Viva New Vegas!
The setting for this latest outing in the Fallout series of games, from Bethesda, is, as the title suggests, New Vegas. Being set further away from the original Nuclear fallout gives the area a much more “alive” feeling than that of Fallout 3. But that is not to say that the game has not retained it’s post-apocalyptic charm and dark humour. It is, perhaps, just a little bit greener.
The story this time, into which the player is unceremoniously dropped, revolves around the unsuccessful execution of the player, which happens at the very beginning. Then begins the journey to try and work out the events that have led up to this near-death experience. There is no background about the Fallout world, no explanation about what has led to the world being in this state. It is assumed from the off that the player already has some experience of the Fallout world.
As in Fallout 3, the New Vegas world is a massive sandbox for the player to enjoy. There is a deep storyline to follow as the player discovers that they were a courier charged with delivering something very important. Following the story will take the player all across the huge map and have them meet all sorts of characters and factions. But the fun doesn’t end there as, should the player decide that they really don’t care about the story, they can wander off and forge their own path through the world. There are ample side quests to keep the player busy, places to visit and hidden treasures. The same freedom of choice can be found in how the player actually plays the game. The player can try to befriend everyone, or just take advantage and leave a trail of corpses.
However, befriending everyone is not something that the player will find possible in New Vegas. Along with the huge number of colourful characters that can be found, there are also quite a few factions. Allying with these factions can certainly bring benefits and is indeed advisable for continued survival in this violent world. But, as is often the case in real life, not all of the factions get along with each other. This puts the player in the position of, by helping one faction, making an enemy of another.
There is a nice selection of new equipment and perks in New Vegas that will keep the Fallout 3 players happy, whilst allowing more options to the player for customizing their character and the way they play. The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System makes a welcome return, allowing the player to target individual body parts during combat. However, the first-person shooter style gamer will find that this side of New Vegas has been improved over Fallout 3, allowing gameplay without using the VATS to be much more enjoyable.
Carrying with it a post-apocalyptic western feel, there were a number of times that I found myself considering if I was playing New Vegas or Red Dead Redemption. Of course there are a myriad of differences, but the overall feel of the setting is very much in a cowboy style. From a visual point of view, there does not seem to be a lot of changes from the previous Fallout game and things are starting to look a little old now. The sounds and voice acting throughout the game were of a very high standard, with some big name actors such as Matthew Perry, Kris Kristofferson and Ron Perlman lending their voices to the characters.
New Vegas is by no means a perfect game. In fact, the player will encounter more bugs on their adventure than could be found in your average termite mound. Of course, there are plenty of little graphical glitches, such as flying dogs and legs hanging down through the ceilings. These are par for the course and no real problem, in some ways they add character to the game. But there are a few major glitches going on, one of which I found during my playthrough. After entering an area I found that the right stick had stopped functioning, preventing me from turning around which made the game incredibly difficult. The only cure was to go back to a previous save. After looking around on the Internet, it became apparent that I was not the only one experiencing various control pad issues. The lesson I learnt from this, and I pass onto you, is make sure that you save the game regularly, just in case.
But the fact of the matter is that, even with some pretty major bugs that would bring any lesser game crashing to it’s knees, the things that New Vegas does right seriously overshadows any problems that the game might have. After experiencing a bug that caused me to back track through my saves, another game would have been put on the shelf until I was sure that the issue had been patched. But with New Vegas I jumped straight back in, eager to continue my exploration.
The improvements made over Fallout 3 in New Vegas are few, whilst the number of bugs compared with Fallout 3 are many. But neither of these facts stop the game from taking over the player’s life. There is so much to do and so much to see that fans of the Fallout series will be in their element and likely not be seen for weeks. Newcomers to the series may still be left wondering what all of the fuss is about. But with a little time and patience, they will find a deeply engaging game that is filled with almost as many quirks and eccentricities as the characters found within.