Formats: Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 / PC
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date: October 22, 2010
Fallout 3 was so enthralling in every detail that many of us didn’t hesitate to name it “game of the year” for 2008. Not bad, considering it received so much pre-release criticism for not being much like the previous two instalments. Of course us Elder Scrolls fans trusted Bethesda Softworks to understand what Fallout is all about, and deliver a game that’d imprint itself on our gaming brains for ever more, which they did.
Over to Vegas and a new developer, Obsidian Entertainment, the folks who gave us Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2 and recent flop Alpha Protocol. Perhaps not exactly the kind of sparkling CV that you might think would win them the developer rights to Fallout, but Bethesda trust them, and what we’ve seen so far looks as if Obsidian know exactly what they’re doing. Considering several of the Obsidian team also worked on the original two Fallout games, I should hope so too!
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Fallout: New Vegas continues on slightly from Fallout and Fallout 2, with no plot links to Fallout 3 whatsoever. Set in 2280, three years after Fallout 3, and 39 years after Fallout 2, New Vegas sees the return of the New California Rebublic, the largest power group in the world of Fallout, which first appeared in Fallout 2 (with brief mentions in the first game). In Fallout: New Vegas, the New California Republic are up against the Caesar’s Legion army and the local New Vegas clan in a post-apocalyptic struggle to take hold of the Mojave region.
It’s not exactly clear where we fit into this battle. Playing as the Courier, the game begins with us setting out to deliver a package. The package never reaches its destination, as for some unexplained reason the Courier is shot and left for dead in the desert. Luckily a robot named Victor saves the day and takes us to the local Doc. From here, we receive a pistol, a Vault 21 jump suit and the trusty Pip-Boy 3000, and the adventure begins.
Kill ‘em your way
Throughout your quest through the desert and post apocalyptic Las Vegas, you’ll be the target for countless foes. As made popular in Fallout 3, the V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) returns, allowing you to pause the game, select the best target on the enemy, and watch a slow motion, gory bullet strike. Although V.A.T.S. was a unique and innovative combat system for gaming, not every one became accustomed to it.
Luckily real time combat is still an option, and heavily improved for the New Vegas outing. Players can now look down the iron sights of each weapon, a function we have become appreciative of thanks to Call of Duty over the years. The new ‘Kill Cam’ also allows real time combat users to experience the same slo-mo gory detail as V.A.T.S.
If that isn’t enough, each weapon can now be customised with up to three mods, adding a scope perhaps or increasing the magazine size. There are also unmoddable unique weapons to collect along the way. If you’re more of a fighter than a shooter, you can now use melee weapons with V.A.T.S. (not possible in Fallout 3) – precision targeting, slo-mo golf club swinging is now a possibility.
To add more choice to combat and camera, like Fallout 3, New Vegas comes with both first and third-person perspectives. While the third-person was pretty much unusable in Fallout 3 due to the terrible floaty character animation and silly camera distance, the third-person camera in New Vegas is now presented Resident Evil 5 style – tight at the hip. Suddenly a third-person playthrough seems more appealing (well, perhaps not to first-person enthusiasts).
What goes around, comes around
Whether you love to be the hero, or thrive on being the enemy, Karma is back to give you the good guy / bad guy option. Along with it comes a new reputation system, similar to the one seen in Fallout 2, and taking over slightly from Fallout 3′s karma system. Your reputation will determine how each faction / town will treat you. Much like Fallout 3, being a bad guy will cause many folk to be hostile towards you, but be nice and some lady may harass you every day outside your shack to give you gifts. However good or bad you are, Factions will always remember you for what you did to them – good or bad. We had better be careful in Sin City.
Making friends in the apocalypse has also been improved, meaning a companion will actually listen to what you say. Not being able to do this is Fallout 3 caused many people to lose their poor Dogmeat prematurely. You can now order a companion to ‘Attack’ or ‘Flee’, as well as choose which weapon they should attack with. Naturally, each character has their strengths, and will happily grumble at you if you give them a pistol when they’re the master of the shotgun!
Viva Las Vegas
All this talk of New Vegas and no mention of casinos? I’m not here to disappoint. The casinos are still thriving in New Vegas, and they’re open to you if you fancy a gamble. Roulette, Blackjack, Slots, they’re all open for some mini game fun. You can put trust to the test and take on the dodgy folk of Vegas. You win, you may even be treated to free food and hotel rooms. You win too much, then there’s a danger of being accused of cheating. Viva Las ‘post apocalyptic’ Vegas. This is one game to get excited about. Who knows, perhaps a Fallout game will be winning “game of the year” acclamations once again?!