Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Review: Fallout New Vegas
What springs to mind when we think of Vegas? Well for many, it’s where countless people flock to play casino games. It’s also where couples looking for a bit of cheese on their big day can be wed by one of the cities many Elvis impersonators.
There have been several games set in Vegas, but one of the most enjoyable examples would have to be Fallout New Vegas. Bethesda Softworks have handed over development duties to Obsidian Entertainment, the team behind the first Fallout title. However, fears aside, as Fallout’s first team have managed to provide a gritty and engaging post-apocalyptic role playing experience.
Set several years after the events in Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas moves the action from Washington D.C. to “New Vegas”, what of course was once Las Vegas. Whilst many of the gameplay mechanics remain, New Vegas also feels somewhat different. Unlike the landscape in Fallout 3, players will not be confronted with a barren, desert wasteland that Washington D.C. became after the blast. The water is less contaminated here, now that the new purifying system is in place. Instead of miles of rockery, there’s actually a lot more (edible) plant life. Things also feel a little more ordered, with the New California Republic soldiers helping to keep the balance in this new society.
However, what order has been established does not disguise the fact that New Vegas is still not a safe town. Raiders and gangs roam the area, drug addicts loiter in the streets and there plenty of mutated creatures vying for a piece of your flesh. An imperial-esque gang called the Legion are also threatening to disturb what little peace New Vegas has managed to create.
Once the initial character creation scene is completed (the game begins with your character being shot in the head, thus resulting in some patching up by a local doctor), like Fallout 3 before it, you’re free to roam the games huge landscape. This is where the game is at its most enjoyable, as you’re more than likely to stumble across something in your travels almost constantly. Whether it be an encounter with a foe, or the discovery of a brand new place on the map, it’s a joy to mindlessly explore for these occasions.
Like Fallout 3, there’s still plenty of collectables lying around. Yes, a lot of it is rubbish, but like the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” If you wish to rummage around for cans of Pork N’ Beans for some reason whilst looking out for stat-boosting books, then by all means do it. Companions are also back, which help to lighten the load a little when fighting gets a little too intense. However, occasionally their AI can be a little frustrating at times. For example, occasionally companions are prone to running off to fight an enemy single-handledly, rather than staying to help you out…which at times can end horribly.
One of the best things about the game is its expansiveness. The map feels a lot more varied than Fallout 3’s, and combines small towns reeking in poverty, to middle-ground villages, right up to neon-lighted casinos, where irradiated water resides. Like Fallout 3, Oblivion and Skyrim, I found that I had clocked up a significant amount of hours on purely exploring and completing sidequests, when there was still a huge proportion of the main story to go. It’s easy to get immersed, or should I say distracted, in a game that provides so much free reign and exploration like this. You could be exploring a quaint town, or playing one of the many casino games, and they’d still be plenty to try out after it!
also introduces Hardcore Mode, a much more punishing way of playing the game. Unlike the normal mode, Hardcore Mode puts an emphasis on survival aspects. Players will have to ensure that they eat and drink regularly, which as many of you will recall from Fallout 3, is hard to keep up with, when decent food and water is in limited supply in most places. Healing items no longer instantly top up your health, instead they slowly patch you up over time, so chance encounters can get very tense when your health has been at a minimum for some time. Also, crippled limbs can only be fixed by using a rare Doctors Bag, or by finding a doctor to fix you up. Ammo also carries a significantly higher weight and is harder to come by, so a closer look at the inventory is required in this mode.
For those looking for a more accurate depiction of desperation during a nuclear fallout, then Hardcore Mode is definitely worth a try.
Overall, Fallout New Vegas is a brilliant game that is only slightly let down by its game freezes and glitches (something Fallout 3 was prone to at times as well) and occasional poor AI. New Vegas offers a much broader and varied landscape than Fallout 3, and it’s easy to sink an obscene amount of hours into it. If you’re looking for a immersive RPG…then this may just be one of them.