Fallout: New Vegas Review
Fallout: New Vegas is hardly an all new game, which explains why it's missing a number in the title. Fallout 4 this is not, but a worthy follow-up, or expansion, to a fantastic game this is. It wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for me to praise New Vegas as much as I did the original Fallout 3. The reasons for that are plentiful. But before I get to that, let's start from the beginning. New Vegas' story takes place three years after Fallout 3, but it isn't a sequel, so it doesn't pick up from where the last game left off. Instead, you are in the shoes of a new character, one who just so happened to get involved with the wrong people and gets a bullet to the head before a burial. Obviously, your character is miraculously still alive and gets dug up by a robot named Victor. A doc is able to extract the bullet from your head and reconstruct your face (this is the part where you choose what you look like). Now, obviously, the quest is for revenge. You set off and the game begins.
Without getting too much into the details, know this, Fallout: New Vegas is essentially Fallout 3 with a new story and setting (for additional details, refer to my Fallout 3 review). If you were a die hard fan of the last game, you will find absolutely nothing remotely resembling a learning curve with New Vegas. Immediately you will feel at home and ready to take charge, I know I did, and it's been years since I've even touched Fallout 3 - probably not since I actually reviewed it. The basic systems present in Fallout 3 have been completely carried over here. But that is not to say anything bad about New Vegas, because the game mechanics in Fallout 3 still deliver a fantastic experience that's worth experiencing even today.
In these types of open-world RPGs, I often find myself in the role of the loner. I'm the guy you shouldn't talk down to, because I'll kill you. And because Fallout New Vegas offers plenty of these smart-mouthed characters, I revel in their arrogance by placing a few bullets in them, and then taking their possessions. In the same way that a Grand Theft Auto game allows you to just run around and cause chaos, Fallout allows me to lay down some of my own personally flavored justice. But the difference between GTA and Fallout is that even when I'm laying the hand of righteousness on these fools, I'm still progressing, in addition to altering, the storyline. Much like Fable, your actions change the way the game revolves around you.
Fallout: New Vegas and its weapon mechanics continue to be a much welcomed feature, but issues of collision detection when not using the VATS system can be annoying, as you'll find bullets missing their target no matter how perfect your aim was. And Fallout: New Vegas is not impervious to further issues, as loading can be excessive and annoying. The game performs an install on your hard drive, but it seems to be completely pointless, as even stepping foot into tiny little shacks will cause the game to load for 5-10 seconds. In other cases, the game will load for as many as two minutes! It is simply unacceptable all these years later. Additionally, bugs and glitches cause the game to hitch and freeze with no warning, often forcing you to restarting your system. Fortunately, the game autosaves frequently, but this is still not something that should be occurring this frequently - we're well beyond the learning phases of developing for these consoles.
If you can get past the issues, the gameplay is still a solid, albeit dated experience for the major Fallout fan. For the newcomers to this franchise, I would recommend perhaps another game, as the technical issues may really turn you off. I'd reckon Oblivion, also a Bethesda title, would be better suited since it is not only cheaper, but has held up better with time, and is a bit more polished despite being years older.
Visually, the technical issues only continue. An abundance of pop-up riddles the screen, as does the sever lack of anti-aliasing. Proving that the graphics have gone largely untouched is the framerate, which still has a tendency to stutter and skip during hectic times. Characters look very rough around the edges, further solidifying that the Fallout 3 engine is aging very poorly. Yes, the environments may be vast, but other open ended games boast a scale that's just as impressive all the while managing to look much better. There have been times where I was walking on a textureless floor for minutes, until the game finally drew it in…the extent of technical problems plaguing the game are vast to say the least.
Audio also needs a lot of work. Yes, there are tons voice overs to be heard, but that doesn't mean they all have to sound dull and lifeless. The characters barely have a personality of their own and the longer you play the game the more it annoys you, and the less you want to interact. I ended up turning the voices down and just reading - it works better that way since it allowed me to just skip ahead as soon as I finished the dialogue. The rest of New Vegas' audio sounds fine, though, as background noise and other effects (especially gun shots) are pulled off convincingly. I understand it's hard to have top-tier voice acting for so many different characters, but can we at least try?
One massive issue Fallout: New Vegas has besides all of its technical problems is that price tag. Let's face it, this is a game built on the original where the mechanics were barely touched. It's an expansion that's being charged full price for. While I'd certainly consider Fallout New Vegas a good game, it loses a lot of points to what I can only attribute to as lazy developing. A dated game engine, coupled with a plethora of gameplay plaguing technical problems, boring voice acting, sub-par visuals, and a bloated price tag compromise an otherwise good game. $60 it's not worth - slash $20, and then we're talkin'.
10/22/2010 Arnold Katayev