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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Role-Playing Game

 

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

 

Developer

Obsidian Entertainment

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

October 19, 2010

 

 

- Still visually impressive with the Fallout 3 engine
- Excellent storylines and characters
- Top flight voice talent
- Feels more like a sequel to the original games than an expansion to Fallout 3

 

 

- (As of this writing) too many bugs in too many places
- Broken quests kill enjoyment very quickly
- Possibly too much stuff for the more casual RPG player to digest

 

 

Review: Fallout 3 (360)

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon (PC)

Review: Planscape Torment (PC)

 

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Fallout: New Vegas

Score: 6.5 / 10

 

fallout new vegas          fallout new vegas

 

About a year ago, a friend of mine was running a pen-and-paper RPG campaign using the Exodus rulebook, a d20 setting which had originally been based on Fallout before Bethesda took the license. So it was a pleasant surprise to finally have an opportunity to run around areas which had previously been the exclusive province of my imagination. Obsidian Entertainment takes the Fallout 3 engine and deals up a stand-alone expansion pack that takes players way out west to the bright lights of New Vegas, with control of the largest pure water source on the continent and the future of what once was the western United States as the prize in a winner-take-all battle royale. Unfortunately, Obsidian continues their streak of busted flushes when

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- Xbox 360 Game Reviews

- Role-Playing Game Reviews

taking over the reins of established franchises.

It's been a while since I played Fallout 3, so becoming reacquainted with the graphics engine has been a good experience. While one might think that one barren irradiated wasteland looks much like another, the developers realized that Nevada, particularly the parts around the real Las Vegas, is already a natural wasteland. Much as Bethesda did to try and capture the feel of

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the Potomac River basin, so too has Obsidian captured the feel of the Mojave Desert. New Vegas itself, while definitely different than the real Las Vegas, carries the "2050's" style from the previous game and takes it to the sort of gaudy glitzy level that evokes the early days of Las Vegas. Character animations remain smooth for the most part, with lip synching during spoken dialog still well matched, but collision detection a little shaky at times. Textures still look great, though there was a bit of cracking here and there. For a two year old engine, New Vegas holds up beautifully from the visual perspective.

Without question, the biggest draw in New Vegas aside from the gameplay is the music and voice acting. While Fallout 3 had a few big names attached to it, New Vegas goes hog wild and brings in a roster of actors that would be completely natural for a good action flick. You've got veteran voice actors like Michael Dorn and Rene Auberjonois, comedians Dave Foley and Rob Corddry, television notables Zachary Levi and Matthew Perry, geek stalwarts Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton, and old school gravitas from Ron Perlman and Kris Kristofferson. Hell, they even managed to work in Wayne Newton, which is not only totally appropriate, but adds that extra little touch that helps players connect with the setting. As for the music, Inon Zur does another excellent job with the game's score, but he's overshadowed by radio playlists containing Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole among others. The sound effects, while not nearly so flashy as the music and voice acting, help deepen the experience. Weapon sounds are crisp, though occasionally undistinguished when attempting to differentiate between certain models of weapon. Ambient sounds not only well executed but thoughtful in their employment. You don't hear something that you shouldn't expect to hear unless there's a very specific reason. There's very little to complain about in terms of the audio in New Vegas.

It's something of a shock when you dig into the gameplay on New Vegas and discover wonderful storylines and quest arcs undone by weird bugs and seemingly thoughtless solution failures. It boggles the mind how the same developers who give us such wonderful, personable, engaging characters for companions can completely bollox up the means to keep track of those characters. At the time of this writing, a major patch is slated to come out sometime in the next week or so. From what I can read of the patch notes, it's still fixing DLC conflicts and autosave corruption issues, as well as updating probably every single quest in the game. The real kick in the teeth is that Obsidian can't seem to get the game working from a technical standpoint, despite being part of the original Fallout creation team so many years before. The game runs, to be sure, but it doesn't run smoothly insofar as gameplay is concerned.

The game starts after your near-death experience at the hands of a mobster from the New Vegas Strip named Benny. The character creation process in the doctor's office in Goodsprings is a little bit faster than in Fallout 3, as you're not having to grow up in stages.

 

fallout new vegas          fallout new vegas


One change which will certainly help players in terms of character focus is the combination of the Big Guns and Small Guns skills into a catch-all Guns skill, with heavy weapons either being assigned to Guns or Energy Weapons, depending on the nature of the ammo used. You can now purchase and even craft different types of ammo to fit circumstances, such as armor piercing rounds or hollowpoints. Additionally, you can also craft different types of food, medical supplies, and "performance enhancers" provided you have a sufficiently high level in the appropriate skills and can find the right materials

Companion characters can help keep the journey from being too lonely, though as was mentioned, bugs in the game can make a companion disappear, never to return again.


If you're feeling brave, or you want to prove that you really could survive the post-apocalypse, the game features a Hardcore Mode where you need to not only keep an eye on health and radiation exposure, but also hunger, thirst, and sleep, as well as closer attention to encumbrance. Throughout your travels, you'll find settlements who could use your help and large factions that will call you friend or enemy depending on your actions. Some are old favorites like the Brotherhood of Steel and the New California Republic. Others are new and interesting like the hyper-militaristic Caesar's Legion, the thuggish Powder Gang, and the enigmatic Mr. House. Of course, not everybody is willing to sit down and talk with you, and such situations demand hot lead and hotter plasma bolts. This occasionally becomes more complicated when a bug arises and certain enemies are not only rooted to the ground, but are invulnerable to all attacks. While reloading the game can correct this problem, it's bugs like that one which put a serious crimp on the fun. Some quests in the game can't be completed due to bugs while others leave players hanging without any resolution most likely because of poor design, a lack of information to tell a player they've reached the end of the line in the quest, even if the actual result isn't immediately obvious.

The highest compliment that I can pay this game is that it feels like a natural sequel to the first two Fallout games released by Interplay, which is a very good thing indeed, and which marks a very welcome change from the somewhat grimmer tone Bethesda took with Fallout 3. At the same time, it pains me that Obsidian Entertainment once again fails to bring their "A" game to a title which not only means a lot to the fans, but should mean a lot to the devs. This game got released too early. Had it been released around the holidays, and with the collection of bugs and broken quests eliminated, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a great gift for gamers. As it is, I can only say that it's beautiful but tragically flawed.

 

- Axel Cushing

(December 17, 2010)

 

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