Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas 9.0

There are new games coming out all the time. And every year a select group of games are picked from the flow and held above the rest. You turn these games on and you can tell that they are a result of dedication to not only the craft of making these games, but to the gamers they are created for.
Then, there are games like Fallout: New Vegas.

The Fallout franchise is not something to be taken lightly. Fallout has a cult following like few games ever see. Fallout was published by Interplay in 1997 and Fallout 2 was published just a year later by Black Isle Studios. Both were tremendous games and laid the foundation that Fallout was built on. While spin-offs were made, when Black Isle closed its doors in 2004, it looked like we would never experience the wonders of the Wasteland again. But, like a knight in shining armor, years later, Bethesda Softworks picked up where Black Isle had left off. Just over a decade after the last Fallout title had been released, Fallout 3 was released in the U.S. and life was good. Not only had Bethesda revived the franchise, they had created a masterpiece. The game won several awards and was bound for gaming greatness.

Fallout 3

Now, onto Fallout: New Vegas. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda, it's very similar to Fallout 3. It takes place on the other side of the U.S. where the devastation isn't quite a severe as it was in our nation's once capital. Much of the dreary landscape and bleak skyline that we saw in Fallout 3 is replaced with a slightly more colorful scene and mostly blue skies. Aside from some minor tweaks, it plays the same way. The open world is simply beautiful and is fulfilling in it self to explore. There are numerous Easter eggs and fun little things tucked away waiting to be found. There's even a nod to Monty Python's "Holy Grail" that had this guy grinning for quite some time. Play wise, this game, although plagued by numerous bugs, is the same that we have come to know and love.

But it's the storyline in this game that separates this masterpiece from the rest of the great games released. Most RPGs have a linear storyline. Even Fallout 3 (which had a stellar story), even with all of it's side quests, had a main story that followed a somewhat straight path. While you still had the choice of how to handle the situations, the situations still came about in the same manner and most didn't have that much impact on the overall story of the game. Fallout: New Vegas has changed that. There is no blatant "good" and "bad" when it comes to the main factions. You still have your Raiders and the Fiends and the like, but when it comes to the main story missions, you're options are vast.
There are your two main factions; The NCR and Caesar's Legion and you can fight for either side. At first glance, The NCR looks to be the Wasteland saviors while the Legion appear to be nothing more than old world thugs. But a closer look tells a different story. The NCR is helping some of those in the Wasteland by offering protection and a form of infrastructure. They have put many of their resources to providing much needed utilities like water and electricity to the citizens of the NCR. But many have a poor opinion of the new government. When they appointed themselves as the new municipality, they also laid claim to all of the Mojave Wasteland as their property. If you occupied any of their new land, you were asked to leave. If you refused, you were forced to leave, be it drug out by your shirt or drug out in a pine box. There are also many "incidents" that involve the NCR and excessive force or just outright murder. But is it for the greater good?

Then we have Caesar's Legion. Slavers? Yes. Fair? That would be a stretch. They use a lot of the same tactics that the NCR use, but brutality is honored, not covered up. It is now a world when only the strong survive. They have a code they live and die by. Part of that code is keeping yourself free from drugs and alcohol, and that sounds like something good, right? And who is this group calling themselves the New California Republic and why do they now control all of this land? And you can bet that not a single member of the Legion voted on any of this.
Now, I'm not saying either way about who really is good or bad. My point is that there are complete different directions you can take the game. The "good" or "bad" here is more of a matter of perspective. Both sides have their reasons for their actions. And it's not just between the NCR and the Legion. There is also Mr. House on the Vegas strip. He has a vision of restoring the strip to it's former glory and his plans don't always mesh well with those of the NCR or the Legion. There is also the Brotherhood of Steel, the Followers of the Apocalypse, the Great Khans, the Boomers, and even the Enclave makes an appearance.
In short, there are many different directions that you can take this game, and all give a completely different game play experience. Many developers have tried to do this before but none have succeeded like Obsidian has.

The only reason I didn't give this game a 10 is because of the bugs. Now, when Fallout: New Vegas was given a release date, we all counted on two things: That this game was going to rock and that it would have more bugs than a by-the-hour motel. So is life, no big deal. And both expectations were met. But those of us that are veterans know the golden rule to RPG games - Save early, save often.
And be careful about trying to take a shortcut or find your way to what you think might be a secret area. There's a good chance you're going to get stuck in a permanent free fall or simply get trapped. But there are very few games that are worth playing that don't have some form of bug. Remember that little bug when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 put out their new map pack and the DLC itself made it so you couldn't play? But that's what patches are for, right. So, when a patch was put out for the Xbox360 version, everything seemed to be on track. Not only was the new patch going to fix over 200 bugs, it was prepping the world for then new DLC, "Honest Hearts". Only one problem. The patch was doing everything from causing annoying glitches in the game to crashing the system all together. I can't help but see a bit of irony in that.

Now let's take a look at the break-down for this game....

The Graphics of this game are outstanding. I couldn't imagine a post apocalyptic world any other way.

The sound is superb. From the very random noises that bring the world to life to the soothing voice of Mr. New Vegas and all of the swing and swag you can handle. The voice casting that include Wayne Newton, Matthew Perry, and Danny Trejo complete the Wasteland ambiance.

The controls are great. If you love FPS games, everything is setup for quick changes and can be very effective. If turn based is more your style, the V.A.T.S. system is for you. Your AP has to be filled for V.A.T.S. to work, so it can't be used for every shot, but it still works well.

Replay Value of this game is very high. This is one of those games that you can play over and over and over and have a different experience every time.

This game does not offer multi-player.

One thing I have to mention here is the bugs. While they have put out patches, there are still plenty of them in here. Most of the severe bugs were taken care of though.