PG 1 | PG 2
Dug up from a fresh grave after a bullet has been planted in your head is one hell of a way to start a game, any game. But this isn't any game, its Fallout: New Vegas, and we couldn't be more excited about exploring another wasteland of intrigue. Rolling the dice, Bethesda has stepped away from the developmental game with Obsidian taking the lead. How'd they do? Read on to find out.
Fallout: New Vegas starts with a bang, literally. Not to overshadow the opening “birthing” scene from Fallout 3, your character also finds themselves waking up in the arms of a doctor. However, this doc isn't birthing a baby, he is patching you up after a cowboy-talking robot saved your life. Introductions like this one would normally would seem strange, however in the Fallout universe, the "strange" is pretty damn normal.
Being welcomed by the doctor not only kicks starts the narrative, but it also gives the player a great excuse to run through the character personalization. Once this is complete and open that first door, freedom is yours. New Vegas points you a direction, but its the same as leaving the Vault for the first time in Fallout 3, the world is your playground and you are free to do whatever you wish. If you choose to follow the story, Obsidian sets you in motion as you investigate who and why someone tried to kill you. Your only clues... a man in a fancy suit and something called a Platinum Chip. This is Vegas after all, anything can happen.
The journey starts in a place called “Goodsprings” but quickly moves onto bigger areas with more complex problems then fixing a radio and helping a guy held out in a gas station. You will also quickly start to learn about some of the changes within New Vegas. Although it is unfortunate that New Vegas doesn’t have the same instant wonder and appeal that stepping out of the vault accomplished in the original. In Fallout: New Vegas its a little little stale as we know the world and its rules. There are few surprises, but it's not the same as encountering all these things for the first time. Unless, Fallout abandons the Wasteland, this feeling might never be duplicated again. Even still, New Vegas has some wonderful moments filled with suspense, horror, and humour. The new cast of strangers, gangs, and backwoods communities are always entertaining. There is something special about the radioactive soil that makes New Vegas super addictive, even with that familiar “been there” feeling.
This is Not Fallout 4
Before I get too deep into this review, it should be noted that 'Obsidian Entertainment' who I've already mentioned a handful of times has handled the development of New Vegas, and not 'Bethesda' who developed Fallout 3. While Obsidian has its own tie to the Fallout series (Obsidian is made up with members from the original Fallout development team Black Isle) this is not 'Fallout 4.' New Vegas is running on the same tech as Fallout 3 with a few tweaks and improvements. For the most part, New Vegas plays and looks exactly like the now classic, Fallout 3. Depending on your love for Fallout 3 this is either good or bad, just don't expect a brand new experience here.
Coming off that factor, New Vegas starts to show its age. While New Vegas' retro-futuristic concept and core mechanics are awesome, it's not going to turn any heads. After spending time with some newer games like 'Red Dead Redemption,' you can't help to wonder what the Fallout world would be running with that tech under its belt, or what about the destructive capabilities of the 'Frostbite Engine' from DICE. I know I'm getting carried away, but you get the picture. New Vegas is new, but sadly feels old.
Your Wasteland Cred
If you have been following the development of New Vegas then you probably already know about the two main gangs; 'The New California Republic,' (NCR) the guys who control the Vegas strip and 'Caesar's Legion,' the guys who want to control what the NCR own. While the main narrative focuses around these big players there is a lot more going on in the Mojave Wasteland. There are several other groups that are firmly standing up for their own beliefs, like the first ones you will meet the 'Powder Gangers.' Early in the game you will have to start taking sides of conflicts between each faction.
Acting on behalf of one will anger the other, and vice-versa. This makes for some interesting choices during the game that feel like they have some real world weight. Tracking you relationship with each faction is done within the new Reputation meter. The Reputation meter works along side your karma, which remains untouched from Fallout 3. High reputations may offer up certain benefits, while low reputations leads to aggressive behavour. The two system greatly deepen your experience within the world, begging to be played again. The big "what if" question is always lingering, which is a great thing to accomplish within a game.
Now this is Hardcore!
Like the reputation meter, Obsidian has put a few clever spins on this old beauty. The second most interesting feature is the new 'Hardcore mode.' If the normal 60+ hrs of exploration wasn't hardcore enough, you can kick on this optional that greatly increases the difficulty by making it more realistic. Unlike other hardcore modes, Obsidian actually recommends that you DON'T play on this mode. Now that's hardcore! The hardcore mode doesn't change anything narrative-wise, but you will have to contend with dehydration, starvation and sleep deprivation, three traits that you normally wouldn't even think about. Things also have different effects, like Stimpacks don't heal instantly, ammo has weight, crippled limbs need to be tended by a doctor, and so on. If it sounds hard, it is, but that won't stop those looking for a challenge. Hardcore mode is a great way to replay the game, if you haven't got your Fallout fill. Oh yes, your reward for being so hardcore-- a nice lil' trophy/achievement.