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Fallout: New Vegas

By JcDent03-01-2013
Leigh Cobb (editor)
Bobfish (editor)
Fallout: New Vegas

The Defence

Obsidian Entertainment
Bethesda Softworks
Shooter, Role Playing
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GT 8800
AMD Radeon HD 3800
2 GB
10 GB

The Case


Fallout: New Vegas is the newest member of the popular Fallout franchise. For those not in the know, it’s the game series that made adventures in apocalyptic wastelands cool. This one takes us to the Mojave Wasteland, a place that was only lightly touched by nuclear holocaust. Two great new powers are gearing for the final showdown in a fight for New Vegas, while the player has his own story to untangle. As the second FPS RPG in the series, Fallout: New Vegas aims to polish the gameplay inherited from Fallout 3 while making some new additions of its own.

The Trial


Every good RPG needs a good plot. In Fallout: New Vegas you are the Courier that was tasked with delivering a mysterious package. Unfortunately, a man with horrible taste in jackets kidnapped you, stole the delivery, shot you in the head and left you in a shallow grave. But the Courier survived and is now ready to find out why such an inconvenient thing happened to him. The Mojave Wasteland and the city of New Vegas were largely spared from the global thermonuclear war 200 years ago, so the buildings are as intact as two ages of neglect allows it. The city of New Vegas is controlled by the mysterious Mister House (of no relation to certain doctor) and his will is enforced by an army of Securitron robots.

The only free thing in New Vegas is the view of its light. The poor can choke on the wall if they want.

The only free thing in New Vegas is the view of its light. The poor can choke on the wall if they want.

Of course, not everything is booze and hookers in the restored Sin City. The Mojave houses the mostly intact Hoover Dam and Helios One solar plant and both of those are of great interest to the two great powers of the wastelands. The returning and vastly bigger New California Republic, commonly abbreviated as NCR, is USA in all but name and flag. The Caesar’s Legion is much more interesting: it’s a slave army of 86 subjugated tribes lead by the charismatic Caesar and modeled after the Roman legions of yore. The two factions are at each other’s throats and no one really knows who will prevail in the inevitable struggle for dominance. Of course, there are numerous factions and individuals making their own, less global plays. And everyone could use the help of the Courier, who, in turn, needs help to unravel his own mystery.

What the Courier can manage to do is determined by SPECIAL, traits, perks and skills. SPECIAL iš a characters physical build up: strength, charisma, luck, endurance, stuff like that – you set it up at the beginning and, barring experimental extreme surgery, they remain the same. Intelligence is very useful as it gives, among other things, bonuses to experience gains. Traits aren’t that important, as you only select two of them. “Small frame” means that you’re more agile, but you break faster (and if you’re playing Hardcore mode – more on that later – it means that you hate yourself). “Weird Wasteland” makes the adventure… interesting at times. Perks are special, mostly passive, benefits gained every few levels. They can range from damage bonuses and, say, regenerating health in sunlight to the ability to devour corpses and such. Skills are the big players: you’ll be using Guns (an amalgamation of “Small arms” and “Heavy Weapons”) a lot. There are no useless skills – except for maybe Survival, Mellee and Unarmed – but you’ll have to spend skill points carefully. They sometimes influence special options in dialogues and you know that is where the good stuff is. Also, this instalment of “Fallout” is strangely in love with the Science skill – it’s really a good investment.

As I mentioned before, there is the “Hardcore mode”. It’s a new thing, for players who like a challenge or got so jaded from “Dwarf Fortress” that not getting killed in a game is not acceptable to them. In hardcore you no longer heal instantaneously nor crippled limbs are healed by the run-of-the-mill stimpacks (so, “Small Frame” is for masochists only). You also need to sleep, eat and drink regularly. The drinking part is especially painful, as you get thirsty extremely fast and water is hard to come by.

Prettiest armor since the (now non-canon) Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel.

Prettiest armor since the (now non-canon) Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel.

“Hardcore mode” or not, you’re going to spend a lot of time shooting at someone or something (or trying to melee something, if you’re suicidal). The thing is, the weapons in F:NV aren’t that satisfying. I only felt emotional attachment to my laser rifle because I was using it since I first laid my eyes on it. The other weapons – be they pitiful .22 and 9mm pistols or anti-materiel and Gauss rifles – don’t really deliver that satisfying punch. Especially the energy weapons, who seem to be the red headed stepchild of F:NV. It seems that living in a post apocalyptic wasteland has made even the lowliest junkie raider’s skin resistant to lasers. Some would suggest using plasma guns as they pack more of a punch, but the trade off is speed and accuracy.

Some enemies demand special attention and don’t care much for your boomstick. While the Courier will return many humans to Sender, there are also radscorpions (their sizes ranging from “vacuum cleaner” to “unholy abomination”), nightstalkers and other annoying critters. And when you run into Deathclaws, you’ll find yourself nostalgically remembering the days when your biggest problem was a zerg rush of feral ghouls or super mutants with miniguns. Those buggers are big, fast and hit like a truck loaded with TNT. Your best bet is a high level sniper rifle, stealth and head shots from as far as the rendering engine allows it.

Then again, not everyone you meet wants you dead. Most of them want someone else dead! Interactions with NPCs are influenced not only by your character build, but by reputation also. You have a faction reputation – which reflects gratitude or hate for the deeds you’ve done – and a karma meter, which reflects how “good” or “bad” your Courier is. While karma’s effects are a bit more nebulous, reputation might reap some more tangible rewards: lower prices at vendors, people giving you stuff in thanks, access to safe houses and such. However, if you do become too much of a nuisance, you will be shot on sight and powerful assassins will try (and fail) to kill you.

