War never changes. Neither did the nature of Fallout. Fallout 3 was released in 2008 and it set the world on fire when Bethesda turned it into another version of the Elder Scrolls. This was a strange turn for the fans of Fallout but, for people like me who haven't played the Fallout series, it was a fantastic experience. Obsidian has been drafted into creating a follow-up and this time some of the original members of the Fallout dev team are on board. Can they bring a title worthy of the Fallout name? Or should we lite it ablaze and forget it even existed?
The story here is that you are a courier in the Mojave Desert that was tasked with delivering a package to the top dog in New Vegas, a rebuilt Las Vegas. Things don't go the way they were supposed to of course and you ended up in a shallow grave with a bullet in your head. You somehow wake up in a small settlement in the doctor's house and told you were saved by a robot. You then head out to find out who shot you and why. It's a very well told story and it's really interesting. There are a lot of different threads of narrative scattered around the Mojave Desert that make the world seem more alive than in Fallout 3.
The characters are interesting and the story presents you with more choice than in Fallout 3. It's also not as serious as Fallout 3 was, it has a more goofy side like the original Fallout games did. There are plenty of side-quests, much more than in Fallout 3, and all have a part to play in the overall world of New Vegas. It's one of the most consuming stories out there and it's a joy to explore, which a game like this should be.
The gameplay hasn't changed from Fallout 3. You still explore a giant wasteland from a 1st-person or 3rd-person perspective and enter dungeon-like structures to explore. It plays exactly like an Elder Scrolls game and that's a good thing here. The exploration is addicting enough that it makes you want to explore everything. You talk to a lot of people in the Mojave and you choice your responses from a dialogue box. This lets you get information and quests and just gives you more of a sense of how the world of New Vegas is doing. Not all of these characters are up for talking, however, and that brings us to the combat.
The combat is the same as it was in 3. You shoot at enemies with guns or hack at them with melee weapons. The combat handles well and this game, as it did in Fallout 3, but it's still a little off and not true shooter quality but the added iron sights really helps. You also still have the V.A.T.S. system to help you slaughter the wasteland and it works the same as well. You pick a limb and spend your AP to deal targeted attacks. It's a useful ability but it's best not to rely on it. As you kill enemies, you gain experience and eventually level up. When you level up, you get skill points and these skills have a deep impact on gameplay. Some do things like let you carry more, others do things like open different dialogue options with certain character types. These add a lot to the game and give each playthrough the chance to be different.
There is also the Hardcore mode to speak of. Hardcore mode offers a more difficult option to people who want more challenge. It forces you to micromanage your ammo, as it now has weight, your thirst and your sleep. It's an intense version of the game and it's a welcome addition. During the game, you'll find different factions and what you do to them and for them affects your standing with them. This is an interesting addition and adds a lot to the world. You can also craft your own weapons and cook your own food. Overall, it's a lot like Fallout 3, but it plays much better and there is a lot more to do.
The audio is Fallout. It has the old-timey music, the western-style score and fantastic voice work. The sound effects are great as well. There are quite a few lines of dialogue in this game and they are all delivered extremely well. This makes the world even better and the characters even more interesting. The radio chatter is still amusing and there are plenty of stations to discover. Fallout: New Vegas represents the very best of the audio category.
The visuals are, unfortunately, pretty poor, but it's to be expected when running on the Gamebryo Engine and with such an open world. It looks fine, but the animations are poor and there are plenty of bugs. Character models look alright, but plenty of them look awkward, but New Vegas looks great. There are infinite amounts of reused assets and there aren't many enemy types overall, but for such a huge game, it passes.
- Great, interesting story
- Quite a few interesting characters
- Gameplay is addicting and new iron sights are great
- World is huge with plenty to explore
- Audio is top-notch, from voice work to old timey music
- Skills add a lot to the game
- Weapon crafting and cooking are useful
- Factions add some structure
- Poor visuals
- Not much has changed from Fallout 3
Overall, Fallout: New Vegas feels less like an expansion from Fallout 3 than you'd think. It adds plenty and improves just as much. The Mojave is huge and New Vegas has plenty for you to do. If you played your fill of Fallout 3 and want more, then New Vegas is waiting.