Fallout: New Vegas

If you haven’t already spent the last few days getting stuck into Fallout 3: New Vegas (it landed on our shores earlier this week) then you may very well be wondering either what the big deal is, or, if you already have Fallout 3, why you should bother getting the next one.

For those of you who haven’t yet played FO3, you should check out Angus’s excellent review (http://nzgamer.com/reviews/793/fallout-3.html). If you’re not one for back story, well, Fallout 3 is essentially Oblivion with rocket launchers and mutants. It’s one post-apocalyptic kooky roller coaster ride, with everything you’d hope for from a Fallout title: great story, bizarre characters, an awesome environment, and that wonderful grey area that comes with games that let players make choices about how they want to play. In this regard, New Vegas is no different from Fallout 3.

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If anything, it’s better.

I realised this, somewhat belatedly, when I found myself trying to get into the heavily-guarded area of The Strip (the flashy casino area at the heart of New Vegas’s environment). I kept getting stopped by guard robots who wouldn’t let me in unless I could prove I was a) respectable or b) rich. I was neither. I needed another option.

I wound up using a projectile flame launcher (a sort of flame-bomb-dropper) that I’d pried from the cold dead hands of a bad guy earlier in the day. It took several attempts, but I eventually managed to fry the group of sentry robots (all while they hurled grenades at me). A brief note on the screen advised my reputation in the area had become reviled, but I ignored it and plunged on through the now-unguarded gates.

On the other side, the rest of the sentry bots, keening for their lost kin, attacked me mercilessly. I dove into the nearest casino, thinking I’d find refuge. Instead the posh snoots ran for cover, telling me I was well known, but not for anything good. I couldn’t even play a hand of blackjack without getting a look of disdain from the croupier.

Desperate, I followed the quest trail up to the thirteenth floor, where using all my feminine wiles I slept with (and then murdered) the man who had tried to kill me earlier in the game. I could have shot him outright. Or, I could have also given up at that stage. Good old Fallout; it always gives you the third option. But it’s never straightforward - there’s always something there that surprises you, no matter how many games you’ve played.

New Vegas is set thousands of miles away from the original (which you’ll recall was based in the Washington DC area). Instead of the depressingly bleak landscape of blasted rock and rubble of levelled cities, New Vegas is set in the livelier-than-you’d-think desert area of Nevada. Sure, it’s called the Mojave Wasteland, but if you look closely, you’ll see fruiting cacti, jalapeño peppers, and all sorts of other signs of life (more on the fauna shortly).

Not only is there life, but most of the area is actually in pretty good nick, having avoided the bombs that levelled the bigger cities. There’s even a good source of regular power, in the Hoover Dam, that just keeps chugging along. In fact, with New Vegas as the shining centre of the area, there’s an interesting sort of desert-y Rat Pack vibe, that’s pleasantly different from Fallout 3.

But if you think things are easier out West, with all that sunshine, you’d better think again. Unlike Fallout 3, where you begin the game as you’re being born, your first introduction to New Vegas is a short cut scene where you, a courier, are robbed of your precious cargo by gangsters, then shot and buried in a shallow grave. It’s kill or be killed time, baby.

It’s a harsh welcome, but hey, even in the three years since Fallout 3 was set, things have changed. Everyone is struggling for power: The New California Republic Army, The NCR Rangers, The Great Khans, a group of ex-slavers known as the Legion, and escaped convicts like the Powder Gang, are just a few of the different factions you’ll come across. And they won’t just let you pass on by; during the course of your travels you’ll also have to choose sides. Kill a Great Khan, a member of the Legion - or even one of Mr. House's robots - and it’ll affect your reputation. As your fame (or infamy) grows, it affects the way different groups of people react to you. Fortunately you’re also able to disguise yourself in different faction outfits - as long as you don’t let people look at you too closely.

As well as the other leaders all looking for power, the other main figure of the piece is the mysterious Mr. House, who lives in the Lucky 38 casino with his army of robots, and hasn’t been seen by a single soul for over 200 years. He’s somehow linked to your missing courier package, and it’s this thin thread that you’ll follow as you emerge into the brave new world.

While this, the most direct path, was the direction I took for the review, there is a plethora of side-quests, intriguing characters, collectable items (including sarsaparilla bottle caps that are rumoured to lead to a legendary treasure) and all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore. From helping a girl named Sunny Smiles shoot lizards, to hostage negotiations with the Great Khans, or even just collecting enough cards so you can play a game of Caravan, it’ll be a while before you run out of things to do in New Vegas.

