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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas Game Review

Title: Fallout New Vegas
Systems: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Genre: Role-playing Shooter, First-Person
Format: NTSC, HD, Subtitles, No Online Capabilities
Developer / Publisher: Obsidian Entertainment, Bethesda Softworks
ESRB: Mature (M)

$55.99 [Buy and Save at GameExpress]

$38.99 [Buy and Save at Amazon]

I've helped produce the game, I've helped draw it, design it, I've done a lot for it. Now that I've played it through, it's time to review.


I can practically hear my footsteps as I walk. My rifle is grasped tightly in my hand, and the sunset is a glorious yellow and orange blaze, with a wonderful flow of peachy color. My armor is hard, but protective, and I can feel the cold of night as I tread along.

Welcome to Vegas. Enjoy Your Stay.

It's hard to believe that Fallout 3 was so big. We had to wait an entire generation for a worthy sequel to Fallout 2. And yet, once we had finished Fallout 3 with Bethesda, all our hard work had paid off as I slid the disk inside my Xbox 360. I had my doubts, of course, but looking at the wonderful Wasteland, and all the Nuclear warfare that came with it, I soon became hooked into one of the most wonderful, addictively amazing experiences in video game HISTORY. Almost nothing could compare to Fallout 3.
When I popped in New Vegas, I had so many expectations. I was ready for the sequel to the game that showed that perfection, although not there, could almost be achieved. Ready for the sequel to the game that quite possibly inspired an entire bandwagon of amazing RPGs that have been made to this game. I was ready for the sequel to Fallout 3, an absolute epic, worthy of all the awe and nostalgia that it deemed it had.

Was I truly overcome with that same wave of shock and awe, and glimpses of perfection that would soon attack me when I saw the title menu? The answer is a resounding yes, but at the same time, a great big no. New Vegas is yet another important gaming moment in history. I'd go as far as to call both 3 and Vegas as the finest video games in the last DECADE. Yeah, they're that good. And I usually don't brag about our work. On the other side of the token, however, New Vegas is frustrating. Very frustrating. As much as the game wants be to scream and pull out my hair because of the unconcievably difficult gameplay and terrible bugs and glitches, but the numerous moments of amazement have stolen me over the torture that New Vegas will put me through.

For the less patient folks out there, is all of Bethesda and Obsidian's (and our's, too) hard work still worth the price, even with all the embarrasing glitches? Well, let's go through that.

Let's go with this: Fallout is, without a doubt, the king of role-playing games this generation has seen to date, and also one of the most subversive. I'm not going to go and brag the fact that I can actually call out all the maps in New Vegas and recite EXACTLY where they are and what's in them. I'm not going to brag that the HUNDREDS of weapons that are included in Fallout, and spewing out their ammo capacity. Fallout is IMPOSSIBLE to complete. You will spend repetitive months just trying to get close. You'll never find every location, obtain every weapon, see every vendor, take on every quest, talk to every character, or fight every enemy, and put on every piece of armor. Fallout is a game that requires focus, and at the rate the games are going, the addictive nature makes this not a problem.

New Vegas and its other sister, Fallout 3, will completly re-define the way you play games. Where as most games will probably only take a couple days, Fallout is a long game. There's no hiding that. It's a brilliantly plotted, overwhelmingly extensive game that will be the envy of RPGs for a long time. If you're an Elder Scrolls player and you felt like it would be a great game if it went further, Fallout will totally re-define your respect for Bethesda.

And that's just the thing that makes New Vegas great, is how the creators' vision for the games are so inhumanely creative. The quests in Fallout: New Vegas are, to say the least, life-threatening. You'll spend so, so long to complete them, just to get a level up, maybe a new weapon, maybe increase your reputation with a group. The end quests at the end of the story, no matter which faction you side with, will prove that the $60 was all worth it. There's always something new to find, some new quest to take, a new town to find and loot, and a new enemy to fight.

However, even though that New Vegas will quite possibly go down as THE definition of fine role-playing games, there's problems in the game that are screamingly painful. Sometimes I want to rip my skin off and stuff it in my mouth just to vent my screaming.