Do you hate bugs? Well, you will after a visit to the Mojave desert!

Do you hate bugs? Well, you will after a visit to the Mojave desert!

Of course, the Courier won’t be alone in his travels. He can be accompanied by two companions at a time: one humanoid and one...other. Gone are the days of Fallout 2, where the player would roam the wasteland in a restored car and be followed by a supermutant, a tribal who talks to the spirits of his ancestors, a fat engineer and a robot. Then again, those singular NPCs can be quite entertaining, like a friendly Eye-Bot (think Sputnik) called E-DE or a lesbian Brotherhood of Steel scribe who likes to punch things. They have their own reaction to things and even long personal quests that, depending on your actions, you might not always get to do.

Probably due to engine limitations, the war between the Legion and NCR doesn’t look that grand. They might talk about fierce battles, but, seeing how a major attack on an enemy outpost consists of Courier shooting 8 tangos while 3 allies mill around somewhere, they most likely consisted of twenty guys running around. And while everyone talks how “Legion is scary”, there’s no way they can show that on the battlefield. An NCR soldier has at least a hunting rifle and some armor. A legionary recruit goes to battle with a machete and rugby armor. Now, if most NCR carried assault rifles while the legionaries did the whole Red Army “Za rodina! Za Stalina!” routine and rushed their positions with human waves, armed with homemade rifles and SMG…that would make for a more believable and dramatic, if less exotic, fighting.

Though I must admit that the game does look nicer than Fallout 3, there’s less of that “Oblivion with guns” feeling. And the Mojave has the most wonderful orange tinge, unlike the Capital Wasteland’s (Fallout 3 was set in Washington D.C.) “snot-green-grey”. But, while the outdoors do look fun, with many interesting locations, the interiors of buildings and caves and Vaults are as dreadfully boring as ever. Later on there’s a palpable feeling of nausea when you see a cave entrance or a door. Combat, on the other hand, does look fun. While the feeling of power is missing from the guns, the firing and reloading looks cool and there’s always satisfaction to be found in cutting a raider’s head off with a well-placed shot of a scoped laser rifle. There is also the fact that the game features some pretty decent NPC models, especially some of the higher class legionaries. While power armor doesn’t look that imposing – how can it, when Fallout 3 cast it out of the heavens and made it a glorified walking tin pot – others can get real snazzy. It’s a pity, then, that high-class armor, that tends to be boring, is easily acquired and you don’t really spend much time looking like a rough, desert trekking mercenary.

Gamble away the money you got from killing poor shmucks, petty thievery and looting!

Gamble away the money you got from killing poor shmucks, petty thievery and looting!

The sound, on the other hand, is done masterfully. There is but one weak spot, so let’s get it out of the way first: the variety of music on the radio is non-existent. A few hours in and the Couriers hatred for “Johnny Guitar” will only be matched by his intent to loot everything he comes across. The voice acting, on the other hand, is done pretty damn well. The before mentioned lesbian is full of youthful enthusiasm (especially when it comes to hitting things), the legionaries always talk with this cool confidence…

One thing I have to mention is bugs. Personally, I didn’t experience many problems head on, but people complain about it all the time on the web. Yes, there might be some clipping issues and some quests are bugged, but that happens very rarely.

The Verdict


While I might sound like a radioactive Negative Nellie, Fallout: New Vegas is definitely a good game. It’s not the messiah of the RPGs, but I consider the hardcore mode a step in the right direction. The difficulty is just right, the human enemies aren’t too annoying, the lore is rich, as it should be, and the visuals are still pretty nice. The adventure can also be padded by the 4 DLCs that were released later on. I think no fan of Fallout or RPGs would be left disappointed.


Case Review

  • Family friendly: Some gameplay changes streamline the whole experience
  • All in: The hardcore mode is like a memento that not everyone is a casual player
  • What happens in Vegas...: The campaign is pretty strong
  • City of Lights: The graphics have been slightly improved
  • Nitpicking: so every - every - animal in the wasteland hatches from an egg laid by the queen of their hive?
  • Cheap plastic: Plagued by the same feeling of armor/weapon ineffectiveness as Fallout 3
  • Where have I heard this: Way too little music on the radio
Score: 4.5/5
It’s not magical, but still one of the best RPG's in years
Comments (6)
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Posts: 207

JC: Once I passed about level 15, I could beat anything except Cazadors easily....once I passed level 20 I was a nigh-unstoppable wasteland swordsman/pugilist.

Posts: 241

I loved New Vegas even when I played it and Fallout 3 on the 360, I have them both on PC now, been meaning to do a second playthrough.

Posts: 228

Endz: yes, F3 suck compared to New Vegas. And yes,that gun is Decard's gun - i know cause I read a lot of trivia.

Fr33: how'd it go with the deathclaws?

Posts: 207

Have to disagree on your calling melee weapons useless....I've found them more effective (and more fun) than guns on my playthroughs.

There's just something about the ballistic fist/shishkebab weapon loadout that makes me warm and fuzzy inside....

Posts: 240

Speaking of weapons, actually, I just have to say that I peed myself with joy when I found a gun named That Gun which, unless I've been mistaken all along, is the same gun Deckard uses in Blade Runner.

Posts: 240

This has become a favourite of mine recently. Had a little nostalgia trip with Fallout 3 but quit when I was playing Mothership Zeta (an awful DLC second only to the worst piece of shit DLC I have ever played named Operation Anchorage) so naturally decided to give this a go at long last. And, honestly, I don't think I could ever play Fallout 3 again as New Vegas simply outshines it in everything in my opinion. Hell, there were even a few critiques in this review - namely of the weapons and interiors - as I've found those brilliant so far.