Winner of more Game of The Year awards than you can count, and home to some of the best DLC of the year that followed, Fallout 3 was nothing less than a modern gaming classic. Luckily this quality translated into sales too, one of the main reasons why a sequel has arrived earlier than expected. It’s by no means Fallout 4. New Vegas is instead the equivalent of Half Life 2’s episodes – something more than an expansion pack, but still not enough to warrant the full numerical sequel treatment. So can it replicate its predecessor’s success?
The answer is much harder to decide than you’d have thought it would be. Few RPGs have had the same impact as Fallout 3 has, and you would expect a game with more of the same quality adventuring would be an essential purchase. But the similarities between the two games run much deeper than just a development of game mechanics for instance. There are so many times when New Vegas looks exactly like its predecessor, navigating the wasteland with a more than familiar Pit Boy hasn’t changed one bit. Using VATS to take down foes with ease; distributing your skill points across the same attributes as you level up; realizing you really should have saved a bit sooner when you are unexpectedly killed by a Super Mutant; everything is as it was. To some, this is the be all and end all, and it’s immediately apparent that those who didn’t enjoy Fallout 3 will find New Vegas a struggle to deal with.
For everyone else though, and by the looks of Fallout 3’s sales that is a lot of people, New Vegas is more of the same top notch adventuring that made the original such a worthwhile journey. You explore New Vegas through the various missions given to you by encounters with NPCs. Early on, for instance, missions that lead you to one place of interest may have you discovering 3 or 4 new areas on the way, along with the increasingly more difficult encounters with radiation fuelled creatures. This eventually culminates in you having a huge list of available missions, and just like Fallout 3 it can be slightly overwhelming. You can feel lost beneath the wealth of options at any one time, and like most ‘open world’ RPGs the most fun can be garnered from simply wandering into the wasteland.
Once you’ve started wandering though, you’re sure to encounter some enemies in need of a few well placed bullets from your rifle. How well placed these are depends less on your accuracy, and more on the number crunching going on behind the scenes. There are so many factors that decide whether you hit your target or not that the VATS system that was seen in Fallout 3 is essential throughout New Vegas. The system, which stops the action to allow you to aim at specific body parts, makes the combat much more similar to turn-based RPGs. This combination of RPG elements is as well implemented as it was in 2008, albeit slightly enhanced with new guns, explosives and even more ways to protect yourself from oncoming attacks. The combat is genuinely enjoyable throughout, with the grind between levels feeling par of the course, rather than an effort to pull off. This is especially obvious once you start venturing further afield than you have previously, with some of the most impressive sights being saved for those who make it a good 10 hours into the game.
The promise of seeing New Vegas itself may not match the discovery of the other vaults in Fallout 3, but it has to be said that The Strip is one of the most interesting elements of the game. Unlike the usually desolate and depressing locales in the game, The Strip has been the one place for denizens of the Wasteland to let off some steam, and has remained open even post apocalypse. Bright lights and more people than ever seen in a section of either of the last two Fallout games make for a place that adds to the humanity of the world. It’s where the game is at its most interesting, and some of the missions you are tasked with take the game’s action to new heights. With this obviously technically challenging area though, does the game buckle under the pressure?
Sadly it does, and the effects are damning on New Vegas as a package. For anyone that joined the Fallout 3 adventure early on, technical issues were seemingly a natural negative in an all round perfect game. Through a series of early patches and the eventual DLC releases though, these issues were rectified. It’s unfortunate that the developers haven’t learned from these mistakes in Fallout: New Vegas as technical issues crop up every few minutes. Other than the obvious game-breaking crashes that happen far too often than they should, clipping issues, laggy controls and stats errors that can prevent you from leveling properly are too numerous for a game as AAA as New Vegas. The problems here are so obvious, and so present that ignoring them would be wrong of me as a writer. Graphically the game suffers greatly; underneath the problems is a good looking game, even if the improvements over its predecessor are not as large as they should be given the 2 years that have passed.
So with that in mind, it’s very hard to weigh up just how good Fallout: New Vegas is. In most respects, it is the next development of the work done through DLC of Fallout 3, with interesting missions, diverse characters and the same top notch RPG gameplay. In other respects though, this is a rehash of every idea found in 2008’s game, albeit with more technical issues than a Movie tie-in. If you’ve exhausted Fallout 3 and all of the DLC, New Vegas will fill the void in your life. If not, perhaps stick with that bonafide classic before delving into the brilliant, but flawed world of New Vegas.
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