Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Fallout New Vegas

Well, this one has certainly been in the works for a while now, being more than a month since the games release, so here comes Scrappy Come Lately with his lot to throw into the quagmire of Gaming Journalism in it's deepest form, the review.

Fallout: New Vegas was a hand off title developed by Obsidian by people who once worked for the ill-fated Black Isles company, makers of the orignal Fallout games, as well as the Baldurs Gate series. Because of their connection to the franchise, many Fallout Fan-Bois took this as a sign of the coming of what was dubbed in message boards across the web as "The True Fallout 3", while the rest of us who started their interest in the series WITH Fallout 3 just stood their scratching their heads and wondering why everyone was suddenly foaming at the mouth.
I was more confused on what was considered a "True" Fallout game, and the response I got back baffled me even more. Apparently, the True Fallout Game is the game...I'm sorry...The Game...that will surpass all other games-- So First Person Shooter that it makes Call of Duty look like a launch Day Noob, so Epic in storytelling that you half expect the cast to consist of Conan the Barbarian, Chuck Norris, Neil Patrick Harris and Former President Van Buren, so Role Playing Game that it makes your old D&D books burst into flames, and so Survival and Simulationist that Sid Meier commits suicide by cutting his throat with a broken CD of The Sims.
Apparently, these morons and psychopaths have forgotten that Video Games are meant to be fun and entertaining, not the fucking meaning of life itself.

Around that point was when I made the logical and sensible decision to decree the Fallout Fandom, message boards, and communties, were a bucnh of delusional twits. Especially the likes of groups like No Mutants Allowed which will call you a retard and then permanently ban you for daring to think Fallout 3 by Bethesda Softworks was any good and denying the holy awesomeness that was Fallouts 1 and 2. Elitist much?

So onto the actual game then.
New Vegas opens with the usual "War Never Changes" monologue delivered by Ron Perlman in which we learn some basic factoids about where we're starting, with our role cast as a mail courier with zero backgrounds in an attempt to remove any dramatic potential for him or her as a character, with a run in of bad luck as you wake up after a knock on the head and find out your package has been stolen by a well dressed man and a band of goons, and the well dressed man puts two bullets in your head.
At first I was afraid I'd missed a prompt to avoid my appointed fate, but it turns out that we miraculously survive the double tap thanks to a backwater surgeon after being drug out of our shallow grave by a Cowboy Robot who is totally not suspicious in his vague reasons for saving you.
After the Doctor is done patching you up in the character settup, establishing stats and what have you, you are free to do as you will, for better or for worse. Granted, the game pelts you over the head that you're hunting the well dressed man and what he stole from you, but if you want, you can ignore that and be on your long as that way is south.

New Vegas has what I like to refer to as The Rape Zone.
-To the north of where you begin, there is a territory infested with Cazadors, or as I call them, Rape Flies, which early on in the game will kill you, and kill you so hard you want to file a restraining order against Chris Avelone.
-In the middle from there, there be Deathclaws. As on NPC put it "they just get mad when you shoot them", and that's advice well taken to heart at the start.
-Farther on to the East you'll find a gathering of Super Mutants inhabiting the nearby Black Mountains
-Past that is more Deathclaws.
That said, any path that isn't south is certain suicide from the outstart, like the game is trying to guide you away from the most direct route away from the shiny city of New Vegas in the background, where it mocks you in all it's always-visible splendor. It knows you can't get there yet, but at light, look at all those lights. The fucking tease.

Granted, your journey is peppered with a variety of missions in which people require your assistance, and we learn that much more about the world and the factions we'll be contending with later on. Missions are often simple and plentiful, and with the right skills, some missions are about as easy as finding someone and passing a simple Speech check.
Speaking of Speech, if you have a high enough speech, almost any mission can be passed without a single punch or bullet fired, granted that your objective requires you to deal with people that can be reasoned with or intimidated. You can even make the end of the game that much easier by convinvcing the final adversary to walk away.

Following the trail of our failed hitman in the checkered suit finally takes us all the way to New Vegas. At this point on arrival, you are ready for whores, gambling, and Rat Pack mayhem. Unfortuantely, you learn that you require a Pass or a 2000 Cap credit check to make it past the Dalek Guard Squad out front of The Strip, forcing you to become an errand boy (seeing a pattern in this?) for the surrounding ghetto's and beyond.
Once you actually get into The Strip, the main story can actually begin and alliances can finally be made and broken.
-Do you fight for the independence of the people of the Mojave Wasteland from foreign powers?
-Do you strive to bring order, democracy, and bureacracy to New Vegas with the New California Republic?
-Do you march under the banner of Ceasar and his Legion to usher in a new Rome?
-Or do you work for a shady, secretive ruler who only cares about the maintaining of New Vegas as a power?

Unfortuantely, as far as I know, there is no "Fuck it all, burn it to the ground" path.
Along with the usual Karma system, it is unfortunately outweighed by the Faction Reputation system, which you will find vastly more interesting than whether or not you are good or evil.

Everrything aside you might be thinking to yourself, "This feels a lot like Fallout 3", and you would be right. Most of the graphics and the engine itself have been lifted straight from Bethesda's Fallout 3 or Obsidians use. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends where on the Fan-Boi stratum you fall into. If you're like me and could give less of a spit about the graphics, you'll do fine. However, if you're not, you'll likely be raging to the heavens.
The game engine though is not perfect, and a legion of bugs and glitches still abound, with everyone clogging message boards for news of the long-awaited patch-up rather than biding their time with other business that their lives demand.
There are also some glitches with the companions, some of which require you to take them to a certain place and talk to a certain NPC to unlock their special quests. For instance, I had to take Veronica, a BOS Scribe, to The Silver Rush weapon shop in Freeside to unlock a part of her dialogue. She just stood there with me nudging her trying to coax a response out of her. And then there's Raul, the Danny Trejo character, whom requires you to speak to a couple of old farts, many of which are bugged and won't even speak to you.

Bugs and frustrations aside...I had fun with this game and maintain a firm belief that naysayers can blow it out their ass. That probably places me in a different category of Fan-Boi than previously mentioned, but I'm comfortable in my niche in the fandom where I can still enjoy the game and not feel insulted by it like the game is oweing me money and it spent the last of it's paycheck on beer.

Final verdict--
OOOO- (4/5)

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