Game Review: Fallout: New Vegas brings new ups and downs

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas is the highly anticipated sequel to Fallout 3. It takes place in the Mojave wasteland 200 years after a nuclear war between the US and China. Unlike the post apocalyptic ruins of Washington, DC, in Fallout 3, Vegas was of inconsequential strategic value and was not hit by atomic weapons. However, as the Fallout series states, “War never changes.” When the civilization collapsed, it left anarchy and a power vacuum that the game’s main factions have risen to fill. The New California Republic has begun its eastward expansion, intent on restoring order and claiming the resources of the Hoover Dam. A modern day ‘Caesar’ unified 86 ‘tribes’ to form Caesar’s Legion and is intent on forcibly restoring honor and morality to the waste. The overseer of one of the game’s iconic prewar bomb shelters, Vault 21, has restored order and claimed power in sin city, New Vegas, with an army of prewar robots. The player stumbles into this power struggle and quickly embarks on a quest of revenge, the outcome of which will shape the future of New Vegas.

Environment
Erik: The Mojave is still a wasteland, but it is not quite as dead as DC in Fallout 3. It is a wide open sandbox where there is rarely a required path with plenty of locations to discover. New Vegas itself was a bit of a disappointment. The strip has been condensed to a mere four casinos that would fit in one of Vegas’ larger establishments. Still, it is a massive world compared to most role playing games.

Stephen: The Mojave Wasteland in Fallout: New Vegas is a drastically different approach than  the post-nuclear wasteland that was Washington, DC. Instead of wandering around ruins, the character explores the wastes, sometimes walking for many in-game hours to only discover a broken airplane or a tin shack. This brings a lot of realism to the the environment of this game. A sad feature about Fallout: New Vegas is that fact that the same graphics engine as Fallout 3 is being used. For $50, Bethesda should have at least updated the game’s visual aesthetics.

Equipment
Erik: The variety of equipment is much better this time around. Weapons range from flamethrowers to .50 sniper rifles. Some of the more exotic weapons available include a sword made out of a bumper, the heavy power armor of the Brotherhood of Steel, and horrifically expensive energy weapons.

Stephen: The variety of equipment in Fallout: New Vegas dwarfs the equipment from Fallout 3. Instead of the standard hunting rifle, three different rifles, each with a variety of different features which include iron sights, the amount of damage dealt, and the range of the rifle, are all easily found at the beginning of the game. This gives a lot of freedom to the player to decide if they want to be stealthy, quick, or a brute force.

Game play
Erik: As with the previous Fallout games, survival is a central theme of the game play. The downside of this realism is that a lot of time can go down the drain hunting for stim packs or traveling back to base to rest up. This can be a bit of a drag if you are more interested in other role playing elements and the story.

Stephen: New to the Fallout series is the hardcore mode. This mode makes is so characters have to eat food, drink water, and sleep to prevent negative status ailments and death. This adds a lot of realism to the game, though the system is a little flawed. The concept is great because other games may copy this style, and because, with Bethesda’s sandbox nature, any modder can go into the code and improve upon this system.

Story
Erik: The story is a major improvement over Fallout 3. This time, the player’s decisions matter. There are 3 major factions out to control New Vegas, not to mention minor factions like the Brotherhood of Steel, who have conflicting interests. The balance of power is precarious enough that the player can shift the outcome drastically, making for some tough decisions. It is not possible to experience everything the game has to offer on a single play through.

Stephen: The three major factions force the player to make tough decisions in the story of Fallout: New Vegas. Like gambling, not everyone can be a winner. This is self-evident once the player is forced to chose a path that will forever shape the outcome of their life in the Mohave Wasteland. Amazingly, New Vegas allows the player to commit horrible crimes against humanity such as posting people on crosses and applying scientific tests upon schizophrenic super mutants. Overall, the story and quest line are great improvements from the previous Fallout game.

Bethesda Legacy
Erik: As with the previous Bethesda titles, Fallout: New Vegas continues the company’s legacy of sandboxes with tools. The world is immense relative to other role playing games and the player has plenty of opportunities to engage in typical adventuring activities, such as looting prewar ruins or completing random side quests. As with previous Bethesda titles, the construction tools used to design the game are included. This means that fan made modifications will be available to download, adding to the re playability of the game. If a player does not like something, chances are someone will have made a mod that changes it or the player can change it with the construction set.

Stephen: Any fan of decent role playing games has heard of Bethesda from one time to another. Bethesda is all about making a good game, then allowing its fans to mod the game, post the mods online, and allow anyone to use them. Some famous titles from Bethesa’s past are the Elder Scrolls Series and Fallout 3. Another amazing fact about Bethesda is that is a player wishes to mod the game, the modification software is free and online.

DRM Warning
Erik: DRM, meaning Digital Rights Management, is becoming a major nuisance for paying customers as game companies try to counter piracy. Fallout: New Vegas uses Steam, which requires online activation before the game can be played. While systems like Steam work most of the time, a loss of Internet connectivity during an update may easily render the game unusable until the update can be finished.

Stephen: Unfortunately, instead of using Windows Live, Fallout: New Vegas must be downloaded through Steam, an online video game provider. The plus side to being able to download through Steam is the fact that the game disc is no longer needed to launch the game. The downside is that, as previously stated, the game cannot be played if an update needs to occur and the Internet is not available.



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