temporarily boost some of your skills. Reading them can boost a skill by 10 points or so and they are pretty handy when you need a certain skill level to complete and objective but won’t be leveling up anytime soon to get the needed points. There are still books than can permanently raise your skills a few points but the magazines are a nice addition for that quick boost.Money’s divided into more than just caps this time around as there are NCR money and Legion money as well. Bottle caps are still the major item used for purchase and trade though. Since the game takes place in the Vegas area, casinos are prominent as you get farther into the game and where there’s casinos, there’s gambling. Fallout: New Vegas supports a small range of activities from Blackjack, Roulette, and slot machines. You can literally spend hours on end sitting at a table and gamble like in real Vegas. You can easily earn quick cash if you’re lucky and Obsidian did a pretty good job at putting in an entire gambling ecosystem into the game.
Graphically, the game seems to have minor improvements over how Fallout 3 looked. Instead of different shades of grey, the desert area gives you different shades of orange. The animation, textures, and character models seem to be very similar to Fallout 3 so those looking for a vast graphical improvement will be disappointed. Although the engine, in my opinion, still does a great job at producing nice environmental effects that really draw you into the game world. Seeing little swirls of dust or dirt floating in the light beams coming from a window inside a building; all these little touches added up to a very cool environment to travel around in. I’m guessing we’ll have to wait for Fallout 4 to see a brand new look.
The same wonder though, for me, when traveling around the vast areas in and around New Vegas that I felt when I first explored the Capital Wasteland, returned when playing New Vegas. Seeing various unique objects in the distance appear as you walk around made me really want to go and explore that area. The world is huge, and I mean HUGE so there are a ton of things to see and discover. While the engine is showing its age, it still does a great job at portraying some cool and interesting areas to peak your interest.
Hardcore mode reminds me of playing old Ultima games a little bit. Back in the old days, you were forced to make sure you had enough food or you’d starve and your health would slowly degenerate. Hardcore mode takes it a step further as besides food, you have to make sure you’re hydrated and you get enough sleep. Deprivation in any of the three will slowly kill you and generally make your life pretty sucky. Also, healing takes time rather being instant and if you need to take care of a body part that’s crippled, you’re going to need medical equipment to do this. Finally, ammunition now has weight so you can’t hoard it all making management of your inventory even more important. It’s certainly a very hard mode to play in and something that takes a good amount of management skills to play through. At least you can turn this mode on and off at anytime (unless you go into Casual difficulty) so you can try it out for a bit and see if you want to play it this way. Personally, this isn’t one mode I’m all that interested in, but I’m sure there will be many gamers trying their hand at living through New Vegas this way.
Bugs are still prominent though in the engine and I’ve had my share of oddities that happened in the game. For example, I walked into a bar and saw one of the patrons standing in the middle of a table as if he had noclip on and phased in there. I also experienced a lock up or two where the entire game froze just by walking around in the desert. My game’s installed on the hard drive so I don’t attribute it to a disc read error and no other game on my hard drive locks up randomly. When playing this type of game though with so much content, you’re bound too run into a few bugs that crept through the testing phase but it’s just disappointing to see it creep up more so than not on an engine that’s a few years old.
Fallout: New Vegas does seem more like Fallout 3.5, but that’s not a bad thing. Obsidian Entertainment has added some nice features to game and the story isn’t too bad. There’s more than enough content here though to justify the full price tag in my opinion. For fans of Fallout 3, this is a nice purchase as I enjoyed myself back in the world of Fallout again. Considering that each DLC of Fallout 3 costed $10 and averaged around 6 hours of gameplay, Fallout: New Vegas adds 100+ hours for $60 with some improvements making it worth it even if you consider it to be a minor improvement over Fallout 3 in terms of technology.