Fallout: New Vegas
Game title: Fallout: New Vegas
Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation 3, X-Box 360 and PC
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Release date: October 19, 2010
Overall rating: 7.5/10
How do I review a game like Fallout: New Vegas? In a lot of ways, it is like Fallout 3. There are not many changes here. Everything that was great about that game is great about this one, so there is a lot to love about Fallout: New Vegas. It isn't all sunshine and roses, though. This game is so bogged down with technical problems that it almost feels flat out broken. The game is fun when it works and extremely frustrating when it does. I want to love it and rate it highly, but I can't. It just has too many problems for me to give it a stellar rating. Why does this game earn a 7.5 despite being an amazing role playing game? Lets take a look.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
For starters, if you have played Fallout 3, you know what to expect here. There are not many changes from that game. In this game, you will explore a massive, open world with bunches of towns and communities you can visit and a lot of sites to see outside of them out in the wasteland. There are hundreds of characters you can talk to to progress the story along or get side quests from. There are a number of characters that can join you in your quest, as well as a number of robots or pets that can fight along side you, as well. Everything that helped make Fallout 3 great is still here. That being said, the wow factor that you got the first time that you stepped out of the vault in Fallout 3 is gone because you already know what to expect going onto it. It is still a lot of fun, though.
The biggest gameplay change that was made to this is a wheel that has a series of commands you can input with your buddies or pets/robots. This wheel makes dealing with them a lot easier than it was in Fallout 3. If you want to have them carry some items for you, it is easy to do so. You use the wheel to open their inventory. If you want to talk to them, you select the talk command. It is all a lot simpler and easier to access than talking to them to do everything with them in Fallout 3. It makes AI partner management a breeze in this game, and it takes away a bit of the tedium of the previous entry in the series.
Also new to Fallout New Vegas is the inclusion of factions. This game contains quite a number of groups that react in one way or another to your actions. Groups such as the Powder Gangers, the New California Republic, the Brotherhood of Steel and Caesar's Legion will either love you or hate you depending on how you treat them, and these stats are tracked. You can see in the games menus which groups like you and which groups do not. Allying yourself with one group over another will gain you benefits that you might not have otherwise. It is, also, cool to have all of the bandits and raiders in the wasteland have their own groups and allegiances. It adds to the overall depth of the game and gives even more weight to your decisions than Fallout 3 had.
Fallout 3 has other new elements that I did not really mess with in the game. When you are at camp fires, you can mix ingredients to make things like healing items. There are work benches where you can break down ammo and put them back together to make new types of ammo. There is, also, a greater deal of weapon modification than there was in Fallout 3. All of these are fairly minor elements, and, like I said, I did not explore any of these when I played through this game. As such, I cannot tell you much about any of them. They are there, though, if you would like to explore any of them on your own when you play through the game.
Graphics - 7
This games graphics are one of it's bigger problems, though not it's biggest problem. This game is running on an engine for a game released in 2005, and it looks like it. This is not a good thing, and Fallout New Vegas looks very aged because of it. Jagged edges and clunky animations run rampant in this game. It looks like Obsidian and Bethesda have not tried to improve this engine much since The Elder Scrolls Oblivion back around the time of the launch of the Xbox 360. Graphics have come a long way since then, especially on the Playstation 3 (the platform that I played this game on). Using an engine that old is a major disappointment. This does not even show the improvements of Valve's Source engine, and it really needed something new.
This game is filled to the brim with jagged edges. Everywhere you look, you will find structures or lines with jagged edges, and there really is no need for this at this point. It should not look this dated. It has blury textures and mudded visuals in places. Some areas of the game look murky, and it almost feels like they were trying to push the engine too far. There is slow down, but even this doesn't always make sense. The frame rate begins to stutter at times when it should not. There will be only one or two enemies in screen, and the frame will slow to a crawl for no reason. It makes no sense. The animation in this game is, also, not good at all. Characters animate strangely when they walk. It all looks stiff and ridgid. That is a shame because it can really take you out of a game that you want to deeply immerse yourself into.
That being said, there are some moments that do look cool. Eventually in the game, you will reach the Vegas Strip. The Strip itself is not all that big, but it is probably the most grapically impressive area of the game. Just like in real Vegas, there are massive casinos and bright lights everywhere, and it is filled with people. Inside the casinos, there are impressive sets. There are tables, chandaleers and everything. It really is a breath of fresh air from the rest of the game, which is the usual drab greys and browns that people have gotten sick of in every other game. Then again, in this game, that makes sense. There are some other areas that look cool, as well. The vaults, quite often, provide you with some of the more interesting and striking visuals in the game and are fun to explore because of it.
Sound - 8.5
The voice acting and music in Fallout 3 combined to make it one of the best sounding games of this generation, and it is a hard act to follow. To step back onto those shoes, they really had to bring something huge to the table, and they did. The voice cast for this game is impressive, and it includes quite a lot of lisenced tracks from the 50's and before, as well. This one is very different from Fallout 3 in that the soundtrack has more of a country and western feel to it than that game did.
The voice acting in this game is impressive, much like it was in Fallout 3. The series has always had good voice work, and this game is no exception. Every character is well voiced. There are some voice actors that turn in a better performance than others. That is to be expected with such a large cast of characters, but none of them are bad. The voice cast includes quite a few well known voice actors, as well. It is the most of any entry in the series. It includes Michael Dorn, Wayne Newton. Matthew Perry, Danny Trejo and Felicia Day. Ron Pearlman returns as the narrator Newton, in particular, makes a fantastic DJ given the subject matter, though I admit that I, personally, enjoyed 3Dog more.
