by Ingvi Snędal
previewed on X360
Return to the Source
The Fallout series has achieved a well deserved status of fame. There's not a gamer in the world who will deny having heard of Fallout 3 and probably very few that will not have known of the previous two before it. Fallout 3 saw the series evolve from the top-down RPG genre, which was the dominant genre at the time of the previous games, to a first person shooter, the reigning champion of today. The game was received amazingly well and sold 610.000 copies in the first month. Obsidian Entertainment, who employ many former Black Isle Studio's employees, are currently working on the newest game in the series: Fallout: New Vegas. Black Isle were gods among men during the days of Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment and were actually the ones to spawn the Fallout series with Fallout and Fallout 2. During GamesCom in Cologne, Germany we got some well appreciated hands-on time with the new game and I must say that it looks stunning.
A Brighter Outlook
Fallout 3 looked, sounded, felt and played perfectly. And that may be the reason why so many gaming magazines and sites, including us at Hooked Gamers, chose it as game of the year in 2008. Fallout: New Vegas runs on the same Gamebryo graphics engine as Oblivion and Fallout 3 did and doesn't look all that different from the previous games. There have been a few style tweaks here and there and that is most noticeable on the wardrobe and overall style of the characters that you'll meet in the game world. The PC version looks smoother and more polished than the Xbox version but, then again, that's true for most games. One thing I noticed, while I was playing the game, was that everything looked more hopeful. The towns you could visit were bigger, the people were less dirty and I didn't meet a single mutant in the two towns I visited. More people were alive and the future looked brighter.
Exquisite Voice Acting
In the opening cinematic, The Narrator (Ron Perlman) tells you about the area you'll be playing in. Ron Perlman also voiced the narrator in Fallout 3, and his performance in Fallout: New Vegas is equally superb. He also tells you how Las Vegas was virtually untouched by the nuclear blasts and how it's now under the control of a man called Mr. House. How a group of people restored the Hoover Dam to working condition and brought electricity back on for the city. How you are a messenger, sent to carry a small parcel to Las Vegas and then proceeds to tell you that the journey would not end well.
Benny, the leader of the Geckos, a New Vegas crime family, is standing in front of you holding a gun. He then proceeds to tell you that you've been set up and shoots you in the head. Benny is voiced by Matthew Perry, who's done a great job with the character. He manages to be a total prick, but a likeable one. A few days later, you wake up at Doc Mitchell's place. Doc Mitchell tells you that he's dug a bullet out of your head and that he's going to ask you a couple of questions to make sure your noggin is still in working order. That's when the character creation starts. The character creation process is pretty much the same as in Fallout 3 except for one minor thing. They've stuck a Rorschach test in there. What it does is unclear to me, but I'm assuming it has something to do with the basic score on the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skill tree. Once you're up and about and know who you are again, the Doc sends you on your merry way with his old Pip Boy, a pistol, and a razor blade.
The area the game takes place in is about the same size as the Capital Wasteland from Fallout 3, and will feature sights such as the Hoover Dam and the Helios 1 solar energy plant. The most noticeable additions in the game are the new weapons and apparel, which go a long way to distinguish Fallout: New Vegas as not an expansion to Fallout 3, but a completely different game. As stated before, the style is a lot more optimistic. The 50s fashion is there and some of the bandits and gangsters look as though they've been cut straight out of Grease. New and improved sentry robots guard the gates of Las Vegas (and the bigger towns who can afford them) and will not hesitate to blow you to smithereens if you don't do as they're programmed to command. The new weapons feel just right in this setting and handle perfectly.
How much Change is Necessary?
The game looks very close to completion and is sure to be a must buy for many gamers when it finally hits the stores. This is a completely new story, new part of America and filled with new characters and events, but other than that, it looks and feels very much like Fallout 3 did. Fallout 3 was, in many gamers' opinion, the embodiment of the perfect game, so why change perfection? Some might see it that way, but others might want something more for their cash and 2 years worth of gaming evolution. All in all, I think it looks very promising and will be a worthy title to bear Fallout name. Will it be Game of the Year 2010 material? Only time will tell.