Fallout: New Vegas Review – It’s a Wild, Wild Wasteland
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, Fallout: New Vegas combines the best elements of the past Fallout titles and Fallout 3, with the end product being a fantastic open-world RPG that is smart, engaging, and most of all fun.Unlike Fallout 3, New Vegas follows continuities from Fallout and Fallout 2 by being set in the American Southwest. You play as a Courier for the Mojave Express who is sent to deliver a package to New Vegas; however, your character is ambushed on the way and is shot in the head and subsequently left for dead. Your character is found by a robot named Victor and revived by a doctor in a town called Goodsprings. After being healed, the Courier then ventures off into the Mojave Wasteland to find the person responsible for shooting them and along the way gets involved in the affairs of three big factions vying for control of New Vegas: The New California Republic (NCR), Caesar’s Legion, and Mr. House, the elusive owner of the Lucky 38 Casino.
So without further delay let’s get down to the brass tacks of New Vegas. The game uses the exact same graphics engine used in Fallout 3, thus rendering New Vegas a first person open-world game like its predecessor that improves upon many of the gameplay issues from Fallout 3.
The prime issue being aiming, aiming was a complete joke in Fallout 3 and your accuracy with firearms was entirely dependent on your gun skill. New Vegas alters this pesky feature by implementing a more natural aiming style that is partially influenced by your gun skill, but mostly determined by how well you can manually aim any conventional gun with the controller or keyboard. Moreover, New Vegas feels less clunky than Fallout 3 and it puts you into the game pretty quick, making it easy to get into right from the get-go even if you are a first time Fallout player.
New Vegas is also more pleasant to look at than Fallout 3 with the vast, colorful expanses of the Mojave desert contrasting the dull browns and grays of the Washington D.C. ruins. Weapons in New Vegas are diverse and enjoyable to use ranging from the simple 9mm Pistol to the insane grenade machine gun that will obliterate anything in your path. Best of all, every weapon can be modified to enhance their versatility and each one can use different ammo types to dispatch certain enemies. Speaking of enemies, New Vegas has a plethora of foes that all behave differently when engaged. There are the human and mutant enemies who will fight you tactically and there are the wasteland critters like the mutated Gecko and Radscorpion that will rush you head on in packs. Each one requires you to utilize different tactics and weapons to take them out with minimal damage.
As with any Fallout, New Vegas is a role-playing game that is mostly based on Fallout 3‘s role-playing system with a few additions from past Fallout games thrown in for extra kick. These tweaks are very welcome and make New Vegas actually feel like an authentic RPG, even more so than the stripped down Fallout 4. You start by creating your character and allocating points to your SPECIAL attributes which are Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. Each of these attributes govern the effectiveness of your general skills like guns, medicine, repair, speech, and etc. and determine what perks you can get as you progress. Perks grant your character extra abilities or buffs and can only be obtained after you level up twice.
The character building feature that I like the most in New Vegas are traits, traits are a returning feature from the first two Fallout games and they are permanent abilities that include a beneficial and detrimental effect. For instance, a trait can increase your critical hit rate with guns but also hastens their decay the more you use them, so it is important to select your traits wisely. Even if you are not satisfied with the traits you are offered at the beginning of the game you can always choose to not have any at all and go your merry way. All of these choices and options is what I like the most about New Vegas‘s character building system as it encourages you to create many different character builds over the course of multiple playthroughs for a fresh experience every time you start a new game.
Like I mentioned before, New Vegas is about options, options that are very limited in Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. In Fallout 4 there are a lot of quests that require you to either kill something or fetch something. Quests like this are typical for an RPG and there is nothing wrong them, the problem is that they become too frequent in Fallout 4 and lack any substantial depth. New Vegas on the other hand includes quests that can be completed in various ways and choices you make during these quests have real consequences on people you meet. To give you an idea, there is a quest that requires to clear a basement full of Super Mutants; now, you can choose to kill all the mutants or you can negotiate with their leader to convince them to leave. There is also another person trapped in the basement with the mutants who will give you additional objectives, but helping him will influence your reputation with the mutants. Reputation is another core aspect of New Vegas, depending on your allegiances with certain groups people will perceive you in different ways. Some people may revere you for helping the NCR and others may vilify you with disgust for advancing their goals. Again, it all comes down to choice.
New Vegas is a damn near perfect action RPG with good gameplay and clever writing. It lets you explore more areas compared to the other Fallouts and it focuses on deep, creative stories over micromanaging settlements. The only reason I will not be giving it a higher score is because it is laden with a crapload of bugs and glitches. New Vegas crashes frequently so make sure you have the autosave feature turned on and you save often as you will never know when the game will bug out on you. I have to give Obsidian credit though, they developed New Vegas over the course of 18 months and were able to crank out a damn good Fallout game that longtime fans and casual players can both enjoy. I highly recommend Fallout: New Vegas so if you have your Xbox 360 or PS3 still lying around be sure to check it out, if not you can always play it on the PC with tons of crazy mods.