Speaking of the music, there is quite a bit here. There is some variety to it, but it seemed to focus more on country and western than anything else. That does suit the game and its style, though. It has some great tracks, including songs like Aint That a Kick in the Head by Dean Martin, Blue Moon by Frank Sinatra and Jingle, Jangle, Jingle by Kay Kyser. Of course, there is the song It's a Sin to Tell a Lie by The Ink Spots. After all, what would Fallout be without The Ink Spots? There are quite a few other stand out tracks in this as well, but the soundtrack seems a little disappointing after how good Fallout 3 was. That is not a slander against this soundtrack. If this was not following on the coat tails of Fallout 3, this would not be called a disappointment. That being said, it is just not as good as Fallout 3. Wayne Newton is the DJ for this game, and he is quite good. He is absolutely perfect for the kind of music features in this game. He is not a disappointment, though I prefered 3Dog, personally.
Outside of this is what earns the soundtrack an 8.5 instead of a 9.5 or 10. The ambient soundtrack is great, and fans of the series before 3 will recognize a number of the tracks. They are just as creepy today as they were in 1997. They have aged well. That being said, the sound of guns firing and weapons striking things has no umph to it. It is bland and forgettable, and that is very disappointing in a game that has so much combat in it. You expect more from your next gen console or PC, and this game does not gve it to you. Make the Mojave sound like the war that it is supposed to. It is not dymanic at all. It is just adequate. It is average, and it drags at least a full point off of the score for sound.
Story - 9.0
The Fallout series has been praised for its story since its first entry on PC back in 1997. It is known for having a good story, and prety much all of the games in the series do have one. The notable exception to this is the Playstation 2/Xbox entry into the series, and it is probably better for everyone if you just pretend that that game does not exist. Fallout New Vegas. however, is no exception. This game has a great story, and it is filled with fantastic and well developed characters. The endings to the game are in depth and well rounded. No one should feel cheated when the credits finally roll.
In Fallout New Vegas, you play as a courier who was paid to deliver a platinum poker chip to New Vegas. A few of the casinos that are all that remains of the once great city. Before you can make you delivery, you are interrupted by a man named Benny, who is played by Matthew Perry. Him and his goons capture you, dig a grave and shoot you in the head. They bury you and leave you for dead. A robot named Victor from a near by town called Good Springs witnesses the shooting. He finds you and pulls you out of the earth. Miraculously, you are still alive. He drags you back to the local doctor who is named Dr Mitchell. This is where you wake up and take control. From here on out, it is your job to find Benny and the platinum chip so that you can complete your delivery.
If you have played any of the previous Fallout games, you will know that nothing in this world is as it seems, but to reveal anything further about the story would be spoiling some part of a large scope. This game has several large and shocking plot twists as you play throughout it, and it is loaded with characters that you can travel with. Each one of them has his or her own story to tell and quest to complete. There are tons of side quests throughout this game, as well, and it is rare to find one without an immersive story behind it. It is all excellent and well written. Every single thing you do in this game has consequences that play out over the course of the game and its ending. I will say that I felt like it left one fairly major plot line unresolved. This may be resolved in downloadable content. I do not know. The story and everything presented in this game is excellent stuff, and it gives you plenty of reason to keep playing.
Replay value - 5
This is where the game is a double edged sword. There are plenty of reasons to replay this gameand plenty of reasons not to. There are multiple character types to play as, multiple factions to align with and multiple endings to get. The choices you make affect the story, so no two playthroughs need to be exactly alike. There is, also, hardcore mode in which everything has weight to it, including bullets. This means that you can only keep them in limited supply. You have to drink or you will die of thirst. You have to sleep or your character will become sluggish. You have to eat so that you do not starve. It adds to the difficulty of the game. That being said, this is the single buggiest game that I have ever played through, and it is not even close. Sometimes the sound will cut out. The game will freeze. There is screen tearing. There is slow down when nothing is going on. There are a number of graphical glitches, as well. You should keep multiple save files for this game. Whether this game has replayablity depends soley on your ability to put up with how incredibly glitchy it is.
Final thoughts -
Fallout New Vegas is a great game in a lot of ways. It adds a number of cool gameplay features to the Fallout formula. It ties itself in well with Fallout 1 and 2. There are a lot of great characters, and it tells a great story. The radio station in this one is excellent, and there are a lot of memorable songs on it. There area lot of stand out moments, though the initial wow factor that Fallout 3 had when you first entered the wasteland is no longer there. There is a lot of fun to be had here, and you can sink hundreds of hours in this game. Your enjoyment of it depends on your ability to put up with the many bugs and glitches. That is the unfortunate side of it. The wonderful RPG is buried underneath a technical mess. It is still a great game, though.
Gameplay - 8.5
It is largely the same, but there are a number of improvements to the forumula.
Graphics - 7
There are some nice moments and cool art, but the engine is 5 years old now, and it looks it.
Sound - 8.5
The music is nice. The voice cast is impressive. The environmental effects and weapon sounds have no umph.
Story - 9
This game has many twists and turns to it's story, and every decision you make has an effect in the world around you
Replay value - 5
Whether you will come back to this game and replay it depends on your ability to put up with it's bugs and glitches.