So after hearing all day about what a buggy mess New Vegas is, it was with more than a little nervousness that I fired up my own copy after work. Fearing game freezes, glitches, things like that. I still wasn't prepared for the first problem I ran into.
No sound. None. Of course, I let the opening cinematic play for a while, thinking "maybe it was a stylistic decision to keep it silent?", but it just felt wrong. So I started over. Same problem. Getting worried. Skipped ahead into the game. No sound. People talking, no audio.
I probably should have tried reinstalling, but I was so annoyed I just said "screw it" and exchanged it at the store. New copy, reinstalled it, even deleted the Gamestop pre-order bonus thinking maybe that was it. Still no sound.
Now I'm getting angry. Finally, it occurred to me to try disconnecting the mic.
Now, the mic is new. Never even used it, in fact. I'm not a big multiplayer gamer, but I keep meaning to play more (and in fact, I've been playing Blur online a TON lately), so I grabbed a mic. I plugged it in to charge it, then forgot all about it. No other games got muted, so clearly it's still an issue with New Vegas, but at least it's not BROKEN.
Anyway, now I can finally start the game. And meanwhile, Gamestop now has a returned but perfectly fine copy of New Vegas, and I have an extra pre-order bonus code, which I'll give away eventually.
Of course there's the endless agonizing over character design, which is pretty funny due to the crippling lack of REAL variety if you want your character looking anything like normal. Then there's the equally endless agonizing over setting up your initial SPECIAL stats. In the end, I went with a perfectly well-rounded character, all 5's and 6's. Too soon to think about specializing in one area or another.
And with that, I ventured forth. Now, I have NO idea what this story is about yet. And maybe that's deliberate. Your character "wakes up" with amnesia, so I guess it's fitting that we the players don't know any more about the situation than the character. But Fallout games have always been pretty directionless in the beginning, and this is even worse.
There's the opening town, and the brief tutorial, and even your first sidequest, which is about as far as I got into the game in the first day. The sidequest involves defending the town against a few weak attackers, which I did, but either I did something wrong or the game glitched, because now I have one of the town's settlers chasing after me trying to kill me. Apparently I accidentally shot one of his horned cow things. I can't kill the guy without incurring the town's wrath (I'm playing good, as I always do), but I still have to dispose of him somehow. Tonight, I expect I'll lead him off to somewhere remote and put him down. I'll take a karma hit, but it can't be helped.
Now, as for my initial impressions of the game itself: thus far it's exactly the same as Fallout 3. Could be an expansion pack. Graphics are the same, environments are the same, gameplay is the same. But this is just in the beginning, so no doubt it changes as the game progresses.
One notable difference is that now, using skills in conversation is no longer left up to chance. You either have the necessary skill points, or you don't. For instance, in the sidequest mentioned above, you can enlist the help of other citizens, and each one requires you to have a certain amount of a certain skill. For one guy, you need 25 Barter. If you have 25, it works. If you don't, it doesn't. It even shows you in the dialogue menu, highlighting the selection red or green, and showing the points you have in that skill. I don't really like this development. If you don't have the necessary skill, there's no point even making that selection, so why even have that option? At least in Fallout 3, even if you didn't have the necessary skill, you still had a small chance of success, so it might be worth trying.
VATS is back, and works exactly the same. I haven't fought anything difficult yet, so I've put down everything with ease.
I'm playing normal difficulty, not Hardcore mode. Can't handle that right now. So my character keeps taking a sip from the pre-order bonus canteen, but I can't help wondering what the point is, since apparently dehydration is only an issue in Hardcore mode? I might be wrong.
All in all, it was a pretty unproductive night. Spent too much time trying to deal with the sound issue, so I didn't have too much time to play the game itself. Hopefully tonight I'll get more accomplished.