Product Type: Bethesda PS3 games
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Obsidian hit the gameplay jackpot
Fallout: New Vegas (PS3)
Member Name: Dentolux
Fallout: New Vegas (PS3)
Advantages: Hours upon hours of content to tackle, great character customisation, accessible combat system
Disadvantages: Reported bugs may cause frustration if you play without patching, samey looking environments
Although I have dabbled with PC gaming, during my video game playing life, I would have to say that for the most part I am a console gamer. Fallout 3 was therefore my first experience with the series if you discount Brotherhood of Steel on the PS2 (it was so ill received that many Fallout diehards like to pretend that it didn't exist, although I must confess to enjoying it.) Anyway to cut a long story short I loved Fallout 3 and wasted no time snapping up New Vegas when it came out. The excitement over playing a new Fallout adventure was however overshadowed by a number of concerns. When the game was released forums were flooded with reports of crippling bugs. Would the technical issues mar a potential hit? Read on to find out.
This instalment of the Fallout saga, as the title suggests, takes place in Las Vegas Nevada. Anyone wanting to visit this version of the strip should however be warned that the casinos in this game aren't as flashy as their real life counterparts. It's no surprise when you consider that the story takes place in the distant future were the human race is struggling to survive after a nuclear war lit up the planet. Most of the United States now resembles a desert wasteland akin to something you would see in a Mad Max movie. Ruined cities offer shelter to the human survivors who have to live their lives in an irradiated world were attacks from mutant creatures is a very real threat.
Players take control of a courier out for revenge. At the start of the game, during a delivery job, you are ambushed and left for dead in a shallow grave after being shot in the head. Thankfully for the player his character survives the ordeal and is patched up by a friendly doctor after being dug out of his would be resting place by a quirky robot with a Texan accent. Your objective from that point is clear, find out the identity of your attacker, track him down and ultimately retrieve the package that was snatched from you. Now that's what I call a professional. The Royal Mail lose so many letters for no good reason, but the star of this the game won't let a minor inconvenience like lead in the cranium foil his transportation duties.
The tale detailed above is only a fraction of what the game has to offer. Once you sort things out regarding the courier job your character will find himself caught up in the region's conflict between two warring groups. On one side is the military force known as the NCR and on the other the slavers who call themselves The Legion (they have a thing for dressing up as Romans, so I guess they are fans of the film Gladiator.) Ultimately you will have to pick a side, join forces with a mysterious third party or stab them all in the back and come up with your own master plan to bring peace to New Vegas. If that isn't enough for you lovers of narrative, there's also tons of side quests involving the inhabitants of the wasteland. Gripes this game has more stories than a skyscraper.
Graphically, I think Fallout NV looks good even if it isn't in the top division of PS3 visual stunners. Given the size of the game's world and how you can customise the appearance of your character (both their physical features and the apparel they wear) you have to accept that it won't have the level of detail of say Metal Gear 4. The only gripes I had were with the draw distance which at times resulted in objects appearing from thin air as the console chugged along trying its best to draw textures as you walk forward. If I had to nit pick I would also say that the environments could have been more varied. Once you've seen one dilapidated building you have seen them all as walls, furniture and so on look the same in most of the cities you visit.
Sound wise the game is far more impressive. Although the silent courier you control doesn't say the dialogue choices you select when interacting with someone, all the other characters in game do speak which is very impressive. When you consider the plethora of people you meet in the game you cannot help but be stunned by how much voice work the game contains. I should also point out that quantity did not come at the expense of quality as the actors all did a good job reading their lines. The music is also worth mentioning as there are a number of radio channels you can listen to. Fifties style tunes are the order of the day, which isn't my cup of tea, but it works as background music and fits with the game's setting that has an old school science fiction feel.
Fallout New Vegas plays much like its predecessor, which is no surprise given that they both have been built on the same engine. As a result the game feels more like an extremely large expansion as opposed to a sequel which may disappoint some, but I was okay with it. As I have mentioned before, I loved Fallout 3 so having the opportunity to play more of the same with a new story to unravel was fine with me. Once the game starts and you get patched up by the doctor it is time to create your character. You do so by allocating a certain number of points across a number of stats allowing you to tinker your build to produce a character that fits your play style (strength determines how much you can carry, endurance affects how much health you get and so on.)
As you go about your business you earn experience points and like in most role playing games once you have accumulated enough exp you level up allowing you to beef up the courier. Every level you reach awards you skill points which you invest into different abilities (you could become more proficient in handguns which makes you more deadly with pistols, improve your lock picking so that you can bypass sealed doors etc.) Every two levels you are also given the option of selecting from a wide range of perks which grants your character bonuses (increased damage, resilience to radiation, better accuracy with headshots just to name a few.) Seeing your character grow is what makes games like this so addictive. You start out as a poor wimp, but in time you develop into a powerhouse which is most satisfying.
Most of the experience you earn in Fallout New Vegas comes from completing quests and defeating enemies. The combat system does its best to accommodate both players who revel in action and those who prefer a more slow paced tactical approach to things. If you are a Call of Duty shooting nut you'll feel right at home switching to a first person view and blasting foes in real time combat. Anyone like me, who cannot hit a barn door, has the option of using the VATS system to cripple hostiles instead. VATS pauses the game and allows you to target different body parts of your attacker. Accuracy is determined by your stats and proximity to the target whilst the number of attacks you can unleash is computed by the type of weapon you are using and the agility influenced action points at your disposal.
To help you out in a fire fight you can recruit up to two companions which is a big help. After playing a melee fighter in Fallout 3 I thought it would be fun to try things as a more passive fellow who uses support abilities to talk himself out of a sticky situation. This worked for certain missions, but for times when you cannot avoid conflict it was good to know that my weedy version of the courier could count on his travelling chums to protect him from harm. I neglected companions in Fallout 3, but this time round I found them to be invaluable. Even if you prefer to take care of business yourself it never hurts to have some extra hands to help carry the loot you accumulate (there's nothing more annoying than constantly having to go back to town just because you become over encumbered with the spoils of war.)
Fallout New Vegas gets full marks from me as it exceeded my expectations by surpassing Fallout 3 in terms of fun which is no mean feat. My worries that bugs would ruin the gameplay experience never materialised. As it has been a year since the game came out I guess it is safe to say that any niggles have been addressed by patches. The only time I fell victim to a glitch was when my character's leg got stuck in a rock forcing me to reload to an earlier save. I only have myself to blame though as the incident was prompted by me trying to jump up to an area I wasn't supposed to be able to climb (thankfully the game has an auto save feature which kicks in often so I didn't have to backtrack much.)
The game offers superb value for money given the enormous amount of content there is to explore. You can cruise through the main story, with a few detours, in around thirty hours which is in itself decent. Should you however want to tackle every quest on offer I can see the average player taking over a hundred hours to go through it all (and that's not counting the expansion packs or replaying the game multiple times to see the various endings.) Personally speaking, thanks to the freedom you are given, I predict that I will go through the story more than once just to sample the different ways in which you can complete quests. After playing a do-gooder in my first play through I think it would be interesting to tackle things as a sneaky thief or a villain who wields plasma weapons.
You can find New Vegas for under a tenner these days so be sure to give it a go. At that price it is less of a risk to your wallet than a visit to the real Sin City with its rigged one armed bandits.
Summary: A must own title especially if you enjoyed Fallout 3.
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