Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360PS3

New Fallout game developed in conjunction with Obsidian.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
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Fallout: New Vegas screenshot
Fallout: New Vegas screenshot

For years now the Fallout games have been telling us that war never changes. The series itself, meanwhile, has been in an ongoing state of flux: Fallout 2 initially appeared to be an expanded facsimile of its predecessor, and yet buried beneath its surface lay a number of important tonal differences - notably an increased fondness for juvenile humour and tongue-in-cheek nods to pop culture. Next came Fallout: Tactics, a curious but not entirely unsuccessful attempt to at squad-based strategy. Then the franchise entered its darkest period: Interplay descended into financial turmoil, the third true game - known at the time as "Van Buren" - was cancelled, and the entire Black Isle team was laid off. To add insult to injury, these losses were followed by the release of Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel - a dire, Interplay-developed shooter that dragged the license into a dark alley where nasty things were done to it. Long-time fans affectionately dubbed the game "Fallout: PoS".

Then, of course, there was Fallout 3. When Bethesda announced it had acquired the Fallout brand from Interplay, the established fanbase greeted the news with a fair amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was an understandable reaction, up to a point: the preceding disappointments were very painful for a lot of us. But while the final product split opinion among veteran devotees, the fact remains that Fallout 3 saved the brand. True, it departed considerably from some of the established lore, but it was a pretty damn good game in its own right, and one that brought Fallout to a colossal new audience. Ironically, many of these newcomers are now worried about the fact that New Vegas has been developed not by Bethesda, but by Obsidian - a studio now home to many Black Isle refugees.

Please forgive me for the extended history lesson, but it's important to consider all this when appraising New Vegas, particularly if you're one of the many people who only joined the party in 2008. You'd be forgiven for expecting this game to be a re-skinned reprisal of the game we played two years ago. That's really not the case. Sure, much of the core experience remains unchanged: it's the same engine, after all, and while the setting has shifted from Washington to the Mojave - trading Fallout 3's green hues for a dusty orange colour scheme - the basic mechanics and presentation are pretty much identical. This is another epic post-apocalyptic RPG, played from the first-person perspective, with a combat system that lets you pause time to cue up carefully-aimed shots. So far, so Fallout 3 - but the contrasts lie in what Obsidian has done with these returning elements, alongside their approach to quests and the tone of the adventure.

For all its side quests and distractions, Fallout 3 was ultimately a fairly clear-cut tale of Good vs. Evil. It was the story of one character's life, beginning with their birth in Vault 101 - one of the town-sized shelters which protected a lucky minority from the nuclear war that ended life as we know it. When your Dad went missing, you followed him out into the Wasteland - a world of mutants, gunfights, and the struggling remnants of humanity. Eventually you became aware of a fascist threat to what was left of civilisation, and you took appropriate action. You could destroy the bad guys or you could help them achieve their goals, but either way there was never any doubt about who the villains were.

New Vegas, on the other hand, begins with you being shot in the head. You're no Vault-dweller - you're just an everyday courier who happened to take the wrong job. A helpful robot digs you out of your shallow grave, and then you set out to find the men who installed a 9mm hole in your skull. As you follow your would-be murderers, you'll see a lot of strange and terrible things: insects the size of cars, roving packs of bandits, innocent people left to die on crosses. You'll meet pin-striped gangsters, slavers who model themselves after the Roman Empire, and the soldiers of a bureaucratic republic out to colonise the entire Wasteland. And throughout these encounters you'll wonder to yourself, "Where are the good guys?"

Obsidian's New Vegas is a land of violence, deception and muddy morality. The good/bad karma system of Fallout 3 has been replaced with a localised reputation mechanic, one that finds individual settlements and organisations reacting to your every decision. The last game boasted a wealth of quests and mini-assignments, but here almost every conversation will lead to a new entry on your to-do list. There is somewhere in the region of 90 major quests to undertake, plus dozens upon dozens of smaller tasks to handle. Sometimes there will be an obviously kind or cruel way to complete your objectives, but often you'll be left to decide for yourself what constitutes the "right" way to proceed.

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EISPower's Avatar

EISPower

If you wanna do nothing you hit the Jackpot Real Score 1
Posted 10:15 on 13 March 2011
sagesource's Avatar

sagesource

The chief downside of both Fallout 3 and Fallout NV is carelessness. They both feel like they were never beta tested, since there are so many bugs that are obvious even to the most casual gamer. Not to put too fine a point on it, the engine stinks, and the maps are usually very well designed, but very carelessly built in places.

My chief candidate for absolute screaming annoyance is the promiscuous use of invisible walls. This is simply lazy and sometimes even feels arrogant. I know you can't ramble forever in any of these games, for obvious reasons, but at least give us a barbed-wire fence or a vertical wall as a fig leaf. Fallout 3 was already infuriating enough here, with its huge piles of rubble begging to be climbed but invisibly walled off, but Fallout LV is even worse. At one point, I slammed into an invisible wall while trying to walk up a perfectly normal valley that was only gently inclined upward. Yes, yes, I know they didn't want me getting to the Ranger encampment that way because then I'd lose all the fun of running into those mutant wasps that take four blasts from a shotgun to down.... but they could have at least put a few rocks or a bit of concertina wire down to make it less obvious. An invisible wall on an easily accessible path is a raised finger to the game's audience.

