New Fallout, New Vegas
So here we are at long last, Bethesda has finally released the long-awaited next Fallout game in this post-apocalyptic franchise. Handing the reins to Obsidian was a very big gamble since the reception for their last game; Alpha Protocol was lukewarm at best. Has Obsidian redeemed themselves then Ė the short answer is yes, the long answer is a bit more complicated. There are bugs and glitches that are prevalent in the engine still even with a patch.Story
Fallout New Vegas takes place in a new area of the Wasteland and right away it kicks off to an interesting start. Captured, nearly murdered, your character wakes with no idea of who he is or why heís out there. Slowly they piece together information and set off to find answers. I donít want to spoil the story, but I actually prefer this one to Fallout 3 in terms of both narrative pace and style.Gameplay
If youíve played Fallout 3 then youíre going to be right at home with the mix of old features, like VATS and new features like the Companion Wheel, Workbenches, Reloading Benches, campfires and weapon mods. The former give you a way to break down certain items and make new ones, along with new weapon upgrades and so on, whilst the latter allow you to mix poultices, powders and other effective medicines. Weapon mods do just that; modify your weapon in some way. I found a sweet night ops scope for my Varmint Rifle, turning it into a credible sniper weapon for example.
You can play the game as a first or third person tactical shooter via VATS or as a straight out shooter. VATS if you donít know what that is, well, itís a fancy name for a pause activated RPG based system that lets you shoot at a targetís limbs or body parts, working out if you can hit based on a variety of hidden dice rolls and so on. You get bonuses and penalties just like in a tabletop RPG allowing for distance, line of sight and even type of weapon.
You can spend VATS Action Points to mark target locations, multi-targets and once youíre done, let the game work it all out. You can get some sweet kills this way and youíre often rewarded with a cut-scene animation of your attack even if it hits or misses.
Fallout 3 and New Vegas are basically hybrid shooter/RPGs and they do a good job at mixing both. You have the SPECIAL stats, which stand for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. You have a number of points you pop into these as you generate your character, done here in a very nifty way indeed thatís part of the story I wonít spoil. You have the same deal with some skills and you can tag three of them to be your specialist skills, ones that get boosted by a large amount at chargen.
You also have various Perks, here in New Vegas you get to choose 2 interesting character Perks at the beginning that you wonít see again, so pick wisely. Once you earn enough XP from doing quests and killing things, youíll level up and you can assign skill points and every other level, you can assign a Perk...these are just as fun as Fallout 3ís Perks and many of them have returned, along with some new ones that are pretty cool.
You have a variety of shops and services, where you can barter and pay for goods. Of course things like weapons and armour degrade over time and use, so you best be able to pay for repair or do it yourself. Or you might find that your gun breaks at a most annoying time, like right as you get swarmed by angry Gekos out for blood. The key to the game is effective management of your resources and of course, exploration. Youíre not tied down to the core story; you can take on side quests and explore the whole of the massive Wasteland to your heartís content.
I endorse this particular pastime since you can find some very cool loot indeed hiding away out there.
Youíll be able to find companions later on; you can control them through the new Companion Wheel, an interface that makes ordering them a lot better this time. You can tell them to use healing items or attack enemies, hold fire or hang back and so on plus more commands. Itís a good feature and well implemented. Thereís the usual dialogue system back from Fallout 3 and it has a few tweaks, some extra options become available when you have the right perks and you wonít be able to succeed unless you have the correct skill and number in the brackets.
So if you see something with Speech 25, you need that in your skill before you can even have a hope in hell of making it.
Apart from these new mechanics it is pretty much the same game as Fallout 3, only a lot better in terms of game mechanics and systems Ė fast travel is back, so is sleeping to regain health or pass time.
Lastly since itís such a mammoth game and thereís way too much to detail, some of it would spoil the story too, thereís Hardcore Mode a new mode where ammo has weight, you need to sleep, eat and drink and healing items only restore health over time. Basically itís a layer of extra realism on top of the already grungy, post-apocalyptic cake. Hardcore Mode is a fantastic new addition to the game and thereís a reward for anyone who plays the whole of NV from start to end with the mode active.