by Bane Williams
reviewed on X360
War Might Not Change, But You Do
Fallout: New Vegas adds a myriad of changes to the already successful formula of its past games. It brings back a Reputation system, allowing you to juggle relationships with the various factions of the game. While outside of toying with the main powers there is little reason to do this, it still has a better feel about it than just having a straightforward 'good or bad' system. Combat sees a few added touches - you can learn melee specific moves, which work both in and out of V.A.T.S (a way to stop time and micromanage your characters attacks). A new cinematic kill-cam highlights the death of the final enemy in a fight, or a devastating critical blow - which on more than one occassion had me uttering out loud, “sweet”.
Crafting is extremely varied - from food to traps, weapons, and ammo - there is a lot to be discovered in such a deep system. Weapons can also be modified with things like extended mags, or scopes to increase range. It adds a personalised feel for each of your weapons, and quite soon you will find yourself having a favorite.
Companions also add a lot of flavor in New Vegas - each of them have an indepth and fleshed out story that unfolds during the course of the adventure. They can be controlled quite easily through the use of a 'companion wheel' for those necessary on-the-fly changes to their tactics. They also give your character additional perks to play with, like the Eyebot ED-E whose enhanced sensors perk means you can detect enemies from much greater distances (great for a sniper). Speaking of perks (which you now get every 2 levels, all the way up to the game’s cap of 30), there is a lot of variation and balance now shown in them. No longer are there overpowered perks or even companions. Extra flavor is added by rewarding players with free perks relating to their playing style. For example, killing a large number of enemies with pistols will increase your overall effectiveness with them. It is a nice change, and works extremely well.
Lots to Love
While PC players will not notice a difference between the graphics of Fallout 3 to New Vegas, on the console there are some immediately noticable improvements. Draw distance is increased, as is the quality of the characters and backgrounds. The environment around the Mojave Wasteland feels a little more alive - not to mention the first time you come across greenery in the world, it feels so alien that it takes a lot of getting used to.
I really loved the sound-work in the game and although the radio tunes were perhaps not quite as catchy as those found in Fallout 3, they were still incredibly enjoyable. Environmental sound is the best part, and almost always strikes up at just the right time to add the perfect mix of feelings for the prescribed situation. The massive amount of voice acted dialogue in the game could have meant that most characters sound flat and lifeless, but this is truly not the case. A very large majority of the characters are voiced to almost perfection and listening to Felicia Day voice the sarcastic tones of a Brotherhood Scribe never gets old.
But where is a Fallout game without a story? I think that overall even casual gamers can enjoy the New Vegas experience. The story is delivered in almost bite sized chunks and with each completed section there is a feeling of accomplishment. Add to this the weight that comes with each choice forcing you to always be mindful of your actions, and you get some of the best writing seen this side of 2010. Almost every small area in the game has a story that is just as potent, though not as world changing as the main narrative. From finding the remnants of a once strong and proud society that has been forced into hiding, to discovering the oddities behind some of the Vault experiments, there is something brilliant to be found everywhere in the game.
Of course, every game is not without its flaws and there are a few in New Vegas that are worth mentioning. Firstly is that there are the same amount of bugs (and usually the same bugs themselves) that were found when Fallout 3 was first released. Maybe this is just part of the eccentricities behind the engine that powers the product, but the first patch released at launch fixed over 200 of these bugs, and there are undoubtedly more to find. While combat has been improved, it is still not perfect. Using V.A.T.S is still the preferred way to line someone up in order to pulverise them at range. Finally, there are a few continuity errors in the script throughout the game, as well as a few areas that could have been scripted better (Vault 22 for instance).
A Real Winner
Ultimately, these minor errors do not stop Fallout: New Vegas from being a step up from its predecessor in every single way imaginable. It presents an incredibly gritty and real world full of some of the most interesting and quirky characters I have ever met. I rarely felt like I wanted to select a non-existent conversation option and the game world had me gripped in its talons from the moment I was shot in the head. A real winner.
Amazingly realistic world with great characters, stories and imagery. This is what Fallout 3 should have been.
Severely dated engine and the same bugs that plagued Fallout 3 lead to a less-than-perfect experience.