Fallout: New Vegas

2011-01-31 22:01:18

Fallout, fallout never changes. A game series that continues to dominate the Western RPG/Post Apocalyptic Genre. We've seen 6 Fallout titles so far, starting with the compelling tale of Vault 13's exodus into the wastes in search of a water chip, and in the end unified a cluster of villages into a true nation under Aradesh and his family. Fallout 2 brought us into the future of that same civilization with Arroyo, and you playing a decendant of the original vault savior, this time you are out to find something to stop the drought plaguing your lands known as a GECK. in the process you save the other vault dwellers from Vault 13, and destroy the political machinations of the old world government in favor of what would be the New California Republic. These games were both produced by Black Isle for Interplay. A combination that brought us many amazing titles, so much so that whenever anyone mentions Black Isle Studios you knew you could trust it to be an amazing RPG adventure. They could do no wrong.

Fallout Tactics and Fallout Brotherhood of Steel were both not developed by Black Isle Studios, and also were departures from the recipe that made Fallout great, both of them were limp in sales compared to their predecessors.

Enter the next risky move: Fallout 3, a title that was early revealed as to be given to Bethesda to develop, and to be using the Oblivion engine. a fan group known as No Mutants Allowed immediately mocked the title being a first person RPG, claiming that the detailed RPG adventures provided by the first 2 titles could not possibly be made accessible via a 1st person perspective, not to mention fears that the PC users would receive a shitty console port and that the whole thing would be dumbed down for the "consoletards" Well you can see the result of their efforts here.

Many successful expansions and Game of the Year later, we're given Obsidian/Bethesda's newest child to the Fallout line, New Vegas, with a development house filled with many of the old Fallout 1&2 developers, many people were excited to hear about the title. Mostly due to the speculation that with the original developers at hand the title will get a return to its roots. For the most part they were right, although I can definitely say what I discovered was unexpected.

Fallout New Vegas runs on the same engine and has many of the same trappings as Fallout 3, so those used to Fallout 3's system of navigation and exploration should feel very much at home. I played the first round of New Vegas using its newest and most controversial feature, hardcore mode. Hardcore mode brings a new sense of urgency and dependency to the game than in previous titles, instead of just being a gun toting kill everything that moves and loot it for everything you can carry, you now have to be concerned with keeping food and drink on hand, and getting regular sleep. During the first half to 3/4's of the game, you really get a sense of desperation as you are chugging water bottles and finding less and less of them, eventually succumbing to drinking from irradiated sources just to get the quick pick me up of having hydration. 

The only thing this hurt was the carrying capacity of the player, given that now they have to maintain stock of various food/drink. Unlike Fallout 3 where I was carrying 15+ guns and full power armor, I was finding myself unable to carry but a few choice weapons, ammo to go with it, and my food/water stock. Weapons in the game also feel more worn down and less lethal, especially with the rarity of guns that were so prevalent in Fallout 3. Guns such as the Hunting Rifle are rare and amazing finds, capable of doing the same outrageous damage as in the past, but the rarity and health of these weapons means you'll only be taking them out for the big game until later on in the end run. Instead you'll be mostly relying on the Varmint rifle you got at the beginning of the game, as well as a handful of pistols and SMGs. You definitely don't feel overpowered in the game, and every combat is intense because of it.  Welcome additions to the weapons system is mods. Now you can install silencers and scopes onto your weapons, making them more lethal in the right hands.

Some other things that the game brought us is once again playing a non-violent character is again possible, as well as verious new recipe systems, expanding on Fallout 3's ability to build a handful of weapons, now you can use a cooking skill to make food, science and medicine to create pharmaceuticals, and weapon skills to make bullets from other bullets. The only frustrating thing I found in the game was the reloading stations, where you can reload bullets. I thought it would've been much better if merchants sold primers and black powder so you could just collect the empties from when you shoot up a place, and with a few caps less than the cost of ammo, reload your brass for another round in the chamber. instead it acts much the same as the fusion cells and micro-cells do, allowing you to swap one ammo type for another, as long as you have the right primers, which seems to be the systems weakpoint. Swapping from one small pistol to another was fine, but swapping to rifle ammo was impossible, unless you were swapping rifle for rifle so you could reclaim rifle primers. Really would've been nice if vendors sold primers.

Ultimately there are 3 different factions you can align with, though I was trying for more of a dual success, in the end the game wouldn't let me have it, I don't know if it was a lack of speech talent, or simply a lack in the coding ability, but it was only in the end that I became disappointed in the title at all. As I had done the worlds worth of favors for the NCR, and my goal was to take control of New Vegas, leaving the Dam and the rest of the wild to the NCR to deal with, giving them a handful of my supersoldiers to go along with it, unfortunately such a thing wasn't in the cards and in the end I ended up splintering from the NCR, wishing they could only understand my wishes. The game presents itself as very flexible and there are a lot of twists and turns to take, there is no "right" way to play Fallout New Vegas but to try it and see where it takes you. Definitely a title I intend to replay, and one that has a well deserved place on the geek shelf.


Now onto the scoring:

Reason Rating
Start 10
Easy to get into if played the previous title Fallout 3 +1
No real innovation in the "feel" of the game because of this,
and also somehow Buggier than the preceeding game?
Very distinct "look" compared to Fallout 3,
Brown sandy dirt instead of dull gray, and a very western flair
Recipe System gives a reason to put points in things other than
Guns, Science, Stealth, Lockpicking 
Return to familiar Fallout 1/2 territory with the NCR, Crimson Caravan
Khan raiders, and Brotherhood of Steel. 
Well laid out story with a large array of companions to choose from. +2
Putting the Role back in Roleplaying +3
Final 28/10

28 out of 10.  maybe not as an incredible score as Fallout 3 garnered, but this is ultimately a retread on an existing framework, not to belittle this as merely a retread, but an amazingly well build retread. Fallout fans rejoice, this franchise continues to do amazing things.