It’s now been 7 years since Bethesda handed over development responsibilities to Obsidian Entertainment for Fallout spin off Fallout: New Vegas. Obsidian happen to be made up by former members of the original turn based/isometric Fallout & Fallout 2. So naturally, they would be familiar with the lore behind one of the most popular RPG’s of the modern era of gaming. Even if the series is now a more traditional RPG with 1st and 3rd person viewpoints instead of the aforementioned style of play. I thought I’d take a look back at this title in particular, to see how it’s held up over the last 7 years. Is it still good, a joy to play? Or has it it aged badly? Let’s find out.
If you’re somehow not aware, then Fallout New Vegas is set in and around the Vegas strip and Mohave desert, with a western theme. Gone are the drab and dull greys of the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3, which are replaced with a golden and rustic orange overlay, adorning the Mojave. Broken up by the flashing, tempting lights of the seedy Vegas strip. The desperate struggle for survival still remains from the inhabitants, and some familiar and new factions and enemies join the adventure. Caesars Legion, NCR and Mr House play a prominent role as you progress the story, with an option to pick a side in the battle for control over Hoover Dam, unless you would prefer to side with Yes Man and take control for yourself in a selfish, power hungry move. Whichever you choose, can change how others perceive you.
Now the basic theme of the story is out of the way, it’s time to look back on each main aspect, and discuss how it all feels in today’s era of gaming. First, we will talk about graphics, and boy has it aged. Using many similar assets, and the same game engine as Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, it looks dated with rough character models, animations and pieces of scenery. It is 7 years old, and we’ve come a long way in this time period, with Fallout 4 making a drastic step forward. New Vegas may look pretty dodgy now, and NPC’s look awkward as the manoeuvre about the landscape, but given the size and scope of the game, it comes as no surprise. It was a well known fact that upcoming n release, it was bug ridden beyond what any game should be at this point, which required many patches before it became playable. I should know, I ended up trading my copy in and waiting a couple of years until it was considered in working order, and all DLC had been released. Coming back to it after this length of time, and it still had a few issues, but overall it worked. Graphical issues with scenery still remained in places, but given it was using an outdated game engine even then, and you could cut it some slack.
The audio was pretty good, not only were the main NPC’s acted well, but the musical score too. Most notably when on the strip or in one of the big casinos. Each with a different theme and faction running them. Each gun sounding different then the next, and attitudes in conversation from each faction gave a unique feel to them. From the sinister Caesars Legion, to the businessman quality of Mr House to the military presence of the NCR. All offering a unique questline as the cue for total control over the Mohave and New Vegas. Unless you turn your backs on all of them.
Gameplay feels kind of dated, with combat heavily reliant upon the VATS system, as it was never designed around being a full on shooter, although it did feel better in this respect than Fallout 3 ever did. The Pip Boy given to you by former vault resident, Doc Mitchell is familiar and gives you everything you need to know. What does change this time around, is the reloading bench where you can create your own ammo. I didn’t find much use for this for any of my playthroughs, although crafting and applying gun mods was a sweet touch that made it feel like your weapons were that little bit more unique. Even down to the various ammo types you could scavenge or purchase. Doing various amounts of damage depending on not only which ammo type you have chosen, but also which enemy. The amount of weapons available if you have Gun Runners Arsenal installed is impressive, and leaves you spoilt for choice. Although, you will need plenty of caps should you want the high end gear.
The amount of quests available in New Vegas and the variety will keep you occupied for many hours, and more if you have all the DLC. Easily topping the 50 hour mark if you indulge yourself and search them all out. There’s different options for different outcomes should a speech check be met or failed. The choice is really yours, and how you decide to play it out. There’s even just over half a dozen companions the not only offer quests should you let them hang around long enough, but handy perks that stay active for as long as you keep them around. A great incentive to have a friend in tow, as well as the extra firepower. Given that once you reach a certain point within the main quest, depending on who you’ve chosen to side with, it will naturally cut off other quests with your new found enemies as they will refuse to accept you. A karma system is in place, whereby you can make them love or hate you, and this plays a huge part within New Vegas.
As expected, the Mojave is a desolate place, but that doesn’t mean that loot is scarce. There’s plenty of junk, caps, ammo, weapons and clothing to find during your travels, even if you have to dispose of raiders first. Before you know it, you’ll be carrying far too much to be able to move, which means you need to find a vendor to offload unwanted items and earn some caps for your troubles.
Next up, is the Vaults. As in every previous Fallout game, there are Vault-Tec vaults that housed survivors from before the Great War. This time around, they’re not as creepy or disturbing as those found in Fallout 3, but they are big enough to explore and loot, not forgetting the new inhabitants that you’ll discover along the way. From raiders, to plant like humanoids and empty vaults, there’s plenty to of nooks that hold goodies for you to collect, and backstory on terminals to read up on.
Once you’ve spent either enough time exploring the Mojave, or you’ve finished everything, then there’s the matter of the DLC content. Dead Money sees you visit the Sierra Madre. Honest Hearts allows you passage to New Canaan. Old World Blues is set in the crater of Big MT. Finally, Lonesome Road sees you travel a long and treacherous path to meet a mysterious man, who fills you in on who you are, and more. Each one packed with missions, new locations, more loot and plenty of enemies. Each one dangerous in its own right, offering a new set of quests and NPC’s to meet. I could go on far longer about these, but that would take all day. Needless to say, Fallout New Vegas and it’s DLC will give you plenty of hours of gaming, and even if you’ve already played through once, it never hurts to have another go and do things differently. Maybe play as a vindictive, bad guy. Or perhaps a middle-of-the-road guy, where you’re neither good or bad. The choice is very much down to you.
Overall, the game does look dated, and the game engine shows it’s age. But underneath this old skin, there is a fantastic game full of characters and more to discover should you be of the inquisitive persuasion. Go forth, explore and enjoy your time in the Mojave. Will you take over New Vegas, or will you side with one of the factions?
Overall Score 8/10
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 22nd October 2010
Digital File Size: 4.75GB
Five DLC packs: Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, Lonesome Road & Gun Runners Arsenal