As well as content, there are a load of changes that have been made to the gameplay mechanics. There are new perks (including a wonderful option for Wild Wasteland, which unleashes the most bizarre and silly elements of post-apocalyptic America) as well as new weapons, wildlife, and different radio stations, with some great cowboy tunes on offer.

Survival is tough, with geckos, coyotes, and radscorpions everywhere, as well as night stalkers (a hideous combination of coyote and rattlesnake) and the critters responsible for all my reloads: the cazador, a sort of horrible giant fly. But just in case that’s not enough of a challenge for you, New Vegas introduces HARDCORE MODE, which brings with it a much more realistic gameplay, where players fight daily battles not just with cazadors, but also starvation, dehydration and exhaustion. Stimpacks only heal over time, and if you’ve got a bung limb, you’ll need to go see a doctor to get it fixed. Plus ammo actually has weight. So why bother? Well, apparently if you play all the way through the main quest on hardcore mode, you get a special reward (oooh!).

There’s also been some changes to crafting. Now, not only can you create and repair weapons, but you can also upgrade them with scopes, increased capacity, increased damage, reduced spread and weight. You can also create ammo at special reloading tables, where you combine shells, powder, and buckshot to make new ammunition, or break down other types of ammo for components. You can also cook at camp fires! The changes are a nice touch, in my opinion.

Sure, there are drawbacks. On the 360 my pipboy would occasionally freeze the screen (as would the occasional VATS mode) and from time to time I’d find myself being attacked by buggily-invisible enemies. Plus, I’ve heard the PC version has some problems with loading quicksaves from a previous session. And for people who like a few more rails on their gaming experience, there’s still the very real possibility of creating a character who takes to the desert and never comes back again. In addition, relatively long loading times on the 360 made moving from area to area on The Strip annoying after a while.

But this is one instance where, despite the glitches, I genuinely didn’t care. New Vegas is just way too much fun. It’s got everything in a game that I love, from a huge open world to explore, interesting characters to meet, challenging critters to fight, an awesome environment, great soundtrack and bloody mayhem. When it comes time for me to hand in the review copy, I’m going to be racing out to buy - yes, buy - my own copy of New Vegas.

Fallout: New Vegas
"Apocalypse; yes, please!"
- Fallout: New Vegas
Follow Own it? Rating: R18   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min


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Comments Comments (20)

Posted by leopardsqueezy
On Sunday 24 Oct 2010 2:51 PM
This game is completely awesome. I took the day off work specifically to buy and play it. Pity about the technical things really, they are so frequent, and in the case of load times longwinded, that they do unfortunately dampen the experience a tad. It is, however, still pretty much the best thing since the last Fallout.
Posted by CheeseTastic
On Sunday 24 Oct 2010 3:32 PM
Gah. Got exams til the 8th then i'm totally on this. Sucks to hear about the bugs. However they seem to be blown out of proportion my a vocal minority. Everyone I know who has it hasn't experienced anything bad apart from the odd freeze/CTD and weird physics which is really to be expected in a game this size.

I guess I'll find out for myself in a couple of weeks.
Posted by ChatterboxZombie
On Sunday 24 Oct 2010 8:05 PM
any game that can still be that fun through an assload of bugs deserves praise.
Posted by KapaiZombie
On Sunday 24 Oct 2010 8:56 PM
I hired it out as I really enjoyed Fallout 3, yet the bugs are very annoying, hindered my enjoyment with it and I'm usually not bothered by it. The game crashed after a couple of hours and the game lags constantly.
Although the game itself is great fun, I just don't think I will go out and purchase this until a patch solves these problems.
Posted by JMavz
On Sunday 24 Oct 2010 9:33 PM
Can't wait to play it! Have to wait until Tuesday
Posted by CheeseTastic
On Sunday 24 Oct 2010 9:41 PM
24 October 2010, 08:56 PM Reply to KapaiZombie
I hired it out as I really enjoyed Fallout 3, yet the bugs are very annoying, hindered my enjoyment with it and I'm usually not bothered by it. The game crashed after a couple of hours and the game lags constantly.
Although the game itself is great fun, I just don't think I will go out and purchase this until a patch solves these problems.
Have you downloaded the patch they put out a couple of days ago? Also Bethesda seems to recommend clearing the cache out if you're on a 360
Posted by nigglej
On Monday 25 Oct 2010 2:27 PM
Gonna buy it sometime before Christmas once they release a patch for it. No time to play at the moment due to exams.
Posted by leopardsqueezy
On Monday 25 Oct 2010 5:09 PM
Yeah don't let the small glitchy things put you off.
I'll say this - I find the tech hiccups in this game WAY less irritating than, say, being killed by invisible cougars in Red Dead Redemption.
Posted by Moneyshot
On Tuesday 26 Oct 2010 9:31 AM
The music is dull and repetitive compared to FO3, the open desert of Vegas is ok but not as interesting as the original.
Loading time and thing appearing from out of now where are long, the game crashed once and stalled 3 times on my ps3.
Good to be back in the fall out zone but I dont think its a 9 or a must buy.
Posted by Inferis
On Wednesday 27 Oct 2010 11:03 AM
Great review. Still my fave game series ever. Gone a long way to fix some of the faults of FO3, like the interminable goddamn subway wandering.. Plus weapon mods and iron sights, FTW!
Posted by wangwei1
On Thursday 28 Oct 2010 9:55 PM
How buggie is the PS3 version? Can anyone played tell me?
Posted by Moneyshot
On Friday 29 Oct 2010 11:38 AM
28 October 2010, 09:55 PM Reply to wangwei1
How buggie is the PS3 version? Can anyone played tell me?
It ok..just a few crashes/long loading times and random events like guys dropping out of the sky and a few misplaced rocks etc.Still playable just not smooth and the frame rate looks so so.
Posted by uk_john
On Friday 29 Oct 2010 10:51 PM
Only hyped games like this can be full of bugs and still get a 9.0! Can you imagine a less hyped/smaller game from a smaller publisher getting a 9.0 if it was buggy? No, neither do I!