The number of glitches are an absolute JOKE. Anybody who's played New Vegas and hasn't experienced a freeze, slowed animation, DVNR, or anything, I salute you. Many of the times you'll go far and it will randomly stop, and you can't do a damned thing about it. That could possibly cost you valuable gameplay that you'll have to do ALL. OVER. AGAIN. I'm not wanting to point fingers, but my idea of playing a game, roaming across a wasteland, going up a level I was never able to do, find a stash of caps I will NEVER find again, and have that %&#$@ freeze pop up and damn my progress, is NOT in my schedule.

And the range of the difficulty is staggeringly hard and exceptionally painful. To further the problems of New Vegas, they add in impossibly hard enemies that you'll never be able to beat. You'll constantly waste magazines and magazines of ammunition. You can be the highest level you can be, have the best weapon, and you can still DIE. New Vegas is absolutely repetitive.

Take the last level for examples. Now I don't mind extra difficulty (playing Call of Duty on Veteran is actually quite the thrill), but this is ridiculous. Invading Hoover Dam is quite possibly the hardest task I've EVER done in a video game. There's everything around you to shoot you and burn you. You will be forced to a literal CRAWL just to make sure you don't waste all your stimpacks.

I can't tell how many times I've cursed at the screen, or thrown the controller at the floor. Bethesda missed a very important game design lesson: you have to make sure to keep a balance. Make it hard, but not repetitive. You want to take out an entire camp of NCR on your own? This will require a good amount of restarts, and 70% of your time will be spent either reloading saves or dying. This is not funny, Bethesda. The autosaves are tedious and the fact that your weapons break a lot easier than before in Fallout (I can't tell you how many times I've had to fix my shotgun at the battle for Hoover Dam) only furthers the difficulty. Once you've experienced Fallout the whole way, you'll never play a game with the 'Hard' difficulty turned on.

As for the hardcore difficulty, it seems more like 'hard totally amped up to the point of no return' rather than just 'hardcore'. This pushes it's difficulty rating. Not only is Hardcore a complete struggle for survival in terms of your health and weaponry (senseless deaths everywhere), you have to suffer the effects of sleep depreivation. And lack of sleep can actually KILL you. Not only does this add nonsensical rules, finding water to keep you hydrated (although this is important, and I found it to be an okay addition) is easier said than done. Most of it's irridiated (drink too much and you die), and you'll have to spend money on it. I don't mind when it comes to that, but I also need caps for weaponry, health, and ammunition. So... I'm supposed to kill myself and you don't get extra XP for that?

And this reputation system, although it will take time to learn and respect, is torpid, tedious, and very annoying. Your rep can go from Neutral to either Respected and Idolized, to Hated and Villified. It's insane. Not to mention the fact that one single shot to the foot can kill you, so add that to the frustration of the game's insane difficulty. It all feels like a day in a mental asylum, with everything screaming and thrashing at you, ready to kill someone, cursing like a drunk inside. As much as you will love the game (and there's stuff to love), you will also hate it. A lot.

And yet, Fallout is just such an extraordinary experience that, despite all the tortures you will go through, you will scream, you will curse, you will throw the control down, you'll grind your teeth and punch the wall, but all the way you will learn to love it. Blasting through New Vegas's story is unimaginably great, breathtaking, and it's an experience you can't miss. Addicting, amazing, frustrating, annoying, but all the way near-flawless.

I still haven't answered the $60,000,000 question, though: is it worth your money? The decision is not mine to make. For me, New Vegas is an experience like none other. It will rock your fucking world, it will entertain you. If you buy it, you will never forget the moment your character left the hospital and entered into the Mojave Wasteland, embarking on one of the most unforgettable experiences. Period. It will change the way you look at gaming, much like Fallout 3.

New Vegas, just like its predecessor, is an engrossing, eye-opening, utterly fantastic experience that is absolutely awe-inspiring. However, it's still far away from perfection. It more or less worsened the problems Fallout 3 was similiarly plagued with. To it's credit, New Vegas does fix some problems, and there's still a lot to do. It may be a pain in the ass sometimes (more like a kick in the balls), but it's worth it, and it's by no means easy. So give it a look: New Vegas just may change your gaming experience, and the way you look at games.

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