Fallout: New Vegas
Reviewed: 11/19/2010

War. War never changes. Certainly by this point, anyone familiar with computer RPGs is well-acquainted with those words. The Fallout series, however, has gone through some changes, namely due to changing developers from Interplay to Bethesda. Now comes Fallout: New Vegas, for which Bethesda passed the development torch to Obsidian Studios. Whether or not this was this a good idea depends mostly on one’s opinion of the series thus far, Fallout 3 in particular.

To be clear, Obsidian didn’t go through and completely rework the system that was used in Fallout 3. It still plays basically like an FPS with a miss chance. VATS is still around for those with a preference to slow things down. Lockpicking
and computer hacking have the same minigames from before. A Fallout 3 veteran can easily sit down and get started without any major confusion. The system did get some minor changes, though, many of which help bring New Vegas more in line with the first two games. Traits make a return after their conspicuous absence in 3, letting players customize their characters more by gaining advantages and disadvantages, such as gaining firing speed in exchange for accuracy, or vice versa. Also
returning is the traditional ridiculous trait, causing the game to get a bit weirder. Perks are only given out on even levels now — another return to form.

This time around, rather than starting in a vault, the player is cast in the role of a courier, carrying packages around the Mojave Wasteland. A delivery of a poker chip goes sour and ends with a bullet, thus setting up the main quest to go find the men who shot you. Character creation is done via a psychiatric test and physical exam after you wake up, evoking memories of 3’s GOAT exam. There is one new option that comes up in the exam, though – the choice to play in Hardcore mode.

Hardcore mode is new to the series altogether, and it makes a few tweaks. Most of them don’t seem like much, but they add up to a significantly more challenging game. Ammunition takes up weight, preventing one from carrying limitless quantities of it. Stimpacks heal you over time, and they do not heal broken limbs at all. More significantly, sleeping does not heal you at all. You simply have to do it occasionally in order to  survive, just like eating and drinking. Additionally, VATS takes a noticeable hit in Hardcore – at near point-blank range one may only get around 30% accuracy at lower levels.

Screen Shot

Even without the added challenges of Hardcore, New Vegas feels harder than its predecessor. Not to the point of unfairness, but I found myself saving much more frequently for fear of meeting my end. On the other hand, 3 felt a bit too easy at times, so this may come as a welcome change to some people. Meanwhile, the story is much more interesting this time around, leaving the game feeling much more whole and satisfying.

Still, no game is without problems, and this one is no exception. By far the biggest problem is the sheer number of bugs. They seem to be everywhere, causing plenty of headaches small and large. Most of them are relatively minor, although a few stood out during play. Occasionally when entering VATS, the mouse would get stuck in a corner and not allow me to select a proper target. I also ran into an odd bug where occasionally I would get stuck looking down the sight of my gun and be unable to return to normal until I reloaded. Probably the most annoying, however, is that VATS seems to be broken at very short ranges. Shots that claim to have 95% accuracy seem to hit about a tenth of that.

On the bright side for long-term players or those who pick it up later, bugs can be fixed, and the rest of the game is fantastic. It’s a worthy sequel for existing fans and a good place to start for people looking to give it a try. New Vegas is highly recommended, and even more so once a few patches make it more stable.

-Andrew Foltz

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Great
Story Excellent
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Average
Replay Value Good
The Verdict: Very Good