Fallout: New Vegas Review

Fallout. The very name conjures to mind images of an irradiated wasteland rife with mutants, profiteers, slavers, and refugees. Bethesda received both praise and scorn for their take on the universe in Fallout 3, and I have faith that things will be much the same for Obsidian’s entry into the series, Fallout: New Vegas. So, is New Vegas a worthy successor to Bethesda’s epic tale?

First off, fans of Fallout 3 will feel right at home in New Vegas. It looks very much like Fallout 3, albeit with a few changes to the color palette. One of the first things you think when you start playing New Vegas is that this is an expansion pack, not a full game. Nothing could be further from the truth. New Vegas contains more quests and content than Fallout 3 did, with an estimated 80 hours of play required to hit 100% completion.


Fallout: New Vegas (PC [Reviewed], XBox360, PS3)
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: October 19, 2010
MSRP: $59.99

You begin your travels in the western wasteland as you recover from being shot in the head and dumped in a shallow grave in the desert, almost as if you’d run afoul of the Corleone family. Your goal is to have your revenge on the folks who shot you, as well as recover a valuable item that they stole from you. Unfortunately, this item isn’t yours. You were a courier for the Mojave Express, and the package you were transporting got you into this mess.

The story of New Vegas is the highlight. It’s a much stronger narrative than that of Fallout 3, which should be no surprise to those of us who have played Obsidian’s previous takes on other series (Knights of the Old Republic 2, Neverwinter Nights 2). The large number of factions, and the gravity that your reputation with each carries, brings what feels like a heavier weight to each of your decisions.

Helping out the New California Republic (NCR) can get you in good with a number of outposts in the area, but will also set Caesar’s Legion firmly against you. One slip-up (like accidentally killing that NCR guard dog), and you’ll find yourself looked at askance when you try to barter for supplies and ammo. You can regain the standing by completing more tasks, but I knew I had erred when a NCR Quartermaster told me he couldn’t spare any supplies for someone with my “spotted reputation.”

The other interesting thing about the factions is that there’s no clear-cut good or evil in this tale. Sure, some factions are dead-set against each other, but none of them are clearly better than the others. The explosives-toting Powder Gangers are prison escapees who were being used as slaves by the NCR. The Kings? They’re a 50′s style gang that emulate Elvis in every way (Their leader, called ‘The King,’ says that they found info on Elvis in their base, a school for Elvis impersonators). They also seem to truly want to help people in the slums around New Vegas get along and live better. It’s an odd combination of factors, but somehow it feels really well designed.

For a title called ‘New Vegas,’ a surprising amount of the action takes place outside Vegas, in the Mojave Wasteland itself. That’s not a bad thing, as the Mojave, much like the Capital Wasteland, is a weirdly beautiful place to hang out. Yes, the graphics engine looks a lot like Fallout 3, albeit with some upgraded textures. Even so, the landscape retains the same strange allure that Fallout 3 possessed.

Obsidian’s also tweaked some of the game’s systems. First off, you can now have multiple companions, and each can be instructed using the new ‘companion wheel.’ This is basically a brand new interface option that allows you to quickly give orders to your companions (and even use them to pack around some of your stuff for you). Wandering the wasteland with a former NCR sniper and a cybernetic canine companion is truly enjoyable, and worth the effort to make it happen.

They’ve also given players the ability to not only create things at a workbench, but to load their own ammo and break down guns and bullets they don’t want to get components for those they do. These new systems also allow you to modify your weapons with new barrels, magazines, and the like to further tweak their performance.

The skills and perks systems return, with a load of new perks (there are now 84 total) for those of you that want something new and different for your New Vegas character. Instead of books that give permanent stat boosts, you can now find magazines that will boost one stat temporarily, allowing you to tweak that not-quite-high-enough lockpicking skill so you can access that safe you just found. We highly recommend the “Wild Wasteland” perk, which puts all of the wacky stuff the folks at Obsidian could come up with into your game (Note: If you are a serious Fallout player, DO NOT engage this perk).

Once you make your way into the environs of New Vegas itself, you can hit up casinos and try out the new minigames, including Roulette, Blackjack and Slot Machines. The game now uses three currencies (NCR dollars, Legion coins, and the ubiquitous bottle cap), and you will be happy to learn that the casinos will accept any of them with a smile. Prior to reaching New Vegas, you can hone your card-playing skills by trying out Caravan, the somewhat confusing card game you’ll collect cards for all over the wasteland.

Unfortunately, not everything about New Vegas is positive. First off, there are a horrific number of glitches in the XBox 360 version. Creatures routinely get stuck while navigating terrain, and the player can also get stuck in some very awkward locations, necessitating a reload of a save game. Also, the 360 version seems to have some crash issues. On numerous occasions the game would hang on the loading screen, forcing a hard reboot of the console. On the minor side, expect terrain graphics to pop-in from time to time.

The other major issue I had with New Vegas were the loading times. When using the fast travel feature in the Pip-Boy, it was not uncommon for the game to load for 2-3 minutes. This was lessened when moving into interior locations, but it still felt like an eternity to someone who played Fallout 3 on the PC.

