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Review: Fallout: New Vegas

One of the first games I ever played on my Xbox 360 was Fallout 3. I’d never heard of the franchise before, but immediately, I was in love. How could you NOT instantly connect with your character, as he (or she) literally grows from newborn to independent child, to strong-willed adventurer, guided by your own hand? That, and your dad is Liam Neeson! I mean, come on!

Sure, Fallout 3 was a role playing game set in a post-apocalyptic world, but more so, it was a story of a young explorer trying to find his missing father, stumbling upon a world-saving McGuffin along the way. You identified with your character, and you really felt as if your actions were world-changing. The game had heart, and though it had some glitches, especially in newly released DLC packs, players didn’t care. I have personally logged 48 hours in-game, according to Raptr.

Anyways, I’m getting a bit side-tracked here. All these things I’ve mentioned? They’re not part of Fallout: New Vegas. Not by a long shot.

The hot: If you’ve played Fallout 3, you’ll notice Bethesda didn’t change any of the gameplay mechanics. Players get to customise their playable character, and attribute points to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) system in order to specialise in certain aspects of the game, like charming non-playable characters, or winning speech challenges via smarts. The V.A.T.S. targeting system, Perks and Karma are still as they were. If you’ve played Fallout 3, it’s like riding a bicycle, and if you’re familiar with RPGs, you won’t have much trouble either.

The meh: Remember how I said that Fallout 3 was bug-ridden, but players seemed to be able to look past that to recognise a great game? That doesn’t apply here. Pre-ordered guns don’t have textures, so players are treated to huge red Xs in place of weapons. Certain game-saves just won’t load. Ever. Holstering your weapon causes your player to freeze, rendering you immobile. Your character’s companions suddenly go homicidal and kill anyone else in sight. The list of bugs is endless. Most of Fallout 3‘s bugs came from the DLC, but most of New Vegas‘ bugs are in the core game, which means Bethesda should have tested their game FAR more thoroughly than they did before releasing it. For shame.

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A “Hardcore” mode was also introduced to the game in an effort to increase realism. In this mode stimpacks only heal over time rather than instantly, crippled limbs require special “Doctor’s bags” to heal the damage, and players can suffer from dehydration, exhaustion and starvation. Sounds like a challenge, right? Not really. I knocked out the entire game on Hardcore mode in just over 3 hours. Three hours! I mean, I played Fallout 3 for 48 hours, and it’s possible to complete this garbage in 3 hours on its hardest mode? Yikes.

The cold: Ready for a big list? Let’s start with the plot. There are four factions you can choose from to align with. You start off as a Courier who’s been shot. Yada yada yada, blah blah blah. Who cares? The plot is convoluted and boring. As I’ve said before, this game has no heart and nothing that really makes you care for your character or those around you.

Fallout 3 was a challenge, but was one that you could actually manage. You could counter enemies with specific tactics and skill. Deathclaws and Mirelurks were a constant thorn in my side during my game, especially when my character was at a low level. I pushed boundaries to try to get amazing weapons or achievements, and my persistence paid off in the end. In New Vegas, unless you’ve got a fully-loaded sniper rifle on you at all times, and you manage spot them at a distance, you’re going to run into Cazadors, and you’re going to die. They’re super-fast flying creatures that dip, dive, and dodge…oh, and they’re poisonous too. You can’t outrun them, you’re screwed the minute they get into close range, and they’re everywhere. Does anyone have any good tips for surviving a group of 3-5 of these things without carrying healing items to account for 90% of your inventory? Please post and let everyone know.

The game has zero balance. The first DLC pack, Dead Money, is absolutely frustrating. You enter the DLC and can’t exit until you’ve finished its story. That means that if you don’t have health packs in your inventory, prepare to throw your controller against the wall – there’s poison gas all throughout the DLC that requires constant healing. Oh, and as an additional treat, because of the linear story of this game, if you’ve finished off the main storyline and didn’t save right before the end, you may be forced to attempt the DLC as a new character – and good luck with that. The freaking DLC starts off saying you should be at least a level 30 before trying it.

Bottom line, this game feels rushed and sullies the good name of Fallout 3 and potential sequels. If you’re a huge Fallout fan, you’ve probably already played this…and if you haven’t yet, you probably should, just to see what it’s like. Let’s face it, this game is still Fallout, and you’re probably itching for another hit of the good stuff because of the great experience you had with New Vegas‘ predecessor. Just be prepared to grit your teeth. If you haven’t played Fallout 3 and were looking at this game, stop now and go and pick up the Game of the Year edition of a far better title.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist nearing twenty (TWENTY!?!) years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.