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Fallout: New Vegas Review

Fallout: New Vegas pack shot
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher:Bethesda Softworks
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://fallout.bethsoft.com/
Release Date:October 22nd, 2010 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hephill (Bandit)
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"War. War never changes." So starts every Fallout game.

It's somewhat ironic then that Fallout: New Vegas, never really changed from Fallout 3 either. In fact, it's pretty much the same - but that's not to say it's bad. Far from it.

Set in the post-apocalyptic world of 2281, 200 years after the nuclear war between the US and China that bought the human race to the brink of extinction, the game takes place in the blasted Mojave Wasteland - Nevada, Las Vegas (now renamed New Vegas) and a hundred watering holes, bandit camps, monster lairs, military bases and assorted random encounters spread across the desert sands - not a nice place for a holiday.

Fallout: New Vegas screenshot 1

Into this melee steps the player character - a courier for the Mojave Express delivery company, given a mysterious package to deliver to the Vegas Strip - but who instead finds himself shot in the head and left for dead by a gang of outlaws and their mysteriously well-spoken leader.

After you wake up in a doctor's house in the charming little hamlet of Goodsprings, you're tasked with finding out who killed you and why. And after that, it's entirely up to you. Like Fallout 3 before it, New Vegas offers the gamer an open world, a pistol and a Pip-Boy computer - and lets you off the leash.

If you want to wander the deserts searching for lost treasure, go right ahead. Feeling like murdering an entire town and stealing their lovely collection of stainless steel forks? Sure, why not. In the mood to pick the lock on that gun cabinet and make pretty pictures with super mutant blood? Go on then. The choice is yours.

Along the way you'll have to beg, borrow, barter or steal what you need to survive, and be assigned dozens of different quests - from freeing slaves to recovering stolen robots, and will take on mutants, giant bugs, angry mobs and insane grannies in your quest to uncover the truth.

Fallout: New Vegas screenshot 2

So, pretty much the same as Fallout 3 then.

Yes, gamers who've previously walked the wasteland will find New Vegas instantly familiar - the game uses the same control scheme, graphics engine and perks system as Fallout 3, and while the game expands on those, it doesn't really break any boundaries.

There are more weapons up for grabs, more improvised weapons just waiting for a tool bench, more perks and more companions. New Vegas expands on the previous title in every way.

Fallout: New Vegas screenshot 3

The game has also expanded the improvisation aspect, to include making your own ammo, food and potions - a stop at a campfire can give a wily traveller ample opportunity to whip up a healing powder or an action point booster bread loaf. It's an addition that adds that little bit of realism to the outlandish confines of the wasteland. The game also comes with even more bugs - and I don't mean the mutated praying mantises.

While Fallout 3 was a notoriously buggy game, New Vegas is shot through with graphical errors, gameplay problems and programming flaws. After 30 minutes of play, I'd accidentally started a war with an innocent town - because my character kept drawing his rifle and firing off a single shot - this time straight into an innocent bartender's left eye.

I also encountered radscorpions stuck in rocks, heads flipping upside down mid-conversation, a super mutant who appeared to be doing a Michael Flatley and the world's scariest gate - it vanished as soon as I opened it.

Fallout: New Vegas screenshot 4

But, if you can ignore the bugs and simply enjoy the game for the freedom it offers, then there's a heck of a lot to love in New Vegas.

Like Fallout 3 before it, the scope for exploration is simply massive. The area the game lets you tramp over is about the same as the Capital Wasteland, and is just as dangerous. While small towns may offer bartering or the occasional quest, the gangs of escaped, dynamite wielding convicts, super mutants and crazy robots infesting everywhere else will keep you on your toes.

Good thing then that the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System is in full operation once again, allowing the gamer to target individual body parts with ease. And the various perks on offer allow the gamer to customise your version of the courier to your heart's content.

The karma system is also in full flow, tracking each of your choices and steering you towards the end game - its surprising how quickly a few spots of thievery can stack up against you.

Fallout: New Vegas screenshot 5

The most interesting aspect to New Vegas. However. are the factions fighting over the scrub and brush - The New California Republic (democrats with guns) and Ceasar's Legion (brutal murderers with a strict moral code - and a penchant for Roman legionnaire armour.)

The gamer can chose to make allies or enemies of either faction in their ongoing war, taking on faction missions to further their cause, or you can attempt to walk the fine line between the two forces, going your own way. This, of course, is a challenge in itself, and a few large-scale battles could quickly see you forced to join one side or the other.

Plus, if the game isn't already challenging for you enough, Obsidian have included a 'hardcore' mode for the true wasteland survivalist. This mode makes your character need regular water, food and sleep, and means radiation doesn't fade in time, or stimpacks heal instantly.

I turned the mode on straight away and found that the need to constantly monitor my courier made the game a little more intense, but also a little too much like The Sims. Thankfully, I didn't need to tell my courier to go to the toilet every 30 seconds.

Graphically, apart from the bugs, New Vegas has only slightly improved the bleak outlook of Fallout 3. While there is much more colour in the Mojave, and the bright neon of The Strip's casinos and nightclubs are a great change from the sand and dirt (and of course feature all the bottlecap gambling a drifter could want), the engine only does a reasonable job with the lighting and textures, and the rate of item pop-in is horrendous.

The sound is pretty good, however, as is the score - is a wonderful collection of country and western and Vegas classics, including a fair few from the chairman of the board, Frank Sinatra. The voice acting is top-notch and the many varied characters you run into each have their own personality - and secret agenda. It's a veritable minefield of dodgy dealing and backstabbing, and a damn good thing too.


So, to throw the dice one last time, Fallout: New Vegas, is a slightly enhanced Fallout 3 set in a new location with a more succinct plot, more weapons, perks, ammo, enemies and bad decisions waiting to be made. If you loved Fallout 3, you'll love this, but be prepared to overlook the numerous bugs if you want to make it big in Sin City. Viva New Vegas.

The bottom line
8.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • More Fallout goodness
  • More perks, enemies and quests et al
  • Good plot, excellent scope for adventuring

Not so good stuff

  • Buggy, very, very buggy
  • Pretty much Fallout 3.5
  • Crushing difficulty early on

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