Fallout 3 was easily one of my favorite games from 2008, with it’s open sandbox style of gameplay and post-apocalyptic goodness. I’m going to guess that if you’re reading this review of Fallout: New Vegas, you’ve probably played Fallout 3. If you haven’t, and you’re even considering the newer title, you need to go back and pick that one up. Sure, you can play New Vegas and have a great time, but you’ll appreciate this one much better by playing them in order.
With that said, it’s hard to classify Fallout: New Vegas as a direct sequel. Aside from being set in the same post-apocalyptic time period, the stories really have nothing to do with each other. The game is also built on the same engine as the last, so the graphics and gameplay mechanics are very similar. Now is that such a bad thing? If you enjoyed Fallout 3, then I’d definitely say no.
Instead of being a vault-dweller from the Washington DC area, this time you’re a courier in the area of Las Vegas. You won’t be exploring your past as thoroughly as in the previous title, but rather starting out fresh after being rescued from a near-death experience. Most of your time on the main quest involves tracking down the people that attempted to put you in an early grave. But as with any good RPG, you’ll spend a great deal of your time on other side quests.
Many of the story elements involve dealing with a variety of factions that you can encounter. I won’t dive into these too deeply, as I don’t want to give away too much of the story. But there are a number of factions which you can gain reputation with. This is something we didn’t see in the previous title, and really spices things up.
Most people you encounter are going to be part of a faction. Your interactions with them will determine how their group, and others view you. For instance, if you agree to help out a town with their bandit problem, the bandit gang won’t think too highly of you afterward. This can lead to some sticky situations later on, if you need to go to a faction-controlled area that you’re in poor standing with.
This brings up a really fun element to the game. When you kill people of a certain faction, you can loot their armor or clothing and wear it. When dressed as a member of a faction, you’ll be treated like one of the group (for better or worse). The downside to this is that after a while you’ll find that you’ve got an inventory full of disguises.
Another new feature to the game is crafting. Yes, you could get schematics and make some crazy weapons in Fallout 3, but that was really it. This time around, you can whip up food, buffs, ammo and even weapon upgrades as well. There are even different types of ammo that can be crafted, such as hollow and armor piercing rounds.
Companions make a comeback as well. You’ll be able to add up to two of them along your journeys, one human, and one non-human at a time. Controlling your newfound friends is a bit easier than I remember, as this time you have the “companion wheel” which gives you a number of commands to execute with just a quick click. They will each give you bonuses, including experience for each of their kills. Unless you’re dead-set on wandering the vast wasteland alone, I’d highly advise taking on at least one. Sure, the AI can be a bit buggy at times, but it’s worth it.
Speaking of bugs, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the game being rather buggy. The people I’ve talked to have all played on the Xbox 360, so I’m assuming the majority of the bugs are limited to the console version. I’ve been playing the PC version, and can’t say I’ve encountered any of the save bugs, or slowdowns that have plagued others.
I won’t spend a lot of time talking about graphics, since they are essentially the same as Fallout 3. Yes, there are new character models, and you’re obviously in a different a new environment. However, you’re still dealing with graphics that are much the same as they were two years ago.
The voice acting for this game was everything I’d hoped it would be. Having Liam Neeson playing the voice of your dad in the previous game, which meant there were some big shoes to fill. Obsidian did a great job by getting Wayne Newton to lend his voice to the DJ “Mr. New Vegas.” Quite appropriate, I’d say. Other notable names include Dave Foley, Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton and naturally, Ron Perlman. (For those not in the know, Ron Perlman has narrated almost every Fallout game to date.)
Overall, I loved the game. Obsidian did a great job of taking a game I loved and making it even better. Will you have the same warm fuzzy feelings about it? I suppose that depends greatly on what you thought of Fallout 3. If you enjoyed it, then you’ll find the gameplay familiar, with some fun twists and a new story. If not, then there isn’t a lot here that’s going to change your mind