All in all, Fallout: New Vegas is a triumph for Obsidian. Once again, they’ve taken on a beloved franchise and managed to do it justice in the sequel. From a purely technical standpoint, New Vegas does have some issues, but a game isn’t all about the technical side of things. It’s about the experience of playing the game, and on that front, New Vegas delivers in spades. It’s easily one of my favorite games of the year to date, despite all of the technical glitches. If you liked Fallout 3, you owe it to yourself to play this one all the way through. It’s a most worthy successor.

Pros:

  • Outstanding overall game experience
  • Multiple companions
  • Solid narrative and story
  • Wild Wasteland Perk
  • New perks are fun and useful

Cons:

  • Dated graphics
  • Pathing and collision issues
  • Horrific loading times

Score: 91/100

 

We’re crafting our walkthrough for Fallout: New Vegas even as we speak, so stay tuned to this page for the help you need to hit 100% completion.

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11 Comments on Fallout: New Vegas Review

avrus96

On October 19, 2010 at 4:48 am

great review. 2 corrections.. “bottle caps” instead of “battle caps” and “Creatures routinely get stuck while navigating” instead of “stick” :D

Good catch! These have been corrected. -Editor

Deus

On October 19, 2010 at 4:52 am

Wild Wasteland is a trait not a perk. And yes there is a huge difference.

Ron Whitaker

On October 19, 2010 at 5:00 am

According to Obsidian’s Josh Sawyer, Wild Wasteland is a perk. I originally thought it was a trait as well.

He said, “Eventually we thought, you know, there’s probably an easy way to do this, which is a perk that basically says ‘I wanna see all the goofy .’ So we have Wild Wasteland. You opt into it at the beginning and then you get to see all the goofy crap.”

Jack

On October 19, 2010 at 6:56 am

Horrific loading times????
That’s strange because I saw some gameplay videos and the loading time was faster than fallout 3.

your evil twin

On October 19, 2010 at 8:37 am

The horrific loading times are due to a memory leak bug on the 360, supposedly being fixed in patch. It can be temporarily solved by restarting your system every couple of hours… the longer you play, the longer the load times become.

Also, Wild Wasteland is a trait, not a perk. Yeah, he said “perk” in an off-hand way in some interview, but you get Wild Wasteland on the optional Traits screen that comes up after you choose your tagged skills.

Courier

On October 23, 2010 at 11:47 am

I really love the game so far, i finally got good at caravan and its my new favorite card game. I did the patch and everythings been fine now, as for time i think if i install the game to my xbox i will be a bit faster it doesn’t feel to long for me though.

Wariyaka

On October 27, 2010 at 3:30 pm

91? Triumph for Obsidian?
Embarrassing Mr. Whitaker.
Game is so full of bugs, glitches and errors its almost not playable (PC version somewhat better)
Whole game is a complete copypasta of Fallout 3 awith freeze and memory leak problems still intact.
Game is an embarrassment for all involved just as this review.

Ron Whitaker

On October 28, 2010 at 5:30 am

I would respectfully disagree. I’ve played nearly 50 hours of New Vegas (side quests FTW), and I’ve only had 4 or 5 freezes. As I mentioned in the review, the bugs are a problem, but the game is still quite good. I found it more fun than Fallout 3, simply because it has a MUCH better story.

I wish you weren’t having the problems you are, because they’re causing you to miss out on a damn good game.

TestCORE

On November 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Nice comments go a long way to sell something good. THis is one of those games you are either going to love or hate. The good is all said in previous comments so I wont waste time promoting the great qualities of this genre. However if you want to speed up the load time for some areas you will need to save regularly and then delete old saves to limit the reload time. Not too annoying but can get to you after a while. The terrain map restricts ability to cross-country sections, so its not totally seamless, even when you can see something ahead and you can shoot at it causing HP damage, you still have to go around because the map limit are not linear. Try this when traversing a mountain – you can hang off a cliff and still shoot your prey. Not the greatest of trapeeze acts. Apart from the extended scenario’s and twists in the plot, you should tread your own path and find out whats really out there. As for the walkthrough – I’d give it a 2/10 for those who have nothing better to do than finish the game as quickly as possible. The best thing about New Vegaas is the longevity of game play. It is hugely pleasing to see that developers are not trying to all go whizz-bang – Well done Beths..

mike

On November 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

the game sucks asw for the xbox360 version at least with fall out 3 u can beat the story line and coninue to play the game this new game you cant i beat the story line in 2 days no lie and i was hoping to continue doing quest afterwords but this company i have to say oblivion.pc and xbox 360 glitch bad game freeze’setc i realy think that any game this company puts out they realy should recheck the software befor putting it out to market to correct the glitch’s etc every platform differnt it may work better on a ps3 then xbox or vicversa im not to happy with the new game infact i rather continue with fall out 3 lol

Jon

On November 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Actually in Fallout 3 you couldn’t play the game after the main quest until after the Brotherhood of steel addon. I am sure they will do the same thing here. Great game though, but seriously someone needs to fix these load times. I typed all of this while on the loading screen.