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Review: Fallout: New Vegas

Throwing you straight into the action, Fallout: New Vegas starts with you (a courier) being held up, shot in the head, and buried alive. After getting exhumed by a robot companion and revived by the town doctor, you begin the character creation process. The remainder of the core story is driven by your need to retrieve your stolen package and exact revenge; a journey that sees you traveling across the Nevada wastes, growing closer to New Vegas’ light pollution on the horizon.

Unfortunately, once you reach Vegas, you’re left feeling disappointed with very little to actually be done on the Vegas strip. There’s more to be done in the slums just outside the brightly-lit mecca of exclusivity and class than there is to be had within the city’s walls. The sooner you get back to exploring and surviving the wastes, the better. It’s a sad truth, but Fallout: New Vegas‘ namesake seems to be the most disappointing aspect in the game itself.

Taking the winning formula from Fallout 3, developer Obsidian did a great job of expanding on that same basis without changing too much in the overall feel that made Fallout 3 great. New Vegas succeeds in offering some interesting and entertaining quest arches that set it apart from it’s predecessor, especially when New Vegas manages to fit in a few more references and elements from what made the original Fallout series great.

As expected, you’ll come across a huge selection of varying characters in your travels across the wastes. Sadly, most characters fail to offer much depth or evoke any genuine emotion, but the quests are satisfying and carry that fantastic sense of wonder and novelty that makes the Fallout series great. That is, only if you can manage to ignore/avoid the game’s bugs. It’s surprising just how buggy and poorly optimized the game’s engine really is, despite having matured over the years with implementation of many games including Oblivion and Fallout 3. Obsidian has already issued a couple bug-squashing patches, and most of the game’s bugs are minor, but if you’re unlucky enough, there are a few game-breaking issues that you may stumble across.

Despite being a series proud of its free-roam component, New Vegas has more than a small collection of invisible walls that prevent you from climbing mountains and other obstacles, and this small annoyance can really kill the game’s immersion and feeling of freedom. Furthermore, New Vegas also has an inescapable feeling of having been slimmed down to accommodate future DLC that will expand gameplay that should have been included from the start. Parts of the game can feel rather restricted and bare, especially with the wastes feeling like they offer much less exploration and wonder than we experienced with Fallout 3. Even the in-game radio stations only seem to offer about 5 songs each.

In short, it’s a great game that gives Fallout fans more wasteland to explore and more of what we loved in Fallout 3, but you’re best waiting a few months until the game gets patched up a bit more and the price drops before buying this title.

Scores

- Graphics: 6
Far from anything ground-breaking, New Vegas‘ graphics fail to succeed in giving a gritty and warn-down feeling of a post-apocalyptic world, but the graphics are mostly unchanged from Fallout 3, and despite being a game that’s more about adventure and wonder than graphics and eye-candy, this still hurts the game’s overall appeal to most gamers.

- Storyline: 9
Taking into account not only the game’s core storyline, but also the mini story arches that you’ll experience across the hundreds of quests you’ll find yourself completing, it’s a roller coaster that goes up and down, but rest assured, there’s bound to be an overall story path for each quest that will please anyone from the cutest kitten in the litter to the most evil goblin from hell. And if not, you can always just kill everyone and search for Unicorns.

- Gameplay: 6
Though deserving of a much higher score in this category, New Vegas‘ bugs have a habit of ruining your gameplay experience. Because of this, I strongly suggest you wait a month or two before purchasing the game to be sure there’s been ample time for patches to smooth out any issues.

- Controls: 8
Aside from the standard layout that PC gamers have become accustomed to (and even features built-in Xbox 360 controller support), New Vegas does a great job of organizing the game’s more advanced features into your Pip-Boy; a wrist-mounted computer that works as your inventory, map, repair station and much more. This allows everything to be laid out very clearly and to be easily accessed.

- Lasting Appeal: 10
As any fan of the Fallout series can tell you, this simply goes without saying.

Score: 8 Olives

Purchase Fallout: New Vegas on Amazon.

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