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Supplier: Bethesda
Price: 49.99Reviewed: Nov 15, 2010

Fallout New Vegas
Author: T_H_Schafer -- Posted: 2010-11-15
Fallout. For the uninitiated it's a game where the world has gone belly up after some kind of nuclear what-have-you and you're there to pick up the pieces, or scatter the pieces, or just sift through the pieces for all the valuable things.

"War. War never changes." At least that's the Fallout mythos. However in New Vegas, war has changed. I guess on one level it hasn't, everyone wants power and they're going to kill to get it etc. etc. but now the game world is populated with a hefty amount of factions vying for control of the land and, specifically, Hoover Dam. It isn't so black and white anymore or even a clear case of good guys vs. bad guys. Certainly some of the factions in New Vegas are good or do good things, but all you have to do is find another group before you realize everyone is oppressing someone somehow. It's up to you as the player to decide which faction you side with the most and New Vegas happens to be full of them. The cool thing is you can't be universally hated or liked anymore as your karma level runs independent of your faction reputation. Every faction considers your reputation, but the whole world isn't going to hate you if you steal too much like they would in Fallout 3.

The game doesn't deviate much from the Fallout 3 formula. New Vegas is still the same first person shooter / RPG concoction as before. You still have V.A.T.S, where you're allowed to freeze the action and pick off enemies limbs, or aim for the head if that's your thing. You get percentages based on distance, the type of weapon you're using and your characters stats. In New Vegas you have the option to aim down the sights of your weapon, something missing from Fallout 3. I found that the iron sights were a welcome addition. It wasn't that I didn't like V.A.T.S., but there were definitely times I wanted to aim on the fly in Fallout 3 and the iron sights give you a much more refined way to aim properly.

Another noted change from Fallout 3 is the freedom of mission structures. You still encounter NPCs with quests and such but now it feels a lot looser. Say someone wants you to do a quick errand before they hand over that key-card to the next area. If you don't mind a kick in your karma you can slip a live grenade into their pocket. Decide you'd rather just take someones nifty helmet and forgo the quest altogether? You get the idea. This simple sounding change made the world seem a lot more realistic (or at least a touch more Vegas) when your actions don't count for much outside a small circle of individuals, no matter how sinister.

The sheer amount of locations and interesting missions is what Fallout New Vegas is all about. I wouldn't want to spoil any of that so I won't talk about it. But I will include a couple pictures to give you a hint of what I'm talking about.

The visuals are certainly starting to show some age in Fallout New Vegas, mostly because the game engine has been kicking since Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It has been tweaked some. You get some pretty Vegas lights and some noticeably more detailed character models but it lacks the detail of a lot of recent titles and even some less than recent titles. Despite that the game looks good. There were still times where I was impressed but mostly the game just looks alright.

The sound design goes both ways. At first the radio stations are great. The songs lend themselves well to the new western atmosphere but there's only a handful of them. With such little variety they quickly start to done to the point where you'll probably want to turn the radio off. That isn't all bad though because the sound scape outside of the radio is pretty fantastic. Every location has a kind of minimalistic score orchestrated for it. It also tends to give the game a more serious tone too. As I went about sans radio for a while I tended to feel a touch more uneasy about bursting the local wildlife to bloody pieces with a hunting rifle but when I flipped the radio back on it turned into a kind of goofy antics extravaganza again. Albeit a hint more gory extravaganza.

When I first started New Vegas there were quite a lot of glitches. After two patches though, things seem to be running pretty smooth. I still notice a few things here and there that unnerve me, but nothing here is game breaking. Though there are things that simply don't add up. In one instance I saved some prisoners from a crazy drug den and they proceeded to simply crouch and make their way past around twenty different fiends without so much as a sneeze.

And sometimes there were bushes in the sky. But if you squint they just look like little prickly rainclouds.

New Vegas is great. If you loved Fallout 3 then it's a no-brainer. If you haven't played Fallout 3 you might even get a kick out of it anyway. It certainly isn't as much of a revamp as Fallout 3 was but it does refine what was there enough to warrant a purchase.

Overall Rating:
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