Professional reviews make no sense any more. I only rely on user reviews and always wait a month before even considering buying any of these hyped games.
Posted by Sonic
On Saturday 30 Oct 2010 3:22 PM
I wouldn't consider this a review, as much as a explanation of things you did in the game.
Wheres the mention of the Fact that the Tired old oblivion engine still crashes the PS3, the fact the graphics haven't changed, the fact the spawning objects often spawn inside one another.
After years in the making they could have at least tried to fix half the bugs in Fallout 3.
Instead most are back with vengeance.
Don't get me wrong I'm a huge fan of FO3 and Had New Vegas on Pre-order (collectors pack) something I rarely do with games.
I just couldn't help feeling a huge disappointment when the OPENING SCENE of the game had bugs, It crashed 4 times within my first 4 hours of gameplay, and the fact that Bethesda/obsidian advise the "fix" for the P# crashes is to "not load more than once after powering on the system". which means if you die, you have to re-load.. so don't die unless you want to REBOOT your ps3.
On PC sure it may run fine, (although I've heard reports of the bugs still present).
I'm going to blog and do my own review of this one, because sadly NZG and GT's have both done the same, given a half made game a full game score.

The upside? the poker chips and caravan cards are kewl, and the Graphic novel is very pretty. =)
Posted by CheeseTastic
On Saturday 30 Oct 2010 5:57 PM
Keep in mind man, that its quite feasible the reviewer never encountered any bugs. I've got friends that didnt even realise that there was stuff wrong with the game, while others are getting them all the time. I had the same experience with FO: 3.

Seems to just be luck of the draw. Which is pretty lame. At least they are putting patches out, some companies dont even bother.
Posted by Wozza
On Saturday 30 Oct 2010 11:06 PM
Um, did you guys read the last two paragraphs? This is the first and only review I have read and I knew about the bugs.

Haven't picked this up myself yet due to other commitments, but eager to have a play, although it may be a little too simular to Fallout 3 for me. Was a little gutted to read about the glitches.
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Sunday 31 Oct 2010 10:13 AM
Ive played FO3 twice, once on xbox and once on ps3, and havent picked this up because it just didnt appeal, as sonic said things just havent changed much from oblivion and FO3, dont get me wrong FO3 is awesome but think i havent picked this up coz im just sort of over-it, feel like i need a change into something different. Ill play it at some point though...
Posted by Jess
On Sunday 31 Oct 2010 11:05 AM
No bugs for me in the initial opening scene or even the first few hours of play. There was only one area where the pip-boy and invisible enemies really drove me crazy; for the rest of the game I had no tech hassles at all.

Then again, I'm only a recent convert to consoles - I'm used to all the hassles and headdesking involved with getting a new PC game to run (drivers, DEP, graphics card quibbles, odd registration requirements), so a few buggy bits on a console game - while annoying - isn't a deal breaker for me.
Posted by Deanology
On Thursday 16 Dec 2010 4:34 PM
Interesting review, i may have to give this game a shot..
I enjoyed Fallout3 though, so was expecting something fun.
Posted by shigeru_yoshida
On Sunday 17 Jul 2011 12:37 PM
Great game, heaps of improvements on FO3 only complaint is that they didnt upgrade the graphics engine. But apart from that 10/10