Saturday, 29 January 2011

Review of Fallout New Vegas!

Lately my life has mainly consisted of playing Fallout New Vegas which somehow I've managed to spend well over 30 hours on so far has been the reason for my recent lack of posting. And while I've only just completed it once (and one way) I feel I've seen enough to make a fair judgement (or at least a fair-nuff judgement?)

So if you've played Fallout 3 you'll have a fair idea what's involved here as it's pretty much the same gameplay again but with a different story/setting and you can safely skip over the next paragraph or two.

For those that haven't yet played Fallout 3 (and just why not?!?) Fallout New Vegas is a shooter with a heavy emphasis on RPG elements. Each game in the series has usually started off with you defining what kind of character you'll be playing as and involves setting up your starting statistics in terms of strength, intelligence, luck and then you'll decide on your skill set which includes things like science, lock picking, gun handling and so on. There's no right answer in which skills you choose usually although it's far better to specialise in these games rather than try to go for a balance.

Once you've picked your skills you'll be flung into the wide open world and pretty much left to do what you want. You could spend your whole time with the game just searching for and killing off bad guys around the available area. Of course that's not the real aim, where you find RPG statistics you find objectives and missions and the like and Fallout New Vegas is no different!

Without spoiling the story too much, this journey into the wasteland obviously focuses on the idea that New Vegas is a thriving, new-age version of it's former self. Mostly owned and controlled by the mysterious "Mr House" and his merry band of robot buddies. All of this is explained in a bit more during an intro sequence but that's the gist.

Most of the game is similar to other fallout games where you'll explore the post-apocalyptic wasteland, finding landmarks such as outposts, settlements and even the famous vaults that featured more heavily in previous games. In fact I think this is the first fallout game I can think of where you don't start inside a vault which was quite unusual. You do get to visit some however such as a plant-covered vault 22 or the criminal populated vault 3.

So lets turn our brief attention towards the gameplay. Well fallout has never had the fluidity of something like halflife but it does feel quite solid. The projectile weapons have never really felt graspable, I'm not sure if it's to do with the sound or the animations but aside from the obvious damage they did they mostly felt like a series of pea shooters with funny noises. Strangely enough they seem to feel more real when watching them in VATs mode...

I really get on with the "Information is king" philosophy in games like this though, so although fighting is a necessary evil (heh) I love the fact that there is almost always another way to go about things. If your speech skill is high enough or you've discovered something to support your argument on a computer or perhaps you've discovered a character's ugly little secret you'll be able to take the persuasive route, avoid bloodshed and probably gain a little more respect out there in the wasteland.

Going back to the story, I think this is probably the most interesting fallout game so far and that's because they've forgone the long explanation of what's happened to the world (after all it's pretty obvious) and created a setting with interesting characters and factions and an approaching war. The only problem being I didn't feel much of a connection with any of the characters or factions in the same way I did with, for instance, Mass Effect 2.

More criticism on it's way, this time to do with the world's colour palette. I understand that the ground is earth coloured, but I don't buy that the people and the buildings would all be shades of brown/grey. The only major change of scenery is when you visit vault 3 otherwise everywhere looks pretty much the same everywhere you go.

Dialogue, however, is pretty believable - which is a relief since it's such a lynch pin in rpgs like this! The responses are generally fairly standard and I never really felt surprised about the possible responses pretty much ranging between "yes", "maybe", "sometimes", "no" and "that's interesting, tell me more!" But the writing was solid and you do feel intrigued as to what the characters have to say or what their troubles are.

I still love the B-movie style robot guards, the 50's America styling, the brutish super mutants and the animalistic ghouls. All from the previous game but all things I was looking out for this time. Fallout New Vegas isn't anything amazingly new by now, we've had Fallout 3 and it's barrage of DLC. But if you're after more of the same (and lets face it why wouldn't you be?) And you want to see how the original creators of the franchise would make use of this new fangled engine or you just want to be thrown into a war zone full of Legionnaires, cowboys, robots and dynamite throwing criminals then this is something you should definitely consider!

[Score: 83 out of 100]

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