|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Obsidian Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Bethesda Softworks||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 19, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
Fallout: New Vegas isnt technically a sequel to Fallout 3, but it may as well be: the two games use the same engine, and the basic gameplay is almost identical. However, New Vegas offers an extensive new setting, a great new story, and plenty of small tweaks, making it a good buy for fans of 2008s groundbreaking FPS/RPG hybrid.
The game begins with your character, a courier, receiving a bullet to the head. Fortunately, the injury isnt fatal (that would make for a short game), and youre taken in by Doc Mitchell, who nurses you back to health. After setting your starting stats and (if you want) going through some tutorials, youre on your way. Your first goal is to figure out who shot you, a mission that requires a fair amount of gunplay from the get-go.
This opening sequence transpires much more quickly than the childhood scenes did in Fallout 3, and thats for the better. However, once you hit the streets of Las Vegas -- ahem, New Vegas -- and start wandering the surrounding Mojave Wasteland, youll feel immediately at home. All the core aspects of Fallout 3 are intact, right down to the HUD, the lock-picking and terminal-hacking minigames, the Pip-Boy interface, and even the dialogue font.
Its déjà vu all over again. You explore an open world from a first-person perspective, completing a variety of story and side missions. You can play the game almost exclusively as an FPS if you so choose, but it helps to use VATS, a system that pauses the action and allows you to fire a few shots RPG-style. Over-the-top, intensely graphic kill scenes punctuate the combat. As you complete missions and dispatch enemies, you level up, quickly at first and then more slowly as you approach the games conclusion. You interact with a wide range of characters, and the way you treat them can come back to haunt or help you via karma. If you mostly stick to the story, the game is meaty at fifty-plus hours, but with side missions and general exploring, you can easily spend days upon days with the title.
There are a lot of minor tweaks, however. This time around, Bethesdas in-house development team stepped aside, and the publisher put Obsidian at the helm. Many of Obsidians employees handled earlier Fallout titles at Black Isle Studios, which ought to please long-time fans of the series. Perceptive gamers will notice countless references to the early entries in the franchise, and even some returning enemies (most notably, the disguised and difficult-to-kill Nightkin). Obsidian also added weapon modding and expanded the crafting system, giving players an almost unlimited variety of ways to draw blood and assemble items. The combat has gained special moves, and you can now look down your weapons sight, which makes it easier to attack from a distance. Theres an appropriately named hardcore mode, which ups the realism to ridiculous proportions, giving ammo weight, decreasing the effectiveness of health packs, and requiring you to eat, drink, and sleep regularly to stay healthy.
The game also gives you a chance to explore the Vegas Strip, which is rife with opportunities to gamble, take in shows, and even find prostitutes. Theres a new card game called Caravan, and you can build a deck to use in it. We found this to be more of a distraction from the core gameplay than anything else, but the mini-games are well-designed, and fans of digital gambling will find a lot to like.
New Vegas is also populated by a variety of factions. It was possible to get through Fallout 3 without worrying too much about the various groups, but thats much more difficult in New Vegas. A reputation system encourages you to balance different factions interests, especially considering that your missions often require you to help one group at the cost of another. How you choose to navigate this landscape determines which missions are available, meaning youll have to play through multiple times to see everything.