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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Endless's Avatar

Endless@ rico_rico

Because that was a REAL problem for Fallout 3...just saying.
Posted 14:18 on 20 October 2010
rico_rico's Avatar

rico_rico

the only problem i see in this game is the graphics and the bad animation
Posted 13:37 on 20 October 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Cheers for the feedback guys, always appreciated.

@FantasyMeister: Tom and I argued over that word. I refused to take it out, initially, but then changed my mind and buckled.

Don't worry too much about the bugs. They're annoying at times, but they're not a constant presence. Just make sure you save regularly, and use multiple slots (I had around by the time I finished my review).
Posted 09:57 on 20 October 2010
bigmolejack's Avatar

bigmolejack

This review was so good that I signed up for the website, just to applaud you. I hope that I'll now visit this site regularly. Well done!
Posted 09:32 on 20 October 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee

Oh, for ... !

It's a cracking review, Neon, made all the better for the obvious fondness you have for the franchise prior to Bethesda's installment. I had zero plans to buy this game before reading, and yet I almost left the page to go and click "Buy now" halfway through. I do think I'll wait for the inevitable re-packaged version with additional sweeteners, but damn did you make me want the game NOW! At a time when my gaming expenditure is tightly planned, this is no mean feat. Well done!
Posted 09:23 on 20 October 2010
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

I had to look up the word 'pulchritude' and by the time I got around to coming back to congratulate you on attempting to raise the literacy bar the review got edited and 'beauty' replaced it.

I admit the Fallout 1, 2, Van Buren and HBO references are going to be lost on me, and I am concerned regarding the bugs in the review copies which have a paragraph or more dedicated to them in every review I've read so far, but I balanced this against the 200+ hours I crammed into Fallout 3 and still ended up wanting more.

Ultimately I have a backlog of several hundred hours of gameplay, so I have the luxury of being able to say I'm not paying full price for a potentially buggy game and am preprared to wait for the GOTY/Ultimate edition or word that a patch has done its job. Had the technical issues not been so highlighted by reviewers it would have been an easy launch day purchase decision.
Posted 03:23 on 20 October 2010
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

Nice review Neon, so glad that I have next week off to sink some serious hours into it. Hope I enjoy it as much as I did Fallout 3 and that I sink just as many hours in!
Posted 00:45 on 20 October 2010
Soylent_Green_is's Avatar

Soylent_Green_is

I was suspicious that reviewers would just say its too similar to fallout 3 but this is luckily not the case. Great review by the way!
Posted 21:17 on 19 October 2010
Peake-a-boo's Avatar

Peake-a-boo

Happy days, that's my Friday night sorted (and most of the weekend)
Posted 18:03 on 19 October 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Nice read Neon! 9/10, sounds like Obsidian had done a very decent job on this game.

The good thing it isn't remotely the same as Fallout 3 to a certain degree. I did like the karma system in Fallout 3, but I will have to wait and see if this reputation mechanic works. I'm sure you will be unable to keep a neutral respect with all gangs. Nonetheless I cannot wait for this game!
Posted 17:05 on 19 October 2010
Stegosaurus-Guy-II's Avatar

Stegosaurus-Guy-II

I guess I was wrong about thinking reviewers might not like it so much.
Posted 16:58 on 19 October 2010
renegade's Avatar

renegade

are the puns the reason your reviews are often late :)
Posted 16:54 on 19 October 2010
scaz2244's Avatar

scaz2244

superb review neon iam just going to pre order this from amazon i cant wait been looking forward to getting a lengthy and even more challenging game all year.
i just have to say is the story a lot more full filling when you complete it or is it kinda like the f3 ending where it kinda dissapointing?
Posted 16:41 on 19 October 2010
IamBugged's Avatar

IamBugged

CLoS, BlOps, or this.... why couldn't you just have given it a 3?
Posted 16:35 on 19 October 2010
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Good stuff - thanks, Neon. I cannot wait to dive in and discover how they've integrated doing with Nuka Cola in this game! ;)

But Hoody Hoo! My preorder is being dispatched! Cannot wait to step back into the Fallout world!
Posted 16:07 on 19 October 2010

Game Stats

9
Out of 10
Fallout: New Vegas
  • Hugely ambitious and utterly engrossing
  • Script and voice acting is a massive improvement on Fallout
  • True to the established Fallout canon
  • Buggy and unstable in places
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 22/10/2010
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 905 56
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