Some of the physical and physics weirdnesses of Fallout 3 persist in NV as well. You can still descend an almost vertical cliff by squeeze-sliding down against it -- try that in real life, or even jump out of a window at a comparable height in the game, and you'll have two broken legs for your pains. You still catch on the "edge" of things when you try to jump up, and slide sideways instead of either moving up one inch or falling back all the way. And they still haven't figured out how to use the physics engine. Their build program seems to have no equivalent to Hammer's ability to start up a scene while building it, have everything drop into place properly, and then finalize the positions and put the objects to "sleep" so that they will be inactive until and unless interacted with. Things hover above shelves, or taking one thing will set the others to gently bouncing as if they were riding on cushions of air. And some objects have way too little weight/inertia and behave in ridiculous ways (empty oil drums or shopping carts that go flying several yards when you brush against them, for instance).

One area in which NV is noticeably better than its predecessor is in inadvertent traps. In Fallout 3 there are a multitude of places where you can get in but you can't get out without noclipping (first game I've ever seen where an essential piece of advice to newbies is "Memorize the noclip code"). So far, there seem many less of these in NV, which is a plus. On the other hand, there are still far too many places where the scenery doesn't fit together properly and you see what should be a solid piece of rock disappear when viewed from the rear, or a tree or other object hovering gently in the air instead of resting on the surface. Or things and objects simply vanish when they move, into the ground or into a rock.

An annoyance that I can understand is that you still teleport through some doors. It's immersion-breaking ridiculous, but allows complex interiors without lagging maps that are already huge. One that I can't understand is that you still can't climb ladders. I read somewhere that this is because the AI doesn't understand elevation well enough to allow ladder movement other than teleports. If so, that's just pathetic.

Another pathetic thing is the facial animation and lip-syncing, which is almost painful to watch at times. It was bad in Fallout 3; it's worse in NV. Someone needs to get their posterior kicked over that. NV is also worse in voice acting consistency. Sometimes the same character will speak in two noticeably different voices – sometimes even in the same conversation. That's another indication of carelessness and rush.

Then why would I spend (to date) over 800 hours wandering over the Capital Wasteland, and probably eventually more in the Nevada desert? Primarily because both games have such a beautifully realized sense of place and possibilities. Some of the bits may be unforgivably clunky, but the whole of which they are parts is alive. What both games excel in is the detail in places where other productions would omit it, rather like the difference between a standard anime and something by Miyazaki. The elaborations and final touches are what make the story hit home. One example: early in NV you pass through Nipton just after the Legion gets done with it, and meet the local commander, Vulpes Inculta, who has just finished murdering almost the entire population of the town, and torturing most of them into the bargain. He was such an arrogant little prick that I shot him in the head, and then of course had to deal with everyone else in the scene (my flamethrower helped a lot there). When it was all over and I had patched myself up, I went looking for his body to loot it. Strangely, he wasn't there. Later, though, I stumbled across his corpse curled in the corner of a corral against the outside wall, with only a single wounded dog left alive to stand guard over it. It turned out that instead of fighting back after I'd popped him one, he'd taken at least half of the troops on the scene and had run away, only to be caught in the corral by bark scorpions. How very, very appropriate. Pull out a gun and the big, bad torturer flees, in the process dooming his own troops to defeat – because if the men he took had been in the fight, I wouldn't have come out of it alive. And then he runs headlong into the scorpions, and gets ignobly stung to death. Things like that keep me warm at night, to quote Batman.

In the end, both stories are overwhelmingly sad. At first you feel a bit snarly at the junk and chaos -- it's been two hundred years, guys, isn't it about time to clean up the frigging mess? Slap on a coat of paint or two, disassemble the wrecked buildings for material, fill some potholes, that sort of thing? Why are the Brotherhood of Steel troops in the Citadel and the New California Republic grunts so morose? Is that any way to win a war? And then you realize those sorts of criticisms make about as much sense as scolding aboriginal peoples for not making a snappy adaptation to their new environment after being stomped by persons previously unknown. Just about everyone in both games is zombified -- going through the motions. It's a world where post-traumatic stress syndrome has become the norm, and where pathetic little signs are scattered everywhere to remind you that everyone, friend and enemy alike, is standing eye-deep in a tank of cack. You shoot down or burn feral ghouls intent on ripping you apart, only to find on looting them that their sole possession was a teddy bear. That's...odd. Even when a Super Mutant screams "That hurt!" when you shoot him, or a Nightkin develops an obsessive hatred for a herd of innocuous Brahmin. It's them or you with the more malignant of the game's inhabitants, but both games never let you forget it's also them AND you, all stuck in Hell.
Posted 05:23 on 29 December 2010
Highwayman's Avatar

Highwayman

7/10 still feels like a MOD of fallout 3 rather than a new game, graphics are showing their age now, let's hope they get the modders to bring out a texture pack cos they are far from pretty.
Posted 17:32 on 28 November 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ chelskiboy247

I have only encountered 2 of them in the Mojave wasteland. You will come across more gang members to kill, depending where your alliances are tied with. You will come across familiar creatures/beasts/David Blunkett style of enemies to go against.
Posted 10:49 on 28 October 2010
chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

Great review Neon, one question though: Are there any Mole Rats in New Vegas? Because to be honest, I've had enough of pummelling those ugly foreskins to death with my baseball bat.
Posted 10:41 on 28 October 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ GeNeCyDe1993

No problem.
Posted 18:37 on 21 October 2010
Skavinger's Avatar

Skavinger

Now this is what I call a thorough, well-balanced and informed review. Just look at the steaming turd of a 7.5-scored, shortsighted review Gamespot.com gave New Vegas.
Posted 18:34 on 21 October 2010
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993@ Wido

Thanks Wido :)
Posted 16:16 on 21 October 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbob
One question though; can you elaborate at all on the Iron Sights and hitting exactly where you aim please? Is this still influenced by your characters guns skill?

"True Iron Sights" is one of the setttings listed on the gameplay options screen; by default it's set to on - so that's what I played with.

As a rule, I found that my non-VATS shots seemed to hit my enemies in cases where I felt they should, where the target wasn't moving and I was aiming carefully. In Fallout 3 you'd occasionally get weird misses as a result of the hidden dice rolls.

I just went back to my earliest save, at level 1, and attempted to run a test - shooting at the same stationary targets with true sights on, and then with true sights off. In each case, VATS told me that that the chance to hit was 35 percent or less.

Confusingly, my level 1 character seemed pretty adept at hitting the target regardless of what the setting was on. Whether I aimed down the sight or shot from the hip, I seemed to invariably hit the person I was aiming at. I'm not sure what to make of that, really. It be a bug, I suppose; if you started the game with the True Sights off, maybe that would make a difference. Without access to the stats under-the-hood, it's hard to no what's going on.

In any case, I wouldn't worry too much about it affecting the balance of the game. The hit probabilities still play a major role in VATS, and you'll be using that for most battles, i'd imagine.
Posted 11:23 on 21 October 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ GeNeCyDe1993

Easily. The decisions what you do in the game is completely up to you. However, even though it is a FPS/3rd person shooter. Don't expect it to be just like a FPS. You have to level up, improve certain skills so you can dish out more firepower. You can play the whole entire game with just the VATs system, which strategically lets you pin-point shots to the head, torso, arms and legs, and watch the beauty which unfolds.

I would get Fallout 3 first. £14.99 for the GOTY edition and most probably get it cheaper than that. Its worth a look. Watch videos and etc to see how it looks and what kind of vibe it gives you. If you think its worth having punt at, go for it. Because it will certainly not disappoint you.
Posted 09:08 on 21 October 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

Really enjoyed the read. I wasn't going to look twice at this game until about 3 minutes ago when I read your last sentence. I haven't played Fallout 3 nor any before so I must say, like Genecyde, I wonder if it would have the goods to keep me playing (?).

I'm not against RPG's by any means. I just tend to care less and less the more convaluted the stories become and would get really irritated that a game (example JRPG's), expected me to give a sh*t about a character after listening to them whine for several hours.

New Vegas isn't a JRPG, clearly, so it may just have the right recipe for me to like it. Shame about the bugs though. Whether they're a game breaker or not, there's no need not to wait before a patch or GOTY edition is released.

Regardless of any of it there's still other games which qualify before this.
Posted 08:35 on 21 October 2010
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993

I hate rpg games, i find it very hard to stick with them, but am very fond of shooters, is there enough here for a person like me to be able to play it all the way through?
Posted 22:56 on 20 October 2010
Get2DaChoppa's Avatar

Get2DaChoppa

Great review Neon, glad I decided to wait for your later posted review. Really interesting read.

I'm glad to see that they have gotten rid of the black and white morality system, after recently playing through Fallout 3 again, I had forgotten how annoying it could be. Also really looking forward to the deeper storyline and characters, also just the sheer size of the game and mission numbers.

Think i'll wait on a day one purchase though, bugs in games is one of my greatest annoyances.
Posted 20:58 on 20 October 2010
Jimbob's Avatar

Jimbob

Hey man, as bigmolejack said, I've signed up purely on the basis of this review too. Of all the New Vegas reviews this one actually sounds like you've played the game indepth rather than just banging on about features that have been covered in the press for months.

One question though; can you elaborate at all on the Iron Sights and hitting exactly where you aim please? Is this still influenced by your characters guns skill? (how steady you hold the gun or the spread of your bullets, for example) I'm looking forward to the iron sights mode, but don't want to be able to put absolutely no points into my guns skill and still be as precise as a character who's focussed in that area.
Posted 18:37 on 20 October 2010
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

It was actually.
Posted 18:17 on 20 October 2010

Game Stats

System Requirements
Fallout: New Vegas
9
Out of 10
Fallout: New Vegas
  • True to the established Fallout canon
  • Script and voice acting is a massive improvement on Fallout
  • Hugely ambitious and utterly engrossing
  • Buggy and unstable in places
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 22/10/2010
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 479 32
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